Have You Ever Wondered Why There is Such a High Risk for Breast Cancer?

About 1 in 8 women, and 1 out of 883 men, will develop invasive breast cancer in their lifetime. Since October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, I will provide you information about the prevention and treatment protocols I take with my patients through a two-blog series.

Many people seek holistic medical care with an emphasis on healing and natural approaches to breast cancer therapies and prevention. Integrative Medicine addresses this through treatment plans that focus on:

  • Normalizing estrogen production and its optimum elimination 
  • Body composition and optimizing blood sugar metabolism
  • Reducing inflammation
  • Reducing stress
  • Addressing spiritual issues are also considered in each woman’s personalized treatment plan. These methods can be used to reduce symptoms and may help prevent or reduce recurrences of surgical intervention.

A foundation of today’s conventional approach to breast cancer prevention emphasizes early detection. As a board-certified Family Physician I recommend all my patients get annual mammograms starting at the age of 40 years. However, detection is not prevention. Your best prevention of breast cancer is a healthy lifestyle. 

If you are someone, or know someone with a high risk of breast cancer, this is especially vital information to share. Markers for being high-risk include: having a family history of breast cancer, previous treatment using radiation therapy, genetic mutations, having dense breasts, having had breast cancer or type of non-cancerous breast diseases, aging, and if you started menstruation before 12 and/or menopause after the age of 55.

In general, the main influences on your risk of breast cancer are being a woman and getting older.

While these factors present a grim reality for the possibilities of the occurrence of breast cancer…You have within you, the power to help prevent it. It is estimated that about 85% of breast cancers occur in women who have no family history of breast cancer. This is due to genetic mutations that happen as a result of aging, your health history and lifestyle.

Your lifestyle-the choices about what you eat, how much you sleep and exercise, the relationships you maintain, emotional or physical traumas, down to the hygiene or house cleaning products you use, contribute to how your genes express themselves. As your chances of developing cancer are affected by the lifestyle choices you make, know that prevention is in your hands. Simple lifestyle changes can make a difference.


Below, is one of the first methods I utilize in part of my prevention and treatment protocols. I will also share the tips that can help you handcraft a life of health and wellness and reduce your risk of breast cancer.

Step 1: Optimizing Your Estrogen Elimination

Estrogen is a dominant female hormone, it is also present in small quantities in men. If you have an excess of estrogen in your body along with impaired ability to excrete, or eliminate the estrogen, you have a clinical condition known as estrogen dominance. This is harmful to your body, as an excess of estrogen can cause symptoms such as infertility, mood swings, PMS, headaches, anxiety, weight gain, sleep issues, and cancer.

Men can also have elevated estrogen levels. Their symptoms range from gynecomastia (enlargement of breast tissue), erectile dysfunction, infertility, and cancer. So, you want to make sure you have just the right amount of estrogen in your body.

How does estrogen get eliminated?

Estrogen undergoes two detoxification phases in the liver known as Phase I and Phase II liver enzymes. These enzymes make sure the estrogen is safely excreted. During Phase II, liver attaches a molecule to the estrogen known as glucuronide. So estrogen can be transferred to your gut with this molecule attached to it.  

The next step of excretion happens in your gut where the glucuronide molecule is removed from the estrogen and estrogen is excreted in the stool. If you have an imbalanced gut microbiome and the beta-glucuronidation is impaired, this means the estrogen is no longer excreted but is reabsorbed via enterohepatic recirculation, and sent back to your liver in a toxic looping cycle.



In order for you to reduce your risk, you must educate yourself about your personal risk factors. Below I will discuss ways you can reduce your exposure to estrogen and enhance its elimination.

First, get functional detoxification testing-urine and blood samples to assess your baseline estrogen metabolism. I highly recommend adding a stool panel to this battery of testing.  

Besides assessing lab tests for a patient’s estrogen elimination profile, I recommend the following tips as preventative lifestyle habits to reduce your risk:

  • Reduce your Visceral Fat. Visceral fat is the fat that is stored in your belly. This is the most inflammatory type of fat. It stimulates the production of insulin, which in return stimulates estrogen production by activating an enzyme known as the estrogen synthase.  Maintain a healthy body composition and engage in 30 minutes of physical exercise daily.
  • Add Lignans to your diet. Flax seeds are high in Lignans. Lignans contain a plant-based estrogen known as phytoestrogen. Phytoestrogen reduces the effects of your estrogen in your body.
  • Eat cruciferous vegetables. Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, and bok choy have a compound called sulforaphane. Sulforaphane is a sulfur-rich compound that has been shown to provide powerful anti-cancer benefits. Keep in mind these cruciferous vegetables have a precursor that rely on your gut microbes to convert the precursor to sulforaphane. It is vital to have a properly functioning gut. Other beneficial compounds are found within vegetables such as artichoke, broccoli, garlic, pomegranate, shallots, watercress, and also in green tea.
  • Limit your intake of processed meats and animal fats. Animal meats when heated or charred release substances known as Heterocyclic Amines (HCA’s).  HCA’s have been linked to cancer. HCA’s are formed in all types of meats including fish. Ways to reduce animal meats are physician-guided fasting, and incorporating more plant-based protein options such as legumes, non-GMO organic tofu and tempeh. I often say to eat a lot of plants and treat meat like a delicacy.    
  • Limit or in the best case scenario, depending on your personal risk factors, avoid any form of alcohol. Once ingested, alcohol forms a toxic product in your mouth known as acetaldehyde. Acetaldehyde is a known carcinogen which promotes formation of cancers.

I hope all of this content I’ve worked hard to handcraft for you is helping you to clearly understand why a healthy lifestyle is the best prevention to any cancer or chronic disease. I offer all of this information for free. 

Please study it, and then apply it. 

Just imagine applying the information, routines and methods that successful people in business, sports and parenting are using to propel accomplishment in your own health, happiness, income and lifestyle.

You have within you the ability to make changes to initiate improved and lasting transformation in your life. One of the greatest privileges of my life is to help my patients reclaim their lost vitality and access their body’s natural healing abilities. I will continue to show you more Integrative approaches soon-stay tuned for the second part of our Breast Cancer Awareness blog! 

To Your Health, 

Kiran Grewal MD

"My goal is to share my knowledge with the world. I believe in delivering valuable and ethical content that changes the lives of my patients." -Kiran Grewal MD

For more information on Functional Medicine visit my website at KiranGrewalMD.com and follow us on Instagram & Facebook for daily health tips, information and inspiration.


    




References:

https://nccih.nih.gov/research/blog/cancer-integrative-care

http://www.imjournal.com/resources/web_pdfs/popular/1008_evans.pdf

https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/breast/basic_info/risk_factors.htm

https://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/understand_bc/statistics

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/cancer-prevention/art-20044816

https://ww5.komen.org/uploadedFiles/_Komen/Content/About_Breast_Cancer/Tools_and_Resources/Fact_Sheets_and_Breast_Self_Awareness_Cards/How%20Hormones%20Affect%20Breast%20Cancer.pdf

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4775086/

Greger, Michael. Stone, Gene. How Not To Die. New York, N.Y., Flatiron Books, 2015.

 

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