October is Breast Cancer Month. If you’re into donating, it’s the month to send some of your money to the organizations which promote that. In the belief that an ounce of prevention is worth several pounds of cure, prevention is where I place my focus.
Know that I have a PhD(physics) and an ND, not an MD, so the thinking may be a little broader than what you may hear from your family doctor. As wonderful yet complex as our bodies are, do your own research before taking any actions affecting your health.
First, some basic facts on your breasts and how they work. Nutrition is supplied to the cells of breast tissue by the pumping of the heart through a network of arteries and capillaries, like groceries coming in the front door. But just as we have a waste disposal system in our homes to take care of the ‘garbage’, your breasts also need to dispose of waste from each cell. This happens in the lymphatic system, a network of tiny tubes which collect the wastes from outside the cell and eventually funnel it to the bloodstream for further disposal. Now, the Designer of the body did not provide another pump to push the lymph fluid through its tubes. Instead, this is done by the normal flexing of your muscles combined with little check valves along the way in the lymph tubes. If you have a sedentary life style and the muscles don’t get much exercise, the wastes generated by the normal metabolism of the breast cells may not be efficiently disposed of. Lesson #1: Keep your breast tissue clean through regular upper body muscular activity. Lesson #2 follows immediately: Do NOT unnecessarily restrict this lymphatic flow through tight bras, especially underwire bras. (Singer and Grismaijer in their book, Dressed To Kill, provide convincing evidence that the fewer hours that bras are worn, the less incidence of breast cancer, and that in cultures where they are never worn, there is virtually no breast cancer!)
Now, another factor to help prevent your breast cancer. Although the research is not yet definitive on the value of vitamin D in preventing breast cancer, here’s the way I would bet. (See www.vitamindcouncil.org for more on this.) Very low vitamin D levels in your body are likely to give you more breast cancer problems than higher vitamin D levels. My own recommendation for most normal women would be vitamin D intake of approximately 1000 IU of vitamin D per 25 pounds of body weight, from all sources, throughout the year. If you weigh 150 pounds, that’s 6,000 IU daily. If you are obese or have other issues like existing cancers, you may want to take more. Have your vitamin D level tested by the 25(OH) vitamin D test. Aim for a level of about 50 nanograms/milliliter for normal high, possibly as high as 100 ng/ml if there are serious health conditions. (See www.vitamindcouncil.org for more on this.) So here’s Lesson #3: Low vitamin D levels are associated with more health conditions, including more cancer. (BTW: If you’re in the habit of slathering sun screen to stop skin problems, also adopt the habit of taking the necessary vitamin D by supplements, so that your levels stay in the above recommended range.)
And now for Lesson #4: Recognizing that what ultimately prevents breast cancer is a healthy immune system, know that your immune system is STRONGLY affected by your thoughts and your emotional history. In our own work with cancer patients at our Tracy, MN clinic, an essential part of the recovery process is to help the patient clean out all the dust bunnies in her emotional closets-- this means to get rid of any guilt, shame, anger, forgiveness issues that could weaken her immune system and prevent a healthy recovery. Sometimes it takes hypnosis to do that job, since many of the emotional issues may stem from comments and thought patterns she acquired from her parents before the age of 7. Dr. Gabor Mate’, a physician and best selling author, has written: “In most cases of breast cancer, the stresses are hidden and chronic. They stem from childhood experiences, early emotional programming and unconscious psychological coping styles. They accumulate over a lifetime to make someone susceptible to disease... Research has suggested for decades that women are more prone to develop breast cancer if their childhoods were characterized by emotional disconnection from their parents or other disturbances in their upbringing; if they tend to repress emotions, particularly anger; if they lack nurturing social relationships in adulthood, and if they are the altrustic, compulsively caregiving types. (From When the Body Says No; The Cost of Hidden Stress, Gabor Mate’ MD). Thus Lesson #4: Clean out the debris in your emotional closets for a healthier immune system and a healthier you. Get with a professional who can help you do this. Most dentists do not try to do their own work.
Had enough? Walk for cancer if you need the exercise. Carry light weights, swing your arms, get the upper body muscles involved. Check your vitamin D levels, when in doubt take about 5000 IU daily, more if obese or ill. Clean out the dust bunnies. Enjoy life!