Every 23 seconds somewhere in the world a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer. Breast cancer is the most common cancer amongst women with a shocking 1 in 8 being diagnosed with it at some point in their lives. It is also the second leading cause of cancer death amongst women after lung cancer. If you are also carrying extra pounds then your risk goes up even further, with obese women carrying an extra 60% risk.
We have all seen the familiar pink ribbon of the breast cancer awareness campaign. If only the awareness around reducing your risk of breast cancer through lifestyle habits were as widely communicated. There are some really simple steps you can take to reduce your risk drastically, even if you are in the so-called genetically predisposed 20% to 30%. This absolutely does not mean that if you have a sister or mother that has had breast cancer that you cannot take very big steps to prevent yourself from succumbing to it too.
Diet plays a huge role in our health and is used by many alternative clinics to offer a non-drug treatment for cancer, the most well-known being The Gerson Institute. Gerson Therapy uses diet to help the body activate its own ability to heal itself through the use of pure organic, vegetarian foods and juices. The diet is naturally high in vitamins, minerals, enzymes, micro-nutrients, and extremely low in sodium, fats, and proteins. It is also worth noting that sugar in all its different forms feeds cancer cells and is probably the most significant food risk to cancer growth.
You too can review your diet and reduce processed foods with additives and chemicals and choose to eat what I call ‘real’ food. This means buying food that doesn’t have a long ingredients list on it. Choosing to buy organic without herbicides and pesticides is another hugely positive step you can take in investing in your health. All these chemicals love to accumulate in the body where there is fatty tissue, which is why the breast is such a vulnerable area.
You might also want to think about the presence and usage of chemicals in your home. Your basic household cleaners and air fresheners can double your risk of developing breast cancer, warn some scientists. The risk increases even more for those that are avid cleaners. Try switching to natural products. There is not much that white vinegar, sodium bicarbonate and lemon juice can’t clean with a bit of elbow grease.
If you want some more detailed tips then check out my Pinterest page on ‘Cleaning without Chemicals’ - http://pinterest.com/sarahphipp/cleaning-without-chemicals/
Toiletries are the next set of products you might want to review. A study performed at university of Reading, UK showed that nearly all women they assessed with breast cancer had parabens in their breast tissue. The vast majority of toiletries contain parabens including hair products, skin products, tooth products and make up. Remember you absorb 80% of what goes onto your skin, so like your food you really want to check that ingredients list. As a rule I don’t use anything on my skin I wouldn’t be happy to eat.
You are more likely to find healthy toiletry choices at your local health store, but there is still no guarantee. Always read labels and become familiar with what you are really buying. Some of my favourite beauty products include coconut oil and jojoba oil for my skin, sodium bicarbonate and water for an exfoliator and simple olive oil and coconut oil that I use to clean my teeth with, you can make your own or look for tooth soap or shreds.
We have been conditioned by global advertising campaigns to believe these chemical laden products perform a vital role in our beauty routine, whereas great hair and skin come from the inside with good food, good hydration and keeping chemicals to a minimum. A great side effect of moving towards using natural products is a much less cluttered bathroom. I have very few toiletries these days, lest advertisers would have you believe that you need a countless array of products to look your best, in fact the opposite is true.
One key toiletry that I have completely ditched in the last few years is deodorant. Choose your deodorant with care or better still don't use one at all. If you have excessively smelly armpits then your body is struggling with toxicity and is trying to detox through sweating. Rather than covering the smell or using an anti-perspirant which stops the toxins coming out of the skin all together, consider addressing your toxicity levels instead. The armpit is close to the breast and is a key area for the lymph. Chemicals and other scary substances like aluminium are in a prime area next to the breast and lymph nodes. Alternatives to deodorants include a magnesium spray. This works better than any deodorant I have used (though I warn you it does sting if you’ve just shaved), or sodium bicarbonate is another brilliant trick.
Whilst we are on the subject of the lymph, it is a little known fact that your bra could be greatly contributing to your risk of breast cancer. The greatest risk comes not from a tight fitting or poorly fitted bra but the under-wired bra. Popular bra styles have never been so uplifting. The aesthetics that bra designers want to achieve squeeze and mould the breast into such an unnatural shape that they risk seriously cutting off the role of the lymph. Although some bras are worse than others, the more tight fitting under-wired bras are the worst culprits as the body is unable to excrete toxins from the breast area where they will sit and accumulate. The underwire sits on acupuncture points that it is constantly pressing on, namely the liver, gallbladder and stomach points underneath the breast.
As described by John D. Andre, D.C., N.D
“These reflexes, like all acupuncture points, follow the Law of Stimulation. In the beginning of stimulating a point, it is stimulated - often causing an increase in associated function. Later on, this continued stimulation causes sedation of that point and a subsequent decrease in its associated function. It's a mechanical thing. If a woman keeps the metal underwires on top of those reflex points, over time that WILL mess up the functioning of the associated circuits: Liver, gallbladder, and stomach.
Bottom Line: It will likely make her sick; slowly and quietly.”
Says Dr. Michael Schacter, M.D. in his article, The Prevention and Complementary Treatment of Breast Cancer:
"Over 85 percent of the lymph fluid flowing from the breast drains to the armpit lymph nodes. Most of the rest drains to the nodes along the breastbone. Bras and other external tight clothing can impede flow.The nature of the bra, the tightness, and the length of time worn, will all influence the degree of blockage of lymphatic drainage. Thus, wearing a bra might contribute to the development of breast cancer as a result of cutting off lymphatic drainage, so that toxic chemicals are trapped in the breast."
Constricting bras have also been implicated in the rise of benign (non-cancerous) but often painful breast cysts and lumps. Says Dr. John McDougall, M.D., in his book titled The McDougall Program for a Healthy Heart:
"After repeated bouts of inflammation, the breasts develop scar tissue in many places, and some of the milk ducts become plugged, forming cysts. Fibrocystic breast disease, not surprisingly, is associated with a higher risk of breast cancer."
Go braless whenever you can and/or get rid of those under-wired and ill-fitting bras. If you are well-endowed then think about switching to a plastic wired bra instead or snip the bra and slide the metal wire out. There are also some great camisoles with built in support available. Wearing a bra for more than 12 hours a day may increase your risk of getting cancer 125 fold.
You can also help with lymph flow with a daily dry skin brush before jumping in the shower. There is no better, quicker way to improve lymphatic drainage in the body. The brushing stimulates the lymphatic system to increase the elimination of toxins out of the body and prevents a stagnant lymph. A special skin brush can be found on the link below, a simple but highly effective way to keep you healthy and help those toxins shift from tissues and fat.
As quoted by Tera Warner, an inspirational lady who is the leading light in lifestyle and cleansing programs for women, “Bras are to breast cancer FOUR TIMES what cigarettes are to lung cancer! Let the underwires go, Ladies!” I couldn’t have said it better myself.
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References and related articles you may find of interest:
The parabens in your breast tissue:
The Gerson Therapy approach to diet and cancer:
A 12 minute clip from the Women’s Wellness Conference with Nadine Artemis on breast health:
Dry skin brush available from Cytoplan: