October is not JUST about watching Hocus Pocus cuddled up by the fire, though this is an annual tradition for me. It’s also breast cancer awareness month, just in case you haven’t noticed the pink ribbons everywhere. Each year in the United States, about 255,000 women get breast cancer and 42,000 women die from the disease.
My mother is adopted. I’ve never had a clear idea of my medical history, including the possibility of breast cancer on my mother’s side. For that reason, I have always erred on the side of caution for routine self-breast exams as well as provider exams. My mother has personally battled cervical cancer as well as multiple fibroids – both signs of estrogen dominance. Estrogen dominance is also linked to breast cancer. It is where the level of estrogen outweighs the level of progesterone in the body, ultimately leading to inflammation and disruption of our endocrine (hormone) system. So what can YOU do to prevent breast cancer? Here are my top recommendations!
Minimize inflammation – Live an anti-inflammatory lifestyle!
Diet: Several studies show the anti-tumor effects of a ketogenic approach (keto/ketovore/carnivore) to diet in the setting of breast cancer
A zero/low carb, high fat approach
Cut out all seed/vegetable oils, grains, nuts/seeds, sugar, and phytoestrogens (see below!)
Sleep: Work on catching quality Zzzs! Quality sleep is important for overall health, especially to manage stress levels/hormone health
Movement: Sitting is the new smoking. Walking even 30 minutes each day can lower your risk of breast cancer regardless of your family history
Sunlight: Get out in the sun! Studies have found that those with the highest levels of vitamin D in their blood had a 45 percent decrease in breast cancer risk as compared to those with low vitamin D levels.
Minimize Xenoestrogens & Phytoestrogens
Xenoestrogens are man-made chemicals that disrupt the endocrine (hormone) system whereas phytoestrogens are compounds made my plants that mimic our own production of hormones. Both disrupt hormone balance, leading to an increase in estrogen production which contributes to what is referred to as estrogen dominance (too much estrogen!)
Most common sources of Xenoestrogens:
Pesticides, herbicides & fungicides – especially glyphosate, which is why choosing organic is important!
Nail polish & removers
Detergents & fabric softeners
Essential oils including lavender and tea tree
Fumes from new carpet & flooring
Birth control pills
Most common Phytoestrogens
Soy flour, milk, soybeans/oil, tofu, miso, edamame, tempeh, natto, soy sauce
Soy lecithin (a food additive, emulsifier)
Legumes (peanuts, beans, peas)
There is insufficient evidence for or against self-breast exams however I believe they are good practice so you are aware of what is ‘normal’ for you throughout your cycle.
Once monthly starting at age 20 is the recommended guideline for self-breast exams.
Examination by a trained professional every 1-3 years is also recommended
Mammogram: An X-Ray of the breasts
Annual screening is recommended at age 45 to 54, then every other year for women 55 and older.
Screening is an option between age 40 and 44 for those at increased risk: personal history of breast cancer, family history of breast cancer, or a known genetic mutation to increase the risk of breast cancer (such as the BRCA gene).
Hormone balance is essential for a range of health goals – from weight loss to prevention of cancer! Checking stress and sex hormone blood levels is an important part of this which I help clients with routinely. If you are looking to balance your hormones, book an appointment today!