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And what are we going to do about it?

With so much news about breast cancer and the ever present danger of having it, getting it, and knowing someone we love and care about with it, we all do our breast exams, and keep up with our mammograms, and remind a buddy, right?  I WISH!  Women as a rule will think of their families health before their own.  

Truth be told, less than 10 % of us actually keep up with our own health.  Possibly we think that 'if I don't think about sickness, cancer, disease, health, then I am not going to get sick, it is not going to happen to me, or I'll just ignore it and it will go away'.  But we are wrong again.  With this article, I hope to persuade a few more percent to be proactive in not only our own health but those of our families, friends, neighbors, pets, etc.  

Get the point? First, to bring this home to us and further understand our own risks, let us review risk factors for developing breast cancer.

Prior breast cancer:  If you have ever had it, please keep up with your examinations. Also having had a breast biopsy that showed "lobular carcinoma incitu" and "atypical ductal hyperplasia" put you at higher risk.  

Genetics and Family history:   The lifetime risk of being diagnosed with invasive breast cancer is about one in eight for women, but is about two to three times greater for women with a history of breast cancer in a first-degree relative (mother, sister, or daughter), than in women with no family history of breast (or ovarian) cancer.  Only 9% of breast cancer can be attributed to a "family history, " and fewer associated with a hereditary gene or germ cell mutation, i.e. the BRCA1 and BRCA2.  

There is a higher association between breast, ovarian, and colon cancers. Therefore your personal risk is increased by having a mother, sister, or daughter with breast cancer, multiple generations of family members affected by breast or ovarian cancer, having relatives who were diagnosed with breast cancer at a young age (under 50 years old), or having relatives who had both breasts affected by cancer.  

Environmental Factors::  90% of breast cancers are attributed to various environmental factors such as:  

1. Exposure to ionizing radiation
2. Exposure to DDT and contaminants of pesticides (this research has been inconsistent).
3. Smoking and second hand smoke
4. Obesity, especially adult weight gain
5. High fat diets
6. Alcohol use
7. Older age of firsts child's birth, and never having a child
8. Later menopause  

Also the risk of prolonged hormone replacement therapy in menopausal women on premarin and provera has been shown to increase the risk by 8 per 10,000 women (A combination of environment and genetics).  In other words, our bodies ability to detoxify hormones in a healthful ways is a combination of genetics and environment.  New tests now enable us to look at how our own bodies are able to detoxify our estrogens whether they are from our bodies, natural production, or outside sources such as birth control pills and hormone replacement. Along with foods we eat, milk we drink, and the numerous xenoestrogens that surround us.

We can come to grasp our individual risk as 1 in 8 women in my lifetime.  So, let's now make October Breast cancer PREVENTION month!  The best medicine and the best doctor is able to prevent disease.  Here is what we know about breast cancer prevention.  It begins with strengthening your immune system.  

Follow this advice and you will not only help to reduce your risk of breast cancer but hopefully prevent it and many other illnesses, too. If you smoke - QUIT!! – I often tell my patients, if I could think of one good thing about smoking I would tell them, but I can not. NO! NO! NO!  QUIT! Exercise 30 minutes 5 days per week.  Exercise is a stress reliever!  It helps normalize our cortisol levels.  Try Yoga, stretching, Tai Chi, etc.  

If it makes you feel good, do it!  

- Drink plenty of water, good old H2O!  8 to 10 glasses per day helps you keep your body fluid and flush toxins.

- Eat your vegetables!!! Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts contain substances called DIM and I3C for short that actually help with the healthful detoxification of hormones.  Also, squash, carrots, and tomatoes contain carrotenoids that fight disease.    

- Eat Salmon, olive oil, lean meats, and don't fry.  Foods in their natural form have many "anti-oxidants" that help our body fight off "free radicals" that promote disease.  

- Supplement your diet with Vitamins E,C, Omega-3.  Again, these are powerful anti-oxidants that have favorable effects on our immune system to fight off disease.  

- Stop drinking alcohol or limit is to 4 oz of red wine per night.  Begin after you start your meal.  

- Avoid foods that may have stored hormones or pesticides.  

- Shed those extra pounds and work hard to keep them off and maintain your goal weight.  

- Tamoxifen and Raloxifene are in ongoing studies evaluating their role in prevention of breast cancer.  

BE MINDFUL!  Our bodies are given a special power to heal and take the opportunity each day to invoke that.  

Some ways that you can do this are:

Do anything that you can do to enhance your joy of life and relieve your stress, to give back your body its maximum power to heal itself.  

Live each day with love, purpose, and wisdom.


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