Janet Levatin, MD
October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, but I like to call it Breast HEALTH Awareness month. Instead of dwelling on treatment of an already-established illness, let’s put our focus on proactive ways to keep from becoming sick in the first place. Here are a few suggestions for promoting breast health:
- Diet: Your health is a reflection of what you eat. Focus on natural, anti-inflammatory whole foods, including vegetables and fruits in a variety of colors. For protein, consider legumes, grass fed meats, fresh Atlantic fish and free-range poultry and eggs. Avoid processed carbohydrates – items made with flour and/or refined sugar – because they are pro-inflammatory. Also avoid non-natural fats, such as the trans fats, found in margarine, fried foods, and many “fast” foods; and processed vegetable oils, such as canola, soy, and peanut oil, as a myriad of health problems have been linked to their consumption.
- Vitamin D: Vitamin D has become well-recognized for its anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects on the whole body. Have your blood tested to check your vitamin D level. The correct test is 25-OH Vitamin D, and the result should be at least 60 ng/ml; for most people, we recommend a target level of 80-100 ng/ml.
- Iodine: Iodine is needed by every cell in the body, but it is especially important for the thyroid and the breasts. Iodine levels can also be checked by a simple blood test. If your level is less than 100, an iodine supplement can be taken in one of a variety of forms, including sea vegetables.
- Breast health supplements: There are many other supplements for breast health that we often recommend at Tenpenny Integrative Medical Center. For example, calcium-d-glucarate and Myomin help to lower excessive estrogens. Indol-3-carbinol (I3C) and diindolylmethane (DIM) help shift the metabolism of estrogen to non-toxic forms. Fish oils are always recommended to decrease inflammation. If you are allergic to fish, we recommend Olivenol, made from organic olives. One capsule is equivalent to 8oz of fresh olive oil – and without the calories!
- Eliminate toxic environmental exposures: Breast tissue is composed of mostly fat, and toxins and environmental chemicals store in fat, potentially causing cause damage over time. Do your best to use personal care products that are natural and free of fragrances, preservatives and petroleum by-products. Instead of perfume, use essential oils as fragrances. Synthetic sunscreens chemicals should be avoided. Change your household cleaning products to fragrance-free and toxin-free solutions, and suggest this practice to your employer as well.
- Eliminate avoidable stress, and release unresolved emotions: It has been well established that people who live with ongoing stress are more prone to develop stress-related illnesses, including cancer. Unresolved grief, anger and resentment find their way into our bodies and can contribute to just about any health condition. Therapy, prayer, meditation, contemplation, and exercise all can help release mental and emotional congestion. Laughter also has the power to reduce stress and promote healing.
- Rethink your breast imaging: All women know what mammograms are, and women reflexively go for their annual mammogram as though it is a way to prevent cancer. Unfortunately this is not true. By the time an abnormality is detected on a mammogram, it has been evolving for at least five years, maybe more. Mammograms are not an precise test, as there are many false positives an false negatives. In fact, the National Cancer Institute admits that screening mammograms miss about 20 percent of breast cancers that are actually present at the time of screening.
Infrared breast imaging, also knows as breast thermography, is a safer and completely non-invasive breast assessment method. This 15-minute test uses no radiation and applies no compression. The infrared camera takes a scan of the breast, looking for asymmetrical heat patterns. Areas of evolving concern in the breast’s circulation and physiology can be detected years before the abnormality becomes visible on a mammogram. If an abnormality is found early, a program that includes an anti-inflammatory diet, weight loss (if needed), supplements, and exercise can heal the tissues and normalize the heat patterns. Dr. Sherri Tenpenny has discussed thermography in a series of videos posted on our website.
Thermography is available at the Tenpenny Center during Breast Health Month and all year round! It is appropriate to start annual thermography as young as 25 or 30, or any age thereafter. Please call us at 440-239-3438 to inquire about our thermography package (thermogram, breast exam, review of results).
It has been estimated that 1 out of every 8 women will contract breast cancer at some point in their life. Most women are very “aware” of breast cancer, so Breast Cancer Awareness month has certainly done its job. More than one large study has shown that increased awareness and regular mammography have not, however, led to fewer deaths from breast cancer. It’s time for a new paradigm: let’s put the focus on Breast Health so you – or someone you love – will not become one of those statistics.