I used to fear breast cancer. After my health crisis, I learned that I can minimize my risk by choosing a proactive lifestyle.
I have been on high alert for breast cancer since entering adulthood. My mother and both grandmothers had breast cancer. After 20 years of living in fear of my genetics, I learned that I can do more than just hope for the best.
Recent research suggests gene expression is highly connected with environmental factors. The field of epigenetics has shown such great promise that the National Institutes of Health has formed the Roadmap Epigenomics Project.
Dr. Schettler is a leading voice in the field of Ecological Health, a way of understanding biological systems as they interact with their environmental contexts.
He concludes his book this way: “Individuals needing to make changes in their lives to address these opportunities can do that in whatever sequence and combination works for them.”
I have slowly been incorporating these lifestyle changes over the last eight years, believing that every change matters—no matter how small.
Eight Ways I am Minimizing My Risk of Breast Cancer
1. Limit my exposure to toxins.
I stay away from any and all chemicals. This includes pesticides, synthetic fragrances like plug-ins, and cleaning products.
I also avoid toxic mold. After our family’s experience, I understand the significance of high indoor mold counts and the need for vigilance when it comes to water leaks and water intrusions.
One of the more widely known species of mold, aspergillus, metabolizes the mycotoxin aflatoxin, recognized by the World Health Organization as a carcinogen. Another fungal mycotoxin, ochratoxin A, has been implicated in a study of environmental breast cancer triggers. (The website Mold-Help.org does an excellent job summarizing the research on mold toxins and cancer here.)
Wondering if toxic mold is an issue in your environment? See A Beginner’s Guide to Toxic Mold.
2. Remain meticulous about my diet.
Sugar feeds pathogens in our bodies. I avoid sugar in all forms, including high-carbohydrate starches. I adhere to a grain-free, nutrient-dense diet with an emphasis on greens, fermented foods, and healthy fats.
I include organic miso and natto (recipe here), as studies have shown that both contain cancer-protective compounds. (See Soybean Phytoestrogen Intake and Cancer Risk.) According to Dr. Schettler, the author of the resource noted above, this does not pertain to heavily transformed soy product additives in processed foods.
Processed foods often contain soy oil or soy protein isolates, which don’t resemble traditional soy products consumed for centuries in countries with historically low rates of breast cancer.
Quality sources of miso and natto
I continue to tweak my diet as I monitor which foods are best for my unique constitution. I also fast frequently for short periods of time, to give my body the opportunity to clear itself on a regular basis. (See The Health Benefits of Fasting.)
3. Boost my glutathione.
Glutathione (GSH) is a major player when it comes to our detox system. Glutathione deficiency has been shown to be a risk factor for the development of breast cancer. (See Role of Glutathione in Cancer Progression and Chemoresistance.)
Foods shown to stimulate glutathione production include broccoli sprouts, milk thistle, bioactive whey protein, and foods high in sulfur.
I avoid oral glutathione supplements as they tend to be poorly absorbed. Nebulized glutathione or glutathione suppositories may be better options.
I include coffee enemas in my healing regimen, as they have been shown to stimulate the liver to detoxify and boost glutathione levels. For more on this subject, see Health Benefits of Coffee Enemas.
4. Wear loose-fitting bras or no bra at all.
It makes sense to me that tight-fitting clothing, especially a bra, can constrict the valuable lymph tissue from flushing toxins from the body. I wear only organic cotton bras to further limit my contact with petroleum-based chemicals. (Amazon carries a wide selection here.)
A controversial study linking bras with breast cancer is documented in the book Dressed To Kill by Sydney Ross Singer and Soma Grismaijer.
5. Practice dry skin brushing regularly.
Skin brushing stimulates the lymphatic tissue to do its job of clearing toxins. It’s one of the simplest yet most effective ways to detoxify and boost the immune system. As a bonus, it softens your skin and is especially beneficial for aging skin.
For more details, including methods and sources, see How to Use a Skin Brush.
6. Use only personal care products that are safe enough to eat.
Synthetic deodorants and antiperspirants containing aluminum have been linked to breast cancer. The underarm contains key lymph tissue. Why take a chance?
I use a homemade herbal deodorant when needed, rhassoul clay for shampoo, homemade tooth powder for toothpaste, and homemade soap for personal care.
7. Spend time outdoors.
I try to spend a minimum of 1–2 hours a day outside with no sunglasses or eyeglasses. Cancer prevention is one of the biggest reasons. (See Health Benefits of Natural Light.)
In his book Light, Radiation, and You, Dr. John Ott cites the empirical work of cancer researcher Dr. Jane Wright. In the summer of 1959, Wright instructed her terminal cancer patients to avoid artificial light and stay outdoors as much as possible without sunglasses or prescription lenses. Wright found improvement in 14 of the 15 patients. Of the one patient whose health had deteriorated, Ott noted:
She had stopped wearing sunglasses, but continued to wear her regular prescription glasses, which blocked the transmission of the ultraviolet portion of the natural sunlight spectrum from entering the eyes.
Ott sought funding for continued research, but his requests were continually rejected.
More recent research notes the correlation between vitamin D levels, latitude, race, and cancer rates. See The Role of Vitamin D in Cancer Prevention.
8. Limit EMF exposure.
I continue to modify my exposure to electromagnetic radiation. Electromagnetic fields (EMFs) have taken over our culture, with little regard to health impacts. The more I learn, the more I am convinced that the Precautionary Principle is a better way to go.
The Precautionary Principle states that when the health of humans is at stake, it may not be necessary to wait for scientific certainty to take protective action.
We have eliminated Wi-Fi in our home, transitioned to corded phones, switched to photoelectric smoke alarms, and more. The good news when it comes to EMF exposure is that there are lots of little changes that potentially offer great benefit.
- From Wireless to Wired – Our Family’s Journey
- The Health Effects of Cordless Phones
- Why I Got Rid of My Smartphone
- Sleep, Melatonin and Electronic Devices
There are other factors, of course, such as reduced stress, positive mindset, and emotional well-being that I try to embrace, knowing that there are no guarantees for any of us when it comes to breast cancer or any other diagnosis. I simply do the best with what I know at the time and remain open to new ideas as I continue to take life—and my health journey—one day at a time.
- 48Did you know you can help prevent breast cancer by avoiding certain environmental triggers? A study released in May 2014 lists 17 groups of chemicals women should avoid if trying to minimize their risk of breast cancer. Published in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Health Perspectives, the study notes that environment…