Hi, guys! In this article, we would like to share some interesting research on breast cancer. Perhaps some of you or majority of us have had a relative or a loved one suffer from breast cancer. It is heartbreaking to see, not to mention the burden of the financial cost involved.
A lot of people believe that breast cancer is “bad luck” or is something that just happens as we age. Some people believe that breast cancer runs in their family, and if their mother or grandmother had breast cancer, they most likely would get breast cancer, too. This was much publicized with the Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie undergoing mastectomy.
Certain genes give people a predisposition to have a higher incidence of breast cancer but this is definitely not the final note, and the good news is we can prevent breast cancer from ever happening through diet alone.
Majority of the research found here I have read from Dr. Michael Greger’s “How Not to Die”. This super informative book discusses how to prevent and reverse several cancers and diseases, as well as what foods to eat to facilitate this. I can’t recommend the book highly enough and all credit goes to him. So here are 10 tips you need to know to fight breast cancer:
#1 BREAST CANCER DOES NOT HAPPEN OVERNIGHT
This may be obvious to some but not to many. “Usually if doctors detect breast cancer tumors it may have been present forty years or even longer. What is called early detection is actually late detection since modern imaging is not good enough to detect cancer at its earliest stages. 1 Some breast cancers even start in the womb and may be related to your mother’s diet.” 2
Based on autopsy studies, as many as 39 percent of women in their forties have breast cancer growing but were simply too small to be detected by mammograms. 3 For this reason, according to Dr. Greger in his book “How Not to Die”, we must choose a diet that prevents the initiation and hampers the promotion stage of cancer.
#2 PLANT-BASED DIETS ARE ONE OF THE BEST DEFENSES AGAINST BREAST CANCER
The good news is that diet plays an enormous role in preventing and even reversing breast cancer, as you will read along in the next points. A whole food plant-based diet rich in vegetables, whole grains, fruits, and beans, light exercise, and limiting alcohol cut the risk of breast cancer up to 62 percent according to the American Institute Of Cancer Research. 4
The blood taken from women eating a plant based diet for just 14 days was dripped on breast cancer cells in Petri dishes and in this little amount of time killed 20-30 percent more cancer cells than the blood of the same women eating a standard diet taken 2 weeks before. Here are the pictures of the study of the effects of a plant-based diet in just as short as 2 weeks. 5
Left image shows cancer cells and right shows the reduction of cancer cells.
Same test but now shows cancer cell destruction or apoptosis (programmed cell death.) The white image spots below show cancer cell destruction. As you can see in the image on the right, white spots signifying cancer cell destruction appears. This is just from 14 days of eating a plant-based diet.
#3 ALCOHOL CAN INCREASE YOUR RISK OF BREAST CANCER
According to the World Health Organization in 2014, with regards to breast cancer, no amount of alcohol is safe. 6 The cancer-causing carcinogen is not the alcohol but is the toxic breakdown product of alcohol called acetaldehyde which forms in your mouth after taking a sip. This also includes mouthwash that contains alcohol. 7 There is, however, one exception, red wine has not been found to increase breast cancer risk. The compound is found in the skin of the dark purple grapes shown to suppress estrogen which is a marker for breast cancer. 8 This was found not to be the same with white wine since white wine is made without the skin. 9
#4 EAT FLAXSEEDS EVERYDAY
Flaxseeds are known to be one of the highest sources of omega-3, but more importantly for breast cancer they are also one of the highest sources of lignan. Lignan is a phytoestrogen that hampers the production of estrogen which as mentioned earlier is a main marker of breast cancer.
The lignan in the flaxseeds needs to be activated by the good bacteria in your gut in order to be used. With this in mind, those who frequently have urinary tract infections, which hamper lignan utilization, have a higher risk of breast cancer. In addition to this, antibiotics can also kill your good bacteria which undermines your ability to use the lignans for anti-breast cancer use. 10
Just 1 tablespoon of grounded flaxseed daily may reduce the risk of breast cancer. Women with high risk of breast cancer or previously had breast cancer were tested and given just 2 teaspoons of ground flaxseed every day for 1 year by the National Cancer Institute in 2010. After a year, 80 percent had a drop of increased breast cancer proliferation. 11
Breast cancer survivors who have higher lignans in their blood appear to survive longer and have higher endostatin in their breasts. Endostatin is a protein produced by the body to help starve tumors of their blood supply. Flaxseed is the one superfood you NEED to add for breast cancer prevention as it can be considered a potential dietary alternative or adjunct to currently-used breast cancer drugs, with no side effects. 12
#5 SOY IS NOT BAD FOR YOU, IN FACT, IT’S ANTI-BREAST CANCER
It’s common notion that soy is bad for breast cancer and you need to avoid it like the plague. Breast cancer and soy have been put to the test in 2009 and all research have proven that soy actually has positive benefits against breast cancer. Researchers found that women diagnosed with breast cancer who ate the most soy lived significantly longer and had a lesser risk of recurrence of breast cancer than those who ate less. 13
The benefits of soy are found in its phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogen is DIFFERENT from estrogen as what it does is it actually BLOCKS the effect of estrogen. Again, soy does not raise estrogen but actually blocks it.
Researchers found that 90 percent of breast cancer patients who ate the most soy after diagnosis were still alive after 5 years while those who ate half of the soy or as little to no soy were dead. 14
Aside from lowering estrogen, the unique phytoestrogen in soy particularly Isoflavones have the ability to activate the BRCA gene which is the cancer-suppressing gene responsible in DNA repair. When breast cancer proliferates, they hijack and turn off the BRCA gene to spread the tumor. Isoflavones from soy help turn this back on for our bodies cancer defenses. 15
How much soybean do you need? Just a cup of soybeans daily has been shown to turn the BRCA gene back on to defend against breast cancer. The phytoestrogens in a cup of soy milk have been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer returning by up to 25 percent. 16
You can find soy in food items such as soybeans, edamame, tempeh, tofu, and soy milk.
#6 BREAST CANCER IS STRONGLY ASSOCIATED WITH MEAT CONSUMPTION AND CHOLESTEROL
Breast cancer-causing substances have been identified as heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and are chemicals formed when muscle meat including beef, pork, fish and poultry is cooked using high temperatures. These include roasting, pan frying, grilling, and baking. The longer the meat is cooked the more HCAs are formed. It has been shown that women who eat more grilled, barbecued, or smoked meats have 47 percent higher odds of breast cancer. 17
HCAs appear to initiate cancer growth. PhiP, the most abundant HCA in cooked meat was found to have the strongest estrogen effects, fueling human breast cancer cells aggressively the same as pure estrogen. 18
In addition to this, breast cancer cells have been shown to feed on cholesterol. LDL cholesterol which is the bad cholesterol stimulates the growth of breast cancer cells. Tumors may suck up cholesterol so that cancer patient’s cholesterol levels plummet as their cancer grows. The cancer is thought to be using cholesterol to make estrogen and tumor membranes to help cancer migrate and invade more tissue. 19
LDL cholesterol can only be ingested when consuming animal products. As mentioned in previous articles about heart disease, our body doesn’t need any cholesterol from outside sources, we already produce enough and the problem is when we start ingesting cholesterol from sources we don’t need. Researchers discovered that women who use statins for a decade to try to lower their cholesterol through drugs didn’t turn out so well. They had twice the risk of breast cancer and it showed that the drugs doubled this risk. 20
The best action is to avoid to animal protein and eat a whole food plant-based diet to lower cholesterol and avoid HCAs.
#6 GREEN TEA AND MUSHROOMS ARE BREAST CANCER KILLERS
Green tea and mushrooms have antioxidants and anti-breast cancer killer compounds that make them beneficial for breast cancer.
Green tea has been shown to reduce breast cancer risk up to 30 percent. 21 Matcha is a more concentrated source of green with a single cup of matcha being equivalent to the antioxidants of 10 cups of green tea. Researchers tested green tea on breast cancer cells in a Petri dish while adding the carcinogen PhiP and they found that without the green tea, the cancer cells all activated but when adding the green tea, the cancer cells transformation were blunted.
White mushrooms have also been shown to block estrogen.Researchers learned that women who ate ½ mushroom or more per day had 64 percent lower rates of breast cancer.
White mushrooms have been shown to be the most effective type of mushroom against breast cancer, better than Enoki, Portobello and Shiitake. Combining green tea and mushrooms is associated to up to 90 percent lower breast cancer odds. 22
#7 WE MUST STOP THE ACTUAL CANCEROUS STEM CELL
Stem cells are the body’s raw materials, “parents” in where other cells are generated. Breast tissues have many stem cells in reserve which are used during pregnancy to create milk glands.
For those with breast cancer, these stem cells turn cancerous and build tumors. When people are told that they are cancer-free, it may mean that their tumors are gone but may reappear later even up to 25 years after being successfully fought due to the cancerous stem cells reigniting. 2
Current chemotherapy and radiation are based on animal models and their success is measured on the ability to shrink tumors in rodents. Unfortunately, rodents only live 2 to 3 years so we have no idea on the recurrence rate several years down the line due to the cancerous stem cell. 23
There is a possibility we are shrinking tumors through chemo but mutated stem cells may still be lurking which are able to build new tumors over the years.
#9 EAT BROCCOLI, CRUCIFEROUS VEGETABLES, AND FOODS HIGH IN FIBER TO FIGHT BREAST CANCER
According to Dr. Greger, what we need is to strike at the root of cancer, treatments aimed not at just reducing tumor bulk. One of the best ways is through plant-based foods, particularly broccoli.
Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables are one of breast cancer’s worst enemies. This is because of a component of these vegetables called Sulforaphane has the ability to suppress stem cells to form tumors. Broccoli and broccoli sprouts are particularly high in Sulforaphane. 24
Fiber is also very important in fighting against breast cancer. Fiber is only found in plant-based foods which are grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables, etc. Researchers reported that women with breast cancer are eating less soluble fiber on average than cancer-free women.
Yale University found that premenopausal women on a higher fiber diet had 85 percent lower odds of breast cancer. The fiber also was not obtained through supplements but by actual plant foods. 25
Researchers also learned that every 20 g of fiber intake per day from plant foods was associated with 15 percent lower risk of breast cancer. Although a daily intake of 25 g of fiber would be needed to show a significant fall in breast cancer risk. 26
#10 MELATONIN ACTIVATES CANCER DEFENSE
Melatonin is a compound that is pumped from your pineal gland once the sky darkens and night begins to fall. This is the natural signal of your body that it is time to sleep. Melatonin production shuts off at daybreak, signaling our bodies to wake up.
Aside from this, melatonin plays a role in suppressing cancer growth. 27 Apparently, researchers discovered that blind women have 50% odds of breast cancer than sighted women due to the fact that they never see the sunlight, causing their pineal glands to never stop secreting melatonin. Melatonin doesn’t just help our body sleep but also helps suppress cancer cell production at night. 28
Women with higher melatonin secretion have been found to have lower rates of breast cancer. In fact, those who work night shifts interrupt their melatonin production have been identified to be at increased risk for breast cancer. Meat has also been shown to lower melatonin production.29
So there you have it! Kudos to Dr. Michael Greger for organizing this helpful and informative research. Please check out his book “How Not to Die” and his website nutritionfacts.org. In his website nutritionfacts.org, you can access a variety of breast cancer video research. All of his works, including his website and books, are non-profit.
“How Not to Die” by Dr. Michael Greger, Gene Stone; Dec 2015
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