Ten Ways to Help Prevent Breast Cancer
1. Avoid (HRT) Hormone Replacement Therapy
Synthetic HRT increases the risk of Breast Cancer. In 2002, a huge double blind placebo study called “Women’s Health Initiative” sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO) was stopped early because it was proven during the study that HRT causes breast cancer.
2. Limit or avoid birth control pills
Even the weakest pill contains seven times the amount of estrogen naturally occurring in your body. Research has determined that the single greatest risk factor for future development of breast cancer is lifetime exposure of the breasts to estrogen.
3. Limit your exposure to xeno-estrogens
Ethinyl Estradiol used in contraceptives, or Methoxychlor a pesticide that replaced the well known DDT , industrial pollutants such as Bisphenol-A used as a plasticizer, all man made radiation, pesticides and herbicides, as well as many toxic cleaning products that mimic estrogen with their molecular structure. Since hormone- disrupting chemicals mimic estrogen, it is suspected they are linked to the growing incidence of breast cancer.
Non-Invasive Breast Thermography
Breast thermography measures the infrared radiation (heat) which is constantly radiating (emitting) away from the surface of the human skin. Skin as an organ breathes, exchanges gases with the environment, cools us as well as keeps us warm by letting heat out or keeping it in by controlling the amount of circulation, or blood flow, in the skin. This automatic regulation is done without conscious thought and is controlled by the autonomic nervous system via the sympathetics. The whole process is called thermoregulation.
The procedure is based on the principle that chemical and blood vessel activity in both pre-cancerous tissue and the area surrounding a developing breast cancer is almost always higher than in the normal breast. Since pre-cancerous and cancerous masses are highly metabolic tissues, they need an abundant supply of nutrients to maintain their growth. In order to do this they increase circulation to their cells by sending out chemicals to keep existing blood vessels open, recruit dormant vessels, and create new ones (neo-angiogenesis). This process results in an increase in regional surface temperatures of the breast.
Abnormal thermological patterns of the breast clearly demonstrate abnormal areas of heat. This gives the clinician an alert that something might be wrong with physiology of the breast. It could be an infection, inflammatory process, trauma or cancer.
Before a Lump Develops
The statistics today are alarming: one in eight women will develop breast cancer. Each woman must choose between lumpectomy, mastectomy, radiation or chemotherapy in deciding how best to respond to her situation. With no cure for breast cancer in sight, everyone agrees that early detection is crucial.
Presently, breast self-examination and regular mammograms are the prescribed tools for early detection. Self-examination is an easy, no-cost way to monitor breast health and detect changes in the early stages. Mammograms provide a look inside the breast tissue and can often detect and diagnose anatomical abnormalities – such as lumps – already existing in the breast.
But lumps and other breast abnormalities generally don’t appear overnight. Long before they are discovered via film or fingers, their cellular contributors are hard at work. Cancer cells require a supply of blood in order to flourish and survive. Being aggressive, they create their own pathways to obtain this nourishment. Self-examination and mammograms cannot detect this invisible, early-cellular process, which usually occurs in breast tissue from five to ten years before even the slightest growth of a lump.
The Mammogram Conundrum
Recently the US Department of Health dropped a bombshell on unsuspecting women in North America with the recommendation that 40-50 year olds need not have routine mammograms. They went on further to suggest that after the age of fifty, women should only have a mammogram once every two years instead of the previous recommendation of having a mammogram every year beginning at age 40. Citing a high prevalence of false positive test results along with anxiety and unnecessary invasive interventions such as biopsy and overtreatment. In addition, they made a secondary recommendation that Doctors not teach women BSE (Breast Self Examination).
This announcement has created a huge controversy in the media and I would like to add a few other reasons why “routine” screening and the reliance on “one rule” applying to every woman is actually misleading and inappropriate. Unfortunately, women under the age of 50 often do get an aggressive form of cancer which would most benefit from early screening and detection; however, I do agree that mammograms are not the most effective method of screening women in this age group.
Rethink Breast Cancer
The ever growing cancer rates have become acceptable in today’s society; however, we should not accept this simply out of complacency. We need to look at cancer statistics and rethink our entire approach. Only 90 years ago 1 person in 8 was afflicted with cancer, today it is estimated that 40% (or 3.2 people in 8) are going to get cancer during their lifetimes. Over the same period of time, we have spent trillions of dollars in research and medical care but the results are often far from productive. While there is an enormous need to find the cure for cancer, I would like see the focus shift towards prevention. There are simple and effective ways of lowering the risk of cancer, and of breast cancer in particular. Even women with family history or those who have inherited genetic predisposition can significantly reduce the incidence of breast cancer if they follow these simple but effective instructions: Starting from young age pre-adolescent girls:
The increasingly lower age of menarche (onset menstruation) among girls due to improper diet and inadequate levels of exercise and physical activity raises the risk of breast cancer. Proper dietary measures, weight control along with appropriate amounts of physical activity will decrease the risk factors in the future years for these young women.
Young women in their teenage years becoming sexually active should avoid the oral contraceptives. Even the weakest pill contains seven times the amount of estrogen naturally occurring in your body. Research has determined that the single greatest risk factor for future development of breast cancer is lifetime exposure of the breasts to estrogen. It would appear that controlling the influence of estrogen on the breasts would be the single most important method of primary breast cancer prevention.
What's the difference? Thermography, Mammography or Ultrasound?
One of the most frequent questions I am asked as a clinical thermographer is: “What exactly is the difference between mammography, ultrasound and thermography?” There seems to be some confusion on this subject by thinking that one replaces the other as tests, nothing could be further from the truth. Both mammography and ultrasound are structural (anatomical) tests, while thermography is a functional (physiological) test. None of these tests are truly diagnostic technologies. Thermography images the breast and surrounding area and provides us with risk assessment, while mammography and ultrasound detect structural abnormalities. If a breast abnormality is found that could possibly be malignant, a biopsy is performed. A biopsy removes a tissue sample for examination under a microscope.
Young Women and Breast Cancer
Younger women generally do not consider themselves to be at risk for breast cancer. Statistics however show that breast cancer is the most common cause of death in women aged 35-54 and the incidence continues to rise. About a quarter of all breast cancers diagnosed this year will be diagnosed in women before menopause. We have also observed this increase at our clinic in women under the age of 50.
What is different about Breast Cancer in younger women?
Younger women generally have denser breast tissue than in older women. By the time a lump is felt in a younger woman’s breast the cancer is usually in an advanced stage and therefore is less likely to be treated effectively.
Routine screening with mammography is offered to women 50 and over. Screening younger women with mammography has not been effective. Denser breast tissue, present in younger women, does not bode well with X-ray mammography. In cases where the patient has Grade III or IV density of the breasts, the effectiveness of mammography screening drops below 50%.