October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. In Canada 1 out of every 9 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime and the time to start thinking about it is now. Very little focus is given to the fact that cancer is a preventable disease. It’s not a mystery as to why we get it. We are exposed to toxins that mutate cells. Our body is overwhelmed and are unable to get rid of these toxins. What do we do about it? We reduce our exposure as much as we can and we support our immune and detoxification systems. Our body has many miraculous ways to get rid of toxins but often times we are exposed to far more than it can deal with. Our detoxification pathways comprise of our liver, kidneys, digestive system, lymphatic system, skin and emotions. Stress plays a huge role in disease.
Breast cancer is an estrogen dominant condition. There are thousands of estrogen mimicking, man made, petroleum based, chemicals (xeno-estrogens) that we are exposed to every day. They are non biodegradable and accumulate in our fat cells. These artificial estrogens stimulate breast cells, cause early puberty, fibroids, endometriosis, infertility, birth defects, reduce progesterone levels and encourage testosterone to convert into harmful DHT. They are very hard to avoid and are found in:
“Xenoestrogens are estrogenic chemicals that can mimic the hormone estrogen. This over load of synthetic estrogens causes an excess of estrogen in the body which interrupts the body’s normal hormonal activities.” (source: www.nurseforhealth.com)
Agricultural chemicals: Pesticides, herbicides and fungicides. These are in our food and accumulate in the animals we eat (animal meat, poultry, eggs, farmed fish, eggs). Lamb is usually a better choice. Eat organic foods as much as you can. Buy Locally.
Body care products: the skin is a sponge, toxins go directly into fat and blood and are 10x more potent than if digested and filtered by the liver. This includes deodorants, perfumes, artificial air fresheners, hair products, shampoos, nail polish and remover, makeup, soaps, mouthwash, sun screens and lotions. Become aware of the ingredients that are the most toxic and avoid products that contain them. Especially avoid parabens, phenoxyethanol and pthalates.
Household products: laundry soap, dryer sheets, air fresheners, dish soap, dry cleaning chemicals, bleach (feminine hygiene products and drinking water), glue, paint and paint remover, other solvents, cleaners ~ tile cleaners, bathroom cleaners. Use natural products or make your own.Vinegar works wonders for many things.
Plastic: bispenol-A in drinking bottles (BPA), plastic wrap, food containers, canned foods, shower curtains, styrofoam cups. NEVER microwave in plastic. Try not to store your food in plastic containers. Use glass. In one Dartmouth University study, the researchers found that plastic wrap with olive oil heated in a microwave produced a concentration of xenoestrogens 500,000 times the minimum amount of estrogen needed to produce breast cancer cell proliferation in a test tube.
Pollution: industrial waste, car exhaust, sewage treatment plants, millions of women are excreting hormones from HRT into the food chain.
Medications: Hormone Replacement Therapy and Birth Control Pills.
Work place: copiers, printers, faxes, fiberboard, furniture, carpet, etc…
Liver Health: Hormones are meant to circulate in the body and then be metabolized and de-activated by the liver. When excess estrogen is being excreted by the body it is conjugated (joined with another compound) in the liver, carried in the bile to the intestines. If all is working the way it should the estrogen stays conjugated and is excreted, however IF you eat a lot of meat or you have candida, then a specific enzyme is present in the gut that once again makes the estrogen biologically active and it is free to be re-absorbed into the blood stream.
Make sure that the bacteria in your gut is in balance. Eat fermented foods (miso, yogurt, kefir, kombucha, kim chi, naturally fermented sauerkraut) and take probiotics. Do not use Splenda as a sweetener as it has been shown to upset that delicate balance between the good and bad bacteria.
“Splenda reduces the amount of good bacteria in the intestines by 50%.” (Duke university, North Carolina)
Cruciferous vegetables are a great benefit to estrogen conjugation in the liver as well as containing sulphur for immune function. They contain such compounds indole-3-carbinol, di-indole-methane (DIM) and suphurophane. Eat at least 2 servings a day of the following:broccoli, cauliflower, watercress, cabbage, kale, bok choy, radishes, mustard greens, collard greens, arugula, rutabaga, kohlrabi, turnip and brussel sprouts. Broccoli sprouts have been shown to contain about 50 times more sulforophane than broccoli itself, so they are a fantastic choice.
Get enough fiber in your diet from nuts, seeds, whole grains and vegetables so that you are eliminating wastes regularly. The longer that waste products are held in your colon, the more time toxins and estrogen have to be reabsorbed into the blood stream. Fiber from flax seeds is especially important as flax seeds contain lignans that are phytoestrogens. They are thought to bind to estrogen receptors in the body and may have a role in preventing hormonally related cancers of the breast, endometrium and prostate. Populations with higher intakes of phytoestrogens seem to have a lower incidence and mortality from these cancers. Although lignans are found in most unrefined grains (barley, buckwheat, millet and oats), soybeans, and some vegetables (broccoli, carrots, cauliflower and spinach), flaxseed is the richest source, with sesame seeds coming in a close second. Lignans are also found in sea vegetables.
It is even better if you can rotate the seeds that you use in your diet. They can help to balance your hormones as the lignins and the oils they contain help to modulate hormones. Use flax and pumpkin seeds during the first two weeks of your cycle and then sunflower, sesame and hemp in the second half.
Foods for Breast Health:
- dried beans (especially chickpeas & lentils)
- sesame seeds flax seeds
- sprouted seeds (sprouts)
- rice & rice brain
- oats & oat bran
- alfalfa sprouts
- wheat germ
- cruciferous vegetables
- fermented soy products
It is interesting to note that soybeans contain about 54% Omega 6 and only about 7% Omega 3 so they will promote inflammation in the body. They are also always genetically modified unless you buy organic which means they will contain high levels of pesticides. In 1999 after RoundUp®Ready Soy Beans were introduced, soy allergies skyrocketed. Soy is also very estrogenic. If you do eat soy, eat it fermented (tempeh, tamari, miso) and include sea vegetables with it.
Xenoestrogens cause deficiencies in magnesium and B6, both of which are required for efficient hormone metabolization. Many women are deficient in both of these. Make sure you take your B Complex as well as extra magnesium. Most calcium supplements do not contain enough. Some women will need extra B6 as well.
Intestinal support: Probiotics for that most important intestinal flora. Products containing calcium-d-gluconate to promote excretion of conjugated estrogens.
Liver support: products containing DIM, broccoli extracts and any ingredient that will help with detoxification enzymes and increased bile production (milk thistle, dandelion, NAC, ALA, choline, selenium, turmeric, schizandra, high alpha whey protein powder). Add turmeric and cinnamon to your diet on a regular basis.
For more information on healthier cleaning and body care products visit www.lesstoxicguide.ca
The ideas and suggestions here are not intended as a substitute for appropriate care of a licensed health care practitioner. They are meant for educational purposes only.
Kira Neumann is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist working in our supplement department at Healthyway. You can visit with Kira in the store or go to her website at www.foodworksnutrition.com
Non Toxic Cleaning
By Kira Neumann, RHN