October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and with this being the most common cancer diagnosis for American women, it’s vital we’re proactive about PREVENTION of this disease and improving overall body homeostasis as best we can. There’s so much coming at us these days, we have to be more proactive about supporting ourselves to feel our best and avoid dis-ease. Through the media or our standard doctors office it’s easy to feel hopeless and full of fear or overwhelm that disease awaits us all, and there’s little hope but surgery or pharmaceuticals and side-effects; but there is hope, knowledge, and tools available to us, and it doesn’t come in a ‘pink washed’ package of cookies for breast cancer.
Through Epigenetics we know that although we may have the genes that can predispose us to this disease, our internal and external environment play the greatest roles. Be it our nutrition, gut health and hormone balance, our stress, and the toxicity in our environment or food/drink, we can help prevent dis-ease by supporting the ecosystem of our body so that dis-ease is much less likely to take root.
So what can we do in our day-to-day to optimize our health in a way that helps prevent this disease?
Firstly what we put in our body is truly foundational, so nutritionally speaking we can:
1) Reduce/eliminate sugar, processed carbs, and alcohol. Sugar increases insulin, estrogen, and inflammation, and feeds cancer. Enjoy the very occasional treat and celebration, and make it count, make sure it’s grandmother’s famous cookies or other made with love and goodness.
2) Eat a rainbow of diverse plant foods, to nourish your body, balance your microbiome, support healthy elimination and hormones, and phytonutrients to fight off disease. Try to eat a fruit or vegetable from every color, especially the dark greens, blues, and purples every day. Eat broccoli sprouts or broccoli consistently; richest in sulphoraphane, a powerful phase II detoxifier, helps clear excess inflammatory estrogen, and helps prevent breast cancer cells.
3) Feed your healthy gut bugs. Eat prebiotic and probiotic rich foods daily like raw sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, unsweetened coconut or goat kefir, etc. These are vital for a healthy microbiome, resilient immune system, healthy hormone metabolism, toxin elimination, energy, mood, and fighting disease! They help us to digest our other foods and get their nutrients, support our internal boundaries and fending off invaders.
Most importantly, if you have a family history of breast cancer and/or symptoms of hormone imbalance, please work with a Functional, Integrative, or Naturopathic practitioner to do some simple salivary or urinary sex hormone testing (it’s not that costly), and perhaps a full thyroid hormone panel, and support you in a well-rounded effective root cause approach. This is so important, and I find so often women are suffering with chronic fatigue, anxiety, depression, weight issues, hot flashes, painful or skipped period, etc. thinking that’s just the way it is, until some testing and balancing their gut and hormones, and they feel like the best version of themselves and haven’t felt that way in years. It’s not ‘in your head’ like your partner or doctor may say, often times it’s a physiological imbalance or toxicity and just needs some support.
So, moving on. Some key Lifestyle steps we can take daily:
1) Eliminate plastic and aluminum cans (BPA lining, pthalates, etc) from your life as much as possible, especially holding food or drink. Never heat up your food in plastic or drink water from plastic bottles. Xenoestrogens lead to cancer and are stored in our fatty tissue, aka breasts. Use glass jars and bottles, bring them to the store or co-op to fill your food, use a hydroflask or glass bottle for your drinking water.
2) Get rid of all FACE/BODY/BEAUTY CARE with chemicals and unknown elements, and FRAGRANCE PRODUCTS! If it’s not a plant (from the earth, not a factory), don’t use it. Living Libations is my top favorite truly clean skincare/oralcare/haircare/etc line, OR make your own. We don’t need most of these products, health, beauty, slower-aging come from our internal health and wellbeing.
3) Replace chemical CLEANING PRODUCTS with natural alternatives, like baking soda, vinegar, citrus oil, lemon or sage infused vinegar, etc. This is something I’m currently exploring how to purchase less plastic bottles of cleaning products and make my own with simpler, healthier ingredients.
4) DAILY Exercise reduces risk and recurrence! Get your body moving and heart pumping every day, even for 30minutes, we simply have to do it. Jog, run, hike, dance to your favorite music, yoga, HIIT, pilates, spin, etc. Find what you enjoy, and commit every day. Side effects include better mood and sleep, more energy and clarity, better digestion and elimination, and decreased risk of all cancers!
5) Manage Stress daily, become more aware of your breath throughout the day and take more deep belly breaths, take 15minutes+ to meditate/breathe DAILY, do yoga, read or journal, take a bath. Set aside a chunk of time every day for YOUR grounding and releasing self-care!
6) Set Digital Boundaries. Keep the phone away from your body (and computer off your lap btw), use speaker phone or headphones (with the cord), turn it on airplane mode whenever you can especially while sleeping, use an old school alarm clock, digital detox every morning/evening/weekend if possible, don’t check your phone until after breakfast each morning, and NEVER hold it in your bra or purse by your chest.
7) Lymphatic support. Two of my favorite self-care breast practices are dry brushing in the sauna, and using a GuaSha stone in the bath or shower. With the smooth and crescent shaped stone and some coconut or jojoba oil (can add a little citrus oil), vigorously massage the breasts, break up any soft tissue fibrosis and cleanse the lymphs and breast tissue.
Then, with those foundational layers in place, we can add in some supplemental support.
1) Medicinal mushrooms, like Turkey Tail, Chaga, Reishi, Maitake, Lions Mane, etc. offer powerful immune support, prevention and apoptosis of cancer cells. Mushrooms are adaptogens, meaning they help us to adapt to stress, in our external or internal environment, and help our body to find homeostasis. These are an incredible ally available to us, and easy to add fresh mushrooms into our meals, take as supplements, or add powders into our latte or smoothies. Look for brands you trust like Host Defense, by the world renowned mycologist, the amazing Paul Stamets.
2) Another powerful ally coming onto the radar is CBD, also known for it’s homeostatic, adaptogenic, and anti-tumor qualities. CBD, from hemp or cannabis, induces cell death in breast cancer cells and is an inhibitor of aggressive breast cancer cells. In this quickly booming field, where companies are slapping CBD on every kind of product to sell more, it’s important to look for brands you trust. Look that they provide a clean report of no residual toxicants, and that their Hemp or CBD is broad spectrum (not isolate!), sun grown and organic if possible. I of course know and trust Foria Wellness and soon they’ll be releasing ‘Basics’ a daily sublingual of organic broad spectrum hemp, in organic coconut MCT oil, the highest quality and most honest price out there. They’ll also soon have some broad spectrum CBD suppositories to also get your dose or support any symptoms of lower pelvic pain/inflammation. So you can sign up on their site to stay in the loop; they’re also offering some fantastic in-depth articles.
I hope this serves you well, and offers tools to empower you, tips to weave into your daily life that not only helps prevent this disease or others, but overall improves your wellbeing and ability to show up in this world with joy and resilience.
If this inspired or helped you, please share with those you love that could benefit. If there’s more you’d recommend, tips you’ve learned, please share with me below!
Cannabidiol induces programmed cell death in breast cancer cells by coordinating the cross-talk between apoptosis and autophagy. Mol Cancer Ther. 2011 Jul;10(7):1161-72. doi: 10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-10-1100. Epub 2011 May 12. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21566064
Standish LJ, Wenner CA, Sweet ES, et al. Trametes versicolor Mushroom Immune Therapy in Breast Cancer. Journal of the Society for Integrative Oncology. 2008;6(3):122-128. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19087769
Sulforaphane, a Dietary Component of Broccoli/Broccoli Sprouts, Inhibits Breast Cancer Stem Cells. Li Y, Zhang T, Korkaya H, et al. Sulforaphane, a Dietary Component of Broccoli/Broccoli Sprouts, Inhibits Breast Cancer Stem Cells. Clinical cancer research : an official journal of the American Association for Cancer Research. 2010;16(9):2580-2590. doi:10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-09-2937.