According to the National Cancer Institute, the odds for women being diagnosed with breast cancer worsened in the last 30 years, rising from 1 in 30 to 1 in 8. Although breast self-exams and mammograms provide good tools for screening and diagnosis, a science-based alternative medical paradigm called Functional Medicine offers hope for prevention of the disease.
Functional Medicine traces causes of diseases to nutritional deficiencies, environmental toxins and bodily imbalances, among other factors, and both helps patients to prevent health problems by correcting underlying problems in those factors and to treat diseases without surgery or drugs.
Screening Vs. Prevention
Breast cancer screening is not prevention. It is early detection, which helps those who have developed breast cancer to discover it early enough to treat it before it becomes deadly. Prevention means helping you not develop the disease at all. Fortunately, research provides numerous indicators of positive steps you can take to avoid getting breast cancer in the first place.
Four Key Breast Cancer Prevention Factors
First, you should eat an anti-cancer diet high in fiber and rich in vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, deep-water fish, garlic and plenty of water. Such a diet addresses nutritional deficiencies that very often cause disease. Avoid hydrogenated or trans-fats and oils, products made from refined grains (like white rice or white bread) or foods with added sugar. Drink alcohol in moderation.
Second, ask your health practitioner to assess your hormone balance. Studies show that oral contraceptives increase the risk of cancer of the breast in women under the age of 45. Also, according to a recent study by the Journal of the American Medical Association, synthetic hormones can cause breast tissue to become denser, making it harder to spot trouble on a mammogram.
Third is exercise – not intensive levels of exercise, but something you probably can manage by making small adjustments in your daily routine. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Park farther away from the mall entrance. Walk together when meeting friends, instead of sitting and eating. By setting aside the time for mild to moderate exercise seven or more hours a week, you decrease your risk of developing this form of cancer by 20 percent.
Fourth, you should do your best to avoid exposure to toxins and pollutants, which account for about 80 percent of breast cancers. Toxins include pesticides, solvents, adhesives, dry-cleaning chemicals, phthalates and synthetic hormones that find their way into the food chain. Eat organic whenever possible, to eliminate the ingestion of pesticides, hormones and antibiotics. Likewise, avoid eating meat, eggs or dairy products from conventionally raised animals.