A plan to keep your breasts healthy
You may be surprised to know that several nutrients, as well as lifestyle factors, can affect the health and appearance of your breast tissue.
The good news is there is a plan you can follow to keep your breasts healthy.
I have the following breast health recommendations, as prevention is better than cure:
- Have regular annual breast checks from your doctor and perform breast self-examination every 2 months – this is best done just after your menstrual bleeding has finished.
- Avoid excess alcohol intake.
- Include plenty of antioxidant rich foods in your diet, such as raw vegetables and their juices, raw fruits and white or green tea.
- Include phyto-estrogen rich foods in your diet such as nuts, seeds and legumes (beans, peas & lentils). Phyto-estrogens help to protect estrogen receptors in breast tissue from more powerful, harmful estrogens.
- Keep your weight in the healthy range and exercise regularly. If losing weight is a challenge for you, see my new book I Can’t Lose Weight and I don’t Know Why.
- Minimize your exposure to toxic chemicals (such as pesticides, insecticides, solvents, glues, dyes, etc.) and avoid heating food in plastic containers or plastic wraps. Don’t drink hot beverages from styrofoam cups. Install a water filter in your home.
- Ensure you receive enough of the nutrients vital for supporting healthy breast tissue – these are vitamin D, iodine and selenium.
- If you have lumpy breasts, it may be wise to avoid prolonged use of oral contraceptives which contain synthetic estrogens.
Essential Nutrients for Healthy Breasts
Vitamin D is a hormone-like substance that is produced in the skin during exposure to sunlight. It has many important functions in the body, including strengthening bones and promoting a healthy immune system which reduces your risk of cancer.
Vitamin D helps to regulate cellular replication in a very important way. Vitamin D helps cells to differentiate (become specialised), and inhibits cells from proliferating, or growing in an out of control way. It is thought that these are the reasons why vitamin D deficiency increases the risk of various types of cancer, including breast cancer, as well as cancer of the colon and prostate.
Those most at risk of vitamin D deficiency include people with dark skin, women who practise veiling, people taking certain medications (such as anti-epileptic drugs), and people who spend most of their time indoors. Sunscreen inhibits the manufacture of vitamin D.
It’s healthy to get some regular exposure to the sun’s rays on uncovered skin; however prolonged sun exposure can be hazardous and vitamin D is found in very few foods; therefore, supplementing with vitamin D may be the best option. Your body’s level of vitamin D can be accurately tested with a blood test.
Iodine is a trace mineral that has a number of important health promoting functions in the body. Eighty percent of the iodine in your body is stored in your thyroid gland, as it is needed for the production of thyroid hormones. Interestingly in women, a large amount of iodine is also stored in breast tissue.
Research has shown that iodine deficiency increases the risk of fibrocystic breast disease. This is where the breasts become lumpy and painful, particularly before menstruation, when multiple cysts can be felt. Taking supplemental iodine helps to resolve these symptoms for the majority of women.
Studies have also shown that iodine acts as an antioxidant in the breasts, protecting breast tissue from free radical damage. In this way it helps to protect breast tissue against cancerous changes.
Iodine deficiency is an increasingly common problem worldwide and the majority of the world’s iodine is found in the oceans; however small amounts are also found in the soil. Many parts of the world, especially inland areas, have soils very deficient in iodine. Studies done in the last five years have identified iodine deficiency as a common problem among adults, children and pregnant women. Your iodine level can be checked with a urine test.
Seafood that comes from the ocean (rather than that which is farmed) is a source of iodine. Seaweeds (such as arame, wakame, kelp, nori and kombu) are an excellent source of iodine.
Selenium is a mineral that acts as a powerful antioxidant and is a great protector and detoxifier in breast tissue. Selenium has been shown to stimulate apoptosis (cell death) in tumour cells, and a low selenium status predicts a poorer outcome in those with certain cancers. Geographic studies have shown that people who live in areas with selenium deficient soils and have a low selenium intake, have higher cancer mortality rates.
Women who have the breast cancer gene (BRCA1 gene), which is a mutated gene that places them at greatly increased risk of breast cancer are known to have more chromosome breaks (which can promote cancer) than women without this gene. Research has shown that when women with the BRCA1 gene were given supplemental selenium for three months, their number of chromosome breaks was reduced to normal.
Obtaining adequate selenium from diet alone can be difficult because very few foods are a rich source of selenium. Brazil nuts, crab and salmon provide some selenium, however using a selenium supplement will ensure you receive optimal levels of this vital mineral.
All of these nutrients are combined together in Breast Health Capsules.
If you would like more information read the book titled “The Breast Cancer Prevention Guide”.
The above statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat or prevent any disease.
Hansen CM, Binderup L, Hamberg KJ, Vitamin D and cancer: effects of 1,25(OH)2D3 and its analogues on growth control and tumorigenesis. Front Biosci. 2001 6: D820-48.
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Kowalska E et al., Increased Rates of Chromosomes Breakage in BRCA1 Carriers are Normalized by Oral Selenium Supplementation, Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention 2005