Posts tagged: breast cancer

Are You at Risk? How to Identify Your Major Risk Factors for Breast Cancer

In this 3-minute clinic we discuss the two major risk factors that contribute to breast cancer, from a Preventive & Integrative Medicine perspective, and what you can do about it.

Be sure to check out 3 Foods to Eat to Prevent Breast Cancer and The Role of Emotional Stress & Breast Cancer for more breast cancer prevention tips.

You can also join us for a FREE WEBINAR and learn the top strategies for building your body’s natural breast-cancer fighting capacity and decreasing your risk for breast cancer.

“Welcome to the 3-minute clinic where we review tools and strategies to be well and stay well for the rest of your life. Today’s subject is breast cancer and breast cancer awareness. As a matter of fact, we just passed breast cancer awareness month, so my question is, what did you discover? What did you learn about breast cancer? Can you identify the risk factors that lead to breast cancer? Can you identify what your risk factors are that might lead to breast cancer? Do you know what causes breast cancer? Because here’s what you need to know. What causes it—what puts you at risk for breast cancer; how to prevent it; what early detection is all about; and how to treat it. That’s really what I need you to know. So let’s talk today about the cause of it, because breast lumps are very common and breast cancer is common. Approximately 1 in 8 women in our society today will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer, nearly one third of all female cancers are breast cancers, and some 75-80% of women have a breast lump at one point or another in their life, which could eventually deteriorate or degenerate into breast cancer. This is a very common subject, so let’s review what could be causing it. Now what are the risk factors? What causes it? So let’s review four possible causes. Is it due to genetics or inheritance, number 1? Is it something you catch like the cold or the flu, you go to the nursery, and you catch it? Number 3, is it just a matter of being a victim or being at the wrong place at the wrong time—in other words, is it bad luck—or number four, is it due to your lifestyle choices? Well, in my experience, when I say lifestyle choices, I mean your thinking patterns, your nutritional patterns, your activity patterns, your exercise patterns, and your emotional patterns. Now I strongly believe that lifestyle factors are the key factors that contribute to breast cancer. And when we talk about risk factors, we’re really going to talk about the things that put you at risk. I don’t believe that genetics is that big of a risk factor. In my experience, 3-7% of breast cancers may be linked to genetic predispositions, but I don’t believe a person is born and they are programmed forty years later to have breast cancer–that they’re genetically programmed to have it. I think that people have a predisposition and depending on their environment and depending on their lifestyle it can either express itself or not express itself. What’s even more interesting to me is this: the majority of women that get diagnosed with invasive breast cancer have no family history of breast cancer. So I cannot put a big factor on inheritance. What I can put a big factor on is the immune system–your immune system–and your Immune Power. So what puts you at risk for breast cancer? What are the two greatest risks? Well, I put them into two categories. To me breast cancer is a hormonal imbalance–it is a disorder of a hormonal imbalance. And the things that put you at risk are in your metabolic area and in your stress area. So what do I mean by metabolic risk? What I mean by metabolic risk is this. Unless you have the right foods—that is, having nutritional stress or nutritional imbalances, put you at risk for breast cancer. In other words, a diet that is too high in fat and too low in fiber puts you at risk for breast cancer. Being overweight puts you at risk for breast cancer. Drinking alcohol or drinking too much alcohol, puts you at risk for breast cancer. And then there’s the emotional stress factors. The buried emotional stress, the buried anger, the suppressed emotions, high levels of emotional stress put you out of balance emotionally. You see, nutritional imbalances and emotional imbalances, in my experience, are your risk factors that you want to identify. But keep in mind, you have the power, you have the ability–by developing your immune system, by developing metabolic balance, by developing nutritional balance, by creating emotional balance–you have the power to prevent breast cancer.”

Soy Products & Breast Cancer: Do They Increase or Decrease My Risk?

As part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, let’s revisit a common question as it relates to soy products and breast cancer.  You can also  join us for a Free Educational Webinar on the Future of Breast Cancer Awareness to get any other questions you may have answered regarding breast cancer prevention.

Are soy products good for your health or do they increase your risk for disease?  Do soy products protect against breast cancer or increase your risk for breast cancer?

In the last few years there has been a lot of information in the media questioning the safety of soy.  Let me address a few of these concerns, particularly as it relates to breast cancer.  First off, it’s important to note that soy can be a staple to a healthy diet and has been show to help prevent a wide variety of chronic illnesses such as heart disease, osteoporosis, and many cancers–including breast, colon, and prostate cancer.[i],[ii],[iii] When you take a closer look at the nutritional profile of soy, it makes sense. Soy is a high-quality, alkaline protein source. It is also rich in fiber, phytonutrients, and antioxidants, all of which play an important role in protecting the body from long-term illness. With that in mind, let’s take a quick look at the benefits of soy, and then we can discuss the concerns that people have regarding soy and breast cancer.

The Benefits of Soy

There are two main benefits of consuming soy products as it relates to breast cancer.  To begin with, many epidemiological and clinical research studies have found that soy products help reduce the risk of breast cancer.[iv] For example, a recent study in 2008 at the University of Southern California found that women who consumed an average of one cup of soymilk or ½ a cup of tofu a day had a 30% lower risk of developing breast cancer, relative to women who consumed little or no soy products.[v] Not only is this study consistent with a well established and growing body of scientific documentation showing soy’s protective effect on breast cancer, but it’s also consistent with my clinical observation in evaluating the nutritional profile of nearly 40,000 female patients in my career.  It’s important to note, however, that the protective effect of soy products on breast cancer have been most notable in individuals who consume soy products earlier on in life and in adolescence, as breast tissue is forming.[vi],[vii]

The second benefit of soy is that it has been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence for those previously diagnosed with breast cancer.  For example, a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association–following over 5,000 women previously diagnosed with breast cancer–showed that women who regularly consumed soy milk, tofu, or edamame had a 32 % lower risk of recurrence and a 29% reduced risk of death.[viii]

Why Do Some People Believe Soy is Unsafe?

Despite the clinical research that suggests otherwise, it’s common to hear from time to time that soy products may be unsafe as it relates to breast cancer.  So what is it that people are concerned about?  The concern is typically around the isoflavones, also known as phytoestrogens, that are found in soy.  Since increased estrogen levels in the blood have been associated with higher levels of breast cancer, some people have speculated that the plant-based estrogens (phytoestrogens) in soy might increase the risk of breast cancer as well. At the surface, it sounds like a reasonable theory.  However, when you take a closer look at the science, this theory doesn’t hold up.

Interestingly enough, the impact of the phytoestrogens is just the opposite. Phytoestrogens, which are significantly weaker than human estrogen, have been shown to inhibit estrogen’s effects on the body when estrogens levels are high.[ix] What happens is the phytoestrogens can attach to the body’s estrogen receptor cells, and block endogenous and exogenous estrogen from attaching.  Endogenous estrogen is human estrogen produced by the body.  Exogenous estrogen is synthetic estrogen that can come from hormone replacement therapy or from exposure to synthetic chemicals–such as pesticides and heavy metals that make their way into our food supply–that have estrogen-like effects on the body.

I like to tell my patients that it’s kind of like a game of musical chairs.  When the music stops, and someone is already sitting in your chair, there is nowhere for you to sit.  In this case, the phytoestrogens are already sitting on the estrogen receptor sites, and keep the more harmful estrogen from attaching.  In this way, the phytoestrogens can protect the body against high levels of endogenous and exogenous estrogen in the blood stream.  This is one of the mechanisms by which many researchers believe soy products and the phytoestrogens in soy reduce the risk for breast cancer.

In Summary

So what’s my overall recommendation on soy?  Soy products can play a healthy role in your nutritional program–particularly as part of a plant-based, high-fiber, low saturated fat, phytonutrient-rich, antioxidant-rich, alkaline, chemical-free nutritional plan.  My clinical observations are consistent with epidemiological studies & clinical research that show that soy can help prevent breast cancer as well as reduce the risk of other long-term illnesses such as prostate cancer, heart disease, and osteoporosis.  Keep in mind, when choosing soy products, be sure to emphasize organic, non-GMO, minimally processed soy.  For example, tofu, soy milk, and soy yogurt, as well as fermented soy products such as tempeh, natto, and miso are all great options for including soy in your diet.  Products that are heavily processed, commercialized, and filled with soy-protein isolate–such as some of the fake meat soy products–are probably not your best dietary sources of soy.

Looking for further information on soy and your health?  For those that are interested, I like to refer to my patients to a great article put together by PCRM (Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine), which elaborates on some of the studies referred to in this article and further discusses the topic of soy and your long-term wellbeing.  You can access this article at

[i] Badger, T. M., Ronis, M. J., Simmen, R., & Simmen, F. A. (2005). Soy protein isolate and protection against cancer. Journal of the American College of Nutrition , 146S-149S.

[ii] Pipe, E. A., Gobert, C. P., Capes, S. E., Darlington, G. A., Lampe, J. W., & Duncan, A. M. (2009). Soy protein reduces serum LDL cholesterol and the LDL cholesterol:HDL cholesterol and apolipoprotein B:apolipoprotein A-I ratios in adults with type 2 diabetes. The Journal of Nutrition , 1700-1706.

[iii] Koh, W. P., Wu, A. H., Wang, R., Ang, L. W., Heng, D., Yuan, J. M., et al. (2009). Gender-specific associations between soy and risk of hip fracture in the Singapore Chinese Health Study. American Journal of Epidemiology , 901-909.

[iv]Badger, T. M., Ronis, M. J., Simmen, R., & Simmen, F. A. (2005). Soy protein isolate and protection against cancer. Journal of the American College of Nutrition , 146S-149S.

[v] Wu, A. H., Yu, M. C., Tseng, C. C., & Pike, M. C. (2008). Epidemiology of soy exposures and breast cancer risk. British Journal of Cancer , 9-14

[vi] Korde, L. A., Wu, A. H., Fears, T., Nomura, A. M., West, D. W., Kolonel, L. N., et al. (2009). Childhood soy intake and breast cancer risk in Asian American women. Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention , 1050-1059.

[vii] Shu, X. O., Jin, F., Dai, Q., Wen, W., Potter, J. D., Kushi, L. H., et al. (2001). Soyfood intake during adolescence and subsequent risk of breast cancer among Chinese women. Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention , 483-488.

[viii] Shu, X. O., Zheng, Y., Cai, H., Gu, K., Chen, Z., Zheng, W., et al. (2009). Soy food intake and breast cancer survival. JAMA: the Journal of the American Medical Association , 2437-2443.

[ix] Wiseman, H., O’Reilly, J. D., Adlercreutz, H., Mallet, A. I., Bowey, E. A., Rowland, I. R., et al. (2000). Isoflavone phytoestrogens consumed in soy decrease F(2)-isoprostane concentrations and increase resistance of low-density lipoprotein to oxidation in humans. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition , 395-400.

3 Foods to Eat to Prevent Breast Cancer

Is there a relationship between nutrition and breast cancer?  Do you know the foods you can eat to build your body’s natural cancer-fighting capacity?

In this 3-minute clinic we discuss the top 3 Foods that you can eat to build a powerful immune system and reduce your risk for breast cancer.

For more information on building your body’s natural breast-cancer fighting capacity, join us for a FREE WEBINAR!

“Welcome to the three minute clinic where we go over strategies that empower you to be well and stay well for the rest of your life. Today’s subject is breast cancer and breast cancer awareness. Now what we have been talking about is the prevention of breast cancer, a very important subject, and again I want to emphasize that through lifestyle changes, as an individual you have the power, you have the ability to work on an immune program to build your body so that you can prevent breast cancer. Now the question today is about nutrition. The first question is does nutrition play a role in breast cancer? The answer is obviously, yes! What kind of a role? A huge role! In other words, the proper nutrition and nutritional balance is a huge tool in preventing breast cancer. Now you read a lot about nutrition, here is what I want to tell you, this is very important, when you want to beat breast cancer, when you want to overcome breast cancer, when you want to beat breast cancer, when you declare war on breast cancer, you have to be savvy, you have to have some swagger, you have to have some weapons. What are those weapons? Guess what, your nutrition is one of your weapons! Nutritional balance is one of your weapons! So let’s talk about three specific things that you can do, three things that empower you that are weapons that build your immune system so you can prevent breast cancer. So here’s the key, nutritionally let me frame this for you: whole, living, fresh foods–that’s the key. Whole, living, fresh foods are the key to preventing breast cancer–that’s what’s giving you nutritional and metabolic balance. So #1 fresh living food. Fresh living food, what are we talking about? Fresh fruits and fresh vegetables, fresh vegetable juices and fresh fruit juices. What they do is give you phytonutritents and antioxidants that have power–they are weapons that help you stay well and help you prevent breast cancer. What else is important is whole grains–#2 is whole grains, they are high in fiber, low in fat, they help empower you to prevent breast cancer. And #3 is plant based proteins, nuts and seeds and beans and legumes. These are very powerful plant proteins that are high fiber, low fat, and alkaline. So let me see if I can get this clear, the proper nutrition that gives you weapons that protect you are going to be foods that are high in fiber, low in fat, whole and living, chemical free, and highly alkaline. That’s where you come in with fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts & seeds. So let’s put it all together. I can remember years ago at the old Cortez Hotel when I first came to San Diego from Los Angeles back in 1970. I was attending a health convention and the speaker was going over the balanced diet, the balanced diet, the balanced diet. Well after hearing about 15 minutes of a balanced diet, I raised my hand and said excuse me, I’m either the most intelligent person in this room or the dumbest, what do you mean the balanced diet? Of course his answer was ah ah ah, there wasn’t an answer. Well let me answer it for you. A balanced diet is that at every meal you combine fresh living food with whole grains and complete plant protein foods by combining them–that is what a balanced diet is. And the key is when you have fresh living food, whole grains and the right plant proteins you’ll have high fiber, low fat, chemical free, alkaline nutrition that going to become weapons on your path to preventing breast cancer.”