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Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

by Dr. Laura Hieb, ND on October 6, 2020

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I truly applaud the new innovations in diagnosis and treatment for breast cancer.  AND, as a naturopathic physician, I am very concerned about prevention. Because isn't it better to prevent cancer than to treat it?

So how does a person prevent breast cancer or cancer in general? This is a shortlist, but these 3 things really affect your cancer risk.

  1. Eat organic. A recent, well-received study from France showed that eating an organic foods diet decreases a person's cancer risk by 25%. This is huge! Whether this is just due to the absence of pesticides, or due to the increase in the vitamin and mineral content of the food, or both, is unclear, but this leads us to number 2.
  2. Avoid glyphosate (an ingredient in some weed killers like Round-Up). The World Health Organization has labeled glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen (which means they're about 99% sure that it is.) Recent studies show that exposure to small amounts of glyphosate--even in the parts per trillion range-- can trigger breast cancer when combined with another risk factor! We already know that glyphosate is correlated with lymphomas (another type of cancer). 

    So don't use weed killers that contain glyphosate! There are many other ways to kill weeds that won't harm you, your children, your pets and all the other creatures who share our world.

    Also, avoid genetically modified foods (GMO's). Some classes of genetically modified foods are genetically modified to withstand large amounts of Round-Up, which would otherwise kill the plant if it were not genetically modified. When you eat those foods, you are getting a higher dose of glyphosate than in non-organically/conventionally-farmed foods, which have been treated with weed killers containing glyphosate.

    Foods that are genetically modified include corn (and high fructose corn syrup), soybeans, cottonseed (oil), tomatoes, sugar beets ( a common form of sugar*), papayas (especially from Brazil),  some summer squash (zucchini, crookneck squash), and canola oil (use olive oil instead--both are omega- 9 monounsaturated oils).

    ALSO, don't eat foods from animals that have been fed genetically modified foods. Choose grass-fed  AND grass-finished beef and lamb, organic pork and chicken, and wild caught fish. Also choose organic dairy products and eggs. Or look for the non-GMO verified sticker on products that you buy.

     If you can't eat all your fruits and vegetables organically grown, check out the Environmental Working Group's website to find their list of the "Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen" to see which fruits and vegetables would be the best to eat organic.

  3. Avoid chemically scented products. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (which regulates cleaning supplies, air fresheners, and laundry products) and the Food and Drug Administration (which regulates personal care items) do not require manufacturers to specifically list the separate ingredients listed as" fragrance" on the label.  The Environmental Working Group (EWG) found that about 75% of products that have "fragrance" listed in their ingredient list, contain phthalates.  Phthalates interfere with how hormones work in our bodies and have been linked to many health conditions, such as reduced sperm count, diabetes,  liver and BREAST cancer. You will most likely not find phthalates listed as phthalates on these labels, which makes it difficult to know which of these products contain phthalates or not. One way is to use fragrance-free/organic products, make your own products (for example, adding pumpkin pie spices to a pot of boiling water and letting it simmer for air freshener) and/ or visit the EWG web site to find out which products are considered safe. *Just another reason not to eat sugar ;)