Breast Health Tip #21 Avoid Sugar

and refined carbohydrates. These foods cause a surge in
insulin and women with the highest insulin levels have a
283% higher incidence of breast cancer.

Dangerous Foe in a Sweet Disguise

Estimates are that every year the average American eats almost his or
her entire body weight in sugar. The average teenage boy eats
thirty-four teaspoons of sugar a day, and the average teenage girl
consumes twenty-four. You can easily see how this is possible when
you add it up. Sugar is added to virtually all processed foods,
especially soda pop. The average can of cola, such as Coke or Pepsi,
contains ten to twelve teaspoons of sugar! There’s a new breakfast
cereal with a whopping eighteen teaspoons of sugar per serving;
that’s one-third of a cup, or the equivalent of forty-eight Hershey’s
Kisses. You’re probably aware that sugar’s bad for your teeth, but
you can brush them. So, what’s the big deal, you might ask? The big
deal is that research shows that sugar and refined carbohydrates are
detrimental to your health in a multitude of ways, including
increasing the risk of many chronic disorders including diabetes,
obesity, heart disease and breast cancer.


Cancer cells love sugar. It’s their preferred fuel. The more sugar you
eat, the faster cancer cells grow. Your pancreas responds to sugar by
releasing insulin, the hormone that escorts sugar into your cells.
When you eat refined simple sugars, such as white table sugar, candy,
cookies, or other sugar-laden foods, your blood sugar levels rise very
quickly. Your pancreas responds by releasing a lot of insulin. That’s
not good. High insulin levels are one of the biggest risk factors and
promoters of breast cancer. Women with high insulin levels have a 283
percent greater risk of breast cancer.

When it comes to breast cancer, insulin is no friend. One of the
biggest reason is due to the fact that both normal breast cells and
cancer cells have insulin receptors on them. When insulin attaches to
its receptor, it has the same effect as when estrogen attaches to its
receptor; it causes cells to start dividing. The higher your insulin
levels are, the faster your breast cells will divide; the faster they
divide, the higher your risk of breast cancer is and the faster any
existing cancer cells will grow.

There’s another wound that insulin can inflict, too. It attacks a
portion of the estrogen cycle, making more estrogen available to
attach to the estrogen receptors in breast tissue. Insulin regulates
how much of the estrogen in your blood is available to attach to
estrogen receptors in your breast tissue. When estrogen travels in the
blood, it either travels alone seeking a mate (an estrogen receptor),
or it travels with a partner (a protein binder) that prevents it from
attaching to an estrogen receptor. Insulin regulates the number of
protein binders in the blood.

So, the higher your insulin levels are, the fewer the number of
protein binders there will be and therefore the more free estrogen
that will be available to attach to estrogen receptors.

In other words, when your insulin levels are up, free-estrogen
levels are up, too. And both of them speed up cell division. That’s
why high insulin levels increase your risk of breast cancer so much.


Eating sugar increases your risk of breast cancer in another way. It
delivers a major blow to your immune system with the force of a prize
fighter. Your immune system is your natural defense against such
invaders as bacteria, viruses, and cancer cells. Research shows that
right after you eat a high-sugar meal, the function of the cells in
your immune system drops drastically. In the case of one type of cell
in particular, the T lymphocyte (a type of white blood cell), sugar
knocks its defense abilities down by at least 50 percent. This effect
lasts for a minimum of five hours! Another researcher found that the
function of T lymphocytes dropped by 94 percent after a high-sugar
meal! This means that right after you’ve eaten a lot of sugar, your
body’s ability to fight off invaders or destroy cancer cells is
tremendously weakened for several hours.

Over a period of time, eating too much sugar can create imbalances
that lead to two more deadly diseases: obesity and diabetes. Both of
these diseases dangerously increase your risk of breast cancer, and
both have increased alarmingly in the United States in the past two
decades. An estimated 60 percent of the adult population is
overweight, and 5 percent have diabetes. Of those people who have
diabetes, 90 percent are also overweight. Not only do these diseases
increase your risk of breast cancer, but they also increase your risk
of heart disease, high blood pressure, poor circulation, stroke, and

A study conducted by Harvard Medical School and published in 2004
found that women who ate foods with a high glycemic index (foods that
cause blood sugars to soar, such as refined carbohydrates and sugars)
as teenagers had a higher incidence of breast cancer later in life.
So, encouraging your teenage daughter to cut back on sugar will help
her to lower her risk of breast cancer for the rest of her life.


Now, the good news: If you have a sweet tooth, you’ll be relieved to
know that you don’t have to suffer. There’s a natural sweetener that
tastes great, and better yet, research has shown that instead of being
dangerous to your health, it actually has several wonderful
health-supporting qualities. It’s called Stevia, and it comes from the
South American plant Stevia rebaudiana. What’s interesting about this
semi shrub, indigenous to Paraguay, is that every part of it tastes
intensely sweet. The dried leaves, however, are the only parts that
are used for medicinal and commercial purposes. Scientists have found
that Stevia’s delightfully sweet flavor comes from a group of
substances in it called “glycosidal diterpenes.”

Compared to sugar, only very small amounts of Stevia are needed.
That’s because Stevia is 300 times sweeter than sucrose, the type of
sugar found in table sugar. Stevia hasn’t yet been approved by the FDA
as a food additive—write your senators and Congressional
representatives!—so at this time you won’t find it in any processed
foods in the United States. In this country Stevia is considered a
dietary supplement. Health food stores and national-chain grocery
stores that specialize in organic foods, such as Wild Oats and Whole
Foods, usually carry Stevia.

Stevia comes in multiple forms: a fine white powder, a green
powder, or a liquid. I found that certain brands of Stevia can taste
bitter or leave a weird aftertaste if you use too much. There’s one
brand, however, that solved this problem by adding some fiber to it.
It is called Stevia Plus by SweetLeaf .

Stevia can also be used in cooking, but it’s a little tricky. The
amount you should use can vary a lot from brand to brand, so you
definitely should use a Stevia cookbook. Many of the companies with
Stevia products have their own cookbooks.

Stevia has been used for hundreds if not thousands of years by the
native tribes in Paraguay and Brazil to treat high blood pressure and
diabetes. Modern research has shown that it does help both conditions.
Stevia causes blood vessels to dilate. When the diameter of a blood
vessel increases, the blood pressure in it goes down. A double-blind
placebo-controlled study was published in the British Journal of
Pharmacology in the year 2000 documenting Stevia’s ability to lower
blood pressure. Researchers found that after only three months,
patients with high blood pressure who were given Stevia three times a
day had a significant decrease in both their systolic (the upper
number) and diastolic (the lower number) blood-pressure numbers.

Stevia is a great sugar substitute for people who really need to
avoid sugar, such as diabetics. In addition, Stevia has an added
benefit for type 2 diabetics: It seems to have an effect opposite to
that of sugar on their bodies; it causes blood sugar to go down.
Research has also discovered two more Stevia health benefits. First,
it can kill certain bacteria and viruses. In a study published in
2001, Stevia was found to have antiviral effects against the
rotavirus. This virus can cause severe diarrhea and dehydration,
especially in infants. Secondly, Stevia shows a strong ability to kill
a wide range of food-born bacteria.

Another, healthy natural substitute for sugar is also available.
It’s made from Luo Han Guo, the round green fruit of the Chinese plant
Siraita grosvenori. Luo Han Guo has been used in China as a medicine
since the thirteenth century, but it didn’t become popular as a remedy
for coughs, sore throats, and upper respiratory-tract infections until
the twentieth century. In southern China Luo Han Guo is also used to
enhance longevity. Like Stevia, Luo Han Guo is about 300 times sweeter
than sugar and is processed into a fine, white crystalline powder.

WisdomHerbs makes a sugar substitute using a blend of Luo Han Guo
and fructose called Sweet and Slender. It can be purchased at most
health food stores or on the Internet.

This information is used with permission by Christine Horner, MD

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Breast Health Tip #20: Avoid Red Meat


Avoid eating red meat because it substantially increases the risk of breast cancer. Instead, favor a plant-based diet rich in organically grown fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. If you love the taste of red meat, don’t despair–there are many delicious varieties of vegetable-based meat substitutes with surprisingly similar tastes and textures.

Research has shown beyond a scientific doubt that eating red meat is a serious risk factor for breast cancer. Many studies have shown that women who eat the most red meat have an 88 to 330 percent increased risk of this deadly disease. The numbers were even higher in premenopausal women.

There are four major sources of health dangers in red meat:

The meat of animals is composed primarily of muscle protein, which is made up of smaller subunits known as “amino acids.” It also contains creatine, an important substance that muscles use for energy. As you know, protein and amino acids are essential to health, and so is creatine. However, when animal protein is cooked, especially at high heat, structural changes occur in the protein, amino acids, and creatine—changes that create dangerous new carcinogens. A study from Uruguay found that red-meat protein is associated with a 220 to 770 percent increased risk of breast cancer!

Saturated animal fats (a type of lipid) from red meat and dairy products are poisonous to your body. These lipids make the cells in your body more resistant to insulin. As a result, your insulin levels go up. High insulin levels are lethal. In fact, they are one of the biggest risk factors for breast cancer. Research shows that women with the highest insulin levels have a 283 percent greater risk of breast cancer.

There are two other ways that saturated animal fat can raise your risk of
breast cancer, as well. First, saturated animal fat is converted into a carcinogenic substance by the bacteria in your colon. Second, oxygen free radicals have a tendency to attack and damage these types of fats, changing them into powerful stimulators of inflammation, and inflammation fuels the growth of breast cancer. Worse yet, inflammation and oxygen free radicals engage in a deadly dance with each other, each one increasing the numbers and power of the other. Inflammation produces more oxygen free radicals, and oxygen free radicals, in turn, spark the fires of inflammation.

Red meat is a storehouse of concentrated toxins including pesticides, antibiotics, hormones, and growth stimulators. In the United States, livestock are regularly fed and injected with growth hormones and stimulators to make them grow bigger and faster and to increase their production of milk. When a cow is injected with rBGH, its body produces large amounts of insulin-like growth factor–1 (IGF-1). At higher concentrations, IGF-1 is extremely dangerous because it becomes an extraordinarily potent stimulator of breast cancer. In fact, scientists believe it may be the most potent stimulator of breast cancer known. Women with the highest levels of IGF-1 in their bodies have a 700% increased risk of breast cancer! Eating conventionally raised beef and dairy products is the principal way that excessive amounts of IGF-1 get into your body.

Environmental toxins, such as pesticides, herbicides, chemical fertilizers, and industrial chemicals, accumulate, concentrate and store in animal fat. Many of these toxins have estrogenic effects. In other words, they act like estrogen in the body and accelerate cell division. Many studies have shown that these pesticides can trigger breast cancer and that those women who have high levels of these pesticides in their bodies have a much higher risk of breast cancer.

When red meats are cooked at high temperatures, additional carcinogens known as “heterocyclic amines” are formed. These sinister molecules attack DNA, destroying its vital code in a way that seriously increases the risk of cancer. Frying and grilling are the methods of cooking that use the highest temperatures to cook meat, and they are associated with the highest risk of breast cancer. The higher the cooking temperature, the more carcinogenic heterocyclic amines form. How long you cook your meat makes a difference, too. The more well done your meat is, the more heterocyclic amines it will have, and the more carcinogenic it will be.

Research shows that of the women who eat red meat, those who eat both the most grilled and the most well-done red meat have the highest risk of breast cancer. A study from Vanderbilt University published in 2002 found that women who consumed large amounts of red meat, especially cooked well done, had a significantly higher risk of breast cancer. If the women were also overweight, their risk was even greater. Another study, done at the Medical College of Ohio and published in the journal Carcinogenesis in 1999, found that an enzyme in breast tissue called “N-acetyltransferase” activates the carcinogens in well-done red meat and in cigarette smoke. The study also identified several different subtypes of the N-acetyltransferase enzyme. The risk of breast cancer in women who had one particular subtype of this enzyme was extremely high. The women who had this dangerous subtype and who also smoked, ate a lot of red meat, or ate well-done red meat were found to have a 400 percent higher risk of breast cancer. In short, eating well-done red meat is always risky, but it is exceptionally risky for certain women.

If you love the taste and texture of red meat, don’t think you have to give it up.

The ever-growing and surprisingly delicious vegetable-based meat-substitute cuisine has come a long way. Even committed carnivores will find many of the meat mimickers to be a culinary delight. For instance, my rebellious teenager couldn’t tell the difference between a Boca Burger (made with soy protein) and an actual hamburger! Also, some vegetarians (I, for one) think some meat substitutes taste too much like the real thing!

If you do like the taste of meat, however, there are delicious substitutes for hamburgers, frankfurters, salami, lunchmeats, chicken, turkey, jerky—you name it. The next time you’re at your local health food store, experiment and give one a try. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Many chain grocery stores carry them, too.

The list below shows some good substitutes for your old meaty favorites.

  • Instead of bacon, try Lightlife Smart Bacon
  • Instead of chicken, try Gardenburger Chik’n Grill or Nate’s Chicken Style Nuggets
  • Instead of hamburgers, try Boca Burgers or Morningstar Farms Grillers Prime
  • Instead of hot dogs, try Yves Veggie Cuisine Good Dog
  • Instead of turkey, try To-furkey
    Research shows that the types of foods that support your health the most are fresh whole organic plants—fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. So try to favor these foods.

    This information is used with permission by Christine Horner, MD

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Breast Health Tip #19: Flaxseeds


When it comes to breast health, flaxseeds are one of the most protective foods you can eat. Just 3 tablespoons of ground flaxseeds a day provides an astounding amount of defense.

If you were given only one choice of a food to take as medicine, your best choice would be the tiny seeds from flax. Flaxseeds have more potent medicinal qualities—especially those that fight breast cancer—than any other known edible plant. This small seed provides a fortress of protection against this deadly killer.

The intelligence contained in flax is so spectacular that it coordinates a sensational offense against breast cancer. Flax has three notable distinctions. First, it’s the richest plant source of omega-3 fatty acids. Research has found that women who eat the highest amounts of omega-3s have the lowest risk of breast cancer.

Omega-3 fatty acids help to lower the risk of breast cancer by quieting inflammation and by decreasing the rate at which breast cells divide in response to estrogen. Inflammation is a key factor in the initiation and progression of a variety of diseases including heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, skin diseases, and cancers such as breast cancer. If you have breast cancer, omega-3s have been found to help shrink breast tumors and prevent them from spreading to other parts of the body.

The second exceptional quality of flax has to do with something called “lignans.” Lignans are natural plant compounds that help to give stiffness to the structure of plants. They also possess extraordinary anticancer properties with an astonishing ability to help protect against and fight breast cancer. Lignans are found abundantly in certain fruits, vegetables, beans, seeds, and legumes—for example, garlic, carrots, broccoli, asparagus, dried apricots, and prunes. But, the amount of lignans in these plants is miniscule compared to that in flaxseeds. Flaxseeds contain at least 100 times more lignans than any other known edible plant!

Lignans deter and arrest the growth of breast cancer in a multitude of ways. First, they act as a weak estrogen and block strong cancer-promoting estrogens from attaching to the estrogen receptors in the breast. Second, lignans change the structure of the breast making it more resistant to toxins that induce cancer. Third, if you have breast cancer, lignans can stop the tumor cells from growing and help to prevent the metastasis of your tumor. They do this by decreasing two growth factors that fuel the fires of breast cancer: insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) and something called “epidermal growth factor.” IGF-1 is thought to be one of the most dangerous and potent risk factors for breast and prostate cancer.

There is another cancer-enhancing growth factor that lignans thwart, called “vascular endothelial growth factor” (VEGF). VEGF stimulates new blood vessels to grow. In order for a tumor to grow larger, it needs more nutrients–nutrients that can only be delivered by new blood vessels. So the more blood vessels that grow into a tumor, the more food that is delivered to it, and the faster it will grow. On the contrary, without new blood vessels, tumors can’t grow larger. Cancer specialists recently discovered that this anticancer tactic used by lignans–blocking VEGF–is so powerful at stopping tumor growth that they have created a new anticancer drug that works this same way. It is called Avastin (bevacizumab) and was released on the market in 2004. Avistan is currently only approved for the treatment of metastatic colon cancer and must be given in combination with another chemotherapy drug called 5-FU.

Lignans have several additional ways that they reduce the risk of breast cancer. They create more of the “good” protective kind of estrogen and less of the “bad” cancer-promoting type. They also reduce the production of estrogen in fat cells by blocking the aromatase enzyme. Aromatase converts androgens to estrogens (The new anti-breast cancer drug Arimidex works in the same way). According to a 1993 study from the University of Rochester, lignan-rich flaxseeds also lengthen the menstrual cycle. For example, if a woman has a menstrual period every 28 days and then starts consuming flaxseeds, her cycles may lengthen to every 32 days. The longer your menstrual cycles are, the fewer the number of cycles you will have over your lifetime, and the less estradiol you will produce. Simply put, the longer your menstrual cycles are, the lower your risk of breast cancer is.

All of the very effective schemes that lignans use to combat breast cancer add up to lots of protection. Research shows that women with the highest amounts of lignans in their urine—a reflection of how much they consume in their diet—have the lowest risk of breast cancer.

Brevail is made of isolated, purified, and concentrated lignans from flaxseed. The dose in one daily capsule was strategically designed to create levels of lignans in the body that are in the same range as that found in women with the lowest risk of breast cancer. There are two major benefits to taking supplemental lignans. First, the amount of lignans in flax can vary from crop to crop by as much as 300 percent, whereas those in the supplement are standardized so you always get the optimal amount. Secondly, studies show that the lignans in Brevail are absorbed eighteen times more effectively than they are from ground flaxseed. So, taking lignans in this supplemental form guarantees that you get the healthiest dose of lignans every day. Brevail is not recommended for women who are pregnant or currently breast feeding, not because it isn’t safe, but because no studies have been conducted yet on this special group of women to analyze the effects and proper dose.

Taking Brevail with other cancer drugs is also not recommended because this product hasn’t been studied in women currently undergoing cancer treatment. However, that may change in the near future. A study published in the journal Breast Cancer Research and Treatment in July 2003 found that lignans enhance the effectiveness of the common cancer medication Tamoxifen. Researchers J. Chen and Lillian Thompson found that lignans and Tamoxifen, alone and—better yet—in combination, reduce the ability of estrogen-receptor-negative tumor cells to stick together, invade, and migrate—all important properties in cancer’s ability to grow and spread. More research is needed to determine the exact role this supplement may play in cancer treatment.

Brevail is standardized to one type of lignan found in flax, “secoisolariciresinol diglycoside” (SDG). Of all the lignans found in flax, SDG is the one found in the highest amounts and is possibly the most potent. If you decide to take Brevail, I think it’s a good idea to eat flaxseed, too. In addition to the advantages of lignans, flax has many other anticancer properties that you wouldn’t want to miss out on.

The third property of flax that lowers your risk of breast cancer is its abundant fiber. High-fiber diets are associated with a 54 percent lower risk of breast cancer. Fiber helps to lower the amount of estrogen in your body by binding to it in your intestines and then expelling it from your body.

It is recommended to eat at least 3 tablespoons of ground flaxseeds a day. To eat them, you must first grind them in a coffee grinder until they become a fine nutty powder because the hard seeds can’t be digested. Add the ground seeds to just about anything you like: vegetable dishes, salads, smoothies, baked goods such as muffins, and cereal.

This information is used with permission by Christine Horner, MD

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Breast Health Tip #18: Soy


Eat one serving of whole soy foods each day to lower your risk of breast cancer by 30-50%

A Soy is a superstar in your arsenal against breast cancer, and has been a food stable in the Asian diet for thousands of years. Asia has far lower rates of cancer than the United States does, and researchers think that eating a lot of soy may be one of the reasons. Japanese men and women eat about ten times more soy than American men and women. According to many studies, if you eat an adequate amount of soy often enough, your risk of breast cancer will drop by 30–50 percent. For instance, a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute in June 2003 found that women who ate three bowls of miso soup a day had a 40% lower risk of breast cancer. . Those who ate two bowls of miso soup a day cut their risk by 26 percent.

There are several substances in soy that are active against breast cancer. A particular type of phytochemical (a naturally occurring plant chemical) called genistein (pronounced gen-is¢-teen) appears to be one of the most important protagonists. Genistein is classified as a phytoestrogen, or plant estrogen, because it has a weak estrogenic effect.

There is currently a lot of confusion and misinformation about phytoestrogens. It is important to understand that plant estrogens are not the same as the estrogens our body makes or synthetic estrogens found in HRT or BCP. They are very different. Most act more like selective estrogen modulators or SERMS (Tamoxifen is a SERM) and as aromatase (an enzyme used in the production of estrogen) inhibitors like the new anti-cancer drug, Arimidex. In other words, phytoestrogens act more like estrogen blockers rather than estrogen which I explain in more detail below. These types of plant chemicals act in so many complex ways that we may never fully understand them all. Two other major phytoestrogens in soy are daidzein and glycitein. Genistein is the most abundant and well-researched of the three and is usually the only one that is listed on the label of soy products. Research shows that genistein is extraordinarily effective at reducing the risk of breast cancer. It has been shown to stop tumor growth, prevent metastasis, and shut off new blood vessels in growing tumors.

One reason why genistein is able to prevent and fight breast cancer is because it blocks the cancer-promoting estrogens from attaching to the estrogen receptors on breast cells. Breast cancer is a hormonal disease—which means a hormone causes the cancer to develop by inciting cells to grow and divide. For breast cancer, that hormone is estrogen. The more estrogen you are exposed to, the higher your risk of getting breast cancer is.

Estrogens come in different strengths and behave differently. Strong estrogens increase your risk of cancer because they tell cells to grow and divide rapidly. Phytoestrogens and other weak estrogens decrease your risk of cancer because they slow down cell division. Genistein acts like a weak estrogen in the body. It blocks the effects of strong estrogens and slows down cell division. Genistein is very weak—in fact, less than one one-hundredth of the strength of estradiol (the most potent type of natural estrogen). So, if genistein attaches to an estrogen receptor, the rate of cell division is only one one-hundredth of the speed that it is if estradiol attaches to the receptor. The more genistein there is to compete with estradiol, the slower the rate of cell division is and the lower your risk of breast cancer is.

This is an extremely simplistic look at a very complicated process. Remember, soy is composed of hundreds of components all interacting together. Genistein doesn’t act alone. If it’s extracted from whole soy foods and then isolated and consumed without the other soy ingredients, it can actually have detrimental effects.

Some Soys Are Better Than Others
There are dozens of different types of soy foods available, but when it comes to nutrients and health-promoting qualities, not all soy products are the same. Some soy foods are far better for you than others. Here are six great ones:

  1. Fresh cooked soybeans, also called edamame, are eaten after cooking, much like peas. Cook the beans in boiling water. Then, put the whole pod in your mouth. Bite down a little on the pod, and pull it out of your mouth, using your teeth to strip the beans out.
  2. Dry roasted soybeans can be eaten as a snack food. There are several different surprisingly delicious flavors, such as Ranch and Cajun (my personal favorite).
  3. Tempeh is a traditional Asian and Indonesian food that’s growing in popularity, so you can find it in most grocery stores. It’s a cultured soy cake that sometimes has other grains or spices added to it. You can cook tempeh in a number of ways: sauté it in olive oil, bake it, put it in salads or stews, make a sandwich with it, or add it to a stir-fry dish.
  4. Tofu is another excellent Asian product. It is made from soybean milk curd. It looks a little like cheese and has a very mild flavor. Tofu will pick up the flavor of any dish you put it in. You can use it in at least 101 different ways, so I suggest you get a good tofu cookbook and experiment.
  5. Miso is a fermented soybean paste that you add to water to make miso soup.
  6. Natto is a fermented form of soy popular in Japan. It is commonly used in sushi rolls and with rice. Natto comes in a wide variety of flavors, but it’s much more difficult to find in grocery stores in the United States.

How much soy should you consume each day to lower your risk of breast cancer? Experts say about 4–12 ounces of a quality soy product. However, if you want to eat less soy but still get the same or even better cancer-fighting effects, you can add certain spices.

Add a Little Spice to Your Life
When you cook soy, you can exponentially enhance its anticancer power by simply adding a pinch of turmeric or cumin. Both of these spices defend against and sabotage the growth of breast cancer in many clever ways.

A 1997 study from Tufts University in Boston found that when turmeric and genistein are combined, they have a synergistic effect. In other words, each one makes the other more effective. Researchers used certain highly estrogenic pesticides, endosulfan/chlordane/DDT, to start some tumors—estradiol for others—growing in a breast-cancer-cell line in the laboratory. Both genistein and curcumin (an active ingredient extracted from turmeric and cumin) prevented the growth of the tumor cells—but not completely. When they were added together, the effect was so strong, all tumor-cell growth stopped.

Many studies show that young girls who eat soy products before they go through puberty have a substantially lower risk of breast cancer later in life. One explanation for this finding is that a woman’s breast tissue is considered “immature” before she has had her first baby. Immature breast tissue is more sensitive to environmental toxins and other carcinogens. Soy has been found to help mature the breast tissue, making it more resistant to environmental toxins. According to a study published in Carcinogenesis in 2004, exposure to soy prior to puberty triggers another protective action—it “up-regulates” the Breast Cancer 1 (BRCA1) gene, a tumor-suppression gene. In other words, soy turns on a gene that suppresses tumor growth—and keeps it on.

Some physicians warn their patients not to eat soy foods because they fear that soy may increase the risk of breast cancer instead of decreasing it. Their mistaken fear comes primarily from one study from the University of California, San Francisco published in October 1996. In this study, women were given 38 grams of genistein a day for one year. It’s important to note that these women were not given genistein as it occurs naturally in whole soy foods. Rather, they were given genistein that had been extracted and isolated from soy foods and prepared as a supplement—a supplement composed only of genistein with none of the hundreds of other nutrients in soy.

The researchers were surprised to discover that instead of having a protective effect, the genistein supplement appeared to be harmful. After one year on the genistein supplement, the women had elevated the amounts of estradiol in their blood and their breast cells showed signs of stimulation and increased growth. This unexpected result concerned researchers. Could soy actually increase the risk of cancer? Hundreds of other studies show that women who eat the most soy have the lowest risk of breast cancer. So, how could a genistein isolate have the opposite effect?

The women in the controversial study didn’t eat fresh whole soy foods. They were given an isolate of genistein—something that doesn’t naturally occur in Nature. When you isolate a substance from the whole, the isolate often behaves differently. Your body was designed to eat, digest, and metabolize fresh whole foods, which contain hundreds, even thousands, of substances all interacting with one another. Those interactions can be critically important. One substance may balance the effect of another, make it more or less effective, take away its toxic effects, increase its absorption, or modify how your body uses it in some important way.

Research shows that when genistein is consumed as part of whole soy foods, it’s absorbed very differently from how it is in an isolated supplemental form. Genistein in whole soy is activated by intestinal bacteria during digestion, whereas genistein taken as an isolated supplement is absorbed before it reaches the bacteria in the intestines. This may be part of the reason that genistein supplements appear to have an effect different from that of whole soy foods. So, until research shows otherwise, stay away from genistein supplements and eat whole soy foods.

This information is used with permission by Christine Horner, MD

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Breast Health Tip #17: Sleep


Go to bed by 10PM, pull down the shades and turn off all the lights.

A study published in the Journal of the National Cancer institute in 2001 found nurses that worked the night shift had a 50% increased risk of breast cancer. The longer they worked the night shift, the higher their risk of breast cancer became. The reason is simple. It has to do with the daily rhythms of the sun and the hormone “melatonin”. Melatonin is extremely powerful at protecting against and fighting breast cancer -but only if you go to bed early and it’s dark.

Scientists have discovered that when it gets dark the pineal gland in our brain produces more melatonin. As this hormone rises, you start to feel sleepy. The moment you fall asleep the level of melatonin goes much higher. But here’s the catch- melatonin doesn’t rise very high unless you’ve gone to bed by 10 PM and it’s dark.

The darker it is, the higher your melatonin will rise. Any type of light-even a soft night light can keep your melatonin levels from rising very high. Researchers think that is why breast cancer is more common in industrialized regions where city lights burn all night and why blind women have a 50% lower incidence breast cancer than women who can see.

If you have breast cancer, going to bed early in a dark room is important too. Breast cancer tumors in experimental animals exposed to constant light grew 7 times faster.

There are several big reasons melatonin is such a great breast cancer fighter. 1) Melatonin is a very potent antioxidant. Antioxidants destroy oxygen free radicals that can damage your cells and DNA –damage that can lead to cancer. 2) Melatonin slows down the production of estrogen. Estrogen stimulates breast cells causing cell division to speed up. The faster cells divide, the higher the risk of cancer. 3) Melatonin prevents the over production of estrogen, and blocks its stimulatory effects on breast cells. But melatonin’s great defenses don’t stop there. 4) Melatonin blocks the effects of two other threats, a hormone and a growth factor that can also increase cell division in the breast: the hormone is called “prolactin” and a growth factor is called “epidermal growth factor”. 5) Melatonin enhances the tumor fighting power of Vitamin D. It increases Vitamin D’s ability to stop tumor growth. Melatonin makes vitamin D’s tumor fighting abilities 20-100 times stronger.

If you have breast cancer and are being treated with chemotherapy, you may want to ask your doctor about taking supplemental melatonin. Researchers found it can enhance the effectiveness of chemotherapy by increasing chemotherapy’s ability to kill tumors. In a 1999 study from Italy, researchers found that breast cancer patients treated with chemotherapy lived longer if they were also given supplemental melatonin. In scientific terms, these patients had an increased “1 year survival”. That means more women than normally expected were alive at one year following the diagnosis and treatment of their breast cancer. Melatonin supplements given in addition to chemotherapy also caused the size of tumors in women to significantly decrease compared to women just receiving chemotherapy alone.

All of melatonin’s diverse breast cancer fighting skills can be summed up into 3 major effects: 1) it prevents the initiation of breast cancer 2) it slows down tumor growth by as much as 70% 3) it prevents metastasis or the spread of tumors to other areas of the body.

The bottom line is: melatonin is a powerful weapon against breast cancer. All you have to do is go to bed by 10 PM, pull down the shades, turn off all the lights and let it work its magic.

This information is used with permission by Christine Horner, MD

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Breast Health Tip #16: Herbs


Many herbs used in Traditional Chinese Medicine, as well as other common spices and herbs including ginseng, licorice root, rosemary, black cohosh, hops, and chaste tree berry are effective natural medicines against breast cancer.

Most plants contain substances that protect against and fight cancer. The anti-cancer properties of some plants, like soy and flax seeds, have been well recognized for decades. But there are many other plants, especially herbs and spices, with excellent abilities to ward off breast cancer that haven’t received as much attention. Issac Cohen, a doctor of oriental medicine, licensed acupuncturist, and one of the leading authorities in the field of cancer treatment and Traditional Chinese Medicine, reported in the book Breast Cancer: Beyond Convention that several Chinese herbs including ginseng, show good anticancer activity against breast cancer. He points out that it is not unusual for plants to be effective against cancer — in fact, over 60% of the chemotherapy drugs currently being used are made from natural products.

Other researchers concur that many of the herbs used in Traditional Chinese Medicine are effective at stopping the growth of breast cancer cells in the laboratory. For instance, in 2002 researchers at the Cancer Research Laboratory located in Indianapolis, Indiana, found that licorice root (Ganoderma lucidum), a shrub native to southern Europe and Asia and one of the Chinese herbs used is the prostate cancer herbal mixture PC-SPES, showed strong activity against highly invasive breast cancer cells. Another study published in 2002 in the journal Anticancer Research found that of seventy-one extracts of Chinese medicinal herbs, twenty-one percent (15 out of 71) of the extracts demonstrated greater than 50% growth inhibition on at least 4 of the 5 breast cancer cell lines. In 2000, researchers at Sloan-Kettering hospital in New York found that Huanglian, a Chinese herbal extract used in the treatment of gastroenteritis, also inhibits the growth of human gastric, colon and breast cancer cells.

Some common cooking spices have excellent cancer fighting properties too. For example, research shows that the spice rosemary protects against the initiation of breast tumors. When rats were given rosemary before the administration of breast cancer inducing chemicals, they develop 74% less tumors than the rats that weren’t given rosemary. Another study published in the European Journal of Cancer in 1999 found that rosemary, like green tea, improves the concentration of the chemotherapeutic agents (doxorubicin and vinblastin) in breast cancer tumor cells. That means that this aromatic spice may be helpful as a complementary treatment for women with tumors that are resistant to these drugs.

According to researchers at the New York College of Osteopathic Medicine, extracts of several weak estrogenic herbs including hops, black cohosh, and vitex (chaste tree berry) also inhibit the growth of breast cancer cells in the laboratory.
We have just begun to scratch the surface of discovering the vast and wondrous intelligence contained in plants. As more research is completed, the pharmacopoeia of anticancer herbs will assuredly continue to grow.

This information is used with permission by Christine Horner, MD

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Breast Health Tip #15: Cruciferous Vegetables


Eat cruciferous vegetables every day.

Inside every plant is a natural anti-cancer pharmacy. The natural “chemotherapy” found in plants is safe, side-effect free, and expresses an intelligence of such brilliance that pharmaceutical companies are now studying them in an effort to learn how to create effective, but far less toxic, chemotherapy.

One family of vegetables called “cruciferous” vegetables (ie: broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, and kale) contains several substances that are especially potent against breast cancer. One of the remarkable plant chemicals is called “indole-3 carbinol.” Indole-3 carbinol lowers the risk of breast cancer in several ways: 1) it stops breast cancer cells from growing by shutting off a key enzyme; 2) it coerces estrogen to break down into a “good” (protective, non-cancer promoting) type instead of a “bad” (cancer-promoting) type; 3) it persuades a “tumor suppression” gene to “turn-on” which contains the commands for several crafty internal tactics to stop tumor growth; 4) it makes the estrogen receptor in breast cells less responsive to estrogen. In other words, when estrogen attaches to its receptor, breast cells won’t divide as rapidly. That’s important because the slower breast cells divide — the lower your risk of breast cancer.

Here’s 2 more important points: 1) Eat only organically grown produce to avoid pesticides and other harmful chemicals; 2) Indole-3 carbinol is destroyed by over-cooking so lightly cook cruciferous vegetables or eat them raw.

This information is used with permission by Christine Horner, MD

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Breast Health Tip #14: Avoid Alcohol


Avoid alcohol and drink “health-promoting drinks” like organic fruit juices, green tea, and purified water instead. Here’s why: researchers have found one drink a day can increase your risk of breast cancer by 11%; two drinks a day by 22 to 40%; and three drinks a day by 33 to 70%.

Scientists have uncovered several explanations for alcohol’s high risk. Alcohol increases the production of estrogen and prolactin. Both of these hormones speed up cell division in breast tissue. The faster breast cells divide — the higher your risk of breast cancer. Alcohol also interferes with the function of liver enzymes. Liver enzymes are necessary to break down toxins and carcinogens. They also break down estrogen and prepare it for elimination from our bodies. If your liver enzymes don’t function properly, the level of estrogen, toxins, and carcinogens in your body will go up and so will your risk of breast cancer.

Instead of alcohol, consider drinking organic grape juice. Grapes contain something called “resveratrol”. Resveratrol inhibits the initiation of breast cancer and decreases the growth of breast tumors. It is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Scientists have found both of these properties help protect against and fight breast cancer. In addition, if you have breast cancer and require radiation, resveratrol can help the radiation kill more tumor cells.

Our bodies have an amazing capacity to heal. The moment you drop unhealthy habits and adopt healthy ones, your body will begin repairing itself. Enjoy your holidays – and at the same time honor your health.

This information is used with permission by Christine Horner, MD

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Breast Health Tip #13: Garlic


Eating just a clove or two of garlic a week can significantly lower your risk of breast cancer.

For more than 5,000 years, before even the earliest Chinese dynasties, garlic has been used as a medicine in central Asia. Prized for its health promoting and protecting qualities, it was brought further and further West until it reached Egypt about 4,000 years ago. The earliest surviving written records describing garlic as a medicine are in the Egyptian Ebers Papyrus written in approximately 1500 B.C. Garlic was introduced into Europe in the first century A.D. With this long history of cultivation, garlic is no longer found in the wild; it is strictly a plant grown by people. . Today, it’s produced and enjoyed for its excellent taste and diverse medicinal qualities by nearly every culture in the world. One of its distinctive traits is its ability to lower your risk of breast cancer.

An Iowa study of 34,388 postmenopausal women found that those who consumed garlic regularly had a noticeably lower incidence of breast cancer. Eating just one clove of garlic a week made a significant statistical difference.

There are several ways that garlic helps to protect against and fight breast cancer. Overall, garlic is a good cancer fighter because it has more antioxidants than any other vegetable ever tested. Antioxidants protect your body from the oxygen free radical damage that can lead to cancer. Garlic usually has abundant amounts of selenium and this mineral stimulates the production of glutathione, one of your body’s natural antioxidants. Research has found that garlic also gives a boost to your immune system. Specifically, it enhances a type of cell in your immune system called Natural Killer (NK) cells. These cells are important because, as their name indicates, they naturally kill things you don’t want in your body, such as cancer cells, bacteria, and viruses.

Laboratory studies have revealed some of the precise ways that garlic prevents and fights breast cancer. Garlic decreases the formation of carcinogens in breast tissue by as much as 50–70 percent. It helps to avert the initiation of breast tumors by preventing toxins from binding to DNA in breast cells. Garlic has also been shown to inhibit or prevent breast tumor cells from growing and dividing. In addition, research shows that garlic is very effective at lowering the risk of stomach cancer.
Cancer isn’t the only disease that garlic helps to prevent. The main problem in AIDS patients is that the HIV virus destroys the immune system. The number and function of NK cells, in particular, drop to very low levels. A 1989 study found that garlic was effective at increasing the activity of NK cells in AIDS patients.

Garlic is especially good for your heart’s health. It decreases cholesterol and triglycerides, prevents blood clots, improves circulation, and decreases the risk of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). Garlic also reduces blood pressure. Studies show it can reduce systolic blood pressure (the first or higher number in a blood-pressure reading) by 20–30 millimeters (mm) of mercury (Hg) and diastolic blood pressure (the second or lower number) by 10–20 mm Hg.

Garlic: Nature’s Antibiotic
Garlic can kill a whole army of unwanted invaders: bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites. In 1858 Louis Pasteur, who developed the “germ theory,” discovered that garlic kills bacteria. This was an important revelation, because there were no antibiotics then. After his discovery, garlic juice was put on wounds to help prevent infections, including those in soldiers fighting World War I since antibiotics weren’t available until after that war.

Many modern-day studies have shown that garlic is effective in killing a wide variety of bacteria including tuberculosis and Staphylococcus aureus, a common skin pathogen that frequently causes infections. Studies conducted in the 1980s and 1990s found that garlic is also a good antiviral, antifungal, and antiparasitic.

The Magic Inside
As with any whole plant, it’s difficult to describe exactly how it works because there are thousands of constituents all interacting together. But a few substances have been identified in garlic that have clear medicinal benefits and specific actions. Something called “allin” holds many of garlic’s health-promoting properties. Allin is just one of thirty sulfur compounds found in garlic. When garlic is crushed or broken, the enzyme allinase is released, and it converts allin to allicin — the actual active compound. Allin doesn’t have any health-supporting effects until it becomes allicin. So, to gain the full potential of the allinase in garlic, you should crush it and wait at least fifteen minutes before you eat it. Other plentiful health-enhancing compounds found in garlic are selenium and vitamins A, B, C, and E.

Getting Your Garlic
Garlic can be eaten fresh or taken in standardized doses as capsules and tablets. The general daily recommended dose is 600–900 mg, or one or two fresh cloves. Many of the antioxidants in garlic are destroyed if you cook it too much. So, eat it raw, or only lightly sautéed, and add it to foods near the end of cooking. If you are concerned about “garlic-breath,” there is an odorless form of garlic available in capsule form.
Side effects have been reported with therapeutic doses of garlic, but they are mild and rare. They include heartburn, flatulence, headaches, muscle soreness, fatigue, dizziness and allergic reactions. Garlic is not recommended if you are on anticoagulants or blood thinners, because it also thins your blood.

This information is used with permission by Christine Horner, MD

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Breast Health Tip #12: Exercise


At least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise three to five times a week may lower your risk of breast cancer by as much as 30-50%.

The right type of activity, at the proper time of the day, produces a cascade of powerful chemicals and hormones that decrease the risk of a multitude of disorders, especially breast cancer. For instance, engaging in activities that elevate your heart rate on a regular basis lowers your risk of breast cancer in eight major ways. First, it lowers the production of estrogen in your body. Breast cancer is strongly linked to estrogen. The more estrogen your body produces and that you are exposed to from other sources over your lifetime, the higher your risk of breast cancer.

Second, regular vigorous activities have been found to lengthen the menstrual cycle. With each menstrual period, your body produces a surge of estradiol – the strongest type of estrogen and the one most linked to breast cancer. The longer your menstrual cycles are — for example, they occur every 30 days instead of every 28 days — the fewer the number of menstrual periods you will have over your lifetime. The fewer menstrual cycles you have, the lower the amount of estrodiol you will produce, and the lower you risk of breast cancer will be.

Third, when you exercise in the proper amounts, the strength of your immune system is boosted. On the other hand, exercising too little, or too much, weakens your immune defenses. Keeping your immune system strong is important because it is composed of cells that provide your body’s main defense against foreign invaders like bacteria, viruses and cancer cells. A robust immune system is crucial for preventing and fighting breast cancer.

Fourth, aerobic exercise regulates blood sugar. Sugar is the preferred food for cancer, so it is best not to eat very much of it. Another important reason to keep your blood sugar from getting too high has to do with the hormone insulin. When you eat sugar, especially simple or refined sugars, your blood sugar zooms up and your pancreas responds by releasing a lot of insulin – the hormone that facilitates sugar getting into your cells. Insulin can cause big problems when it comes to your risk of breast cancer. Women with the highest insulin levels are found to have a 283% increased risk of breast cancer. Insulin is also dangerous for women with breast cancer. Breast cancer cells have insulin receptors on them, and when insulin attaches to them, it makes the cancer cells grow faster.

Fifth, aerobic exercise lowers blood fat and keeps body fat in check. Obesity is thought to cause about 20-30% of all post-menopausal breast cancers. After menopause, your fat cells are the primary site for estrogen production in your body. The more fat cells you have, the more estrogen your body will produce. So keeping your body weight down is a good way to lower your risk of breast cancer.

Sixth, exercise relieves depression. According to researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, women who are depressed have a 400% higher incidence of breast cancer. When you engage in strenuous physical activity, your body releases endorphins and other powerful mood-boosting hormones. These chemical changes are extremely effective at relieving depression. In fact, several studies show that exercise works just as well at improving this condition as most commonly prescribed anti-depressant medications.

Seventh, exercising releases stress. Stress has been linked to 90% of all illness according to the National Institute of Health. Research shows that women under severe stress, or that have recently suffered a major stress, like death of a loved one, or loss of a job, are much more prone to developing breast cancer.

Finally, regular exercise has been found to lower IGF-1 or insulin-like growth factor. Keeping the amount that our body produces of this naturally occurring growth factor low is crucially important, because it is the most powerful stimulator of breast cancer known. It is also imperative to be aware that excess amounts of this dangerous growth factor can get into our bodies from consuming dairy products from cows that have been injected with growth hormones. Since most of the cows on conventional American farms are given growth hormones, the only way to avoid ingesting dangerous amounts of IGF-1 is to either not eat dairy products, or to consume only those that are low-fat and have been organically produced.

All of these breast cancer risk-lowering benefits of exercise add up to a lot of protection. Research shows that if you exercised regularly during your teen years, your risk of breast cancer will be 30% lower for the rest of your life. But it is never too late to begin exercising. If you start regularly participating in invigorating movements as an adult and keep it up, you can drop your risk of breast cancer by 30-50%.

This information is used with permission by Christine Horner, MD

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