“You can be a victim of cancer, or a survivor of cancer. It’s a mindset.”
– Dave Pelzer, American Author.
The National Cancer Institute (NCI) describes cancer as “a disease in which some of the body’s cells grow uncontrollably and spread to other parts of the body¹.” Our bodies are made up of approximately 724 trillion cells that follow a continuous cycle called cell division. This is the process that involves the growing and multiplication of cells. Eventually, if they grow old or become damaged, they die, and new cells replace them. However, if this process breaks down, abnormal cells may undergo cell division when they’re not supposed to, causing lumps of tissue called tumors to form. These tumors can either be cancerous (malignant) or noncancerous (benign). If tumors are benign, they do not spread or invade other tissues in the body, however depending on where it forms, it can impede other bodily functions. Luckily, a benign tumor can be removed with a simple surgical procedure, and is unlikely to regenerate. On the other hand, a malignant tumor can spread and invade lymph nodes and other areas of the body through a process called metastasis. They can be removed using different treatment options, however malignant tumors have the ability to return, and patients with these types of tumors often need to be monitored and receive checkups every few months post-treatment.
Many patients and loved ones often inquire if they could’ve done anything in their lives to prevent the development of cancer. The truth is, there is nothing that can guarantee 100% prevention of cancer, however there are ways to reduce the risks. It is considered a genetic disease that is caused due to changes in genes that regulate how cells work. Changes in DNA can be altered through environmental toxins, inheritance, or ultraviolet light from the sun. This explains why every cancer case is so different. When it comes to breast cancer in particular, there are a few things that people can do to prevent the risks of developing the disease or from returning.
Avoid Birth Control Pills or Other Hormonal Contraceptives
An analysis done by the National Cancer Institute sampled 150,000 women who participated in 54 epidemiologic studies. The results revealed that women who used oral contraceptives had a 7% increased breast cancer risk compared to women who never used birth control². Additionally, those who are younger or have not been using hormonal contraceptives for an extended amount of time may have a slightly lower risk compared to those who have used birth control for five years or more or are over the age of 35. Breast cancer risks can disappear completely after stopping the pill, however for some women who use birth control to regulate their menstrual cycle may not have this option. Those who use it to prevent unwanted pregnancy may want to consider other options such as condoms if they wish to prevent breast cancer.
Avoid Environmental Toxins
Within the last 30 years, cases of breast cancer have increased by 20% in the United States alone³. Interestingly, there has also been an increase of environmental toxins, chemicals and bacteria in the same amount of time. As stated previously, cancer cells form due to altered DNA changes, and constant exposure to environmental toxins plays a significant role in genetic mutations within cells. This in turn can lead to the formation of malignant cancer cells. Some toxins that are often associated with breast cancer include Bisphenol A (BPA), Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH), Parabens, Tobacco Smoke, Dioxins and Pesticides.
Receive Frequent Screenings
Regular screenings come in handy to help detect early signs of breast cancer. At LifeWorks Wellness Center, we recommend patients receive thermography scans annually after a baseline has been established (where you have your first and second thermography 3 to 6 months apart) and to perform self-exams every month. A thermography uses an infrared camera to measure temperature changes within the breast tissue, and anything that causes an inflammatory response will be revealed as a “hot spot” in red. It does not come into contact with the breasts nor will patients be exposed to radiation. In addition, thermograms can detect vascular changes within breast tissue that can potentially indicate breast cancer years prior to its development
Exercise is always recommended as a useful tactic to preventing various conditions, like cancer or cardiovascular disease. The American Cancer Society suggests that engaging in regular exercise is beneficial to lowering breast cancer risks4. Women with high estrogen levels have elevated risks of breast cancer because estrogen fuels tumor growth. However, exercise assists in regulating estrogen levels and modifying the menstrual cycle, thus causing the body to produce less estrogen and deprive tumors of energy. Exercise also helps prevent blood clots, reduce fatigue, and enhance stamina. Simple exercises such as a daily walk, swimming, or riding a bike can also improve emotional and physical well-being during the treatment process. While exercising, it’s essential to only do what one’s body is capable of. Do not overwork the body or attempt exercises of high-intensity.
Other Prevention Techniques Used By LifeWorks
At LifeWorks, we use other techniques to detect and prevent breast cancer. One way that we do this is by testing estrogen levels. Estrogen is a hormone that is naturally present within the body, especially in women. However, there are typically two types of estrogen that exist and can affect breast health; natural estrogen and environmental estrogens. Natural estrogen is divided between 2 – hydroxyestrone (good metabolites) and 16-hydroxyestrone (bad metabolites). The good metabolites help to prevent cancer while the bad metabolites stimulate the growth of tumors. To measure this, patients will be provided urine tests. Their results will reveal a ratio of two types of estrogen metabolites which measures one’s risk of breast cancer. A ratio of 2.0 and higher indicates a low risk, meanwhile a lower ratio indicates otherwise.
If you or someone that you know have been diagnosed with breast cancer or have a genetic history of it and are interested in alternative treatment methods, please contact our office to schedule an appointment with one of our cancer specialists at 727-466-6789.