Preventing Breast Cancer: Simple Things You Can Do
By Michael T. Murray, ND
The key strategy in the primary prevention of any disease is to reduce risk factors linked to the disease while simultaneously utilizing those dietary and lifestyle factors associated with breast cancer prevention. Here is a brief overview of the risk factors for breast cancer, followed by the top supplements for prevention:

AGE: Breast cancer is uncommon in women younger than age 35. Most breast cancers occur in women older than the age of 50, and the risk is especially high for women older than 60.

RACE: Breast cancer occurs more often in white women than in African American, Hispanic, or Asian women.

FAMILY HISTORY: A woman’s risk for developing breast cancer increases if her mother, sister, or daughter had breast cancer, especially at a young age.

GENETICS: The presence of certain genes increases the risk of breast cancer, although this is mainly true if most or all of the women in your family had breast or ovarian cancer.

ESTROGEN: Estrogen stimulates breast cells. The longer a woman is exposed to estrogen in any form, the more likely she is to develop breast cancer. For example, risk is higher among women who began menstruation before age 12, experienced menopause after age 55, never had children, or took hormone replacement therapy for long periods of time.

LATER CHILDBEARING: Women who have their first child after about age 30 have a greater chance of developing breast cancer. The most protection comes from childbirth followed by breast-feeding enough to suppress return of ovulation.

DENSITY: Breast cancers nearly always develop in dense tissue, not in fatty tissue. That’s why cancer is more likely to occur in women with “dense” breasts than in those with “fatty” ones.

ENVIRONMENTAL: Among factors that have been linked to breast cancer are exposure to xenoestrogens (synthetic compounds that mimic estrogen), second-hand smoke, pesticides, electric blankets, radiation, and lack of sunlight.

EXERCISE: Taking into account other established risk factors, women who regularly exercise have up to a 60 percent reduction in breast cancer risk compared to less-active women.

ALCOHOL: Women who drink one drink a day have a 10 percent greater risk; those who drink two drinks have a 20 percent increased risk, and so on.

SMOKING: Like most other cancers, cigarette smoking increases the risk of developing breast cancer.

DIETARY: Important dietary factors include weight (the more overweight you are, the greater the risk); increased intake of saturated fat; and decreased intakes of antioxidants, fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and dietary phytoestrogens (found in legumes, nuts, seeds, and other foods).

What else can you do? One of the beneficial foods to fight breast cancer is flaxseed. It contains special fiber compounds known as lignans that can bind to estrogen receptors and interfere with the cancer-promoting effects of estrogen on breast tissue. Fish oil supplements with 1,000 milligrams of EPA and DHA daily could be argued as the most important supplement for breast cancer prevention; however, a recent study on vitamin D produced incredible results—1,100 IU of vitamin D a day reduced the incidence of breast cancer by an incredible 60 percent.

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Michael T. Murray, ND, is the author of more than 30 books on natural health, including The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, Third Edition. He is regarded as one of the world's top authorities on natural medicine, and is a sought-after lecturer and educator. Visit him online at doctormurray.com.




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