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October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and every year the pink ribbons come out. With huge marketing efforts and companies jumping on the bandwagon to sell pink products, it’s sad that one month a year is advertised as such a big month. ]

The definition of awareness is “to have knowledge of” so I ask:  During the month of October, what did we learn about breast cancer? We learned that pink signifies breast cancer, the NFL wear pink straps on their helmets, and bagel shops sold pink bagels.

But what did we really learn about breast cancer? Anything? Since awareness means to have knowledge of, here is some information you can use right now and everyday. 

First, one of the major players in breast cancer is the hormone estrogen. Estrogen attaches to our cells, like a key into a lock, and creates a signal that travels through the cell to the computer of the cell, which is called DNA.  

The DNA then makes products for healthy cell function. If genes exist that can cause breast cancer, estrogen can be the key to turn on those genes to create the disease.  That being said, genes are not your fate. These hidden codes are dormant until turned on to create health issues. So, if  your internal environment is healthy, you don’t turn on the disease genes. 

Here are some of the risk factors:

  • Having high estrogen. Estrogen is a hormone that makes cells grow in the reproductive organs.
  • Having a BMI (body mass index) above 30 is associated with increased breast cancer risk. High body fat increases estrogen in the body, and estrogen is a spark that ignites breast-cancer development—this goes for women and men. 
  • Alcohol use increases breast cancer risk, as does smoking.
  • Hormone replacement therapy with synthetic estrogen among postmenopausal women increases the risk for breast cancer ten-fold.
  • Pesticide exposure, and chemical exposure like dioxin found in plastics, can increase your risk.
  • A high fat (partially-hydrogenated vegetable oil), low fiber diet can increase your risk.

Now that you are aware of the possible risks, here are some tips for balancing hormones in order to prevent health issues or restore balance to your health:

  • #1 Get your hormones evaluated! Look specifically at 2, 4, and 16 hydroxyestrone. However, it is necessary to look at all the other hormones as well. 
  • Reduce your body fat. Measure the amount of body fat with Bioimpedance testing. This is the most accurate way to assess how much body fat you have compared to lean body tissue like muscle.
  • Check your BMI.  This is a calculation of your height and weight. You can enter your height and weight into this calculator to figure out your BMI http://www.halls.md/body-mass-index/bmi.htm.   If you are at BMI of 25 or above, you need to reduce your body fat to reduce harmful levels of estrogen.
  • Reduce alcohol intake, and get help to stop smoking.
  • Eat foods such as dark-green leafy vegetables, cruciferous vegetables (e.g., brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, broccoli), carrots and tomatoes, watermelon, papaya, cantaloupe.
  • Cruciferous vegetables contain Indol-3-Carbinol, a phytochemical that can increase healthful estrogen, and decrease unhealthful estrogen.  I3C has anti-estrogenic effects, inhibits breast cancer cell growth, and helps to balance estrogen.
  • Grape seed extract and green tea has been shown to decrease the conversion of testosterone to estrogen.
  • Flaxseed (25grams) supports a healthful level of 2-hydroxyestrogen (a component of estrogen that prevents cells from becoming unhealthy)
  • Vitamins A, C, and E are beneficial for healthful estrogen.
  • Take a supplement that contains L-5-MTHF.  This special folate helps to regulate those genes that can cause diseases.
  • Vitamins like B6, B12, and Essential Fatty Acids promote healthy gut function to eliminate toxins.
  • Eat a high-fiber, low-saturated-fat diet.

Perhaps the month of October should be renamed Breast Cancer Education Month. This might have more of an impact on curing breast cancer and bring us closer to ending an epidemic.

The real cure will come from empowering women (and men) with specific prevention strategies and education, based on solid research and facts, and fueled by the motivation to make change.

If we shift the paradigm from awareness to education” we will significantly diminish the need for crisis care and allow individuals a measure of control and longevity.