October is fast approaching and signals Canada’s national breast cancer awareness month. Naturopathic medicine can support conventional medicine in treating breast cancer but of course prevention is key.
There are many factors to preventing breast cancer. Reducing our exposure to estrogenic chemicals known as xenoestrogens is definitely important. These chemicals are found in everyday materials such as BPA containing plastics, parabens in makeup and lotions, and pesticides. These chemicals are notorious for activating estrogen receptors leading to a rise in breast cancer risk.
Ensuring a robust digestive system can also help in the prevention of tumors. We must remember that healthy eating is synonymous with healthy living. Increasing antioxidants in our diet can surely help increase our body’s ability to detoxify harmful compounds. Foods such as berries, dark leafy greens, along with spices such as ginger and turmeric can help with the detoxification process. Speaking of diet, if you have a family history of breast cancer, then you may want to avoid high sources of phytoestrogens found in soy products (such as in tofu and soy milk). Limiting alcohol and tobacco use is also key in helping to lower the body’s toxic load.
Traditional medicine recognizes that emotional and physical stress can impair the liver’s functionality and so activities that can reduce stress are also important tools in ensuring optimal detoxification capacity. These can include walking, meditation, and treatments that increase the state of relaxation such as acupuncture. Acupuncture also has the benefit of increasing blood circulation to ensure cells are well nourished and that toxins are efficiently detoxified.
Remember also that manual screening is helpful in the prevention of breast cancer. Although breast self-exams are no longer emphasized by most health providers, it is still one of the best screening methods I would recommend to patients. Most breast cancer detected in early stages is by the patients themselves and this makes sense since you can track changes in your breast tissue better than any practitioner.
To learn more about breast cancer please visit the Canadian Cancer Society’s page on breast cancer.