18 Natural Ways To Prevent Breast Cancer

One out of eight women will get breast cancer. 
At this time, no one knows the cause of the majority of breast cancers. There are many theories, including an inherited tendency, genetic mutations and environmental exposure; pesticides, and even bras (though many feel it is the metal in the bras and not the bras themselves);  however, the cause of breast cancer is the subject of ongoing research. Every woman is at risk for developing breast cancer. Breast cancer is 100 times more common in women than in men. Following skin cancer, breast cancer is the second most common cancer in women. Therefore, take care of yourself. Learn eighteen ways to do just that.
Eighteen Ways To Prevent Breast Cancer

take off your bra
In a study by Singer and Grismaijer in 1995, 3 out of 4 women studied who wore a bra for 24 hours a day developed breast cancer compared to 1 out of 168 who wore a bra rarely or never. That is a huge difference, and the implication is clear. Your first line of defense in preventing breast cancer is to severely limit how many hours a day you wear a bra. Bras do not cause the cancer initially but they restrict the flow of lymph within breast tissue, thereby hindering the normal cleansing process of the breast tissue. Many environmental toxins and pesticides that cause and promote cancer are "fat-loving" and so tend to reside in the breast tissue. Lymph fluid carries away waste products, dead cells, and toxins.

vitamin d/sunlight
Breast cancer mortality rates in the U.S. vary according to the geographic region so that the highest rates are in the northeast and urban areas, and lowest rates in the south and rural areas. This is explained by the variation in sunlight and the subsequent vitamin D production. According to William B. Grant's analysis, breast cancer risk could be cut in half by sufficient vitamin D levels - or in other words, by sufficient sun exposure. Adult humans need much more vitamin D than the amount that used to be recommended (400 IU) — probably somewhere around 2000-4000 IU daily. So you cannot get enough vitamin D from the diet alone. Sun exposure without sunscreens is the preferred source of vitamin D.  If you need vitamin D supplementation, blood testing of vitamin D level is recommended to know how much supplements to take and not to overdose.  Dr. Mercola's article on vitamin D deficiency explains the testing, as well as how much sun exposure is adequate.  Just remember, don't burn.

obtain a healthy weight
There is a growing connection between breast cancer and obesity - especially abdominal and upper-body obesity. For example, almost half of all breast cancer cases occur in obese women. Also, cancerous breast tumors are notoriously hard to find in young women with more than 15-20 percent excess body fat. The link between body mass index and breast cancer is mostly statistical. We can see it, but we don't understand exactly why it exists. A possible explanation for the association between obesity and breast cancer is that obese women store xenestrogens in their extra fat cells. Xenestrogens are harmful estrogen-like compounds resulting from environmental pollution. In addition, recent research is starting to unveil a bigger picture where obesity, a condition called insulin resistance/hyperinsulinemia, higher estrogen levels, and insulin-like growth factor I are all connected, and act synergistically. The exact causal mechanism is yet uncertain and under study. 
omega 3's
The evidence is very compelling that consuming omega-3 fatty acids helps prevent breast cancer, and that the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats in diet is important.  One should not consume too much of omega-6 fats in relation to omega-3 fats. The typical western diet contains up to 20 times as much omega-6 fats as it does omega-3s; the optimum ratio for health is more like 4:1. The beneficial omega-3 fats won't work nearly as well in protecting you from cancer if the diet contains lots of omega-6 fats. This fat issue is also a major factor in heart disease. Omega-6 fats are found in refined supermarket cooking oils such as soy oil, corn oil, sunflower, safflower oil, in margarine, and in all processed foods that use these. 
Omega-3 fats are found in flaxseed, walnuts, hempseeds, chia seeds and in oily fish, like sardines, salmon, trout, and mackerel. 


fermented soy 
A study of the culturing method involved in the production of fermented soy products, came to the conclusion that the culturing process itself led to a "lower number of cancers per animal" and a "lower growth rate of cancer compared to controls." The researchers also indicated that it was not the presence of any specific nutrient that was cultured along with the soy but rather the cultured soy medium itself that was responsible for the health benefits associated with fermented soy consumption. Miso, a fermented or probiotic form of soyabean, is particularly rich in the isoflavone aglycones, genistein and daizein, which are believed to be cancer chemopreventatives. The fermentation process is thought to convert the isoflavone precursors genistin and daidzin to their active anti-cancer isoflavone forms, genistein and daidzein. It is unfortunate that in the United States, health-conscious consumers, especially women concerned about developing breast cancer are urged by media and consumer reports to consume soy or soy protein isolates which are not the forms that soy is traditionally consumed in Japan. The overwhelming majority of soy consumed in Asian countries such as Japan, China, Korea and Indonesia is in its cultured or probiotic form enhanced with genistein and daidzein. Japanese researchers found that the cultured broth of Saccharomyces cerevisiae or Brewer's Yeast, produced both in vivo and in vitro experiments, bioantimutagenic and anticlastogenic activity with mutagen formation reduced by 47% just by the administration of the cultured broth. The cultured soy medium had thus produced its own unique anti-carcinogenic activity by strongly inhibiting formation of cellular.

avoid pesticides, organochlorines, & radiation

Organochlorines are human-made chemicals containing chlorine and carbon. They include many chemicals present in pesticides, plastics, PCBs, pulp and paper manufacturing, sewage treatment and solvents. Many of them are xenoestrogens or estrogens mimics, which means that like estrogen, they promote the growth of breast cancer in the human body. Some of them are not estrogenic but are toxic and carcinogenic in general. Organochlorines don't easily break down and accumulate in the fat tissues of humans and animals, becoming more and more concentrated as one moves up the food chain. They are highly toxic, causing for example birth defects and neurological damage. It has been found that organochlorines act synergistic in promoting breast cancer. It is impossible to totally avoid exposure to organochlorines but you can do something. You can buy organic food as much as possible, and wash all non-organic produce very well to try to get rid of the pesticide residue. Don't use pesticides or herbicides at your home. Avoid food wrapped in plastic - at least don't heat it in plastic. Find a spring in your area as tap water is chlorinated and can have many contaminants (including for example a common pesticide atrazine, a hormone disruptor).

Radioactive radiation
is very carcinogenic, and the risk of breast cancer increases with increasing exposure to ionising radiation. Radiation has the greatest carcinogenic effect in children and young people, and the cancer may show up only decades later in their life. There's not much you can do about the low-level radiation from nuclear plants and testing (except moving), but on a personal scale you can try to avoid medical X-rays, radiation therapy, and mammograms since they all deliver a dosage of ionizing radiation and since the risk of cancer 'accumulates' or increases with each exposure.  For example, women with scoliosis (who get spine X-rays to diagnose the disease) and women treated for Hodgkin's disease (who receive radiation therapy to the chest/armpit area) have a higher incidence of breast cancer.


A substance in the spice turmeric, has several cancer-fighting properties. A study found that in laboratory, curcumin can actually repair DNA that has been damaged by radiation. This is very good news, because one cannot avoid all radiation sources. Curcumin can also protect cells against xenoestrogens because it can fit to the same receptor as estrogen or estrogen-mimicking chemicals. In a study on human breast cancer cells, curcumin reversed growth caused by a certain form of estrogen by 98%, and growth caused by DDT by 75%. Another study found that a mixture of curcumin and soy isoflavonoids inhibited halted breast cancer growth that was induced by DDT and certain environmental pollutants by 95% (in vitro). Yet another anti-cancer property of curcumin is that it is a powerful antioxidant. It can therefore protect our bodies from free radicals that damage DNA. This is also why turmeric (that contains curcumin) can be used for preserving foods.

A big study published in the prestigious journal Lancet that reviewed data from 47 epidemiological studies in 30 countries has clearly confirmed that childbearing and breastfeeding lower breast cancer risk substantially. The researchers found that the relative risk of breast cancer is reduced by 4.3 per cent for each year that a woman breastfeeds, in addition to a reduction of 7 per cent for each birth.  Confounding factors, including family history, age of starting periods (menarche), body mass index, the use of hormonal contraceptives, and alcohol or tobacco use did not alter the breastfeeding effect on the relative risk of breast cancer. Breastfeeding acts in several ways in protecting women from breast cancer. Breastfeeding suppresses menstrual cycles which means less estrogen exposure. The lymph system within breast tissue, which is important in keeping the breast tissue clean, only develops fully during pregnancy. Baby's suckling keeps the mother's oxytocin levels high. In fact, non-breastfeeding women can get some of the benefit by massaging their breasts and also kneading/twiddling the nipple, which releases oxytocin. Also, breastfeeding helps to eliminate fat-soluble pollutants and carcinogens from the breast tissue. They then end up in the baby via the milk - which raises the concern whether the baby is harmed. Of course a totally clean breast milk would be ideal, but the bottom line is that for most people, the benefits of breastfeeding far outweigh the small harm that might come from the typical level of pollutants in breast milk. You can find excellent information on contaminants in breast milk at Healthy Milk, Healthy Baby - Chemical Pollution and Mother's Milk from National Resources Defence Council.

There is some evidence that oxytocin, one of the hormones within human body, can help prevent breast cancer because it inhibits the growth of breast cancer cells in vitro. Oxytocin is responsible for many things, including a general sense of happiness, labor contractions, and the let-down reflex in breastfeeding. A loving, caring touch makes our bodies release oxytocin, as does nipple stimulation when the baby suckles the breast. (Maybe all these babies who like to play with the one nipple while suckling the other are doing a favor for their mothers.) This can explain in part why breastfeeding and being sexually active lowers a woman's breast cancer risk. Non-breastfeeding women can benefit from oxytocin by rubbing and tweaking their nipples regularly.  And, don't forget the hugs and friendly touch that help in oxytocin production too.

flax seeds 
A new Canadian study shows the flax can significantly slow the rate of breast cancer cell growth. Researchers at the University of Toronto asked newly diagnosed breast cancer patients to eat two tablespoons of ground flaxseed each day. They then analyzed samples of their tumors before starting this treatment and 30 days after. They found that women taking the flaxseed slowed their rate of cancer cell growth by up to 33 percent compared to women not on flax. And there was nearly a 60 percent drop in the spread of the most aggressive cancer cells. What's more, this nutritional treatment effect was equal to anti-cancer drugs like Tamoxofin. "Flax seed is the first nutritional product that's been studied, that has actually produced hard scientific evidence," says Dr. Goss. Researchers think a fiber in the seeds may help sweep estrogen out of the body, blocking the hormone's ability to make tumors grow. While this is just one piece of evidence, cancer support groups say it is very exciting news. Lignans in flaxseed reduce the amount of the carcinogenic estrogen metabolite (16a-hydroxyestrone), and increase the neutral-to-favorable estrogen (2-hydroxyestrone), thereby increasing the 2-OH:16 alpha-OH ratio.  Consuming flaxseed has been even shown to reduce breast cancer tumor size in rats. Flax or flax oil should be part of everybody's diet anyway, because it is among the few good sources of the essential omega-3 fatty acid ALA. The lignans that are so helpful against breast cancer are found mainly in flax seed and not in the oil. Remember to grind flaxseed before use because if unground, it won't digest too well. You can add it to breads, muffins, or other baked goods, or sprinkle on oatmeal or salad.

vitamin e/tocotrienols
Some studies have found vitamin E to have any protective effect against breast cancer, and many have not, but more recent studies are now finding that it is the form of vitamin E that makes the difference. It appears that the common form of vitamin E that you find in supplements and in most food sources, alpha tocopherol, is not protective against breast cancer (though it certainly is a very powerful antioxidant and needed nutrient). But women consuming other forms of vitamin E called tocotrienols have been found to have dramatically lower risk of contracting breast cancer - 50% less risk for women without family history of breast cancer, and as much as 90% for premenopausal women with family history. The food sources of tocotrienols are rice bran, barley, and wheat germ. This is yet another piece of evidence about the benefits of whole grains (brown rice, whole wheat, barley) versus the refined counterparts. Actually palm oil is the best source of tocotrienols but palm oil sold in the U.S. is refined and as usual, refining removes the good stuff.

Researchers wanted to find out if there was any correlation between breast cancer risk and blood serum levels of cysteine - an amino acid and precursor of glutathione, an intracellular antioxidant. Taking the lead from previous studies that have shown glutathione to be capable of detoxifying carcinogens, the Brigham researchers examined blood sample data from more than 700 breast-cancer patients. All patient records were matched with records of subjects who were healthy and of similar age.
The most dramatic results were recorded among pre-menopausal women. In this group, women who had the highest levels of cysteine were more than 75 percent less likely to develop breast cancer than those with the lowest cysteine levels. And the risk was reduced even more among women who had normal body weight. N-acetylcysteine (NAC) (a synthetic form of the amino acid cysteine) enhances the production of glutathione, if you want to take a supplement. Fortunately there are good food sources that deliver glutathione precursors, including broccoli, garlic, onions, red peppers, avocado, spinach, turmeric, asparagus, egg yolks, goat whey, okra, brussel sprouts, wheat germ. Selenium, vitamin B6 and vitamin E help to enhance the antioxidant effects of cysteine, so you might want to eat foods rich in these to your daily regimen as well.


Researchers found that eating watercress every day could help prevent breast cancer. The compound which provides watercress a peppery taste has been found to block a protein that allows cancer tumors to grow. As per the experts at the University of Southampton the `super food' can help to `turn off' a signal in the body and thereby help starve the tumor of essential blood and oxygen. They discovered that people who consumed 80 grams of watercress everyday equivalent to a cereal bowl sized helping had an increased level of cancer-fighting molecules in their blood within hours of eating the salad leaves. The compound which is responsible to lend a peppery taste to the salad leaf is called phenylethyl isothiocyanate (PEITC). Researchers found that the compound is able to interfere with the function of a protein that plays a critical role in cancer development. While tumors are growing they quickly outgrow their existing blood supply and further development is not possible until they are able to obtain enough oxygen and nutrients to maintain the growth of cancer cells.

avoid alcohol-even a little
Drinking as little as half a glass of wine a day may raise a woman's risk of developing breast cancer, a new study shows. And don't think that switching to beer or spirits is the answer: The more alcohol consumed on a regular basis, the greater the risk, says Wendy Y. Chen, MD, PhD, a cancer specialist at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. The study was presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. Previous studies have linked alcohol intake with an increased breast cancer risk. Alcohol may change the way the body metabolizes estrogen. Many breast cancers are fueled by the hormone estrogen. Therefore, regular use of alcohol is thought to increase the risk of breast cancer by increasing blood estrogen levels. The new study tracked the health of 122,000 women since 1976. They were free of cancer at the start of the study. Every four years, the women were asked how much alcohol they had used during an average month in the past year. By 2002, nearly 6,000 of the women developed breast cancer.
When compared with teetotalers:
Women who drank the equivalent of a half glass of wine a day were 6% more likely to develop breast cancer.
Women who drank a glass or two a day faced a 21% increased risk of breast cancer.
Those who drank more than two drinks a day were 37% more likely to develop breast cancer. However, the risk was much greater in menopausal women:
Menopausal women who drank a half glass of wine daily increased their chance of breast cancer by 18%.
The elevated risk was also more pronounced for women whose tumor growth was fueled by the hormones estrogen or progesterone - a group that accounts for about 70% of women with breast cancer.

stop using antiperspirant
From Pubmed: Aluminum salts are used as the active antiperspirant agent in underarm cosmetics, but the effects of widespread, long term and increasing use remain unknown, especially in relation to the breast, which is a local area of application. Clinical studies showing a disproportionately high incidence of breast cancer in the upper outer quadrant of the breast together with reports of genomic instability in outer quadrants of the breast provide supporting evidence for a role for locally applied cosmetic chemicals in the development of breast cancer. Aluminum is known to have a genotoxic profile, capable of causing both DNA alterations and epigenetic effects, and this would be consistent with a potential role in breast cancer if such effects occurred in breast cells. Oestrogen is a well established influence in breast cancer and its action, dependent on intracellular receptors which function as ligand-activated zinc finger transcription factors, suggests one possible point of interference from aluminum. Results reported here demonstrate that aluminum in the form of aluminium chloride or aluminum chlorhydrate can interfere with the function of oestrogen receptors of MCF7 human breast cancer cells both in terms of ligand binding and in terms of oestrogen-regulated reporter gene expression. This adds aluminum to the increasing list of metals capable of interfering with oestrogen action and termed metalloestrogens. Further studies are now needed to identify the molecular basis of this action, the longer term effects of aluminium exposure and whether aluminum can cause aberrations to other signalling pathways in breast cells. Given the wide exposure of the human population to antiperspirants, it will be important to establish dermal absorption in the local area of the breast and whether long term low level absorption could play a role in the increasing incidence of breast cancer. [source]

avoid mammograms
Many critics of mammography cite the hazardous health effects of radiation. According to Russell L. Blaylock, MD, one estimate is that annual radiological breast exams increase the risk of breast cancer by two percent a year. So over 10 years the risk will have increased 20 percent. Dr. John W. Gofman, an authority on the health effects of ionizing radiation, estimates that 75 percent of breast cancer could be prevented by avoiding or minimizing exposure to the ionizing radiation. This includes mammography, x-rays and other medical and dental sources. A study presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA), concludes the low-dose radiation from annual mammography screening significantly increases breast cancer risk in women with a genetic or familial predisposition to breast cancer. This is particularly worrisome because women who are at high risk for breast cancer are regularly pushed to start mammograms at a younger age -as early as 25 -and that means they are exposed to more radiation from mammography earlier and for more years than women who don't have breast cancer in their family trees. Dr. Jansen-van der Weide and colleagues analyzed peer-reviewed, published medical research to investigate whether low-dose radiation exposure affects breast cancer risk among high-risk women. The results? All the high-risk women in the study who were exposed to low-dose mammography type radiation had an increased risk of breast cancer that was 1.5 times greater than that of high-risk women who had not been exposed to low-dose radiation. What's more, women at high risk for breast cancer who had been exposed to low-dose radiation before the age of 20 or who had five or more exposures to low-dose radiation were 2.5 times more likely to develop breast cancer than high-risk women not exposed to low-dose radiation. Bottom line: any supposed benefit of early tumor detection using mammograms in young women with familial or genetic predisposition to breast cancer is offset by the potential risk of radiation-induced cancer. "Our findings suggest that low-dose radiation increases breast cancer risk among these young high-risk women, and a careful approach is warranted," Dr. Jansen-van der Weide said in the press statement.

avoid toxic metals 
An environmental health specialist at Stirling University in Scotland, Baillie-Hamilton details how toxins may be linked to dozens of serious health problems, including immune system diseases, neurological disorders, digestive disorders, hormonal imbalances, cardio-vascular diseases, cancer, hyper-sensitivity, obesity, musculoskeletal disorders and childhood health problems. "These chemicals are simply not going to go away,"  Institute reports "pesticides are a likely cause of immune suppression for millions of people throughout the world" and that 25% of the chemicals in the environment are neurotoxins linked to increased incidence of brain disease.
Foods that detox metals include: cilantro, chlorella, milk thistle, vitamin b6, garlic, alpha lipoic acid.

cut out refined sugar & refined grains
A new study published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Mile Markers, and Prevention is presenting evidence of the link between the consumption of refined carbohydrates and cancer. This case-controlled study looked at the dietary habits of over 1,800 women in Mexico, and found that those who got 57% or more of their total energy intake from carbohydrates showed a 220% higher risk of breast cancer than women with more balanced
diets. This study shows that foods with high glycemic index values -that is, foods that more quickly raise blood sugar levels in the human body -actually accelerate the growth of cancer cells and tumors in the human body. Researchers involved with the study propose that the correlation between the consumption of refined carbohydrates and breast cancer could be related to elevated levels of insulin and the fact that many breast cancer tumors are encouraged and supported by high levels of insulin in the body. In addition, a mouse model of human breast cancer demonstrated that tumors are sensitive to blood glucose levels. The findings showed that the lower the blood glucose, the greater the survival rate. This suggests that reducing refined sugar intake is a key factor in slowing breast tumor growth. A large-scale epidemiological study of 21 modern countries that track morbidity and mortality (Europe, North America, Japan and others) revealed that sugar intake is a strong risk factor that contributes to higher breast cancer rates, particularly in older women.

98% of breast cancer cases can be prevented by lifestyle changes.

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