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Posted by Ingrid Edstrom, FNP, M.Ed on Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Breast Cancer: Prevention is the Cure

Prevention IS the cure.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, with a flurry of activity directed towards “Race for the Cure,” pink ribbons on posters and products, and people on street corners with butterfly nets to accept donations to defeat breast cancer. Yet with all this activity over the past 30 years we are no closer to any cure, and breast cancer rates have escalated.

According to the National Cancer Institute, incidences of breast cancer in the US have risen during the past thirty years from 1 in 30, to 1 in 8 women life time risk (1). Agencies that track these statistics are concerned that in the next 10 years it may reach 1 in five. In Oregon where I practice, we have consistently been among the top five states for breast cancer incidence, and now rank second highest per capita. This is an epidemic!

So, why aren’t we looking more closely at prevention, and considering what a woman CAN DO to reduce her risk of breast cancer or its recurrence? Racing for the Cure is simply not working!

Empowering women to embrace a more proactive approach to prevention
As a Nurse Practitioner for 35 years, I have observed many of the same concerns and parallels in the area of breast disease that researchers now raise about the environmental/dietary links to the upsurge in thyroid cancers.

In 2006 I started utilizing FDA-approved infrared (IR) thermography to assess metabolic and physiological activity in breast tissue as a risk assessment tool. Within the first six months of my breast health practice, I found that three-quarters of my patients had borderline thermography scans. At first I thought that my camera was overly sensitive but a study at Cornell Medical School using the same military/infrared technology was shown to have a 97% sensitivity (2).

I became increasingly curious as to why some patients had normal IR scans and others did not. I started researching to see why a pattern was developing and asking lifestyle and dietary questions of my patients. This is how my Proactive Breast Wellness program evolved. In the process I found that patients with the most normal breast scans were generally organic vegans with a clean life style, while those with abnormal scans were generally at the opposite end of the lifestyle spectrum. At the same time, I discovered that Oregon and Washington State had been testing grounds for Agent Orange in the early 1970s, and that stockpiles of these herbicides and chemicals were used in state agriculture and timber industries until 1998. (It began to make sense why Oregon is #2 per capita for breast cancer.) Turns out that many of my own patients had a 30-year exposure to herbicide, including Agent Orange!

Proactive Breast Wellness Program (PBW) ™
Today, I believe I am the only person in the US looking at the environmental impact of xenoestrogens (3) on breast tissue using an infrared camera. I have compiled over 1,000 pages of free resource materials to create my “Proactive Breast Wellness Program" (PBW)™. My findings strongly suggest that our environment—what we eat, how we live, how we handle stress, and our exposure to the chemicals and radiation in our environment—may have a greater impact (91-93%) on our future health than bad genetics (7-9%). This is heartening information that allows the possibility that education may empower women to make breast-saving changes in their health.

How Providers Can Help Change Outcomes to Reduce Breast Cancer or its Recurrence
Information regarding the metabolic effects of pesticides, herbicides, bovine growth hormones, and a non-organic diet on breast tissue is the first step. Providers should also take into consideration the patient’s overall body burden of xenoestrogens, as they determine hormone replacement regimes. We adjust the patient’s prescription according to laboratory hormone levels, but do we also ask if she lives on a farm, works as a florist, does filing in an auto body shop, or has horses and uses pesticide-soaked wipes on her animals? We cannot test a woman’s body burden of bovine growth hormone, Atrazine, Round Up, or 2,4,D Agent Orange, but we can help her learn how to recognize and alter the environmental and lifestyle habits that are putting her at risk.

Please view my research images to actually SEE what these chemicals do to breast tissue. In my clinical practice using thermography, lab testing (ZRT testing for steroid, adrenal, and thyroid hormones in saliva or blood spot, and steroid metabolites in dried urine) and my PBW protocols, I am able to improve patient outcomes about 65% of the time. This requires women to embrace the protocol over a 6 to 12 month period, eat organically, decrease gluten, optimize thyroid function and Vitamin D levels, balance hormones naturally, avoid xenoestrogens, and make the appropriate lifestyle and dietary changes. The PBW program is also heart healthy: patients have reduced their cholesterol levels from over 300 to slightly above 200, dropped LDL 30 points, and increased HDL. Women on the PBW program usually lose 15 to 30 pounds and reduce symptoms of hypothyroidism, and the program’s dietary recommendations have also improved the health of the other family members in the household. Click here to see before and after images.

Every middle-aged woman I know is frightened of breast cancer. It does not just affect women; it affects families and whole communities. Many younger women worry, knowing this cancer has struck older female relatives. They wait, hoping they will not become a statistic themselves. Now they have hope. Now they can do something. Empower the women in your life and your patients. Prevention IS the Cure!

Continue the Discussion:

Resources:

  1. http://www.cancer.org/cancer/breastcancer/detailedguide/breast-cancer-risk-factors
  2. Arora N, et al. Effectiveness of a noninvasive digital infrared thermal imaging system in the detection of breast cancer. Am J Surg. 2008;196(4):523-6.
  3. Davis DL, et al. Medical hypothesis: xenoestrogens as preventable causes of breast cancer. Environ Health Perspect. 1993;101(5):372-7.

Tagged in: Hormone Balance Breast Cancer Patient Education