Integrative Medicine and Breast Cancer by Dr. Sandi Amoils and Dr. Steve Amoils
People may hear your words, but they feel your attitude. ~John C. Maxwell
ntegrative medicine is the combination of conventional medicine and proven complementary or alternative interventions into an individualized therapeutic regimen. Its goal is not to replace conventional treatment, but rather to use diet, lifestyle, nutrition, and stress reduction as well as complementary and alternative therapies to help patients. Research is rapidly coming to the conclusion that a personalized approach is the best way to handle any cancer diagnosis. Cancer cells that appear identical under a microscope may be quite different genetically. Each cancer appears to create its own self-perpetuating microenvironment. Cancers can be further influenced by factors ranging from nutrition to stress and psychological problems. Genetic mutations may predispose people to disease. A good example is a mutation in the BRCA gene. Of women who have this mutation— more common in Ashkenazi Jews—approximately 50% will develop breast cancer. This specific gene mutation does not appear to have become more common in the past century. However, during that time, the incidence of breast cancer has increased, probably because of the rise in estrogen and estrogen-like compounds in our environment. This is called an epigenetic effect—when a non-genetic influence on a gene causes it to express itself differently. Many experts believe epigenetic effects are altering the expression of different genes. Pesticides, herbicides, chemicals in new cars, furnishings or cosmetics, plastics (e.g. Bisphenol A) and medications such as birth control pills can all have
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epigenetic effects. People can improve their health by taking control of their diet and lifestyle in these areas.
Reducing Disease Risk
There are many ways to reduce disease risk or help mitigate a dysfunction already present. Chief among them is a nutritious diet and regular exercise. Eating more plant-based foods is an excellent start, especially including many different colored fruits and vegetables—at least five to seven servings per day. Cruciferous vegetables, especially broccoli, have high amounts of sulforaphane and di-indole methane (DIM) that can help fight breast cancer. Other steps to take are replacing refined carbohydrates such as sugar, white flour and white rice with whole grains; cutting down on saturated animal fats, eliminating red meat and dairy wherever possible; and increasing omega-3 fatty acids from wild Pacific salmon and sardines or from quality supplements. Choose organic foods wherever possible. Organic produce tends to be richer in nutrients and lower in pesticides than non-organic. “The Clean Fifteen and Dirty Dozen” developed by the Environmental Working Group is a good guide to understanding this (see ewg. org). Season foods with garlic, ginger, onions and turmeric. Drink green tea. All of these have beneficial anti-oxidant and cancer-fighting benefits. Research has shown that patients with cancer who exercise regularly have better outcomes. Improve sleep habits with the aim of getting enough sleep and rest. Yoga, tai-chi, and qi-gong can help.