Most likely, there is nothing more frightening for a woman than the discovery of a lump in her breast. Her mind is quickly flooded with cancer and all of its consequences. Most women have a friend, a sister, or a coworker who has been diagnosed with the disease and know how difficult dealing with it can be. Fortunately, 80% of all breast lumps are not cancer, as most are cysts or a benign clump of tissue. From puberty on, a womans breasts undergo many changes. Because of these continual changes, breast tissue requires adequate nutrition. Although everyone benefits from a healthy diet, there are additional nutrients which can specifically benefit women including B vitamins, calcium D-glucarate, broccoli extract, green tea, maitake mushrooms, and iodine.
Because scientists can learn a lot about diseases from simply observing it, they have learned that certain cultures have a very low incidence of breast cancer, among these being China and Japan. As compared to women in America, Canada, and parts of Europe, the Asian cultures have a much lower breast cancer rate and it seems likely that something in their diet could be protecting these women from the disease. As Asian women adopt a western diet their breast cancer rates climb. It has also been recognized that certain types of vegetables play a large role in the prevention of all types of disease, including cancer. Based on this, scientists have carried out many studies to determine what it is about these nutrients that can prevent breast cancer.
Deficiencies in vitamin B12 can result in a serious type of anemia, as well as nerve damage, and is now being researched to see if these deficiencies can also, in part, cause breast cancer. A scientific study proved that women who had the lowest levels of B12 in their blood had the highest rates of breast cancer. Another study discovered that when B12 was applied directly to cancer cells, it actually stopped cancer cells from growing. The researchers conducting this experiment believe that giving B12 to women with breast cancer as a part of a chemotherapy regime might help to keep cancer in check.
Similarly, low folic acid intake is linked to the development of all cancers because folic acid is crucial to the making and continual repair of DNA. A recent study discovered that high intakes of folic cancer may actually reduce the risk of breast cancer, as women who eat lots of foods that contain folic acid have much lower rates of breast cancer. Although there is no clear-cut, single cause of breast cancer, many factors are required for the disease to appear, including estrogen. Studies have shown that women who have higher levels of estrogen tend to develop breast cancer more often. This means that women who got the periods before age eleven or entered menopause after the age of fifty-five have a higher risk of breast cancer. Another factor affecting breast cancer is the consumption of alcohol. Since alcohol raises estrogen levels, a woman who consumes even moderate amounts of alcohol increases her risk of breast cancer. However a recent study has shown that folic acid can overtake this link between alcohol consumption and breast cancer as those women who drink one alcoholic drink a day and have high levels of folic acid have the same rate of breast cancer as those women with high folic acid intakes who did not drink.
While women need estrogen to soften skin, thicken hair, and fill out hips and breasts, estrogen can also nourish breast tumors and help them to grow bigger, stronger, and more deadly. Thanks to good nutrition, American women get their periods early and go through menopause later in life. Today, women also have fewer pregnancies, with the average number of children being one or two. Each of these factors increases the time in which womens bodies are exposed to estrogen, meaning increased opportunities for estrogen to cause trouble. We are also continuously exposed to cancer-causing chemicals and toxins, coming from contaminants in the food we eat and pollutants in the air we breathe. Although the body does have a system that eliminates some of the excess estrogen and toxic chemicals before they cause harm, an enzyme called beta-glucuronidase can interrupt the excretion process, allowing the hormone or toxin to continue to cause harm. Fortunately, scientists have discovered a natural substance found in foods, calcium d-glucarate (CDG), which can stop the activity of beta-glucuronidase. CDG, which is found in fruits and vegetables, has been shown in experimental studies to significantly slow breast cancer growth. There are also many other trials currently underway studying its ability to decrease the breast cancer risk in women at high risk for the disease.
Iodine, which is the trace element in a hormone found in the thyroid gland and is involved in several metabolic functions, functions as a protection of breast tissue from cancerous cells. A study exposing breast cancer cells and breast tissue without any cancer to a type of seaweed containing high amounts of iodine concluded that the seaweed killed all of the cancerous cells and did not harm the normal breast cells. Researchers believe that it is because many Japanese women eat this kind of seaweed, containing great amounts of iodine, that they have very low rates of breast cancer.
For a great deal of time, cruciferous vegetables including broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower, have been observed by scientists for their ability to reduce the risk of diseases including cancer. It appears that the phytochemical sulforaphane, found in broccoli, is one of the chemicals responsible for this beneficial ability. Sulforaphane increases certain enzymes in the body called phase 2 enzymes, which deactivate cancer-causing chemicals. When breast cancer cells were exposed to sulforaphane in a lab experiment, the compound inhibited the growth of the cancer cells up to eighty percent.
There is a good amount of research that has concluded that green tea beverage consumption is associated with a lower incidence of breast cancer. Researchers have long noted the low rates of breast cancer in Japan, where green tea is consumed at great amounts. The active compound found in green tea that is responsible for breast cancer inhibition is EGCG, which stops the cells from growing, causes them to lose their ability to replicate, and die.
For many years, maitake mushrooms have been linked to good health in all that eat them, partly because they contain an important compound called D-fraction. D-fraction not only stops the growth of cancerous tumors, but it also alerts and stimulates immune cells to fight the disease. Due to its success, maitake is now being used in clinical trials of women with breast cancer, improving many symptoms including reduction of the tumor.
These nutrients should not be used in place of traditional treatment for breast cancer, as none of these nutrients can cure breast cancer. However, they can be a part of plan of treatment. If you have breast cancer, talk to your healthcare practitioner about these nutrients and remember that nutritional supplements are supplements to your food, medication, and treatment, to enhance and prevent, not a replacement. Supplements like B vitamins, calcium D-glucarate, broccoli extract, green tea, maitake mushrooms, and iodine can be found at your local or internet health food store.