Interview with Carolyn Dean, MD, ND.
At an annual/well woman check up, what will a doctor do or be looking for to assess breast health and breast cancer risk?
Your doctor should perform a full breast exam and instruct you on how to do one yourself and ask if you are doing them monthly. If you are still menstruating, do it one week after the first day of your period. If you are past menopause, do it on the same day each month so it’s easy to remember.
What’s the current thinking on breast self-exams?
Studies show that more breast cancers are found by the patient than by a doctor’s annual physical.
How can you assess your risk based on family history?
I don’t like to scare women into thinking that because someone in their family had cancer then they are going to get it.
Susan B Komen foundation says this: Most women with breast cancer do not have a family history of the disease. Only about 13 percent of women diagnosed have an immediate female relative (mother, sister or daughter) with breast cancer.
What’s the latest thinking about treatment for less aggressive cancers?
Unfortunately doctors are treating DCIS as if it’s cancer or precancerous and saying they are curing it with breast biopsies. However, ninety percent of DCIS is found on a mammogram and is seen as microcalcifications. If you look at the literature on the overuse of calcium in women for prevention of osteoporosis you see a rise in soft tissue calcification as a result of that practice. It causes an increase in heart disease in women and includes: atherosclerosis, kidney stones, gall stones, heel spurs, fibromyalgia and breast tissue calcifications. The reason calcium deposits in soft tissue is because there is not enough magnesium to keep the calcium dissolved and direct it properly to bones where it is needed and away from soft tissues where it is not needed. In short, the rise in DCIS is possibly due to too much calcium supplementation and too much calcium in our diet.
Has there been an “Angelina Jolie” effect, since her revelation of her prophylactic mastectomy, for good or ill?
Unfortunately there is so much fear around breast cancer that some women with a strong family history will opt for this radical approach to try and diminish their fear.
What are the best ways, in terms of lifestyle/diet, to prevent breast cancer?
The most important factor is fear and stress. It’s often after an extremely stressful time with someone sick or dying in the family or a bitter divorce that a woman may be diagnosed with breast cancer. Hardly any attention is paid to this aspect of cancer. Magnesium is the anti-stress mineral with most people deficient and not getting their Recommended Daily Allowance of this mineral.
What are some of the sign of breast cancer?
A lump or thickening in the breast or underarm that feels different from the surrounding tissue and that continues after the woman’s menstrual cycle, although breast lumps aren’t the only possible sign of breast cancer, and most breast lumps aren’t cancer.
Swelling in the armpit and tenderness or pain in the breast could be a sign.
Any change in the texture, size, shape, color or temperature of the breast.
A change in the nipple, such as itching, dimpling, a burning sensation and unusual discharge which could be clear, bloody, or another color. It’s usually caused by benign conditions but could be due to cancer in some cases.
Cancer Prevention Tips:
1. Do not smoke, or tolerate smoking in your family’s presence.
2. Avoid excessive exposure to sunlight and ultraviolet rays.
3. Do not use breast implants.
4. Do not use dark hair dyes; check out safe alternatives (such as Aveda brand, or henna).
5. Avoid perfumes, perfumed air fresheners, deodorants, and antiperspirants. If they contain benzene, aluminum, or lemon-scented chemicals, or lack a full list of all ingredients to permit a check‑up in a toxicology manual, then do not use them.
6. Treat all cosmetic products with extreme suspicion until you have proof positive that they contain no known carcinogens, as safe alternatives exist.
7. Avoid dry-cleaned clothes, and look for non-chemical alternatives.
8. Avoid chlorinated water.
9. Do not drink fluoridated water or use fluoridated toothpaste.
10. Avoid electromagnetic fields, especially with children. Electromagnetic fields have been linked to childhood leukemia and brain cancers. Use appropriate protection on your computer screen, avoid using a microwave oven, and avoid living near hydro towers.
11. Do not use hormone-disrupting or hormone-mimicking substances such as chemical pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, fungicides, and bug killers such as DEET.
12. Do not use cleaning, polishing, or renovation materials in your home that list unspecified “inert ingredients.” If they have toxic warning symbols, require calling a doctor, are “corrosive,” give special disposal instructions, or require “well-ventilated areas” for use, then look for substitutes. If you cannot avoid some of these substances (e.g., oil paint, furniture stripper, car maintenance materials), wear the best charcoal- filtered mask available and minimize exposure, especially to skin and lungs.
13. Reduce consumption of salt-cured, smoked, and nitrate-cured foods.
14. Do not use the meat or dairy products from animals routinely treated with antibiotics and raised with hormones. According to Dr. Samuel Epstein, such milk products are among the most effective cancer-causing agents currently known. Safe, certified organic milk and meat products are widely available in health food stores and some grocery stores.
15. Never heat shrink-wrapped foods or put hot food in plastic containers. The plastic molecules migrate into the food when heated. They are xenobiotics—manmade chemicals with structure that are foreign to humans.
16. Avoid food additives, especially Red Dye No. 3, which is found in most junk foods and many pop products. Avoid emulsifiers such as carrageenin.
17. Do not consume hydrogenated vegetable oils, margarine, or trans fats.
18. Limit sport fish consumption to the guidelines provided seasonally by the government.
19. Do not drink or eat foods that contain sugar substitutes such as NutraSweet, aspartame, etc. Avoid refined sugar, as it usually contains silicon. Stevia, unpasteurized honey or maple syrup, and brown rice syrup are healthy substitutes that are easily available.
20. Avoid antibiotics unless your doctor has done the necessary test to identify the exact bacteria this antibiotic kills (except in extreme emergencies, e.g. meningitis); keep any treatment period to a minimum.
21. Avoid prescription drugs unless your doctor also gives you a copy of the full drug information from the annually updated PDR (Physicians Desk Reference) and explains this information to you; if the drug requires regular liver function tests, insist on discussing alternatives or keep treatment to the minimum.
22. Avoid birth control pills, antihypertensives, antidepressants, and hormone replacement therapy in pill form (toxic to the liver), and do not take tamoxifen preventively. Get the full data on those drugs, and check them out first on the Internet at www.preventcancer.org and at http://cchroc.org/psychiatric-drug-database/
The ideas, procedures and suggestions contained in this article are not intended as a substitute for consulting with your physician. All matters regarding your physical health require medical supervision. Neither the author nor the publisher shall be liable or responsible for any loss, injury or damage allegedly arising from any information or suggestion in this article. The opinions expressed in this article represent the personal views of the author and not the publisher.