Simply put, breast cancer is mutated, uncontrolled cell growth caused by damage to DNA within mammary tissue. But how does the damage occur in the first place?
It’s caused by variety of carcinogens, some external and some substances that occur naturally within the body. The majority of damage to DNA is fuelled by inflammation and oxidative stress, which is rife in the population today.
Breast cancer, like other cancers, is generally not a disease caused by just one factor. It can be any, or all of the following:
- Diet and lifestyle. Obesity, poor food choices, combined with sedentary lifestyle create the right conditions for cancer to develop. Unrestricted alcohol intake has been shown to increase breast cancer risk – for each drink exceeding 1 per day, the risk increases by 7%.
- Environmental toxins. Unfortunately, 21st century life means that we are surrounded by various carcinogenic materials. These range from exhaust fumes to cleaning products and even make-up. They are even present in some of the foods we eat!
- Stress. Long-term stress affects the body in many ways, including suppressing the immune system, altering metabolic processes and increasing oxidative stress.
- Lack of sleep. Sleep deprivation is a serious issue when it comes to breast cancer prevention. Getting less than 7 hours of sleep each night has been linked to most chronic diseases, particularly cancer.
- Prescribed drugs have also been implicated in breast cancer development. HRT (hormone replacement therapy) is the most commonly known but there are other medications, not linked to reproduction or menopause, that are under scrutiny.
Only 5% of breast cancer is genetic.
Those with the defective BRCA1 & 2 genes are more at risk of developing breast, ovarian and uterine cancer, but this risk is a lot smaller than most people think. In fact, only 5% of cancers can be related back to familial genetics.
How is oestrogen involved?
Oestrogen has the ability to cause cancer, in both males and females. It acts strongly on those cells with oestrogen receptors (like breast tissue), and promotes cell proliferation or growth. Once a cell with damaged DNA replicates, it’s stimulated by oestrogen and a tumour begins to develop.
Of course, this is not always the case. The immune system hunts down and mops up any defective cells, but there are occasions when these are missed. The process can be suppressed by stress, lack of sleep, poor nutrition, low levels of exercise and excess weight.
What can be done to manage the risk?
Fortunately, natural medicine has much to offer when it comes to breast cancer risk management. Diet and lifestyle changes, use of natural cleaning and beauty products, organic food, and regulation of sleep and stress are just some of the things that can be done to avoid potential issues. Even oestrogen levels in the body can be regulated. Oxidative stress can be managed by use of high-strength antioxidants that do much more for long term health than reduce the risk of cancer.
Research shows that a healthy diet and lifestyle are the 2 most important things that can be done to reduce breast cancer risk – prevention dosen’t have to complicated!
Photo credit: Tessa Ann’s Buttons / Foter / CC BY