To Mammogram…Or Not

Indeed, cancer is a scary thing. For as long as I can remember, women have been advised to start getting mammograms over the age of 40 as part of a preventative program for reducing the risk of breast cancer and/or detecting it early enough to be able to go on the appropriate program to be able to remove it should it be found (i.e., chemotherapy, radiation).

Most people, including health educators, doctors, and patients in health communities believe that a major component of cancer development comes down to lifestyle habits. Yet, very little emphasis is actually placed on education about traditional foods as a healing tool and critical component of healthy living. So it shouldn’t be too surprising that breast cancer is responsible for affecting 1 out of every 8 women.

This last week, some breaking information was released from the mainstream medical communities cautioning women to receive fewer mammograms before age 50 than was previously recommended. This bulletin is not in keeping with the American Cancer Society’s recommendations.

As everyone knows, cancer is a complex disease and many factors are considered in the development of this disease, whether it be environmental, stress, genetic, diet, and other lifestyle habits. It is one of the most pervasive and deadly killers in the modern world.

There is an entire movement of health care professionals, patients, activists, and organizations working toward a “cure” for cancer. There are endless fundraisers and events centered around cancer prevention.   Billions upon billions of dollars are spent yearly on scientific research, drug development, and other activities – all in the name of curing cancer.

So why hasn’t a cure been found? Is it possible that a “cure” may not ever be found because we’ve been going about this at all the wrong angles?  Everything to do with cancer research is about removing it after it has already become a problem. And there’s a lot of money to be made in this realm.

What about preventing a problem before it happens? Sounds like a novel idea, doesn’t it?  Let’s take a look at what’s been happening on the mainstream medical fronts with cancer.

The National Cancer Institute reports the following:

“The most common type of cancer on the list is non-melanoma skin cancer, with more than 1,000,000 new cases expected in the United States in 2009. Non-melanoma skin cancers represent about half of all cancers diagnosed in this country.”

The skin cancer connection

Something many people aren’t aware of and doctors don’t certainly don’t emphasize is that most of these cancers are the benign variety – such as basal cell carcinoma, which is 99% treatable and slow-growing. My mother had one on her nose about 3 years ago, had it removed with outpatient surgery, and has not had a recurrence since.

Many people believe sun exposure causes skin cancer. So they slather on the sunscreen, blocking out the Vitamin D, which is, ironically, largely responsible for preventing cancer. And, it’s also strange that people who live in tropical locations experience the lowest rates of skin cancer in the world. Another fact that many people don’t know is that Melanoma – which is malignant – is most often found on parts of the body which receive the least amount of sun (National Library of Medicine).

New research suggests that a deficiency in Vitamin D is rampant in many countries and that lacking this important nutrient contributes to a myriad of diseases and conditions including Melanoma, Breast Cancer, Autism, Alzheimer’s. Over 40,000 Americans die annually as a result of  Vitamin D deficiency.  But we don’t hear the American Cancer Association talking about this. And, the risk of cancer actually lessens with more sun exposure – and no, we’re not talking about getting a severe sunburn, we’re talking about regular, repeated exposure to build up Vitamin D levels in the body.

Exposure to sun actually affects over 14 different types of cancer – including breast, prostate, bladder, ovarian, and digestive (source, Dr. William B. Grant, Ph.D., internationally recognized expert and researcher on Vitamin D – SUNARC. Dr. Grant is the director director of SUNARC – the Sunlight, Nutrition and Health Research Center, an organization which is involved in education, research, and advocacy relating to the prevention of chronic disease through changes in diet and lifestyle).

What can YOU do?

In my opinion, we can drive ourselves crazy reading statistics from mainstream health sources, or we can actually do something proactive to prevent cancer. So what can we do? What sort of power do we have over this disease?

As usual, mainstream medical communities offer little to no practical advice about what people can do to prevent cancer and live proactively. General statements are often made about living a healthy lifestyle and getting “health screenings”- but no emphasis WHATSOEVER is placed on reducing the toxic load of the body and eating nourishing, traditional foods.

According to the Mayo Clinic’s web site, this is how you should go about preventing cancer:

  • stay out of the sun
  • avoid tobacco and limit alcohol consumption
  • eat “healthy” by limiting fat (with no mention about sustainable, organic foods or avoiding conventional or processed foods)
  • get immunized
  • avoid risky behaviors like drug use and unprotected sex
  • undergo screening procedures such as colonoscopies, pap tests, and mammograms

I believe people must take charge of their own health, and make definitive decisions about what kind of health they are going to have. As long as you leave the fate of your health in the hands of a medical doctor or any practitioner alone, you are risking your health.

Yes, I’m serious. And here’s why:

As a society, we have been made to feel powerless and helpless, and that we are unable to learn or know things for ourselves about our own bodies; and that we must rely upon some other expert to preserve our health.

My “cancer” scare

For the last five years, I’ve had a benign breast cyst. When I first discovered it, my lifestyle habits were pretty poor. Like most women, the discovery of a lump in my breast was terrifying. I read all I could about breast cancer and lumps in the breast before making an appointment to see a doctor. I spent about two weeks living in a panic as to whether I would be diagnosed with cancer. The stress of a situation like this alone can put the body under tremendous strain. In fact, stress directly contributes to disease. How many people have been in a similar situation -  waiting to hear from the doctor to receive a clean bill of health so you can “breathe a sigh of relief”?

My doctor was a GP, so he couldn’t give me a definitive answer. He ordered a mammogram. Until the procedure the following week at the hospital, I was a mess. My husband was unable to accompany me to the procedure, so I had to go alone. Sitting in that room waiting to have it done was awful. The procedure was long and painful (compression from the machine is not good for your breasts). After it was over and I got the result that the lump wasn’t cancerous, but only a fluid-filled cyst, I was relieved…but there was no information given about what could be done to reverse it or make it disappear. And that’s what I wanted.

Another year went by. The cyst got bigger and again I started to worry. I went back to the same doctor who ordered a second mammogram. Once again, I went to the hospital alone because my husband was unable to accompany me and endured one of the most stressful days of my life. This time, the lab technician performed an ultrasound as well as the mammogram. The results showed no cancerous findings.

The following year, the lump changed yet again, so I went back to the doctor. This time he referred me to a breast specialist and suggested yet another mammogram.  I had to wait about three weeks to see the specialist, but I decided against getting another mammogram.

The morning of my appointment, I was so worried I didn’t eat breakfast, and my stomach being empty only added to the growing sensation of nausea. This time, my husband came with me. I was asked all the usual questions by the nurse about my family history of breast cancer. She reviewed all the other items such as regular self-breast exams and checkups, etc. Then the doctor came in, checked the lump, and then reviewed the mammogram from the year before.  I was a shaking wreck as he did this, and wished more than anything that this moment in time would be gone and this would all go away.

His diagnosis was that he didn’t believe I had cancer, but that the finding was consistent with fibrocystic breast disease and I should have another mammogram. Keep in mind that at this point I was only 36 years old (age at which women are recommended to have annual mammograms is 40) with no history of breast cancer in my family, and had now received two mammograms showing no sign of cancer, yet this doctor was recommending that I go and have yet a third. So I explained my reasoning to him, along with my concerns about the exposure to radiation and compression of breast tissue in the x-ray device used for mammograms which could actually cause cancer.

All objections to the procedure were dismissed, and the the only response he could provide was that I had a responsibility to myself to perform this preventative measure. I had a responsibility? What about the doctors? Aren’t they responsible for providing the patient with reasonable answers and alternatives? The recommended “solution” didn’t solve my problem.  I pressed on, asking about environmental toxins and diet, and their effects on the development of cancer. His answer was brief and he insisted that there were just too many factors to solve for, and did not recommend any specific preventative measure…and that really it all boiled down to getting that mammogram.

By this time, I was crying and very angry. The nurse came back in as the doctor was leaving. She said she wanted to help me understand the importance of getting mammograms and prevention of problems before they occurred. She really believed what she was saying, but none of it made any sense to me. My husband even agreed that another mammogram seemed pretty pointless.

Although the nurse tried her best to be kind, and thought she was reassuring me that it was the right thing to do, I wasn’t buying it. She explained that she received mammograms each year because her mother died of breast cancer, and she had already had two lumps removed in her own breasts. To her, not getting another mammogram was like leaving the door open at night when criminals were out on the street. I came out and told her that I thought mammograms were dangerous and why. Of course, she thought I was insane.

Breast thermography

It really was just like talking to a wall. On the way out, she asked me to seriously reconsider the mammogram, and that she was going to give me a call in a week or two to see if I was willing to change my mind. If I had known then what I know now, I would have asked her why doctors place so little effort or educational emphasis on real food and healthy diets, and about breast thermography.

By the year 2007, I was learning even more about diet and lifestyle as it related to cancer and health. I also learned about an exciting procedure -FDA approved and has been used in Europe for decades – thermography. It is less expensive than mammograms, and can detect cancer up to 10 years before a mammogram. Why is this technology not being talked about more in medical communities? Because it doesn’t present any incentives for the drug companies. It is safe, painless, doesn’t compress the breast tissue, and doesn’t use radiation. The device is sensitive to blood vessel changes and measures heat temperatures in the body – temperature changes that are so subtle, it can indicate a development of pre-cancerous tissue.

I’m still living with the cyst, but I’m always living a preventative lifestyle and performing detoxification to help my body eliminate it over time. Because of poor lifestyle choices I made over many years, helping my body to remove the cyst and keep it from becoming cancerous will also take time.

Here’s my cancer prevention program:

  • Eat a healthy diet – and by healthy, I am referring to the absence of processed foods and refined sugars. My diet includes plenty of real, traditional foods such sustainable-raised grass-fed meats, raw, organic dairy from a clean source, poultry, game, lamb, safe-source fish and seafood, organic vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, oils, and fruits. I also occasionally eat sprouted/soaked, organic grains.
  • I receive as much sun exposure as possible, and I don’t wear sunscreen. I also take Green Pastures Blue Ice Fermented Cod Liver Oil. This fantastic natural food contains Vitamins A, D, E, and K. My family also takes this supplement. Visit the Weston A. Price web site for detailed information about dosages for Vitamin D and Vitamin A, as well as other natural sources for these nutrients.
  • I drink plenty of filtered water (not bottled water) and avoid tap water.
  • I take Iodoral, an iodine supplement daily. My family also takes this supplement. Most people in developed countries are deficient in iodine, and iodine deficiencies are directly connected to the development of cancer and many degenerative diseases.
  • I have been using Gesterone Cream by Premier Research Labs. Natural progesterone is something many women are deficient in – usually due to hormonal imbalances which can cause cancer, and this nutritional supplement is more potent than synthetic pharmaceutical drug varieties of progesterone. The skin absorbs up to 10 times more than the digestive tract.
  • I am by no means a skilled athlete, but I maintain a schedule of regular exercise including horseback riding, bicycle riding, walking, hiking, and gardening.
  • I try to maintain a reasonable sleep pattern.  This is an area I need work on, because like many people, I stay up too late a lot and then have to rise early the next day. I don’t usually find that I am fatigued much, though, and I attribute this to my healthy diet and lifestyle.
  • I use few personal care products and chemicals in my home – I don’t use anything on my hair except organic shampoo, which I use only once or twice a week (I have dreadlocks, so hair washing is fairly infrequent…and no, my husband doesn’t think I smell). I don’t use expensive creams and solutions on my body except for extra virgin, raw coconut oil or olive oil. We use organic soaps and cleaning solutions in our home – and much of what we clean with is apple cider vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, lemon juice, and water. For more information about toxic load, read Your Toxic Load…How Does it Affect your Health?
  • We have completely eliminated plastic dishes and many other items from our home. We use as little plastic as possible in our refrigerator to store foods. Most of our kitchen dishes and materials are as follows: glass, pyrex, ceramic, cast iron, wood, stainless steel, wooden spoons, bamboo cutting boards, parchment paper for baking and wax paper and foil for storage.
  • We do not own a microwave oven. All of our food is prepared at home from scratch, unless we are heating up leftovers from food we have already made in our oven.
  • We do not use clock radios in our home. All clocks in our house are battery-operated with faces except for one digital readout we have on our oven in the kitchen. Clock radios, particularly close to your body for extended periods of time (as in, near your bed where you sleep) can emit continued, harmful amounts of radiation.

There are so many other sources of toxins, radiation, and other harmful substances which can lead to cancer. These items include but are not limited to: televisions, cell phones, land line-cordless phones, clock radios, wireless devices, and other electronic equipment, clothing, drapes and window treatments, bedding, furniture, toys, paint, and flooring in your home.

It’s true that we do have some of these items in our lives – in particular, cell phones, wireless devices, and computers because by profession my husband was in the computer science field for nearly 20 years. We have now switched gears and own a solar business, but find that the necessity for all of those devices has not gone away.  But I feel better knowing that as careful as we are in the other aspects of our lives, we are doing the most we can to reduce our toxic load and prevent cancer the best we can.

Have a story or advice you’d like to share that has been successful? I’m interested to hear everyone else’s tales about natural cancer treatments and prevention involving traditional foods and natural supplements that have assisted you on your journeys to better health.

Update! Breaking news about CT scans from the medical community – they are finally reporting that these procedures are linked to an increased risk in cancer.

This article is part of The Kathleen Show’s Prevention Not Prescriptions Carnival, and Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s Real Food Wednesdays Carnival. Please visit these sites and read the informative posts featured there.

10 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Raine, what a great post FULL of good information. I’m going to link this one to my breast cancer post.
    Thanks for joining in on RFW!
    Kelly

  2. 2

    AS said,

    Thanks Kelly! I appreciate your comment and adding my information to your breast cancer link! :)

  3. 3

    Peggy said,

    My mother is “allergic” to sunlight. She breaks out in a full-body rash and her throat swells shut if she even is in sunlight for 5 minutes. It never occurred to me that her breast cancer could be a sign that she was vitamin D deficient until I started reading sources OTHER than those recommended by the doctors. When she finally got her vitamin D tested, she was not surprisingly, dangerously low. She refuses CLO because she doesn’t like fish burps (I don’t fish burp on the fermented CLO, and isn’t a burp here and there better than cancer anyway???) but will take the prescription D. Better than nothing, I guess.

    The sunlight/vitamin D/cancer connection is an important one, and overlooked for too long. Thank you for this important post.

  4. 4

    AS said,

    Peggy – thank you for leaving this comment, because I have a dear friend who is also allergic to sunlight and burns if she is out in the sun for even 5 or ten minutes as well. I have been wondering about whether this was due to some type of deficiency, but actually hadn’t made the Vitamin D connection…but it makes perfect sense! I think what may be happening is that when people whose deficiency levels in some nutrient are extremely low, their bodies react rather violently to that source of supplementation – whether it be the sun or food or whatever.

    Some years ago when I was very deficient in many nutrients and malnourished, I had recently started eating a traditional, whole foods diet and I was also on a natural vitamin supplementation called Eniva to get my body jump started from being deficient for so long. My nutritional therapist recommended that I use it for a period of time to help my body get back on track. For the first couple of months, I would break out in a rash on my face and arms each time I took it (it’s a liquid), and couldn’t figure out what the problem was. It didn’t last long, only about an hour or so, but I thought it might mean I was allergic to the supplement. I asked my nutritional therapist about it and she said when you’ve been deprived so long of essential nutrients and vitamins, your body can react violently when those elements are reintroduced. I’m hoping to convince my friend of this fact, and now with your anecdote and my own experience I want to help persuade her to take the cod liver oil to get her levels back up. Thanks much! :)

  5. 5

    I found both David Brownstein’s and Derry’s books on Iodine to be quite helpful. Current research from Mexico, India and Japan supports the use of Iodine in prevention and treatment of breast cancer.

    For more:

    http://jeffreydach.com/2009/11/13/iodine-against-breast-cancer-the-overwhelming-evidence-by-jeffrey-dach-md.aspx

    jeffrey dach md

  6. 6

    [...] was to a mother experiencing fibrocystic breast problems, and so I referred her to my article about mammograms. I got no response from her and really didn’t expect anything in return. I just wanted to [...]

  7. 8

    S T Mandrackie said,

    Great article but you should add some important things; throw your bra away. Especially for those suffering from cystic breasts. Compression and increased temperature of the breast, inhibited lymphatic drainage may be self inflicted or exacerbated by bra wearing. Read “Dressed to Kill”

  8. 9

    Thanks, I’ve just been searching for info about this subject for a while and yours is the greatest I’ve came upon till now. However, what concerning the conclusion? Are you positive concerning the supply?

  9. 10

    If you would like to grow your experience simply keep
    visiting this web site and be updated with the newest news posted here.


Comment RSS · TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: