Like metastasis, the medicines cause side effects, while the nature supplements deficiencies, strengthen the immune system and cures disease
For women, the breasts are more than a part of the body. These symbolize sexuality, motherhood, femininity, beauty and much more.
The breast cancer occurs both in humans and mammals. In humans, the breast cancer has been found to be hundred times more prevalent in women than in men, and one out of every eight women will develop breast cancer in life. The delayed diagnosis is the reason for the poor outcome in men.
But there is a good news, that the survival rate has jumped up to 50% in present decade due to awareness and availability of better treatment options. It accounts for about 30% of the cancers in women, and almost 15% of cancer deaths in the world have been found to be due to breast cancer.
The stage and type of breast cancer, the treatment, and the geographical location of the patient determine the rate of survival after the diagnosis. In the west, the survival rates are much higher than that of in developing countries. About 85% women diagnosed with breast cancer survive for at least 5 years.
Origin of Breast Cancer
The breast cancer originates from the breast tissues found in the inner lining of milk ducts or lobules, which supply the milk to the ducts.
The ductal carcinomas is a type of breast cancer, originating from the ducts. The lobular carcinomas originate from the lobules.
Like other cancers, it causes due to an interaction between a genetically sensitive host and the external reasons or environmental factors.
What Happens in Breast Cancer ?
The normal cells in the body divide as per needs, then they stop dividing and die at their proper time. Thereafter they get attached to other cells and stay in the tissues where they belong to. But the cancerous cells lose this ability.
The apoptosis or the suicide by the cells occurs, when normal cells are no longer needed. Several protein clusters and pathways stop the apoptosis till the cells are needed. But sometimes the genes present along these protective pathways get mutated, and permanently remain in "ON" position. Thus there is no apoptosis when the cell is no more needed. This thing and other mutations cause cancer. It happens when the cell is ready for apoptosis, but a protein, known as PTEN, turns "OFF" the pathway.
Similarly, in some breast cancers, the cells fail to commit suicide. Experimentally it has been found that other mutations of breast cancer are linked with overexposure of estrogen.
The growth of cancer cells is facilitated by two reasons. The first is the failure of immune surveillance, which is the removal of malignant cells throughout life by the immune system. The second is the abnormal growth factor caused by an interaction between stromal and epithelial cells. Further, the overgrowth of leptin hormone in breast adipose tissue, increases the proliferation of cells, by cell division and leads to cancer.
Symptoms of Breast Cancer
Breast hardness and veins dilation.
The visible flattening on the breast.
Constant pain in the breast or armpit.
The occurrence of a rash on or around the nipple.
The presence of a mass that can be felt or touched.
One breast becoming larger or lower than the other.
Swelling below the armpit and around the collarbone.
The puckering or dimple appearing in the breast skin.
Occasional blood or unusual discharge from the nipples.
The itchy or ulcerous nipple becoming inverted or indrawn.
The occurrence of marble like the area under the breast skin.
The orange peel like the color of breast skin around the nipple.
The appearance of thickening different from other breast tissues.
The remarkable change in position, size, and shape of the breast.
Usually, after the menstrual cycle, a thickening or lump observed in breast or armpit.
A simple genetic blood test for specific genes determines the heredity risks and all lumps are warnings to those with a family history.
About 20% of the patients with breast-ovarian cancer are found to have a first or second-degree family history. This lifetime tendency of risk in breast cancer is 60 to 85 %, while it is 15 to 40 % in ovarian cancer.
The cancer mutations are either inherited or acquired after birth and occur in call mechanisms to correct the errors in DNA structure. This causes further mutations, which in turn lead to uncontrolled cell division, lack of attachment of cells, and metastasis or spreading of cancer to distant organs.
The inherited mutation of genes interferes with the functions of the encoded protein, which repairs the DNA. The carcinogens damage the DNA, which needs the repairs through the pathways. in all breast cancers, the mutations of the inherited gene are only 2 to 3 %. While in about 50% of hereditary breast–ovarian cancers, the unknown genes are involved.
The residual risks are the risks without family history and are due to environmental or other causes.
The Breast Self Exam
The monthly breast self-exam (BSE) takes only 10-15 minutes and is very important to detect the occurrence of breast cancer at the earliest. A permanent female partner during the regular breast self-exam is the best. Mark the calendar for monthly records and even the minor changes should be brought to the knowledge of the doctor.
Just lay down on the bed, put a pillow on the right shoulder and place the right arm under the head. Now massage the right breast with the pads of three middle fingers of left hand to feel any lumps or abnormality. Move the fingers in a circular motion throughout the breast including armpits. Change the position and repeat the process on the left breast.
Stand up erect in front of a mirror and repeat the same exam with each breast by putting one arm behind the shoulder. Squeeze each nipple, to see if any discharge or fluid is coming out. Also note the color, dimpling, redness, swelling or nipple inversion.
The exam should be performed on the first day of starting the new pack of oral contraceptives. The BSE could be performed in the shower, and a few days after the periods, if menstruating.
Detection of Breast Cancers and Metastatic
It is detected at the earliest by a mammography. The first sign is the presence of a lump in the breast or in lymph nodes under the armpits. This lump feels different from other breast tissues. Only about 20% of lumps are breast cancers, while more than 80% of cancers are detected when women feel a lump.
The absence of a visible lump delays an early detection of inflammatory breast cancer. So the signs are the pain, itching, swelling, nipple inversion, warmth, redness of breast skin etc. These symptoms are similar to that of breast inflammation.
In rare cases, a hard movable lump could be a phyllodes tumor in the breast. It is formed within stroma or the connective tissue of the breast. It contains both stromal and glandular tissues. Such tumors are classified by their appearance.
The breast cancer may spread to other distant organs or parts and become metastatic. The symptoms are the pain in bones or joints. Metastatic cancer may spread to liver, bones, lungs and brain.
Neurosis or jaundice are the non-specific symptoms of many other diseases including breast cancer. Other symptoms of hidden breast cancer are the loss in weight without any reason or fever.
Paget's Disease and Breast Cancer
The Paget's disease of the breast is a complex symptom of breast cancer. This disease occurs when large and irregular Paget's cells, are formed on the skin of the nipple. Here eczema like skin changes like the redness, the peeling off or mild flaking of nipple skin, and the discharge from the nipple occur.
With the increase in Paget's cells there is an increase in pain, tingling, burning, itching, and sensitivity. Paget believed that these cells are not cancerous. But later on it was proved that these cells are another types of breast cancer. About 50% of of women having Paget's disease, also had a lump in the breast.
Various researchers suggest that the risk factor decreases with early menopause.
The female sex, older age, and menopause are the foremost risk factors. Other factors are the lack of childbearing and breastfeeding, lifestyle, higher hormone levels, obesity, and diet.
The improper size of the bra increases the risk and it is better to avoid underwire and tight fitting bras. Because instead of providing better support, they restrict the flow of lymphatic fluids. Thus a stagnation occurs and the toxins accumulate around the breasts. The lymphatic system clears the toxins from the breast tissues. Don't wear them while in sleep.
The smoking also increases the risk, which becomes higher with greater smoking or starting at an early age. In long-term smokers, the risk is 50% higher.
The lack of physical activity or lethargy accounts for 10% cases of breast cancer.
A woman finding a lump before the age of 45, has more risk than a woman over 55 years.
Contrary to previous views, the present researchers prove that miscarriages and abortions are not associated with breast cancer. While some studies either support or oppose the association of lack of breastfeeding with breast cancer.
The risk increases due to the intake of alcohol, obesity, high fat diet, and iodine deficiency in food.
The radiation and shift work are other risk factors.
Several chemicals like organic solvents, polychlorinated biphenyls, polycyclic hydrocarbons, pesticides, insecticides etc, are other risk factors.
The low dose of radiation in mammography, in annual screening for 40 years caused breast cancer in 10 women when 40 thousand were screened.
The men aging 60 to 70 years are also within risk zone.
The risk is more when the estrogen-based drugs are taken during sex change, or in hormone therapy for prostate cancer.
The Sleep and Darkness Reduce the Risks
To lower the risk of breast cancer, it is better to sleep between 10 PM to 6 AM. More melatonin hormone is secreted by the pineal gland if there is complete darkness during the sleep. This hormone slows down the growth of cancer causing cells in the breast to 70 percent. The melatonin supplement can be taken about 30 minutes before bedtime to enhance the production of this powerful antioxidant,
The researchers found that the occurrence of breast cancer is lower among blind women. Because the blue light entering the body through the eye portals interferes with the production of melatonin. This production starts increasing at night before the bedtime. So wear the glasses for few hours before bedtime, or use an eye mask, or anything else to prevent the blue light from stimulating the retina.
The production of melatonin depends upon the dim or dark signals of light to the brain. It helps to regulate the sleep-wake cycle, and the variation in its nighttime production increases the risks. The melatonin makes us feel sleepy and it also makes the cancer cells to fall asleep.
The woman should avoid stress and take regular sleep for 7–9 hours. Check and restore the melatonin levels if working in night shifts, or whenever there is a shift in time zones or difficulty in sleeping. These trends and the aging lower the melatonin levels.
Light too Reduces the Risks
As darkness is must for the production of melatonin, so is enough sunlight needed to produce vitamin D in the body.
The women with higher vitamin D levels are less likely to have breast cancer. It is not a vitamin in the real sense, but a prohormone. It is produced in the body by sunlight. It prevents breast inflammation, breast cancer, and some skin cancers too. It also lowers the risk of recurrence in both pre or post-menopausal state.
All women must take a test, at least twice a year, to know the amount of vitamin D needed for their body. The right balance means prevention of breast cancer.
The modern indoor lifestyle is responsible for Vitamin D deficiency. Even if enough sunlight is taken, the genetic reasons, skin color, skin thickness, age, and body fat reduce the production of vitamin D.
Proper Food to Reduce the Risk
The soy which is not in its pure, whole or unadulterated form should be avoided. The processed soy contains xenoestrogens which are the types of xenohormones. These hormones imitate or mimic estrogen, stimulate breast tissues and increase estrogen levels in the blood. This causes breast cancer. But the whole soy is digestible and lowers the risk of breast cancer by preventing the binding of estrogens with breast tissues.
Completely chew the food and eat slowly to improve digestion and increase the absorption of nutrients. Avoid food additives, preservatives and synthetic colors in foods.
Overcooking destroys valuable enzymes, vitamins, and phytochemicals which protect against breast cancer. Therefore eat organic seasonal and clean food which is more nutritious, health giving and breast nourishing. The light, dry, and warm food are easily digestible with nourishing and cleansing effects.
The frozen, processed or stale foods, packaged and preserved foods, canned foods, foods with estrogen effects, genetically modified foods, the foods having chemicals, pesticides, and insecticides should be avoided. Because they create toxins and are carcinogenic.
Take a regular diet of toxic reducing, anticancer, immune boosting, and plant-based foods. Eating of legumes, whole grains, lentils, quinoa, purple cabbage, sprouts, and dark leafy green vegetables prevent the breast cancer.
Eat supportive herbs and spices, like fennel, dandelion, fenugreek etc, to prevent the toxin accumulation around the breast tissues.
Alcohol and Caffeine Increase the Risk
Alcohol increases the hormone level and the risk of breast cancer by as 25%. This risk becomes 70% when two drinks are taken daily. Alcohol interferes with the body to process folate or vitamin B, and the former reduces the risk of breast cancer. So eliminate the intake of alcohol, as it destroys the detoxification function of the liver. Because when new toxins arrive, it becomes hard for the body to flush out the stored toxins and carcinogens.
Caffeine from all sources dehydrates the reproductive system and increases the risk of breast cancer. According to studies, more than one cup of coffee per day increases the levels of natural estrogen called estradiol, during the first five days of the menstrual cycle or the early follicular phase. The estrogen effect is due to the chemicals and pesticides sprayed on coffee. About 4-5 cups of coffee per day increases the estrogen level to 70% or more. This level increases by drinking more than two cups of coffee every day. The higher estrogen is not good for women having endometriosis, breast pain and the family history of breast-ovarian cancer.
Avoid hormone replacement therapy
The recent studies reveal a link between breast cancer and long time combined HRT of both estrogen and progesterone. It also makes the mammograms ineffective. So don't take estrogen and progesterone for longer periods.
It is through sweating that unwanted toxins get ejected through the lymph area around the armpits. But the aluminum-based antiperspirants do not allow these toxins to leave the skin. Hence these toxins remain trapped and get lodged near the breasts or other surrounding tissues and cause breast cancer.
On the other hand, even the low exposures to BPA in plastics increases breast cancer risk. The xenoestrogens contained in plastics mimic estrogen and stimulate the growth of breast tissues.
Avoid skin contact with harsh deodorants, soaps, detergents, lotions, makeup items, hair dyes etc. Because the toxic compounds enter the body through the skin and put the liver under stress for detoxification.
The change in lifestyle is necessary to decrease the risk of breast cancer among women. A mammogram is the best option because the breast self-exam can not always detect the lump. But frequent mammograms also increase the risk due to exposure to X-ray radiations.
The WHO says that in physically active women, the risk gets reduced to about 40%. The regular exercise lowers the estrogen levels in the body, balances the hormones, removes body toxins through sweating, and strengthens the immune system. The exercises with upper body movements especially push ups to increase blood flow to the breasts. Not the intensity or gym exercises, but the consistency and duration are important.
Exercises control insulin, reduce blood sugar and weight, eliminate stress hormones, and improve the sleep. Because insulin leads to the storage of body fat, which increases the production of estrogen and thereby raises the risk.
The moderate aerobic activity, yoga, and brisk walking for half an hour reduce the risk by 18%. The exercises like jumping, swimming, and dancing stimulate lymph movement, elevate oxygen level in the cells, and help breast drainage.
Almost all breast cancers have a history of constipation. The laxatives may be harmful, so occasionally use the herbal laxative and properly treat chronic constipation. To avoid constipation drink enough water and eat high fiber, fruits, and fresh vegetables.
Eat fruits and vegetables
The carotenoids and antioxidant present in dark green, leafy and colorful vegetables like collards, spinach, carrots etc, fight cell damage and eliminate carcinogens. The lycopene, an antioxidant is found in tomatoes, processed tomato sauce, and ketchup. The vegetables like broccoli, kale, cabbage, cauliflower etc, promote liver function and contain powerful anti-cancer compounds.
The fruits like figs, citrus, papaya, prunes, pineapple, apples, pears, cherries etc, and dark green leafy salad also prevent the breast cancer. The berries especially black raspberries and blueberries are the best.
Avoid overcooked or charbroiled meat because the high temperatures produce carcinogenic heterocyclic amines. So always eat organic meat raised on grass, not grains. The livestock should be not be reared on hormones or antibiotics of any type. The animal fat is a storehouse for pesticide residues which are carcinogenic.
Use green tea and turmeric.
For reducing the risk of breast cancer, the combination of turmeric and green tea thrice a day, is more powerful than when taken individually. The addition of turmeric as a spice stops inflammation and inhibits the growth of the tumor.
The green tea has antioxidants and decreases the production of estrogen, stops the blood supply to tumors, and prevents the binding of estrogen in the breasts. Lower breast cancer risk by drinking five cups of green tea or taking three capsules of green tea extract daily. Prepare green tea with clean and pure water, to get the best antioxidant benefits.
Drink pure water
Always drink pure water as the water stored in plastic containers get contaminated. For best detoxification, drink 8 glasses of pure water every day. Test the tap water for unwanted chemicals. The reverse osmosis is the best way to filter the water.
Use shower filter in the bathroom, because the chlorine and other carcinogenic chemicals found in tap water enter the body through the skin.
Wear natural fabrics
Skin helps in elimination and detoxification of the body. The skin breathes in natural fabrics. As far as possible avoid the dry-cleaning. Because carcinogenic chemicals from dry cleaning can enter the body through the skin. Always air out the garments and then wear if they have been dry cleaned.
There is a little blood circulation in the breasts because they are composed of fat tissues. Generally, these tissues become stagnate and the toxins get trapped inside them. The daily breast massage with warm castor or sesame oils mobilizes the lymphatic system to remove the fats, hormones, and toxins. Massage the lymph node area, neck, shoulders, underarms, inner thighs etc.
The skin brushing in the morning is more energizing than coffee. Dry brush the breasts and the armpits towards the direction of the heart, before taking bath. This will increase lymphatic drainage, stimulate the flow of blood and oxygen, and remove toxins. Take steam baths, herbal baths and wraps for the detoxification of the body can be done by wraps, steam baths, herbal baths and sauna baths.
The deep breathing relaxes the body and increases the flow of oxygen to each organ, cell, muscle, tissue, and the breasts too. Increase oxygen in your environment with the presence of decorative plants, or use air filters in highly polluted areas. Breathe deeply and exhale through the nose.
Add vitamins to diet
Taking vitamins like A, C, D, selenium, folate, indole-3-carbinol etc, along with regular diet, provide natural power to detoxify and prevent gene damage and protect against breast cancer.
The chemicals coming from food are broken down and eliminated by detoxification which occurs in the liver. The environmental and food toxins damage the cells and put the system under stress. The amino acids in proteins, type B vitamins, and antioxidants in vitamin C and E break down these chemicals. The high fiber in vegetables and flax seeds bind and help in excretion of these chemicals.
Take vitamin supplements
The hormonal balance is maintained and achieved by phytotherapy which is the use of foods and natural extracts as medicines. Take a daily dose of multivitamin including vitamin C and E, mineral selenium, and fish oil under medical supervision. One to two Brazil nuts is good alternatives.
The postmenopausal weight gain, not the abdominal fat, with body mass index higher than 25, increases the risk of faster spreading breast cancer. The women who gain 60 pounds increase their risk three times, as compared to those who gain 20 pounds only.
Eat right fats
Eat less omega-6 fats coming from sunflower, safflower, corn and cottonseed. The saturated and trans fats should also be reduced. The animal and dairy products or saturated fats contain high levels of hormones, cholesterol, and toxins.
Increase the use of omega-3 fats. The low-fat diet decreases obesity and breast cancer risks, whereas the tissues of fat contain estrogen and increase the risk.
The monounsaturated oils like canola, olive oil, nuts and seeds oils, avocado oil etc, have anticancer properties. The olive and canola oils lower the risk to 45% and decrease the damage to genes.
The canola oil contains a polyphenol named squalene and plenty of omega-3 fats, which make it a powerful antioxidant. The selenium in nuts and seeds is mineral which protects against cancer.
Eat fatty fish for omega-3
The postmenopausal women taking enough omega-3 are less prone to breast cancer. It decreases the inflammation which is responsible for the growth and spread of breast cancer. Use good fats of fatty fish instead of fats in processed foods. The omega-3 fats are found in oily fish.
For vegetarians, the substituent of omega-3 is found in fish oil supplement, or in foods like flax seeds, walnuts, and eggs.
Have a positive outlook
The balanced relation of the body with the mind favors wellness and is important in breast cancer risk. So take 8 hours sleep. Boost up and nurture the self, and cultivate the rich, warm, cordial, intimate and mutually beneficial relationships with all.
The spirituality counts in wellness too. It is the appreciation of uniqueness and purposefulness of the self. So commune with self and with nature, have faith in life, love the self, love all, and follow the policy of forgetting and forgiving.
The emotional attitude and personality count in wellness. Relax and express the feelings, to eliminate stress and resentment, from the body and the mind.The outlet for emotions, even the negative ones is a part of overall wellness.
This attitude will decrease symptoms and even help in recovery. It has been verified by the studies, that the attitude and mental strength reduce the stress and improve the immune function.
Sauna Sessions for Breast Cancer
The sauna sessions are helpful to reduce the risk of breast cancer. The heat and humidity of sauna help to detoxify the body. A sauna is a small room or house designed as a place to experience dry or wet heat sessions.
The air is warmed in conventional saunas. But in infrared saunas, the objects are warmed by using charcoal, active carbon fibers, and other materials. The sauna session is a social affair where the participants disrobe and remain in the temperature between 70 to 100 °C. It gives relaxation and promotes sweating.
Avoid the use of plastic food containers, because they contain xeno-estrogen. The Higher level of estrogen in the body is undesirable and exposure to estrogen imitating substances like xeno-estrogen increases the risk of breast cancer.
The gasoline vapors are carcinogenic which are released during the pumping of it in the car. So remain away during the pumping or pump the car on the way home to reduce the time spent by continuing to wear the clothes exposed to the vapors of gasoline. Decidedly change the clothes immediately at home.
The information given in the article is for educational purposes and general awareness only. The advice of medical practitioner should be taken to treat and cure the breast cancer.
© 2013 Sanjay Sharma
Sanjay Sharma (author) from Mandi (HP) India on October 09, 2014:
Thanks getdpg for the visit and the comment.
Deepa from USA on June 24, 2013:
very useful hub page for women .