Breast Cancer Prevention

August 1, 2022

Breast Cancer Prevention

Dr. Nicole Sundene, NMD

Female Hormone Specialist

Breast Cancer prevention can be done via balancing hormones, weight loss, nutrition, weight loss, routine mammograms, and analysis of genetics related to breast cancer.

My heart has been very sad since the loss of Olivia Newton John along with my dear friend Brenda from High School also from Breast Cancer. So today, I am tearfully sharing my favorite Breast Cancer-preventing foods and lifestyle factors. I know Brenda would want women everywhere to be working hard to prevent breast cancer because she was tough, no-nonsense, and hard-working. She was a fighter and fought very hard against this terrible women's health disease. Prevention is critical.

Please share this important women's health research with the women you love!

Cruciferous vegetables contain chemicals such as sulforaphane that break down estrogen, this is important for women undergoing treatment for breast cancer taking estrogen blockers, as well as women that are overweight, family history of breast cancer, or have estrogen dominance and therefore high risk of breast cancer. 

Researchers recently concluded, "We report that total cruciferous vegetable intake is associated with decreased cell proliferation in breast cancer tissue."

Less cell proliferation means fewer breast cancer cells are forming in the breast!

Breast Cancer Preventing Foods:

Check out my blog on "Best Green Foods for Women's Health," to learn more about why some of these made my list as a Women's Health Naturopath.

For breast health please drink your green tea and eat your brocolli! Either 1/2 cup raw or 1 cup lightly steamed of the above veggies should be eaten daily. Green tea can be decaffeinated and consumed iced throughout the day!

Along with discussing foods for prevention the #1 and #2 most important things women should do for breast cancer prevention are weight loss and mammograms! Women should generally do mammograms starting at forty, depending on family history, and not listen to the cost-cutting new guidelines from the government to start at fifty.

Women that are not taking hormones, and have a negative family history for breast cancer and reproductive cancers can generally go every other year for their mammograms. Patients with fibrocystic breasts and lumpy breasts should go annually and may need an ultrasound along with a mammogram to determine if the breast cysts are filled with fluid (benign) or solid (tumor.) We may follow up every six months with an ultrasound (no radiation) to check for changes.

While many women are scared of mammograms because of the radiation, women actually receive more radiation flying on an airplane than getting a mammogram! We are constantly exposed to radiation everywhere, so exposing yourself for something that can save your life and chemo-induced hair loss is important!

For many women, hair loss is one of the hardest part of breast cancer. I know it was for my friend Brenda that had amazing long beautiful blonde hair before she was treated.

Early detection of breast cancer is critical with this slow growing cancer. If you are like many of my patients and have neglected to do your annual exam and mammogram for the past few years….please get it booked!

Summer is the best time to get annual exams, pap smears, labs and imaging done as this is the slowest time of the year in Family Medicine. Plus patients are exposed to less germs planning their routine cancer screenings during the summer and not during cold and flu season.

When Should Women Do Self-Breast Exams?

Check your breasts at the beginning of every month, “Pay your bills and check your boobs,” is what I recommend to prevent forgetting this critical self-exam. Most women in my experience, find their own breast cancer this way. Breast cancer in early stages is easier to treat and may not have to result in hair loss.

Women with lumpy breasts should check them a few days after their period ends and talk to your Naturopathic Doctor about when to start doing mammograms. The decision should be made by your doctor, and not the government or the "US Taskforce" that suddenly dropped annual mammograms to every other year, and shifted the starting age from forty to fifty when the government became financially responsible for mammograms.

This also coincided with their "research" concluding that women only need to get pap smears done every two to five years, which I also completely disagree with.

Don't let blanket government recommendations smother the individual...doctors should be deciding what is best for their patients and not the government. Especially any US government-funded research that concludes that the US should pay less towards women's health issues!

Generally, a baseline mammogram is done for women in their forties or fifties. While the new government recommendation is to start at 50 and do it every other year, I find this utterly irresponsible as a women’s health doctor and some of my patients really need to get mammograms annually. I have seen women develop breast cancer in under two years that could have been picked up at an annual screening.

I also have had patients develop cervical cancer in less than two years so I do not agree with US Taskforce's "findings." Especially when the UK conducted its own study and concluded the exact opposite: "mortality from breast cancer is overall decreased when we begin to screen women at forty."

Mammogram is a simple test that is more accurate than breast thermography, as thermography often fails to pick up breast cancer. I shudder as a Naturopath when women ask me to order breast thermography rather than a mammogram, as I have personally seen breast cancer missed by thermography yet picked up on a mammogram. While it is technically a "safer" tool for breast cancer detection, it is also a worthless tool, plus anything worrisome that shows up is going to require a diagnostic mammogram anyways.

Breast cancer is mostly a hereditary condition in my experience as a women’s health doc that also prescribes a lot of bioidentical hormones. I do not believe that bioidentical hormones cause cancer because I have so many women on them getting annual mammograms and I just don't see it happening.

Let me tell you what I do see happening.... breast cancer happening in women with a family history of breast cancer, prostate cancer, and reproductive cancer. I also see breast cancer occurring in women with severe "estrogen dominance."

This is my #1 screening question, as I cannot in good ethics provide hormones to women that have had a mom, aunt, grandma, or sister with breast cancer. This is also why I prescribe hormones carefully, judiciously, and with frequent hormone lab testing as I know many MD's just give women bioidentical hormones and do not follow up on the levels which I find incredibly dangerous as a hormone doctor. Women uniquely process these hormones and eliminate them, therefore we cannot just slap every woman on the same tablet of estrogen and expect the same results. That is not safe, not smart, and pretty lazy when it is simple to follow up with some basic hormone labs.

Getting annual cancer screenings such as pap smears, pelvic exams, and mammograms performed while taking bioidentical hormones is also important for cancer prevention. 

Let's please just stop this silly nonsense of being scared of mammograms yet ignoring the excessive radiation women are exposed to flying on an airplane!

While I personally don’t like to get radiation, I do get mammograms myself. Simply take vitamin C and bioflavonoids green tea or high antioxidants for the three days before and three days after any scheduled radiation exposure. Or alternatively, drink fresh veggie juice preferably with some of the above known cancer fighting foods to provide your body with the antioxidants needed to quench free radicals from radiation.

Although the radiation is very minimal, it is not as scary as some women are led to believe. 

I am more scared for the women that refuse mammograms!!

Please share this important breast cancer message with the women you plan to grow stronger with! I don't want you to have to lose any friends to this horrible disease. Many women have not been doing their labs, imaging, or checkups in the past few years. We all need to get back on track with our cancer screenings. While nobody wants to get a pap smear, mammogram, or colonoscopy these are all VERY SLOW growing cancers that can be caught EARLY and treated early.

Please do not wait until it's too late!

Let's stay healthy and "Hopelessly Devoted to Kale" in honor of Olivia Newton John and the women we have all loved and lost to breast cancer.

Whether you need to get your annual exam and mammogram ordered or need a custom preventative breast cancer plan and hormone testing, simply pop over to my SCHEDULE page to treat yourself to a Naturopathic visit!

Dr. Nicole Sundene

(480) 837-0900

Dr. Sundene is a Naturopathic Doctor in Scottsdale, Arizona, and is a Female Hormone Expert in Women's Health and Bioidentical Hormones. She specializes in Holistic Women's Health for Menopause,  Thyroid,  Hashimotos,  PMS, PerimenopauseAutoimmunePostpartumChronic Fatigue, DepressionAnxiety, Food Allergies,  DigestionDermatology, AcnePsoriasis Eczema, and Adrenal Hormonal Conditions. In 1999 she began working for a Hormone Doctor prior to starting Naturopathic Medical School. With over 23 years of experience in both Prescription and Natural women's health and hormones, she presents to women the best-integrated health solutions for their Chronic Disease. 

She has been an Herbalist for over 28 years and enjoys teaching women how to use herbs to balance their hormones, nutrition and optimize their health. Dr. Sundene relies on blood testing for her hormone metrics. The hormone testing is covered per the patient's insurance plan (not Medicaid) and conducted at certain points in the woman's menstrual cycle. To learn more about Hormone Testing for Women Visit: Bioidentical Hormones. Follow Dr. Sundene on InstagramTwitter, and Facebook for more tips on Women's Health, Female Hormones, and Naturopathy

References:

  1. Wirth MD, Murphy EA, Hurley TG, Hébert JR. Effect of Cruciferous Vegetable Intake on Oxidative Stress Biomarkers: Differences by Breast Cancer Status. Cancer Invest. 2017 Apr 21;35(4):277-287. doi: 10.1080/07357907.2017.1289218. Epub 2017 Mar 8. PMID: 28272911; PMCID: PMC5664216.
  2. Thomson CA, Rock CL, Caan BJ, Flatt SW, Al-Delaimy WA, Newman VA, Hajek RA, Chilton JA, Pierce JP. Increase in cruciferous vegetable intake in women previously treated for breast cancer participating in a dietary intervention trial. Nutr Cancer. 2007;57(1):11-9. doi: 10.1080/01635580701267875. PMID: 17516858.
  3. Zhang Z, Atwell LL, Farris PE, Ho E, Shannon J. Associations between cruciferous vegetable intake and selected biomarkers among women scheduled for breast biopsies. Public Health Nutr. 2016 May;19(7):1288-95. doi: 10.1017/S136898001500244X. Epub 2015 Sep 2. PMID: 26329135.
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  6. Atwell LL, Zhang Z, Mori M, Farris P, Vetto JT, Naik AM, Oh KY, Thuillier P, Ho E, Shannon J. Sulforaphane Bioavailability and Chemopreventive Activity in Women Scheduled for Breast Biopsy. Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2015 Dec;8(12):1184-1191. doi: 10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-15-0119. Epub 2015 Oct 28. PMID: 26511489; PMCID: PMC4670794.
  7. Duffy SW, Vulkan D, Cuckle H, Parmar D, Sheikh S, Smith RA, Evans A, Blyuss O, Johns L, Ellis IO, Myles J, Sasieni PD, Moss SM. Effect of mammographic screening from age 40 years on breast cancer mortality (UK Age trial): final results of a randomised, controlled trial. Lancet Oncol. 2020 Sep;21(9):1165-1172. doi: 10.1016/S1470-2045(20)30398-3. Epub 2020 Aug 12. PMID: 32800099; PMCID: PMC7491203.
  8. Duffy S, Vulkan D, Cuckle H, Parmar D, Sheikh S, Smith R, Evans A, Blyuss O, Johns L, Ellis I, Sasieni P, Wale C, Myles J, Moss S. Annual mammographic screening to reduce breast cancer mortality in women from age 40 years: long-term follow-up of the UK Age RCT. Health Technol Assess. 2020 Oct;24(55):1-24. doi: 10.3310/hta24550. PMID: 33141657; PMCID: PMC7681269.
  9. Neuhouser ML, Aragaki AK, Prentice RL, Manson JE, Chlebowski R, Carty CL, Ochs-Balcom HM, Thomson CA, Caan BJ, Tinker LF, Urrutia RP, Knudtson J, Anderson GL. Overweight, Obesity, and Postmenopausal Invasive Breast Cancer Risk: A Secondary Analysis of the Women's Health Initiative Randomized Clinical Trials. JAMA Oncol. 2015 Aug;1(5):611-21. doi: 10.1001/jamaoncol.2015.1546. PMID: 26182172; PMCID: PMC5070941.
  10. Samavat H, Ursin G, Emory TH, Lee E, Wang R, Torkelson CJ, Dostal AM, Swenson K, Le CT, Yang CS, Yu MC, Yee D, Wu AH, Yuan JM, Kurzer MS. A Randomized Controlled Trial of Green Tea Extract Supplementation and Mammographic Density in Postmenopausal Women at Increased Risk of Breast Cancer. Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2017 Dec;10(12):710-718. doi: 10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-17-0187. Epub 2017 Sep 13. PMID: 28904061; PMCID: PMC7337967.
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