October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an important time to reflect upon how natural approaches to wellness can play a leading role in preventing cancer. Through my fifteen years of practicing naturopathic medicine I have discovered, first hand, how the foods we eat and our lifestyle choices can either support or suppress health. With this in mind, I am sharing my four top tips for cancer prevention, supported by research, to help you stay healthy and keep disease at bay.
- Keep your blood sugar balanced. According to studies, elevated blood sugar and insulin levels – also known as prediabetes and diabetes – as well as weight gain greatly increase your risk of breast cancer.1-4 Studies also show that when you drop your sugar and alcohol intake, and decrease the amount of carbs you consume at any one time, while increasing your exercise (especially strength training), you’ll be optimizing your blood sugar levels and preventing cancer at the same time.5, 6
- Optimize your cortisol, the stress hormone produced by our adrenal glands. Stress, and specifically the suboptimal cortisol levels that result, are known to perpetuate cancer risk.7, 8 That is because when we are continually stressed, cortisol levels shift in an unhealthy way, throwing off other systems in our bodies, including our immune system, digestion, hormones, and nervous system. There are activities that you can choose on a daily basis to help decrease your stress. Studies show that yoga, meditation, mindfulness, gardening, talking with a friend and having a dog all help to restore optimal cortisol levels and reduce stress.9-13 It is also possible to measure your cortisol levels in a saliva test and then to address any imbalances with nutrients and herbs that have been shown to effectively bring cortisol back to optimal, which has the potential to prevent cancer.
- Manage oxidation in your body. We’ve known that toxic exposure can damage DNA and increase likelihood of cancer developing – so avoiding toxins makes sense – but we now also know from research that by supporting our body’s own detoxification and anti-oxidant systems, we can also prevent cancer cells.14-16 So in addition to avoiding toxins in your environment (avoid smoking, pesticides, exhaust, plastics and more), your best next steps are to:
* eat foods high in anti-oxidants such as broccoli, blueberries, kale, and tomatoes
* take herbs that contain anti-oxidants and support your internal detoxification pathways including curcumin, resveratrol, and green tea extract
In fact, taking these antioxidants in combination can be even better at addressing cancer cells then taking just one. In a 2014 study published in the American Journal of Chinese Medicine, researchers found that antioxidants in green tea, specifically epigallocatechin-3-gallate, increased the effectiveness of curcumin in killing resistant breast cancer cells.17
- Drop inflammation in your body and heal leaky gut. Research is now connecting the dots between the digestive tract, inflammation throughout the body, and cancer.18 The best way to decrease the constant stream of inflammation is to heal leaky gut – a microscopic condition that allows food, toxins, and bacteria to trigger an immune response that circulates through your body.19 And one of the major causes of leaky gut is gluten (and the pesticides that are associated with gluten).20 So one of the best things you can do to turn around your health and prevent cancer too is avoid gluten, which is found in bread, pasta, pastries, soups, and sauces.
There you have it, four ways to lower your breast cancer risk. It may seem overwhelming to try to take them all on at once so I encourage you to start with a small, achievable goal and work your way toward integrating these tips into your daily life. In my book, The Stress Remedy, I offer a detailed plan for how to do this, including a three-week menu and recipes. The important part is to implement change in a way that works for you so that the positive changes don’t become a stress themselves!
To learn more about cancer prevention, visit thecancersummit.com
- George SM1, Bernstein L, Smith AW, Neuhouser ML, Baumgartner KB, Baumgartner RN, Ballard-Barbash R. Central adiposity after breast cancer diagnosis is related to mortality in the Health, Eating, Activity, and Lifestyle study. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2014 Aug;146(3):647-55.
- Salinas-Martínez AM1, Flores-Cortés LI2, Cardona-Chavarría JM2, Hernández-Gutiérrez B2, Abundis A3, Vázquez-Lara J3, González-Guajardo EE4. Prediabetes, diabetes, and risk of breast cancer: a case-control study. Arch Med Res. 2014 Jul;45(5):432-8.
- Han X1, Stevens J, Truesdale KP, Bradshaw PT, Kucharska-Newton A, Prizment AE, Platz EA, Joshu CE. Body mass index at early adulthood, subsequent weight change and cancer incidence and mortality. Int J Cancer. 2014 Apr 26.
- Xu CX, Zhu HH, Zhu YM. Diabetes and cancer: Associations, mechanisms, and implications for medical practice. World J Diabetes. 2014 Jun 15;5(3):372-80.
- de Lorgeril M1, Salen P. Do statins increase and Mediterranean diet decrease the risk of breast cancer? BMC Med. 2014 Jun 5;12:94.
- Nogueira LM1, Lavigne JA, Chandramouli GV, Lui H, Barrett JC, Hursting SD. Dose-dependent effects of calorie restriction on gene expression, metabolism, and tumor progression are partially mediated by insulin-like growth factor-1. Cancer Med. 2012 Oct;1(2):275-88.
- Zeitzer JM1, Nouriani B, Neri E, Spiegel D. Correspondence of Plasma and Salivary Cortisol Patterns in Women with Breast Cancer. Neuroendocrinology. 2014 Sep 10.
- Tell D1, Mathews HL, Janusek LW. Day-to-Day Dynamics of Associations Between Sleep, Napping, Fatigue, and the Cortisol Diurnal Rhythm in Women Diagnosed as Having Breast Cancer. Psychosom Med. 2014 Sep;76(7):519-28.
- Wolever RQ, Bobinet KJ, McCabe K, Mackenzie ER, Fekete E, Kusnick CA, Baime M. Effective and viable mind-body stress reduction in the workplace: a randomized controlled trial. J Occup Health Psychol. 2012 Apr;17(2):246-58.
- Polheber JP, Matchock RL. The presence of a dog attenuates cortisol and heart rate in the Trier Social Stress Test compared to human friends. J Behav Med. 2013 Oct 30.
- Mark B. Detweiler,1 Taral Sharma,2 Jonna G. Detweiler,3 Pamela F. Murphy,4 Sandra Lane,5 Jack Carman,6 Amara S. Chudhary,2 Mary H. Halling,3 and Kye Y. Kim. What Is the Evidence to Support the Use of Therapeutic Gardens for the Elderly? Psychiatry Investig. 2012 June; 9(2): 100–110.
- Ono M, et al. Physiological and psychological responses to expressions of emotion and empathy in post-stress communication. J Physiol Anthropol. 2009 Jan;28(1):29-35.
- Andersen SR1, Würtzen H, Steding-Jessen M, Christensen J, Andersen KK, Flyger H, Mitchelmore C, Johansen C, Dalton SO. Effect of mindfulness-based stress reduction on sleep quality: results of a randomized trial among Danish breast cancer patients. Acta Oncol. 2013 Feb;52(2):336-44.
- Sarah Crawford Anti-inflammatory/antioxidant use in long-term maintenance cancer therapy: a new therapeutic approach to disease progression and recurrence. Ther Adv Med Oncol. Mar 2014; 6(2): 52–68.
- Cotterchio M1, Mirea L, Ozcelik H, Kreiger N. Active Cigarette Smoking, Variants in Carcinogen Metabolism Genes and Breast Cancer Risk among Pre- and Postmenopausal Women in Ontario, Canada. Breast J. 2014 Sep;20(5):468-80.
- Albini A, Rosano C, Angelini G, Amaro A, Esposito AI, Maramotti S, Noonan DM, Pfeffer U1. Exogenous hormonal regulation in breast cancer cells by phytoestrogens and endocrine disruptors. Curr Med Chem. 2014;21(9):1129-45.
- Wang S1, Chen R, Zhong Z, Shi Z, Chen M, Wang Y. Epigallocatechin-3-gallate potentiates the effect of curcumin in inducing growth inhibition and apoptosis of resistant breast cancer cells. Am J Chin Med. 2014;42(5):1279-300.
- Fasano A. Zonulin and its regulation of intestinal barrier function: the biological door to inflammation, autoimmunity, and cancer. Physiol Rev. 2011 Jan;91(1):151-175.
- Cox AJ, West NP, Cripps AW. Obesity, inflammation, and the gut microbiota. Lancet Diabetes Endocrinol. 2014 Jul 21.
- Samsel A, Seneff S. Glyphosate, pathways to modern diseases II: Celiac sprue and gluten intolerance. Interdiscip Toxicol. 2013 Dec;6(4):159-84. doi: 10.2478/intox-2013-0026.
Dr. Doni has a particular expertise in helping patients with health concerns such as gluten sensitivity, adrenal function, neurotransmitters, hormone balance, digestion and immune system functionality.
Suffering from environmental and food allergies herself, Dr. Doni was inspired to create a specialized approach to food sensitivities and “eating for health” – The Hamptons CleanseTM, a popular, gluten-free nutritional regimen that reduces inflammation, heals leaky gut (a digestive issue that leads to food sensitivities), supports detoxification and weight loss, and brings the body back to a state of optimal health.
In her new book, THE STRESS REMEDY, Dr. Doni discusses how and why we experience stress, its impact on health and wellbeing, and offers expert guidance on how to reduce stress and reclaim optimal health.
Dr. Doni graduated from Bastyr University and is a naturopathic doctor, certified professional midwife, and certified nutrition specialist. Dr. Doni is frequently called upon to discuss her approaches and her research related to stress in the media, as well as at both public and professional events.
She was awarded the New York Association of Naturopathic Doctors (NYANP) Naturopathic Doctor of the Year award and is well-respected in her field for serving as the President and Executive Director of the NYANP for the past ten years. She continues to play an instrumental role, leading the effort to license naturopathic medicine in New York State.
Dr. Doni, who is also a single mom, is no stranger to stress, and attributes her good health to mastering how to support the body, by applying science, with food, exercise, sleep and stress remedies.