Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Should women have preventive double mastectomy like Angelina Jolie for fear of breast cancer?

The recent news that Angelina Jolie had preventive double mastectomy even without cancer because of her carrying the BRCA genes has sparked a lot of conversation amongst women whether that is the best way to avoid breast cancer.

When my clients speak to me about this subject in clinic, I ask them if they want to also avoid ovarian cancer and remove their ovaries, hence go through premature menopause, or avoid bowel cancer and remove their bowels.  My heart reaches out to people who think that removing organs can “prevent” cancer.  I wish Angelina was better informed than she was when she made that decision.

Breast cancer has been shown to be less prevalent in certain communities. In her book “Your life in your hands”, Professor Jane Plan, who was a breast cancer patient herself, studied how rural Chinese women did not get breast cancer.  What Prof Jane Plan found was that only one in 10,000 women in China will die from it, compared to that terrible figure of one in 12 in Britain and the even grimmer average of one in 10 across most Western countries. In highly urbanized Hong Kong , the rate rises to 34 women in every 10,000 but still puts the West to shame. The Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki have similar rates. Plan found that breast cancer in China was considered a “Rich Woman’s Disease” as these people could afford the likes of dairy chocolate, ice-cream, and spaghetti and feta cheese.

Carrying a gene does not automatically make a person get cancer.  The genes need the right environment for the mutation of cells to occur to turn cancerous.  Our body, mindset, nutrition, lifestyle, exercise and food we eat make up the environment. 

There are many things a woman can do to make her environment unfriendly to cancer.  Here are some of them:

  1. Get adequate sunshine – Vitamin D deficiency has been closely linked to breast cancer. 
  2. Get moving, get active and reduce excess weight (fat) – excess visceral fat (around the abdomen) is inflammatory.
  3. Have lots of cruciferous vegetables – these have been proven to help with estrogen metabolism pathways, an excess of “bad estrogen” in the right environment will turn into breast or ovarian cancer.
  4. Eat 2-3 brazil nuts a day – brazils are a good source of selenium and this mineral is important for iodine absorption.  A lack of iodine has been seen in many pathologies of the breast.
  5. Have adequate good fats from oily fish, seeds and nuts.
  6. Reduce intake of fried foods which are a source of carcinogenic acrylamides.
  7. Drink green tea.
  8. Take a resveratrol, tumeric and acai antioxidant daily, like ResAcai.
  9. Do not use underarm deodorant that has propylene glycol, aluminium or artificial deodorants which act as xenoestrogens.
  10. Avoid plastic containers, especially microwaving in a plastic container.
  11. Use environmentally friendly home cleaning products, avoid excessive exposure to sodium lauryl sulphate.
  12. Avoid processed meats that contain sodium nitrite.
  13. Live with a purpose, think positive thoughts and be involved in the community.
  14. Practice meditation, yoga or prayers daily to achieve spiritual calmness.
And there are many different natural health therapies and supplements that can help to keep your estrogen detoxification pathways open and help you along.  Consult your natural healthcare practitioner for assistance.

Because Angelina is a well-known celebrity, what she says and does will have a big impact on women around the globe and I hope for women to be better informed.  We are not a victim of our genes.  We can take proactive action for our health and wellbeing (yes, but not proactively removing our breasts!)

I hope Angelina is adopting a good diet, lifestyle and nutrition with her carrying the BRCA genes.  Sure she has no more breasts to develop breast cancer, but are her ovaries free from cancer risk?