According to the American Cancer Society, the current statistics for breast cancer are as follows:
- In 2009, an estimated 192,370 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed among women, as well as an estimated 62,280 additional cases of in situ breast cancer
- In 2009, approximately 40,170 women are expected to die from breast cancer.
- Only lung cancer accounts for more cancer deaths in women.
- In 2009, about 1,910 cases of breast cancer are expected to occur among men, accounting for about 1% of all breast cancers. In addition, approximately 440 men will die from breast cancer.
Although, these figures may appear scary and make one feel powerless, new research is popping up which can empower women and men to take control of their own health. In other words, by changing diet, exercise patterns, and incorporating stress management tools, women and men can keep their breasts healthy and their immune system strong.
In fact, it is now estimated that cancer is now 75% influenced by our environment, and only 25% to our genetics. Therefore, the answer may lie in the way our genes are expressed, through epigenetic factors, verses in the genes themselves. In fact, Mary Kare King (founder of BRCA 1 and 2) herself has related the increase of cancer re-occurrence in 1940 (24%) to today (80%) to our environment.
What does this mean?? That nutrigenomics can be studied to show how one of the most powerful cancer preventive measures is related to what’s at the end of our fork!
A recent Vital Choice Newsletter published a review on two exciting studies relating this science of nutrigenomics to breast health. Specifically, the researchers looked at sulforaphane (SFN), a compound in dark leafy green vegetables, affects breast cancer outcomes. According to the report:
* A University of Michigan team reports that sulforaphane killed cancer stem cells and prevented new tumors from growing … both in mice implanted with human breast cancer cells, and in cultured breast cancer cells (Li Y et al. 2010).
* The UC Santa Barbara team found that SFN stops the spread of human tumor cells by blocking cancer-cell division … and it works in virtually the same way as the plant-derived anti-cancer drugs taxol and vincristine. (Azarenko O et al. 2008; see “Broccoli Curbs Breast Cancer like Chemo Drugs”.)
* While SFN is much weaker than taxol or vincristine, results like those from the UC Santa Barbara study suggest that frequent enjoyment of cruciferous veggies may help deter or curb certain cancers.
Furthermore, a second research team reported the following effects:
“The Michigan team reported that sulforaphane injections decreased certain cancer cell populations by 65 to 80 percent and reduced the size of “primary mammospheres” by eight to 125 times and cut their number by 45 to 75 percent. (Primary mammospheres are incipient, potentially cancerous mammary glands.)
Daily injection with sulforaphane for two weeks reduced a key kind of cancer stem cell by more than 50 percent, in various kinds of implanted tumors.
Interestingly, in addition to eliminating all cancer stem cells in the mice, those animals’ tumor cells failed to grow when they were re-implanted into other mice.
The results also showed that sulforaphane “down-regulated” a tumor self-renewal pathway called Wnt/beta-catenin, making this known bodily mechanism one possible explanation for the compound’s efficacy.” (AKA an elmination of damaged cells vs. healthy cells!)
(Below are other references relating the power of vegetables to various hormonal cancers and immune issues.)
Therefore, when women at high risk for hormonal cancers enter our health center, I give them the option of a simple functional test to measure estrogen metabolism by-products. This result, along with serum tests from her primary physician, can add me in a specific, individualized, therapeutic protocol to help her empower herself to keep her body healthy, strong, and joy-filled.
This “new” science, documenting what we put in our body effects our health, can take the fear out of many scary diagnostic labels. It can help us shift from the victim role of one who must listen to outside guidance to opening up to our own healing potential. For more information on nutrigenomics and epigenitics, be sure to search living-well as well as my homepage.
American Cancer Society. Breast Cancer Facts & Figures 2009-2010
Craig Weatherby. Broccoli Chemical Stems Breast Cancer Cells
Sulfur compounds in broccoli stop creation of breast cancer stem cells; Effect should extend to kale, cabbage, and broccoli’s many “cruciferous” cousins. Vital Choice Newsletter. June 21, 2010
Sulforaphane inhibits human MCF-7 mammary cancer cell mitotic progression and tubulin polymerization.Jackson SJ, Singletary KW. J Nutr. 2004 Sep;134(9):2229-36.PMID: 15333709]
Ingestion of an isothiocyanate metabolite from cruciferous vegetables inhibits growth of human prostate cancer cell xenografts by apoptosis and cell cycle arrest.Chiao JW, Wu H, Ramaswamy G, Conaway CC, Chung FL, Wang L, Liu D. Carcinogenesis. 2004 Aug;25(8):1403-8.PMID: 15016658
Dietary sulforaphane-rich broccoli sprouts reduce colonization and attenuate gastritis in Helicobacter pylori-infected mice and humans. Yanaka A, Fahey JW, Fukumoto A, Nakayama M, Inoue S, Zhang S, Tauchi M, Suzuki H, Cancer Prev Res (Phila Pa). 2009 Apr;2(4):353-60.PMID: 19349290
Chemoprotective glucosinolates and isothiocyanates of broccoli sprouts: metabolism and excretion in humans. Shapiro TA, Fahey JW, Wade KL, Stephenson KK, Talalay P. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2001 May;10(5):501-8.PMID: 11352861
Sulforaphane mobilizes cellular defenses that protect skin against damage by UV radiation.Talalay P, Fahey JW, Healy ZR, Wehage SL, Benedict AL, Min C, Dinkova-Kostova AT. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007 Oct 30;104(44):17500-5.PMID: 17956979
Nrf2 activation by sulforaphane restores the age-related decrease of T(H)1 immunity: role of dendritic cells Kim HJ, Barajas B, Wang M, Nel AE. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2008 May;121(5):1255-1261.e7 PMID: 18325578
Jeffrey Bland, Institute of Functional Medicine. Cancer in Primary Care Symposium 2010.