The Environment, Chemicals and Breast Cancer

A groundbreaking research study, coordinated by the non-profit Silent Spring Institute  and recently published by the American Cancer Society found that synthetic chemicals are playing a large role in the skyrocketing incidence of breast cancer throughout the world. 

The study identified 216 man-made chemicals—including those found in everyday products like pesticides, cosmetics, dyes, drugs and gasoline (and diesel exhaust)—that have been shown to cause breast cancer in animals. Researchers believe these substances, many of which “mimic” naturally occurring hormones (estrogens)  are to blame for the increasing prevalence of human breast cancer.

Further proof exists that the environment plays a large role breast cancer risk.  Breast cancer in adopted children parallels the risk of the family they grew up in, not that of their biological family, data originating from meticulously kept medical records throughout Scandinavian countries. 

COMMENTS: The break down of tissues and DNA by chemicals takes years. That is why finding a breast lump is not a five-alarm fire: that mass has been growing for six to seven years before it was identified on a mammogram. The three important –and simple–things a woman can do to lower risk of breast cancer are exercise, keep well hydrated, and avoid unnecessary chemicals.

  • Exercise: decreases estrogen load and reduces chemical-accumulating fat
  • Water: keeps lymphatics open and allows the body to eliminate chemicals more easily
  • Avoid chemicals: women are famous for slathering on gels, creams and lotions. Anything that is applied topically goes directly into your body. If you can’t pronounce it, you shouldn’t put it on your skin.

Keeping healthy can be a little more work, but it doesn’t have to be hard.

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Mammograms for Boomers

The number of older women with breast cancer is forecast to double by 2030, as baby boomers age.  Experts are now advising doctors to reach out through phone calls and letters to make sure that older breast cancer survivors to get yearly “surveillance” mammography routinely, regardless of their age.  A new study demonstrates that those who receive annual surveillance mammography after breast cancer may give the opportunity to “decrease death from breast cancer.”

COMMENT: This article is revealing. The current rate of breast cancer is one in every eight women; doubling that rate will put the incidence at one in every four.  That is 25 percent of the population. Recommending annual mammograms may find cancer reoccurences early and increase the likelihood of survival, but that will not stop the steep upward trend of breast cancer.

Read my new article, “How to Avoid Hearing ‘You have breast cancer…‘”   You’ll be glad that you did.

Choosing between Hot flashes and Cancer? Better choices…

Once again, researchers have concluded that a definite link exists between breast cancer and the use of menopausal hormone therapy, particularly synthetic estrogen-progestin treatment combinations. Since 1990, “breast cancer rates dropped in parallel with declining hormone use just as it rose in parallel to it,” says oncologist Andrew Glass, lead author of the study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

But does hormone therapy—once touted as being heart-healthy and preventing bone-thinning osteoporosis—offer any benefits? “To get rid of hot flashes and to make it through the night, it’s probably a reasonable thing,” says  Donald Berry, a professor and chairman of the biostatistics department at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

COMMENT: It is sad that Conventional Medicine’s only option for women with miserable hot flashes and night sweats is synthetic HRT. That is making a choice between a good night’s sleep and the risk of breast cancer.


A much better option is acupuncture. I have seen it work like a miracle with my patients…and with my own perimenopausal symptoms. Getting weekly treatments for about six weeks have stopped the PMS, pre-period headaches and insomnia. Check with a local acupuncturist about treatments for women’s health issues.  Be sure to get your thermogram if you are using any type of hormone replacement, even if it’s bio-identical hormones.  And add a large amounts of fish oil and vitamin E for good measure.

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Misinformation about Thermography Abounds

The article begins by saying “breast cancer can be cured if found early.” This is so aggravating: Why not work towards healthy breasts so you don’t get breast cancer in the first place?  Misinformation about thermography like this comes up regularly.

“Thermography is widely used in today’s clinical practice for measuring and recording the heat produced by different parts of the body or mammary gland. The heat radiates from the body varies in different parts according to the flow of blood through the vessels; thus areas of poor circulation produce less heat. On the other hand, a tumor with an abnormally increased blood supply may be recorded as a ‘hot spot.’ Yet the technique’s diagnostic accuracy is not as high as mammography and ultrasound examination.”

The only “tool” that can positively identify cancer is a biopsy. In the early 1990s, thermography was used in an attempt to distinguish between a cancerous and non-cancerous nodule. The accuracy was 80-90% but the conclusion was that thermography had “failed” the test to identify cancer.

 Thermography can locate areas of concern in the breast by identifying a ‘hot spot.’ It could be an infection, mastitis, an inflamed cyst….or early cancer. Changes in the tissue begin long before there are enough changes–enough abnormal cells–to be detected by a mammogram.

Mammograms find cancer early; thermograms identify areas that need attention to heal.

Young Women Need Trained Fingers for Breast Self Exam

If you’re under 40, breast cancer is probably not strongly on your mind. Unfortunately, more women in their 20s and 30s are experiencing cancer at an increasing rate. Finding time to incorporate a self breast exam into your monthly schedule is important. The denseness of the tissue is the reason young women need to begin doing a monthly exams at age 20. Become familiar with how your breasts look and feel will make it easier for you to notice any changes in your breasts. 

When to do the exam?

The best time to do your monthly exam is immediately after you have completed your menstural cycle. At that point, the levels of estrogen and progesterone are the lowest, your breasts are the least tender and the least stimulated by hormones. Doing the exam on approximately the same day every month is best way recognize changes.  

What is “normal”?

But what if you have lumpy breasts and you can’t tell the difference between a normal and an abnormal lump? Your fingers can be trained. Think of it this way: If fingers can be taught to read Braille, then fingers can be taught to distinguish between lumps of concern and lumps of no concern. Confidence to do an “intelligent exam” takes away fear.

At OsteoMed II, we offer a very specialized breast exam called a Mammacare Exam. Sandi Asazawa, physician assistant, performs the exams. I guarantee it will be the best exam you have ever had. You can set an appointment with Sandi for an exam or for training. You’ll be so glad you did! 

Not from Ohio? Here’s were you can find a Mammacare expert  in your area.

Abnormal Mammograms Leave Their Mark…Psychologically

According to a new study in Value in Health, women really are damaged by the psychological stress of an abnormal mammogram finding that turns out to be benign. The  co-author of the study, John Bordersen reported that previous studies of the long-term psychological consequences of these false alarms have used inadequate measures. 

The latest survey, developed by Brodersen and his colleagues, focuses on six psychosocial dimensions; anxiety, behavioral impact, sense of dejection, impact on sleep, breast examination and sexuality. The survey showed that women who had an abnormal screening mammography later confirmed to be false-positive were negatively impacted in all six categories.   

Original Article: Validation of a Condition-Specific Measure for Women Having an Abnormal Screening Mammography.  Institute of Public Health, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark

COMMENT: Between 10 and 25 percent of women who undergo a screening mammogram are called back for further tests. The vast majority of these follow up visits find nothing to be concerned about. But in the mean time, women are under a lot of stress, leading to increased cortisol levels. This hormone, produced by the adrenal glands, activates three separate enzymes in the breast.  The result is increased levels of estrogen in the tissues…and if there is an abnormality present, increased estrogen can “feed” the problem.  The result? The finding may be benign this year, but a very small abnormality may start to grow…

The addition of thermography could greatly reduce fears of an abnormal mammogram. If the area is “cool” on the thermogram, it is likely that the mammogram finding is benign.  Conversely, if the thermogram finding is “hot,” there is reason for concern. 

At the VilleMarie clinic in Montreal, Canada, Professor John Keyserlingk has been combining thermography with mammography for nearly a decade. In a study published in 1998 he reported that the value-added of a thermogram increased cancer detection rates from 85 per cent to 95 per cent.  (REF: J. Keyserlingk, M.D.; Time to Reassess the Value of Infrared Breast Imaging? Oncology News Int., 1997; V 6, No. 9.)
Similarly, a study published in 2003 by Dr. Yuri Parisky found thermography could help to distinguish benign and malignant lesions in patients undergoing biopsy. The findings did not correlate 100 percent, but nothing in medicine ever is 100% certain.  

Thermography is a breast health tool that can save you *lots* of anxiety.

Breast Thermography: A Tool for Health

The incidence of breast cancer has increased substantially over the past 20 years. While advances in medicine have increased a women’s chance for survival, little has been done to reduce–or prevent–the cancer from occurring. 

Thermography uses a digital infrared thermal imaging to detect and record the infrared heat radiating from the surface of the body.  Clusters of abnormal cells that can develop into a cancer often have an increased blood supply that leads to an elevation in the temperature of the skin over the area.  Breast thermography has the ability to warn women years before any other procedure that inflammation is present that could later become cancer. This is the best prevention: Find inflammation that can be addressed at the earliest stages. Even though thermography was approved by the FDA as an adjunctive screening procedure for breast disease in 1982, few women are aware of this useful technology.

More than 800 peer-reviewed studies exist, involving more than 250,000 study participants describing its usefulness. The number of women in the studies range from 37,000 to 118,000, and some women were followed for up to 12 years. The studies revealed that breast thermography has an average sensitivity and specificity of 90% for detecting early changes in the breast that can possibly lead to cancer. 

Studies have shown that:
• An abnormal infrared image is an important marker of high risk for problems in the tissues. The marker is said (by some) to be 8 times more significant as a marker for disease than a family history of the cancer.
• A person with a persistently abnormal thermogram has a 10 times greater risk of developing breast cancer in the future.
• A positive infrared scan does not mean you have cancer. The increased heat  may be suggestive of presence of many different breast abnormalities such as mastitis, benign tumors, fibrocystic breast disease, and cancer.
• In a study from 1998, 100 new cases of ductal carcinoma in situ were diagnosed pre-operatively using a clinical breast exam, mammography, and infrared imaging.  The number of tumors diagnosed with mammography alone was 85%. The number of tumors diagnosed when a breast exam and a breast thermography were added increased to 95%.

Breast thermography can detect abnormalities six to seven years before the changes can be detected on a mammogram.

COMMENT: Every woman between the age of 20 and 40 needs to have a thermogram and so, if needed, they can start a breast health program years before breast cancer has a chance to set in. Every woman between the age of 40 and 65 needs to have a thermogram in conjunction with their mammogram.

Find a center near you….or, travel to a center in your area. The time you spend in travel can literally add years of health to your life!