A new study has released evidence that early treatment of the most common type of breast cancer no longer requires heavy doses of chemotherapy, which is welcome news for many women considering the vast side effects and health risks associated with radiation.
The study, which is still in progress, is examining more than 10,000 women with low, moderate or high risk of recurrence as determined by a new type of genetic test that measures gene activity related to cell growth. Independent monitors requested preliminary release of the study’s initial findings— the results that indicate that women in the low-risk group don’t need chemo.
According to the study’s findings after five years, about 99 percent of the breast cancer survivors had not relapsed while 94 percent were free of any invasive breast cancer, including cancer in the opposite breast or other sites.
Although this is incredible news for women who receive a diagnosis — testing is highly preferable to chemo— it also sheds light on the ever-important topic of prevention. These results were released two days before the widely popular pink ribbon campaigns began their march to bring awareness to prevention and early detection of breast cancer, as well as rally support for breast cancer patient, survivors and their families.
Breast Cancer Prevention
Worldwide incidence of breast cancer has increased by more than 20 percent worldwide since 2008. Breast cancer affects females more than any other type of cancer. While experts are digging deep to uncover a cure for breast cancer, others are finding strong evidence that simple lifestyle changes, like diet and healthy weight management, can significantly reduce risk.
Last month, a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that in addition to preventing heart disease, a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra virgin olive oil offers a beneficial effect in the prevention of breast cancer.
This paper is the result of a secondary analysis for a trial designed to observe factors affecting cardiovascular disease risks. The study evaluated more than 4,000 women ages 60 to 80 over a period of six years. Participants were randomly assigned to a Mediterranean diet supplemented with either extra virgin olive oil or supplemented with mixed nuts on a control diet. The women who ate the Mediterranean diet with the olive oil lowered their risk of breast cancer by 68 percent more than those who were given a low-fat diet in the control group.
A preliminary case study also found a link between diet and breast cancer prevention. The early results suggest that a ketogenic diet, which is low carb, supplemented with vitamin D reversed expression of HER2, a gene that is a risk factor for recurrence of breast cancer.
In July, the International Journal of Cancer published the findings of a study linking metabolic syndrome to increased risk of heart disease and breast cancer. Metabolic syndrome is characterized by the presence of at least three of five dysmetabolic traits: abdominal obesity, hypertension, low plasma HDL-cholesterol, and high plasma glucose and triglycerides. Women can take the first step toward combating metabolic syndrome with testing. Talking to a physician or a doctor about your weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels is an important first step. These numbers will allow patients to build effective plans for achieving healthier numbers and reducing risk of disease, including breast cancer.
Influencing your health and reducing your risk of breast cancer is simpler than you may think. It comes down to a few basic lifestyle changes:
Eat. Ask your doctor about the Mediterranean diet and low-carb diet, discuss your current food choices, your health goals and your lifestyle to determine what changes to your diet make the most sense based on your breast cancer risk. Any diet that is focused on optimizing your health and reducing disease risk will include fresh and whole foods, and be rich in a variety of vegetables. Research has shown that cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, and cabbage are closely associated with reduced cancer risk. Avoiding sugary, processed, and refined foods will lower the formation of bodily toxins and improve weight management.
Drink. Healthy cells need lots of water and help flush toxins from the body. Drink more water daily, and try for at least 64 ounces of filtered water from a BPA-free container. Skip the sugary beverages and limit alcohol intake. To increase variety without adding calories or health risks, choose herbal teas loaded with antioxidants or add low-sugar fruits to still or sparkling water.
Exercise. Just 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise five times per week can help reduce symptoms of metabolic syndrome. Even a 10-minute walk after dinner can help jump-start lowering your blood pressure and cholesterol levels.