Breast cancer has reached near epidemic status among American women as it is currently estimated that one out of eight women in the United States will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. Currently, breast cancer causes over 40,000 deaths in the United States each year.
The rate of breast cancer is typically 5 times higher for women in the United States compared to women in many other parts of the world. It is interesting to note that in Japan the rate of breast cancer is about 1/5th the rate in the United States, but in second or third generation Japanese women living in America eating the typical American diet the rate of breast cancer is identical to other women living in the United States.
While conventional medicine focuses on early detection as primary prevention of breast cancer, a more rational approach is to reduce as many risk factors as possible while simultaneously utilizing those dietary and lifestyle factors associated with breast cancer prevention. Here are just a few important considerations:
- Women who regularly engage in exercise have a statistically significant lower risk (up to 60% reduction) of developing breast cancer compared to women with low levels of activity.
- Obesity is perhaps the most significant dietary factor as it carries with it at least a 30% increased risk for developing breast cancer.
- Women with the highest ratio of the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids EPA+DHA to omega-6 fatty acids (the omega-3:omege-6 ratio) have a 67% reduced risk of breast cancer.
- In addition to alpha-linolenic acid, flaxseeds and flaxseed oil are also the most abundant sources of anticancer compounds known as lignans.
- Studies have shown that increasing the intake of cabbage family vegetables or taking I3C or DIM as a dietary supplement significantly increases the conversion of estrogen from cancer-producing forms to non-toxic breakdown products.
- Studies have suggested that breast cancer rates are lower in Japan in part because people there typically drink about 3 cups of green tea daily.
For more information on steps you can take to reduce the risk of breast cancer, please refer to the corresponding chapter in the 3rd Edition of The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine.