Green Wizardries, Breast Cancer Prevention by Maxine Rogers
Did you know there has been an 80% increase in breast cancer in the last 40 years? Mammograms only pick up tumours when they are the size of a small grape. When they do the wide-incision biopsy to remove the tumour, in 2/3rds of cases there are multi-focal deposits of tumour in the surrounding tissue. So, not a great result with mammograms.
Why the sudden sharp increase? Well, our diet and the medication we take have both changed out of all recognition in the last 40 years so they may well be factors. Some aspects of our diet have changed without the public noticing. For example, several foods, including bread and milk, used to be enriched with iodine. This is no longer the case. Indeed, commercially prepared bread contains bromides which are iodine antagonists.
I got most of the information for this story by watching a recent interview with Dr. Nyjon Eccles, a British physician who holds a PhD in Pharmacology. Dr Eccles likes to call himself a Natural Doctor or a practitioner of Functional Medicine.
Dr. Eccles uses thermography in his clinic to detect changes in breast tissue before tumours develop. Thermography uses infrared cameras to look at heat in breast tissue and it can also detect abnormal veins and resistance to cooling. All these things can precede the structural changes seen later on a mammogram.
Dr. Eccles has been studying thermography since 2013 because he thinks we need to detect changes in the breast before it turns to cancer. He went on to explain that an abnormal thermogram is not a diagnoses of cancer but they do represent an increased risk of developing breast cancer later.
When he had a cohort of women with abnormal breast thermograms, he started studying them nutritionally. He measured their Vitamin D and iodine levels. He looked at how they were metabolizing their estrogen as some women metabolize their estrogen in a toxic way that can damage breast tissue. He also looked at their Omega 3 fatty acids. What he found was that women with abnormal thermograms, almost always, had imbalances in at least two of the four factors measured.
He worked with the women to overcome these imbalances and deficiencies. He found that within six months of starting treatment, 80% of the women would have normal or normalizing thermograms.
Dr. Eccles finds vitamin D and iodine deficiencies are very common. He also studied the Japanese who eat a diet high in seaweed. Their blood-iodine levels are very high and their breast cancer rates are some of the lowest in the world. Iceland, which is very far away and has a different culture also has very high rates of iodine in their diet and similarly low levels of breast cancer. Dr. Eccles says medical science does not know how iodine is protecting against breast cancer but there is a huge correlation between low-iodine levels and increases in breast cancer.
To get his patient’s Omega 3 levels up, he said they could eat fatty fish and if they preferred a vegetable source of Omega 3 fatty acids, he got them to eat flax, chia, hemp and echium seeds. I like his approach as it is very low-tech and inexpensive.
Dr Eccles is strongly against his patients taking synthetic progesterone as it leads to increased cancers and clotting. He finds natural progesterone has no associated risk of increased breast cancer.
The way a woman metabolizes her estrogen can be benign or toxic which damages breast tissue. The good news is that simply eating cruciferous vegetables allows a woman to switch from toxic estrogen metabolism to non-toxic. Just eating a plate of cabbage, Brussels sprouts, watercress, broccoli, cauliflower or the wonderful kale that grows so readily here, is enough to reduce this risk factor in women.
Dr. Eccles recommends 4000 to 5000 IUs of Vitamin D to all his patients even if they did not have an abnormal thermography. He pairs the Vitamin D with Vitamin K2 which ensures that calcium stays in the bones and makes these higher doses of Vitamin D safe.
Dr Eccles sites a 2016 study which showed that people having blood levels of Vitamin D at 100 nanomils per litre showed a sharp drop in all types of cancers. So, keep your Vitamin D levels at that magic 100 number to reduce your risk of cancer.
His rule is to take 50 to 100 micrograms of Vitamin K2 for every 1000 international units of Vitamin D. Vitamin K2 is usually derived from fermented foods such as fermented pickles (delicious), sauerkraut and kimchee. We could all do with eating more fermented foods for general good health.
For iodine, Dr. Eccles explains that some populations routinely ingest 3 to 12 milligrams of iodine in their food daily. If you take higher doses of iodine than the body needs, it is excreted harmlessly in the urine.
When most people in the West take the SIP test to measure their levels of Omega fatty acids, they are usually 15 to 20 units of Omega 6 to every unit of Omega 3. The ratio should be more like 6 units of Omega 6 to every 3 units Omega 3. You can reduce your levels of Omega 6 by not eating any seed oils which are very unhealthy.
With the supplements mentioned and eating a large plate of cruciferous vegetables every day, we could make Denman and Hornby the capital of low breast-cancer rates in Canada