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Breast cancer is a complex disease affecting millions of women worldwide. While many treatment options are available, it continues to be a significant health challenge. Medical advancements have led to improved diagnostic techniques and conventional treatments, such as surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy; however, there’s growing interest in natural approaches to managing breast cancer.  

What is Breast Cancer?

Breast cancer is a type of cancer that originates in breast cells. It occurs when abnormal cells in the breast tissue grow and divide uncontrollably, forming a mass known as a tumor. This tumor can be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). Breast cancer occurs in women but can also affect men, although it is much less common. [1] 

The breast has different types of tissues, including ducts (tubes that carry milk to the nipple), lobules (glands that produce milk), fatty tissue, and connective tissue. Breast cancer can develop in any of these tissues but most commonly starts in the cells lining the milk ducts or the lobules. 

Over time, if left untreated, cancerous cells may invade surrounding healthy tissues and spread to other places through the lymphatic system or the bloodstream. This process is known as metastasis and is the reason for most breast cancer-related deaths. 

Symptoms of Breast Cancer

Breast cancer can manifest in various forms and may present different symptoms. These are some common symptoms of breast cancer: 

  • A new lump or mass in the breast or underarm (most common symptom) 
  • Changes in breast size or shape 
  • Skin changes: Breast skin may become red and scaly or develop puckering or dimpling that resembles the texture of an orange peel. 
  • Nipple changes, including flattening, dimpling, inversion, or nipple discharge 
  • Breast pain or tenderness 
  • Swelling of lumps in the lymph nodes under the arm or around the collarbone 
  • Itchy ratch on the nipple 
  • Redness on the breast(s) 

It’s essential to note that not all breast lumps or changes are cancerous, as benign conditions can produce similar symptoms. [2] 

How Is Breast Cancer Diagnosed?

Early detection through regular breast self-exams, clinical breast exams by healthcare professionals, and mammograms typically play a role in breast cancer diagnosis in its early stages. The process usually involves the following steps: 

  1. Clinical Evaluation: The process often begins with a thorough medical history and physical examination by a healthcare professional. They’ll ask about any symptoms you may be experiencing and your family history of breast cancer or other related conditions. 
  2. Imaging Tests: If the medical professional detects any suspicious changes during the clinical evaluation or if you have a breast lump, the next step is usually heading to oncology. The oncologist can order imaging tests to better view the breast tissue. The most common imaging test for breast cancer screening and diagnosis is a mammogram, an X-ray of the breast. 
  3. Additional Imaging: If the mammogram reveals a suspicious area, the doctors may suggest further imaging tests: 
  4. Biopsy: If an abnormality is detected during the clinical evaluation or through imaging tests, the oncologist will recommend a biopsy to confirm the presence of cancer. During a biopsy, a small tissue sample is taken from the suspicious area and examined under a microscope by a pathologist. 
  5. Staging and further testing: If breast cancer is confirmed, other tests, such as CT (Computerized Tomography) scans, bone scans, or PET scans, may be performed to determine the stage and whether it has spread to other locations (metastasis).

Once diagnosed, the medical doctor will create a treatment plan. Treatment options for breast cancer typically include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, targeted therapy, or a combination of these, depending on the stage and type of breast cancer. 

The Fireman vs. The Carpenter in Healthcare

At The Wellness Way, we talk about the mainstream perspective on healthcare versus our perspective and methods as the “fireman approach” or the “carpenter approach.” 

Mainstream “fireman” doctors have two tools (treatment options) to take care of people: an axe and a hose. The axe represents cutting things out during a surgical procedure. The hose represents using medications to extinguish the “flames”: inflammation, pain, and other symptoms.

Wellness Way doctors are more like carpenters: They assess the body’s current state with testing and then create a personalized plan to rebuild using nutrients from foods and supplements. Sunshine, rest, and positive relationships are some common natural therapies that support the body in healing.

While these things are considered “complementary medicine” or “alternative medicine,” scientific research backs up their effectiveness in supporting the healing process.

Mainstream Medicine’s Approach to Breast Cancer

Mainstream medicine claims the cause of breast cancer is genetics and otherwise unknown. Medical treatment focuses on removing diseased tissue and stopping the spread.  

Common Treatments & Medications

Treatment for breast cancer depends on several factors, including the stage of cancer, the type of breast cancer, the presence of hormone receptors or HER2 receptors, the overall health of the patient, and their preferences. The most common cancer therapies and medications include: 

  • Surgery: Surgical intervention is often the primary treatment for localized breast cancer. The two main types of surgical procedures are:
    • Lumpectomy: This surgery involves removing the tumor and a small part of surrounding healthy tissue.
    • Mastectomy: This procedure involves completely removing the breast tissue, which may include one or both breasts, depending on the extent of the cancer.
  • Radiation Therapy: This treatment uses high-energy rays to target and destroy cancer cells that might remain after surgery. It is commonly used after lumpectomy to reduce the risk of cancer recurrence.
  • Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy uses powerful drugs to kill or slow the growth of cancer cells. It’s often used for breast cancer that’s spread beyond the breast or has an elevated risk of recurrence. Unfortunately, there are usually lots of side effects of chemotherapy, like hair loss, nausea, weakness, and fatigue.  
  • Hormonal Therapy: Hormonal therapy is the treatment of choice for hormone receptor-positive breast cancers. It works by blocking the effects of estrogen or progesterone, which can fuel the growth of hormone-sensitive tumors. 
  • Targeted Therapy: Targeted therapy drugs specifically target molecules involved in cancer growth. For example, drugs like trastuzumab (Herceptin) target the HER2 protein, that’s overexpressed in some breast cancers. 
  • Immunotherapy: Immunotherapy helps the immune system recognize and attack cancer cells. It’s still being investigated for breast cancer; doctors may use certain immunotherapies for specific cases. 
  • Adjuvant Therapy: Adjuvant therapies are given after the primary treatment (surgery or radiation) to reduce the risk of cancer recurrence. These include chemotherapy (“chemo”), hormonal therapy, or targeted therapy. 
  • Neoadjuvant Therapy: Neoadjuvant therapies are treatments given before surgery to shrink the tumor, making removing or preserving the breast easier. 
  • Palliative Care: Palliative care focuses on relieving the symptoms and side effects of cancer and its treatments, aiming to improve the patient’s quality of life. 

Surgeries and medications may help with symptoms by removing diseased tissue, killing cancer cells, or synthetically manipulating women’s hormones. However, they all have adverse side effects and may cause other health problems over time. The side effects are often why women seek complementary and alternative breast cancer medicines. 

What Causes Breast Cancer? Traumas, Toxins, and Thoughts

The body isn’t programmed for illness. While certain genetics may make you more likely to develop one type of illness or another, it’s only one factor. At The Wellness Way, we always return to the “three Ts” (traumas, toxins, and thoughts) as the environmental factors that stress the nervous system and lead to illness. Genes “load the gun,” but the environment “pulls the trigger.” Those environmental factors are described in the chiropractic field as traumas, toxins, and thoughts.

Traumas (Physical Stressors)

Traumas or physical stressors can be acute or chronic. Chronic subluxations in the spine can inhibit nerve and blood flow to the small intestine, leading to dis-ease and triggering an inflammatory response. An inflamed gut is an inflamed brain. Other traumas that may contribute to breast cancer include: 

  • Severe illness or infection 
  • Witnessing violence or a natural disaster 
  • Military combat – PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) 
  • Surgery 
  • A death in the family or a close friend  
  • Having a baby – leading to post-partum depression 

Physical traumas and the potential of chiropractic care should not be underestimated. Lowering inflammation by taking stress off the central nervous system can significantly reduce breast cancer risk. 

Toxins (Biochemical Stressors)

Toxins are biochemical stressors that may be either natural or synthetic. You’re being exposed to toxins every day, whether that’s chemicals from airplane exhaust, gasoline or diesel, glyphosate from nearby farms, or plastics. Even cleaning products, cookware, and cosmetics can add to your toxic burden. Toxins associated with breast cancer include: 

  • Medications – The body is like a Swiss watch –each system, like a gear, affects all the others. Any medication can alter the gastrointestinal, nervous, or endocrine system, affecting hormonal balance. Chronic use of antibiotics increases breast cancer risk. [3] Oral contraceptives are one over-the-counter medication that may increase breast cancer risk by 20%. [4] 
  • Sugar Sugar increases inflammation throughout the body, including the breast tissue. Researchers are finding more and more links between sugar consumption and breast cancer. [5] 
  • Food allergies – Foods can act like toxins, causing intestinal inflammation and hormonal imbalance if you’re allergic to them. [6] 
  • Endocrine-disrupting chemicals – Man-made chemicals like PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), DDT, Organochlorine pesticides, phthalates, and flame retardants (PBDE) are linked to cancers, including breast cancer. [7]
  • Poor Indoor Air Quality: Off-gassing and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) used to sterilize materials in new cars, mattresses, and carpets can create chronic toxicity in the body.
  • Metal toxicity – The accumulation of certain metals in the body can also contribute to breast cancer. Cadmium and Aluminum, for example, are linked to increased breast cancer risk. [8][9] 
  • Radiation exposure – Exposure to radiation from x-rays can also set a person up for breast cancer later. [10] 

Traumas and toxins are made worse by negative thought patterns and emotional stress. 

Thoughts (Emotional Stressors)

Emotional stress can significantly contribute to a diagnosis of breast cancer. Chronically elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol can throw off hormones, depleting progesterone and creating a state of estrogen dominance, which is associated with breast cancer.  

Here are some potential emotional contributors to chronic stress, inflammation, and hormonal imbalance, raising the risk for breast cancer: 

  • Watching or reading the news (fear/worry) 
  • Emotional stress from marriage, financial, career, or other issues 
  • A state of overwhelm by significant life changes, such as marriage, a new baby, graduation, divorce, or even moving to a new city. 
  • Grief/feelings of loss 
  • Pent up anger 
  • A toxic workplace 
  • Skipping vacations/Not prioritizing self-care 
  • Adverse Childhood Events (ACEs): What’s your ACE score? You can take the test for free online. ACEs are things like growing up in an abusive home or having to fend for yourself in some way. Those with higher scores were more likely to have a cancer diagnosis later in life. Working through traumas is also extremely important. [11] 

Thoughts are powerful! Stress and negative thought patterns can cause high cortisol levels, changing hormones and increasing breast cancer risk.    

Understanding Breast Cancer from a Wellness Way Approach

At The Wellness Way, we dig deeper to solve the health challenges others can’t. We start with testing to see where there may be imbalances and then develop a personalized nutrition and supplement plan to help your body heal itself. Whether it’s putting autoimmune disease in remission or cancer care, it all goes back to finding the contributing factors. 

Essential Tests for Assessing Your Gut and Hormonal Health

Here are some commonly recommended tests at The Wellness Way for hormonal imbalance and breast cancer support: 

Testing depends on which ones your Wellness Way practitioner considers most important based on your symptoms and health history. 

Dietary Changes for Women Going Through Breast Cancer

No matter what, we must first focus on lowering inflammation so the gut can heal. “All disease begins in the gut!” That means avoiding your food allergies and following a personalized nutrition program, as your Wellness Way practitioner recommends. These are some more guidelines for those going through breast cancer: 

  • No sugar or processed foods – The Western diet is based on sugar and processed foods, which explains our high cancer rates. Both increase inflammation, and sugar feeds cancer. Women with breast cancer are often on an enzyme-blocking medication called an aromatase inhibitor. There’s a food that stimulates the aromatase enzyme (which you don’t want to happen). It’s sugar. [12] 
  • Ketogenic Diet A ketogenic diet shifts the body’s metabolism from relying on carbohydrates for energy to using fats as the primary fuel source. Researchers have found several health benefits of following a “keto” diet, including breast cancer. [13] 
  • Natural aromatase inhibitors – There are natural compounds that work as natural aromatase inhibitors. Focus on these (if they aren’t on your allergy list): cacao, arugula, beef liver, olive oil, white button mushrooms, lemon peel, coffee, and grapefruit.  
  • No cow’s milk dairy products – Goat and sheep’s milk products may be better tolerated –and even beneficial for lowering inflammation in the gut, which makes up a large part of the immune response. [14] Milk is also high in insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), which can contribute to cancer. [15] 
  • Avoid high omega-6 vegetable oils, like corn, canola, soybean, cottonseed oil, sunflower, grapeseed, and others, which can alter the omega-6 to omega-3 balance to be more inflammatory. [16] Instead, use fruit oils like olive, coconut, avocado, and palm oil; or animal fats like beef tallow, bacon grease, and duck fat. 
  • Avoid alcohol – Alcohol compromises the intestinal lining and increases inflammation. Chronic alcohol use is associated with poor liver function, which affects how well you break down hormones. It may also increase your risk of developing breast cancer. [17] 
  • Consume an overall low carbohydrate, non-inflammatory diet of organic whole foods, which supply nutrients, antioxidants, and food for a healthy gut microbiome. Cruciferous vegetables, which provide indole-3-carbinol and convert to DIM, can change estrogens to a more favorable balance. [18] 
  • Follow a Personalized Nutrition Program based on your food allergy test results. 
  • Specific nutrient-dense foods: Liver/organ meats, sauerkraut, and microgreens for added nutrition. Liver is nature’s multivitamin, according to Dr. Flynn.  
  • Focus on antioxidants – Including things like turmeric, green tea, berries, dark chocolate, and other botanicals high in polyphenols can help keep inflammation under control. 
  • Omega-3-rich foods – Wild-caught salmon, herring, sardines, walnuts, and ground flaxseeds provide omega-3s and help lower inflammation. [19] 

Sticking to a healthy diet is essential, but supplements can help the body heal the gut and brain. 

Dietary Supplements to Support Women Going Through Breast Cancer

Herbal supplements and other nutritional supplements can be incredibly supportive in supporting hormonal balance through breast cancer treatment. While every woman is different, some supplements The Wellness Way may use to support women going through breast cancer may include the following:  

  • Boswellia – Boswellia, or frankincense, is known for its anti-cancer properties. Several species are effective, including Boswellia serrata. [20] 
  • Green Tea Extract – Green tea is a rich source of the polyphenol epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which may reduce breast cancer risk. [21] 
  • Gymnema – Gymnema is known for its blood sugar-balancing properties and ability to reduce sugar cravings. However, it may also work as an anti-cancer agent in breast cancer cells. [22] 
  • Passionflower – Chrysin, a flavonoid in passionflower, may help block aromatase, lowering the risk of developing breast cancer. [23] 
  • Turmeric – Turmeric and its active constituent, curcumin, may protect the cells against oxidative stress, reducing cancer risk. [24] 
  • Calcium D-Glucarate – Calcium D-Glucarate is a compound that naturally occurs in certain vegetables and fruits. It has cancer-preventative properties making it a good supplement for breast cancer patients. [25] 
  • DIM DIM is short for diindolylmethane. It’s a natural compound formed in the body when you consume cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cabbage. There’s evidence that DIM may support the body in avoiding breast cancer. [26]  
  • Immune Glandular Immune Glandular supplies desiccated spleen, thymus, and liver from pasture-raised New Zealand animals. It has constituents of immune-supporting organs and may help those dealing with breast cancer. 
  • BioActive Selenium Selenium is a trace mineral essential for the immune response, which may reduce breast cancer risk. [27] 
  • Zinc – Zinc is well-known for supporting the immune system and has anti-cancer mechanisms. [28] 
  • Megabiotic Formula – These and other probiotic strains help the body keep infections and inflammation under control in the gut and throughout the body. 
  • Mushroom Immune Beta-glucans in mushrooms are well absorbed orally and have been researched extensively for their immune benefits relating to cancer and blood sugar support. [29] 
  • Chaga – Known as the king of mushrooms, chaga is known for its many anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and immune system benefits. It’s been shown to cause breast cancer cells to self-destruct. [30] 
  • Reishi – Known as the queen of mushrooms, Reishi has been used for centuries to support the immune response, regulate sleep patterns, and more. It’s been shown to slow the proliferation of breast cancer cells in animal studies. [31] 
  • Turkey Tail Turkey tail supports innate and adaptive immune responses and has antitumor mechanisms. [32] 
  • Wellness Greens – Greens are essential for supporting the immune system and supplying liver-supporting compounds. Wellness Greens is a blend of kale, Brussels sprouts, and wheat grass, supplying chlorophyll and indole-3-carbinol.  
  • Omega-3 fatty acids – Fish oil is a natural anti-inflammatory that improves the body’s response to cancer. [33] 
  • Vitamin C – Vitamin C is an antioxidant needed to combat free radicals in the body, keeping them from damaging cells and causing them to become cancerous. It’s often given in IV form for cancer patients. [34] 

Every woman is different – herbal remedies that work for one woman may not work for another. Part of that is due to body chemistry, including genetics and allergenic responses, and part is due to differences in the contributing causes of breast cancer.  

Lifestyle Changes & Complementary Therapies for Women Going Through Breast Cancer

Other natural treatments for supporting menopause are lifestyle changes and other alternative therapies that bring balance to the immune system and hormones, including the following: 

  • Reduce stress – Stress can suppress the immune response, allowing cancer cells to proliferate. Find what lowers stress for you, whether it’s music therapy, artistic endeavors, ecotherapy (time spent outside), or even spending time playing with children.
  • Increase physical activity Regular exercise helps the body in many ways, including oxygenation and improving the immune response. [35] 
  • Get Adequate Sleep Women need more sleep than men! Make sure you go to bed by 10 pm to reduce blue light exposure at night. Those doing shift work are at increased risk for breast cancer. [36] 

DISCLAIMER: These things should be a part of your normal daily lifestyle. The Wellness Way is not giving any medical advice. These are simply A Different Perspective on what you can do. You’re more likely to have normal hormone levels when doing these things regularly. These supplements and therapies are not a replacement for any medication. We are carpenter doctors and practitioners, not firemen. If you want medical advice, ask your fireman doctor. 

Be a well-informed patient! Here are some resources for learning more about menopause. 

Educational Resources for Breast Cancer

Videos & Webinars Related to Breast Cancer

Dr. Jenn Simmons on Mammograms: ADP With Dr. Patrick Flynn
Estrogen Part 1 | A Different Perspective | Episode 132
Estrogen Part 2 | A Different Perspective | Episode 133
Breast Cancer Series Part 1 | ADP | May 7, 2022
Breast Cancer Series Part 2: What Influences Cancer Development? | ADP | May 21, 2022
Breast Cancer Series Part 3: Q&As on Breast Cancer | ADP | May 28, 2022
Breast Cancer Series Part 4: Sugar & Breast Cancer | ADP | June 18, 2022
Breast Cancer Series Part 5: PCOS and Breast Cancer | ADP | July 2, 2022

Articles to Support Women Going Through Breast Cancer

How Do You Know if Your Hormones Are Messed Up?
Hidden Hormone Hustler: What’s Stealing Hormonal Balance?
Thinking Outside the Pink Box With Thermography
Put Down the Pink Ribbon: Estrogen is NOT a Hormone
Can Birth Control Pills Mess with Your Immune Response?
Thermography: A Non-Invasive, Pain-Free Tool for Supporting Women’s Health 

CONNECT WITH US!

We invite you to connect with us! Find an event at a clinic near you! Follow us on social media. Tune in to A Different Perspective each Saturday morning LIVE to get cutting-edge training directly from Dr. Patrick Flynn. Set up a no-obligation health consult with one of our doctors today. The best is yet to come! Think differently – and THRIVE. Reach out to a Wellness Way clinic today to get thorough testing and start on your health journey. We are here to help!  

References

  1. Breast cancer – Symptoms and causes – Mayo Clinic 
  2. Breast Cancer Types, Factors & Diagnosis | Cedars-Sinai 
  3. Antibiotic use in relation to the risk of breast cancer – PubMed (nih.gov) 
  4. Oral Contraceptives (Birth Control Pills) and Cancer Risk – NCI 
  5. Diet and breast cancer: the possible connection with sugar consumption – PubMed (nih.gov) 
  6. Food Allergies: The Basics – PMC (nih.gov) 
  7. Endocrine disrupting chemicals and breast cancer: a systematic review of epidemiological studies – PubMed (nih.gov) 
  8. Cadmium exposure and risk of breast cancer: A dose-response meta-analysis of cohort studies – PubMed (nih.gov) 
  9. The Health Effects of Aluminum Exposure – PubMed (nih.gov) 
  10. Enhanced risks of cancer from protracted exposures to X- or gamma-rays: a radiobiological model of radiation-induced breast cancer – PubMed (nih.gov) 
  11. The Association Between Adverse Childhood Experiences and Risk of Cancer in Adulthood: A Systematic Review of the Literature – PMC (nih.gov) 
  12. High glucose promotes breast cancer proliferation and metastasis by impairing angiotensinogen expression – PubMed (nih.gov) 
  13. Ketogenic Diets and their Therapeutic Potential on Breast Cancer: A Systemic Review – PubMed (nih.gov) 
  14. In vitro evaluation of immunomodulatory activities of goat milk Extracellular Vesicles (mEVs) in a model of gut inflammation – PubMed (nih.gov) 
  15. The Role of Cow’s Milk Consumption in Breast Cancer Initiation and Progression – PubMed (nih.gov) 
  16. The importance of the ratio of omega-6/omega-3 essential fatty acids – PubMed (nih.gov) 
  17. Alcohol intake and breast cancer in the European prospective investigation into cancer and nutrition – PubMed (nih.gov) 
  18. Indole-3-Carbinol | Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (mskcc.org) 
  19. Omega-3 Fatty Acids And Inflammation – You Are What You Eat! – PubMed (nih.gov) 
  20. Pharmacological evidences for cytotoxic and antitumor properties of Boswellic acids from Boswellia serrata – PubMed (nih.gov) 
  21. The Role of EGCG in Breast Cancer Prevention and Therapy – PubMed (nih.gov) 
  22. Anti-Tumor Potential of Gymnema sylvestre Saponin Rich Fraction on In Vitro Breast Cancer Cell Lines and In Vivo Tumor-Bearing Mouse Models – PubMed (nih.gov) 
  23. Modulation of aromatase activity by diet polyphenolic compounds – PubMed (nih.gov) 
  24. Curcumin from Turmeric Rhizome: A Potential Modulator of DNA Methylation Machinery in Breast Cancer Inhibition – PubMed (nih.gov) 
  25. Potential use of d-glucaric acid derivatives in cancer prevention – ScienceDirect 
  26. Chemopreventive properties of 3,3′-diindolylmethane in breast cancer: evidence from experimental and human studies – PubMed (nih.gov) 
  27. Selenium and Breast Cancer Risk: Focus on Cellular and Molecular Mechanisms – PubMed (nih.gov) 
  28. Role of Zinc in Immune System and Anti-Cancer Defense Mechanisms – PubMed (nih.gov) 
  29. Anti-infectious and Anti-tumor Activities of β-glucans – PubMed (nih.gov) 
  30. Chaga mushroom extract induces autophagy via the AMPK-mTOR signaling pathway in breast cancer cells – PubMed (nih.gov) 
  31. Ganoderma lucidum (Reishi) suppresses proliferation and migration of breast cancer cells via inhibiting Wnt/β-catenin signaling – PubMed (nih.gov) 
  32. Successful Treatment of HER2-neu-positive Breast Cancer With Paclitaxel and Trastuzumab Supplemented With Turkey Tail Mushrooms and Community Support – PubMed (nih.gov) 
  33. Omega-3 fatty acids for breast cancer prevention and survivorship – PubMed (nih.gov) 
  34. High-dose vitamin C enhances cancer immunotherapy – PubMed (nih.gov) 
  35. The Mechanisms and Effects of Physical Activity on Breast Cancer – PubMed (nih.gov) 
  36. Shift Work and Breast Cancer – PubMed (nih.gov) 

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Disclaimer: This content is for educational purposes only. It’s not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your Wellness Way clinic or personal physician, especially if currently taking prescription or over-the-counter medications. Pregnant women, in particular, should seek the advice of a physician before trying any herb or supplement listed on this website. Always speak with your individual clinic before adding any medication, herb, or nutritional supplement to your health protocol. Information and statements regarding dietary supplements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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