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Like all cancers, breast cancer has gone from very rare to incredibly common, in recent years.  A woman’s lifetime risk has nearly tripled in the past 4 decades.  The right question to ask is why.  What causes breast cancer?

The biggest cause is the least “proven” because there is no funding or career advancement in research that challenges industry.  But there is no real doubt that decades of manmade toxic pollution has turned our previously life-supporting environment into a cancer causing environment.  The list includes, but is not limited to, pesticides, solvents, polyvinyl chloride (added to plastics to soften them), bisphenol-A (the lining of food cans), dioxin, flame retardants, food additives, methyl mercury, chemicals in air fresheners, cleaning products, cosmetics and deodorants, new car interiors, construction materials, styrofoam, and plastics.  Living near a paper mill,  gas station, chemical factory, airport, mine, electrical substation or golf course increases your exposure to carcinogens.  No amount of “looking for the cure” will matter as long as we keep pretending that this is not the issue.

There are other things that can increase your risk.  Breast cancer grows faster in higher concentrations of estrogen – that is why it is much more common in women than men.  Things that elevate estrogen levels include hormone replacement therapies, and exposure to manmade estrogen-like chemicals in plastics.

Working the night shift increases the risk of breast cancer.  Night work reduces melatonin levels, and normal melatonin levels appear to be important in normalizing other hormone levels.

Excess weight and inactivity increase risk.  The World Health Organization claims that weight loss and exercise could prevent 25 – 30% of breast cancer cases.

Pretty far down on the list of causes, certain genetic mutations increase breast cancer risk.  I say pretty far down, because these mutations are found in less than 1 to 5% of women with breast cancer.  Therefore, the US Prevention Services Task Force recommends against routine genetic screening.

Prevention?  First, I have to point out that “prevention” means before the problem occurs.  Wearing a helmet can prevent head trauma for motorcyclists.  When medical doctors talk about “prevention” they are generally talking about mammograms, which detect, but do not prevent, cancer.  Some tumors are detected by mammograms, some are not.  Estimates range from 25% to 80% detection.  And up to 83% of “suspicious” areas turn out to be non-cancerous.  Overall, the benefits of screening have been exaggerated.

You can’t avoid all toxins, but you can avoid some.  As much as possible, obtain organic foods, and do not eat too much fish.  Avoid trans (hydrogenated) fats.  Eat whole, real foods rather than processed, prepackaged foods and fast foods.  Don’t use pesticides around the home.  Don’t smoke.  Avoid artificial air fresheners, dryer sheets, and other synthetic products made of hormone disrupters.  Take probiotics and limit your use of antibiotics.

Cancer causing foods include refined grains and sugars – pasta, white bread, pies, cakes, candy, French fries, margarine, soda pop.  Cancer fighting foods are fresh fruits and vegetables, non-industrial poultry and meat.

Deficiencies in vitamins all correlate with increased cancer risks, so vitamin supplements help.  This includes Vitamins A, the B’s, C, D, and E!  Minerals – calcium, magnesium, zinc, etc., are protective.  So, the good news is that all the things that you want to do to be healthy in general – healthy diet, exercise, and supplements – will help lower your cancer risk, also.  And to make cancer the rarity it was 50 years ago, we need to stop manufacturing carcinogens.