By Michael A. Smith, MDbreast cancer — besides finding a cure, obviously — is to increase survival and help all women affected by this deadly disease to live the longest, healthiest lives possible. Unfortunately, despite billions of dollars invested in research, traditional medicine hasn’t been able to accomplish much at all in this department.
Fortunately, nature offers a number of options for helping breast cancer patients fight back. Below, we’ll go over the top nutrients that can help increase your odds of breast cancer survival.
Over-the-Counter Aspirin Improves Cancer SurvivalAspirin inhibits a key enzyme in the development and progression of cancer. This enzyme, cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), is overly active in many cancer cells and is implicated in the spread of cancer cells throughout the body, known as metastasis. Scientists believe that COX-2 initiates the metastatic spread of cancer cells by developing the new blood vessels needed for feeding a growing tumor.1
By inhibiting COX-2, aspirin fights against cancer metastasis and decreases the risk of death in breast cancer patients. In one study, over 4,000 women with breast cancer were monitored for their aspirin intake. The women who took aspirin for at least 1 year had a 71% decreased risk of death compared to those who didn’t take it. The authors concluded: “Taking aspirin may become a simple, low-cost, and safe tool to help women with breast cancer live longer, healthier lives.”2
Plant Lignans Slow Cancer Tumor GrowthLignans are polyphenols (antioxidants) found in plants that provide powerful health benefits. Some good food sources of lignans are flax seeds and pumpkin seeds.
One of the earlier studies using lignans involved 50 women who were waiting to have breast cancer surgery. One group received 25 grams of ground flax seed daily, while the other group received no flax seed. After surgery, it was found that the flax seed group had slower growing tumors compared to the placebo group.3
In a more recent study, 2,650 women with breast cancer were studied for their lignan intake. Those with the highest lignan intake had a 40% decreased risk of death, compared to women with the lowest lignan intake. The authors concluded: “Postmenopausal breast cancer patients with high estimated lignans [intake] may have a better survival.”4
Cruciferous Vegetables Optimize Estrogen MetabolismThere are two powerful estrogen metabolites: 16-hydoroxy and 2-hydroxy metabolites. The 16-hydroxy metabolite has been implicated in unhealthy cell growth while the 2-hydroxy metabolite is more protective and can enhance healthy cell growth.
Researchers have studied the effects of cruciferous vegetables on estrogen metabolism. In particular, they’ve studied two compounds found in cruciferous vegetables: indole-3-carbinol (I3C) and diindolylmethane (DIM).
The first study was with I3C. It showed that women at high risk of breast cancer who were given I3C improved the 2-hydroxy to 16-hydroxy ratio by 66%.5 In another study, women with breast cancer who were given DIM showed a 47% improvement in their 2-hydroxy to 16-hydroxy-estrogen ratios.6
Coriolus Mushrooms Supercharge the Immune SystemThe immune system plays a major role in both preventing and treating cancer. In particular, a type of immune cell commonly called a “Natural Killer” cell travels throughout your circulation looking for cancer cells to kill.
Many things can contribute to the loss of your Natural Killer cell number and function, including cancer surgery. This is unfortunate because many women with breast cancer undergo surgery to remove their tumors. The result can be devastating, as without these powerful immune cells, cancer can spread to sites away from the primary tumor.
Coriolus mushrooms have been shown to improve immune function7, possibly by enhancing Natural Killer cell number and function. Now, the following study was focused on gastric cancer, but we believe that the results can be extrapolated to breast cancer.
Gastric cancer patients were given chemotherapy with or without coriolus mushroom extract. Patients receiving coriolus experienced a greater 5-year disease-free rate and 5-year survival rate than the control group.8
Build Your Breast Health Nutritional Supplement PyramidPicture a pyramid. That’s what your supplement regimen should look like. Within the pyramid are three distinct levels to address. Let’s look at each one:
1. Foundation Level — This is the bottom level or the base of the pyramid. The supplements here are considered “foundational” because they provide the essential nutrients that we all need for optimal health. The supplements in the foundation level include a multivitamin, CoQ10 and omega-3 fats. Everyone should be taking these, including breast cancer patients.
2. Prevention Level — This “middle” level includes the important nutrients that prevent the growth and spread of unhealthy, cancerous cells. Nutrients like cruciferous vegetables, extra vitamin D, and aspirin meet these criteria perfectly for breast cancer patients.
3. Optimization Level — This is the top level of the pyramid. These supplements are designed to optimize the benefits of the nutrients in the two lower levels and provide some additional benefits on their own. Nutrients at the top for breast cancer patients may include soy proteins, lignans and green tea.
Increase Your Odds of Living a Long and Healthy LifeBuilding yourself a breast health supplement regimen can seriously increase your odds of living a long and healthy life. Also, be sure to remember that you’re not alone.
If you’d like help with building your own breast health supplement pyramid, the Life Extension® health advisors are always ready and willing to guide you through process. Give them a call today at 1-800-226-2370.
Want to learn more? Take a look at our detailed health protocol on breast cancer here.
Are you living with breast cancer yourself? If so, what natural treatments have helped?
- Cell. 1998 May 29;93(5):705-16.
- J Clin Oncol. 2010 Mar 20;28(9):1467-72.
- Clin Cancer Res. 2005 May 15;11(10):3828-35.
- Br J Cancer. 2011 Oct 11;105(8):1151-7. doi: 10.1038/bjc.2011.374.
- Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2005 Aug;14(8):1953-60.
- Nutr Cancer. 2004;50(2):161-7.
- Int Immunopharmacol. 2004 Feb;4(2):201-11.
- Lancet. 1994 May 7;343(8906):1122-6.
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