..The Intuitive Times
Naturopathic View


A Naturopath View on Breast Health
and Breast Cancer

by Dr. Sat Dharma Kaur, N.D.

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Editor's note: Ten years ago, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. At the time, there were few complementary practitioners and information was scarce. I had an insatiable thirst to research and find all that I could on complementary approaches to healing and wellness, including taking a Holistic Nutrition Course through correspondence. I believe that both modern medicine and complementary approaches are valuable. I was fortunate enough to have complete trust in all my modern medicine (allopathic) doctors. I truly was gifted with the treatment and expertise that God sent my way. It is wonderful to be able to share with you this article, as I feel that Dr. Sat Dharam Kaur, ND, has presented the most inclusive complementary view on breast health/breast cancer that I have seen. Up to this point, I had come across only one researcher who talked about the benefits of rebounding with respect to the lymphatic system. Dr. Kaur is the only other researcher I've come across to include this information. Times have changed. What took me years to research on my own is now available through her book, which is nicely summarized here. The Natural Choice Journal is proud to feature Dr. Kaur's book, "A Call to Woman, The Healthy Breast Programme and Workbook: A Naturopath's Guide to Preventing Breast Cancer" and make it available to you.
Sandra King

One of the things that sets humans apart from many other species is our ability to understand cause and effect and to make conscious choices regarding our well-being and our future. We set goals for the coming years, we save for our children's education, we plan for our retirement. It is with overwhelming sadness that I reflect upon the unconscious choices we make every day that undermine our planetary future and add to the plethora of risk factors for breast cancer. Many of these are choices of convenience - like using the birth control pill, spraying our lawns with pesticides, packaging and storing food in plastic containers, and flushing the toilet - which indirectly threaten the survival of our species and many other glorious inhabitants of this ailing planet. We live in denial of the effects of these and other daily actions. We must make more conscious choices for our breast health and for the planet.

Breast cancer is the leading cause of death for women in Canada between the ages of 35 and 55. It plucks us in the prime of our lives. One of us will be diagnosed with the disease every 30 minutes. In North America, one in nine of us will be diagnosed with it at some point in our lifetimes. In the 1920's, when my grandmother was a young woman, pregnant with my mother, and half of my cellular DNA was present in the ovaries of the fetus in my grandmother's belly, one in 20 women was diagnosed with breast cancer. I have a daughter who is twelve. If the trend continues, her granddaughters will face a risk of 1 in 3. Who will nourish the young?

Breast milk ought to be one of the most prized and protected commodities on the planet, certainly more precious than oil or gas, for our survival depends on it. Without it, we forfeit the perfect food for the next generation. When I nursed my three children and if you nursed your children, our breast milk contained at least 17 pesticides, 13 furans, 65 PCBs, 10 dioxins and 30 other organochlorines. In only six months of breast feeding, an infant in Canada, the United States and Europe receives the maximum recommended lifetime dose of dioxin and 5 times the allowable limit of PCBs set by international standards for a 150 pound adult. A woman passes half of her lifetime accumulation of dioxins and PCBs on to her child when she nurses for just six months. These contaminants in breast milk affect the neurological, glandular and immune health of our children for life. PCBs alone are linked to immune deficiency, chronic ear infections, learning disabilities, thyroid abnormalities and attention deficit disorders in children. People who eat fish regularly from the north shore of the St. Lawrence River in Quebec have a mean PCB level of 6 parts per million, which is over 10 times higher than the average Canadian's. The St. Lawrence Estuary contains one of the highest concentrations of PCBs in the world.

Animal studies have shown that the chemicals released from one nursing mother are still present in offspring 5 generations later. They cross the placental barrier during pregnancy and are mobilized from our bodies' fat store into breast milk when we nurse. What does it mean when this perfect food has no laws that protect it, no health practitioners who systematically test its purity, when infant nutrition is laced with hormone-disrupting, cancer-producing contaminants, and when the chemical industry is self-regulated and supported by government? How did we go so wrong?

In the last 10 years, it has been found that a certain class of environmental chemicals called organochlorines are able to mimic estrogen. These include many chemicals present in pesticides, plastics, PCBs, pulp and paper manufacturing, sewage treatment and solvents. By far the greatest amount is used in the production of PVC plastic. There are many problems associated with the use of these chemicals. One is that they are persistent. They are stable molecules that resist breakdown in the environment or by our detoxification mechanisms, persisting for decades or centuries. Because they don't easily break down, organochlorines steadily accumulate in the global environment and are dispersed worldwide through air and water. They concentrate in the fatty tissues of animals and humans and move up the food chain. The more dairy, fish and meat we eat, the higher our load of persistent chemicals that mimic estrogen in our bodies. They remain in our tissues for life and we pass them on to each successive generation in increasing amounts. The effects of many of these chemicals are synergistic. Two different pesticides together in minute doses have been found to be 1000 times more potent in affecting human estrogen receptors than either chemical alone. Unless we eat organic food, we ingest these every day.

We can make conscious choices to protect ourselves and future generations from the cumulative effects of hormone-disrupting chemicals. We can eat lower on the food chain, consuming a primarily vegetarian diet, and avoiding or minimizing meat, fish and dairy. We can choose to exercise our power as consumers and stop buying plastic, particularly PVC plastic and food stored in plastic. We can grow or buy organic food and ask our supermarket to stock it. We can educate our neighbours who spray their lawns about the effects of pesticides on health and find alternatives to chemical sprays. We can become activists and demand that government and industry phase out PVC plastic and other hormone-disrupting chemicals. We can support the World Wildlife Fund, the Sierra Club, Greenpeace and other organizations that are trying to make a difference. We can maintain a weekly schedule of saunas, through which we will sweat out many toxic chemicals. Intense sauna programs can eliminate more than 90 percent of the chemicals stored in our fat cells when done in a particular way, preceded by exercise and ingestion of a few supplements. With a supervised program, this could be accomplished in as little as three weeks. Breast cancer prevention begins before conception. Whether you are a man or a woman, if you plan to have children one day, do an intense sauna detoxification at least 6 months before conceiving. If you have children, take them into the sauna with you at least once weekly. There is evidence that certain homeopathic products designed specifically for cellular detoxification, such as the Phonix brand, are also effective in eliminating nearly 80 percent of our body burden of chemicals when taken over a 2 month period.

To protect ourselves from the damage caused by nuclear radiation, we can consume at least 2 tablespoons of seaweed daily such as dulse, kelp or nori, and learn to cook with them. Sea vegetables contain sodium alginate, which is able to bind to radioactive substances which can then be excreted. A diet rich in antioxidants or supplements containing vitamin E, and C, beta carotene, grape seed, coenzyme Q10 and the minerals zinc and selenium are also protective. Pumpkin seeds and Brazil nuts provide us with food sources of zinc and selenium. We can investigate the possibility of using solar or wind power, design our houses to be more energy efficient and use fewer electrical devices to decrease our reliance on nuclear power. We can protest the use of radioactive weapons by all countries. This is dealing with the cause.

Women who are chronically exposed to electromagnetic fields have an increased breast cancer risk. Electromagnetic fields affect the pineal gland, lowering the production of melatonin. Melatonin exerts a protective effect against breast cancer. We can limit our exposure to electromagnetic fields by keeping a distance of at least two and one half feet from electrical currents and appliances, particularly where we sleep or spend most of our waking hours. Move your clock radio further away from your bed and spend less time in front of your computer.

There are many other preventable causes of breast cancer, including several hormonal factors. Estrogen is a hormone produced by the ovaries from puberty through to menopause. Estrogen acts only on tissues that have receptors for it. The hormone attaches to the receptor and then is able to activate the DNA or genetic material of the cell. Receptors for estrogen are present in our breasts, uterus, ovaries, vagina, bone, skin, brain and other tissues. Estrogen promotes cell division, especially in tissues that have a high number of estrogen receptors, such as the breasts and uterus. As more cell division occurs, more mistakes can be made in DNA replication. If a carcinogen such as a chemical, excess radiation, toxic metals like cadmium or lead, or heated oils have damaged the DNA to begin with, estrogen multiplies the damage, promoting a cancerous growth. The more estrogen a woman is exposed to during the course of her lifetime, the greater her risk of breast cancer.

Therefore early onset of puberty, before age 11, and late menopause, say after age 53, each double a woman's risk of breast cancer. So does a menstrual cycle that occurs every 24 days rather than 28 days. The body makes several forms of estrogen. Some of them promote breast cancer and others are protective. The liver will convert the promoters into the protectors if we help it along. The extent to which the large intestine eliminates estrogen depends to a large degree on what we eat and how frequent our bowel movements are.

In order to prevent breast cancer, we can be taught to manage our estrogen levels to send it down the protective pathways and eliminate it efficiently, just as we are taught to manage our bank account or our mutual funds. Estrogen in itself is not bad - it's the metabolism of it that needs to be corrected. It needs careful management.

So how do we manage our estrogen? We can stall puberty in our daughters by keeping them on an exercise program from ages 9 through 16 and by encouraging weight loss if they are overweight. Before puberty, we can feed our daughters plenty of ground up flaxseeds and soy products. These foods have what are known as phytoestrogens in them - estrogens that can bind to the receptors on breast cells but are too weak to promote cell division and cancer. They prevent the body's stronger estrogens from attaching to the receptors. Other phytoestrogens include mung bean sprouts, red clover sprouts and pumpkin seeds.

We can help the liver convert the strong estrogens into protective estrogens through the foods, vitamins, minerals and herbs we use, and through avoiding common substances that interfere with liver function, such as coffee, alcohol, cigarettes, car exhaust, pesticides, the birth control pill and other drugs. All of these things, so much a part of our lives, will interfere with the metabolism of estrogen. One third of a raw cabbage daily, perhaps as coleslaw or juice, pushes one of the strong estrogens into a protective one. So do other raw foods in the brassica family - which include broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts and kale. Other liver protecting foods include turmeric powder, rosemary, flaxseed oil, soy products, legumes, oatmeal and spirulina. The liver relies on the B complex, particularly B6, and the vitamins E, A, C, folic acid, zinc, copper, calcium and magnesium to function well. Some of the herbs that regenerate the liver and assist in estrogen metabolism are milk thistle, dandelion, bupleurum, schizandra and chelidonium. We can take these in a tincture form to decrease our susceptibility to breast cancer.

We can help our colons eliminate estrogen through maintaining a vegetarian or almost vegetarian diet that is low in fat, using only unheated olive oil and flaxseed oil on our foods. Women who consume meat regularly have estrogen levels three times higher than vegetarian women. A diet high in meat and fat causes a specific bacteria to be formed in the large intestine that helps estrogen to be reabsorbed and recycled rather than eliminated. We can consume a high fibre diet, taking in at least 30 grams of fibre daily, as they do in Africa where the breast cancer incidence is the lowest in the world. We can accomplish this by using a tablespoon each of wheat bran and psyllium seed powder daily, using beans and whole grains regularly and eating six to nine servings of fruits and vegetables each day. A diet high in fibre reduces our breast cancer risk by 30 percent, as the fibre helps to eliminate estrogen. Women who have less than 2 bowel movements per week increase their breast cancer risk fourfold as estrogen is recycled. We should aim for at least two bowel movements per day.

Exercise improves the metabolism of estrogen. Women who do aerobic exercise at least 4 hours a week, or 35 minutes per day, decrease their breast cancer risk by between 30 to 60 percent. We can alter our lifestyles so that we do exercise daily - walking, rebounding, fitness classes - whatever we find enjoyable and can maintain for life is best.

Women need to support one another in their efforts to prevent or recover from breast cancer and work together towards planetary healing. Think of helping out an environmental group in your area that is active in decreasing the use of pesticides and/or PVC plastic. Join a support group or start your own to encourage lifestyle changes to improve your breast health. Link up with other sauna goers to make the sauna experience fun. For more ideas or information, you can view the website www.healthybreastprogram.on.ca or purchase a copy of my book, "A Call to Women: The Healthy Breast Program and Workbook," recently published by Quarry Press which is available through the Natural Choice Journal's Website.

Dr. Sat Dharma Kaur, N.D., practices Naturopath Medicine in Ontario. To see where her next workshops are happening, see our Natural Choice Happenings.

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