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October is here again and with it comes an increase in pink donned by everyone from your next door neighbor to the players on the field each weekend. This yearly tradition signifies breast cancer awareness month which emphasizes the importance of early detection and potentially life saving subsequent treatment.
But what if we took it a step further?
What if instead of simply looking to detect and treat, we placed the overwhelming emphasis on doing all we can to prevent it in the first place?
According to the WHO (World Health Organization), approximately half of all cancers are preventable if certain strategies are implemented (i.e. diet and exercise). If this is accurate, we are talking about millions of cases of cancer prevented, ultimately leading to a decrease in death, suffering and expensive cancer treatments.
Yet for some reason the act of prevention through education and lifestyle modifications continues not to be the main focus. Rather the detection of an already existing, potentially deadly disease. This train of thought which holds true for cancer, Alzheimer’s, and the current mainstream medical model can best be summed up in a 2,000 year old quote:
“Maintaining order rather than correcting disorder is the ultimate principle of wisdom. To cure a disease after it has manifest is like digging a well when one feels thirsty, or forging a weapon when the war has already begun.”
This is not to say that some of us may be more genetically predisposed to one condition or the other. Certain diseases do appear to be an ugly ornament upon the branches of many family trees. However, as the field of genetics continues to lose more and more steam in implicating inherited genes as the decisive factor in the expression and development of disease, the research and focus is slowly diverting to lifestyle and environmental influences as that decisive factor.
I am once again speaking of epigenetics. If you’ve read any past posts you know this is a reoccurring theme, and for good reason. Mounting research (including the afore cited WHO proclamation) points to environmental influences as being the determinant of whether or not certain genes are expressed, turned on, or altered, thereby leading to disease.
This type of information can prompt a wide range of emotions and reaction. If increasing research continues to point towards this being true, then the notion of being a helpless victim of your genetics goes out the window. Also out the window goes a care free, over indulgent and indiscretion filled lifestyle.
In comes the notion of personal responsibility and accountability;
the acknowledgement that our daily, routine actions do indeed generate far reaching and severe reactions;
the opportunity to utilize the latest information to your advantage and play an active role in scribing your genetic destiny.
Intelligent decisions bathed in self discipline and respect for life.
Realizing that food truly is thy medicine and beginning to eat to live rather than the other way around; all part of the empowering picture.
One more note pertaining to your role in how your genes are expressed, and ultimately the expression, progression or regression of disease. It has been noted that at any given time, our genes are expressing 20-40% of their potential. That leaves 60-80% dormant or silent. With this recognition and subsequent action based upon the fact that environmental and lifestyle factors determine what 20% is expressed, the power lies in your hands.
Will you implement the strategies that foster genetic expression leading to a life health, energy and a zest for life, or will you choose to stay ignorant to, or simply refuse to make changes that current studies implicate have a real and positive effect on the expression of your genes?
So let’s talk specifically about the contemporary topic. What can we do about breast cancer? What are some strategies we can implement in order to stack the deck in our favor and keep the genetic expression that leads to cancer quiet?
First off is a change in deodorant, namely ditching the antiperspirant. Using an antiperspirant that works by clogging the sweat glands leads to a toxic build up of chemicals and metabolic by-products that are intended to be released. A good place to start is by eliminating deodorants that contain ingredients like aluminum, phthalates, parabens or any color followed by a number as these ingredients have been shown to be potentially carcinogenic as well as powerful endocrine disruptors (which is more serious and far reaching that you may think).
Another area to address is the diet, particularly getting a hold of your blood sugar and insulin. Varying degrees of insulin resistance are all but commonplace in this country due to carb/sugar heavy meals and over indulging, coupled with a lack of physical activity. There have been insulin receptors found on tumors which have been shown to facilitate tumor growth. Thus if we have insulin spikes due to carb/sugar heavy meals or borderline resistance, we now have an abundance of insulin circulating, a portion of which can bind to a tumor and encourage growth.
To take this a step further, cancer cells have been shown to flourish off the broken down component of carbs/sugar: glucose. One way to get the insulin in check and attempt to starve the cancer out is by incorporating a fat adapted or ketogenic diet. This means our body switches over to using fat as the primary fuel rather than carbs, which emerging research is showing to not only benefit cancer patients, but actually lead to regeneration of brain cells, potentially preserving mental and cognitive health.
Let me wrap this up by saying that there is no full proof plan. You have your outliers on either side of the equation. You have the individual who lives life to a tee health wise yet still winds up suffering from a horrible disease. You also have your aunt who smoked a pack a day while drinking a pint of whiskey yet lived into her 90s.
These exceptions to the rule remain somewhat of a mystery, while simultaneously serving as an excuse for others to ignore the power of daily habits and lifestyle choices. Fueling their fire for no discipline and a hands up, life happens, victim approach.
However, the tide is turning.
The information is available.
The choice is ultimately yours and these choices made on a daily basis will lead to consequences, either good or bad in the future.
I ask again, wouldn’t you want to do all you possibly can to stack the deck in your favor?