In light of October being Breast Cancer Awareness month, the pink wagons and ribbons were donning retail stores, subtly attracting donors. Breast cancer is the second most common type of cancer among women in the U.S. Lung cancer is the leading cause of death due to cancer; breast cancer is second.1 Why don’t we have Lung Cancer Awareness month to raise awareness about lung cancer if it is the leading cause of cancer?
True, breast cancer has become an epidemic in recent years and has reached extreme proportions. According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 230,480 new cases were diagnosed in 2011. Men are not immune.2 However, raising awareness appears to have frightened many women into needless biopsies and overuse of mammograms. For decades we have been told that mammograms save lives. With the increasing rate of breast cancer, it becomes clear that conventional strategies in diagnosis and treatment are riddled with flaws. Are we doing more harm than good?
Here are a few facts:
- Most cancers found by mammograms are slow-growing cancers.
- Normal breast tissue can hide a true breast cancer so that it doesn’t show up on the mammogram. This is what is called a false negative.
- Abnormalities that look like a cancer can turn out to be normal. This is called a false positive.
- Frequent mammograms raise the risk of radiation exposure, which can raise the risk of developing cancer.
- Mammograms don’t save lives. Consider a recent admission from a Dartmouth professor of medicine to Fox News that screening had no effect on saving lives.
- Only five to ten percent of breast cancer cases are inherited.
- Researchers estimate that almost 73 percent of breast cancers are likely caused by lifestyle and dietary factors and environmental toxins. This means that risk is beyond genetics.
Cancer is the symptom, not the cause. The body is revealing that it is sick and common causes are toxic exposures, radiation exposure, hormonal imbalances, emotional imbalances, poor diet and an acidic internal environment, to name a few. In addition, oral contraceptives and hormone replacement therapy increase the likelihood of cancer. The hormones melatonin and vitamin D are also protectants against breast cancer and deficiencies put a woman at risk.5 A host of environmental toxicants compound the risk as well, including but not limited to, parabens and phthalates found in lotions, plastics and register receipts.
Early detection screenings
While the goal of any screening is to detect cancer early, there are now several different screenings available. The earlier the cancer is caught, the easier and less invasive the treatment, along with higher survival rates.
- Mammograms are approved as a device for locating cancerous tumors, but exposes women to radiation, and not recommended for women under 39 years of age.
- Ultrasounds or MRIs confirm tumor location
- Biopsy establishes diagnosis for cancer
Another not so common screening is called Thermography. Thermography is a technology backed by scientific literature and was first used in 1956. It captures the heat from the surface of the body using an infrared camera. The camera is able to detect subtle physiological and functional changes revealed on a computer. It is a current and future risk assessment tool used in conjunction with other FDA-approved devices listed above to provide even higher accuracy. Because tumors have a higher temperature than normal tissue, Thermography picks up aggressive tumors very well and can help determine risk for developing breast cancer. We are not looking for tumors or calcifications. Rather, we are looking for functional processes that could lead to the formation of a tumor. Thermography is a tool that can signal activity from a cancer or activity that may lead to cancer in the future.
According to Bruce Rind, M.D., Thermography is like headlights of a car; they show you the path you are traveling, while Mammography is the rearview mirror; it reflects what has already occurred. Take cholesterol tests as another example. You find out you are high risk for cholesterol with a result of 200. If you manage it with diet and exercise and other nutrition from your nutritionist, you can reduce the risk of getting a heart attack or stroke. This is the same goal we have at Center for Holistic Health and Nutrition. We find a risk, we manage your health with nutrition and lifestyle adjustments and reduce the risk of breast cancer or disease process. Thermography is non-invasive, does not use radiation, is safe and comfortable and a valuable adjunct to Mammography.6 In addition, this technology predicts breast cancer eight to ten years before any other test, giving women hope in preventing cancer and in the ability to do something about it early.
- Centers for disease control and prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/dcpc/data/women.htm.
- American Cancer Society. http://www.cancer.org/research/cancerfactsfigures/breastcancerfactsfigures/breast-cancer-facts-and-figures-2011-2012
- Saputo, Len. “Mammotherms.” Health Medicine Institute
- “Breast cancer screening: New study suggests benefit of early mammograms” Rachel Rettner, Fox New 9/9/13, foxnews.com
- Weitsman GE, et al. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2003 Dec;1010:437-40
- Y. R. Parisky. Efficacy of Computerized Infrared Imaging Analysis to Evaluate Mammographically Suspicious Lesions. USC/Norris Cancer Center, 2002
- Preetha Anand, Ajaikumar B. Kunnumakara, Chitra Sundaram, Kuzhuvelil B. Harikumar, Sheeja T. Tharakan, Oiki S. Lai, Bokyung Sung, and Bharat B. Aggarwal. Cancer is a Preventable Disease that Requires Major Lifestyle Changes. Pharm Res. 2008 September; 25(9): 2097–2116. Published online 2008 July 15. doi: 10.1007/s11095-008-9661-9
If you would like a consultation on Thermography, Christine Andrew can be reached at 707-451-4058. Christine is a certified nutrition consultant and a functional medicine practitioner. She operates Center for Holistic Health and Nutrition at 348 Cernon St. Ste A in downtown Vacaville.