Epigenetic Factors to Reduce Breast Cancer Risk – Part 2

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Epigenetic Factors to Reduce Breast Cancer Risk – Part 2

One of the most fascinating areas of breast cancer research has to be the field of epigenetics and how genes can be expressed differently by using external factors, all without altering the DNA structure of those genes. At first ridiculed by the scientific community, epigenetics is now one of the fastest growing fields of science.

Continuing on from Part 1 in my series of epigenetic factors to reduce breast cancer risk, this article will cover the nutrients that help to prevent damage to DNA.

PART 2 – NUTRIENTS THAT CAN PREVENT DAMAGE TO DNA

As with many other types of cancer, breast cancer generally begins with something happening to alter the DNA function or structure of just one cell. This can trigger that cell to become malignant and a tumor to form, and that process can take months or years, depending upon hundreds of different factors. Other things that are happening when the tumor is forming (to put it in simplest terms) is that a tumor suppressor gene has become silenced or a tumor promoter gene has been activated and allows unchecked cell replication.

The good news is that many nutrients have the ability to prevent and protect against DNA damage. Here is the list of the best 20.

The Top 20 Nutrients that Prevent DNA Damage

1. Curcumin, derived from turmeric [1], [2], [3], [48]

2. Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), derived from green tea [4], [5], [6], [47], [48]

3. Coenzyme Q10 [7], [8], [9]

4. Di-indolyl-methane (DIM) [10], [11], [48]

5. Coffee [12], [13]

6. N-acetylcysteine (NAC) [14], [15], [23]

7. Melatonin, a natural hormone [16], [17]

8. Lycopene, derived from tomato, watermelon, guava, papaya [18], [19]

9. Pomegranate [20], [21], [22]

10. Resveratrol, derived from grapes, blueberries [23], [24], [25], [48]

11. Selenium [26], [27], [48]

12. Silibinin and silymarin, derived from milk thistle [28], [29], [30], [31], [53]

13. Sulforaphane, derived from cruciferous vegetables [32], [33], [34], [48]

14. Tocotrienols, derived from vitamin E [35], [36], [37], [38]

15. Genistein and diadzein, derived from soybeans [39], [40], [41], [48]

16. Garlic and onions [42], [43], [44], [45], [48]

17. Quercetin [46], [47], [48]

18. Luteolin, derived from celery, oregano, thyme, chili peppers [47], [49], [50], [52]

19. Apigenin, derived from celery, parsley, onions, grapefruit, oranges, chamomile tea [47], [51], [52]

20. Chrysin, derived from passionflower [47], [52], [53]

Mind-Body Interventions Also Play A Role in DNA Repair

A recent study [54] carried out by scientists from Coventry University In the UK and Radboud University in the Netherlands demonstrated that mind-body interventions can have an enormous impact on DNA repair. The study analyzed more than 10 years worth of research studies on how mind-body interventions impact DNA and they found that things like yoga, meditation and Tai Chi can actually reverse the deleterious effects that things like stress and other factors might otherwise have on DNA.

The researchers found that people who regularly practice mind-body interventions enjoy a reduction in the production of inflammatory markers. This in turn leads to a reduction and reversal of pro-inflammatory gene expression, thus lowering  the risk of inflammation-related conditions. And as we know, breast cancer is definitely an inflammatory condition. Have a look at the study, it’s reference #54 below.

While this is not an exhaustive list, it will certainly give you a great idea how many natural substances help to protect DNA and reduce breast cancer risk. For more information on the subject of epigenetic factors that reduce breast cancer risk, please see Part 1 of this series of articles which discussed nutrients that can control regulator genes and stay tuned for upcoming articles in this 12-part series.

References:

[1] Curcumin downregulates the inflammatory cytokines CXCL1 and -2 in breast cancer cells via NfkappaB – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17999991

[2] Expression profiles of apoptotic genes induced by curcumin in human breast cancer and mammary epithelial cell lines – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16101141

[3] Curcumin inhibits breast cancer stem cell migration by amplifying the E-cadherin/ß-catenin negative feedback loop – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4445824/

[4] Green tea polyphenol and epigallocatechin gallate induce apoptosis and inhibit invasion in human breast cancer cells – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18059161

[5] Anticancer effects and molecular mechanisms of epigallocatechin-3-gallate – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5481703/

[6] Mechanism of EGCG promoting apoptosis of MCF-7 cell line in human breast cancer – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5588052/

[7] Augmented efficacy of tamoxifen in rat breast tumorigenesis when gavaged along with riboflavin, niacin, and CoQ10: effects on lipid peroxidation and antioxidants in mitochondria – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15766922

[8] Coenzyme Q10 concentrations and antioxidant status in tissues of breast cancer patients – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10936586

[9] Exogenous coenzyme Q10 modulates MMP-2 activity in MCF-7 cell line as a breast cancer cellular model – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3004807/

[10] Inhibitory effects of 3,3′-diindolylmethane on epithelial-mesenchymal transition induced by endocrine disrupting chemicals in cellular and xenograft mouse models of breast cancer – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28844962

[11] Chemopreventive properties of 3,3′-diindolylmethane in breast cancer: evidence from experimental and human studies – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5059820/

[12] Coffee consumption rapidly reduces background DNA strand breaks in healthy humans: Results of a short-term repeated uptake intervention study – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26632023

[13] Inhibition of DNA methylation by caffeic acid and chlorogenic acid, two common catechol-containing coffee polyphenols – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16081510

[14] N-acetyl-cysteine promotes angiostatin production and vascular collapse in an orthotopic model of breast cancer – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1615662/

[15] N-Acetyl-L-cysteine protects thyroid cells against DNA damage induced by external and internal irradiation – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28871381

[16] Melatonin modulates aromatase activity and expression in endothelial cells – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23450505

[17] Melatonin modulates aromatase activity in MCF-7 human breast cancer cells – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15683469

[18] In vitro effects and mechanisms of lycopene in MCF-7 human breast cancer cells – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28407181

[19] Lycopene acts through inhibition of IkB kinase to suppress NF-kB signaling in human prostate and breast cancer cells – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26779636

[20] The antioxidant potency of Punica granatum L. Fruit peel reduces cell proliferation and induces apoptosis on breast cancer – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21861726

[21] Pomegranate Fruit as a Rich Source of Biologically Active Compounds – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4000966/

[22] Antiproliferative effects of pomegranate extract in MCF-7 breast cancer cells are associated with reduced DNA repair gene expression and induction of double strand breaks – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23359482

[23] Resveratrol and N-acetylcysteine block the cancer-initiating step in MCF-10F cells – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4425208/

[24] Resveratrol promotes MICA/B expression and natural killer cell lysis of breast cancer cells by suppressing c-Myc/miR-17 pathway – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29029468

[25] Antioxidant activities of novel resveratrol analogs in breast cancer – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28960787

[26] Dietary Supplementation with Methylseleninic Acid Inhibits Mammary Tumorigenesis and Metastasis in Male MMTV-PyMT Mice – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29032404

[27] Selenium modifies the osteoblast inflammatory stress response to bone metastatic breast cancer – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2791325/

[28] Silibinin suppresses EGFR ligand-induced CD44 expression through inhibition of EGFR activity in breast cancer cells – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22110198

[29] Silibinin prevents TPA-induced MMP-9 expression by down-regulation of COX-2 in human breast cancer cells – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19715751

[30] Silibinin inhibits translation initiation: implications for anticancer therapy – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19509268

[31] Silibinin induces protective superoxide generation in human breast cancer MCF-7 cells – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19968587

[31] Anticarcinogenic effect of a flavonoid antioxidant, silymarin, in human breast cancer cells MDA-MB 468: induction of G1 arrest through an increase in Cip1/p21 concomitant with a decrease in kinase activity of cyclin-dependent kinases and associated cyclins – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9563902

[32] Efficacy of sulforaphane is mediated by p38 MAP kinase and caspase-7 activations in ER-positive and COX-2-expressed human breast cancer cells – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18090122

[33] Sulforaphane-Induced Cell Cycle Arrest and Senescence are accompanied by DNA Hypomethylation and Changes in microRNA Profile in Breast Cancer Cells – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5596436/

[34] A Novel Combination of Withaferin A and Sulforaphane Inhibits Epigenetic Machinery, Cellular Viability and Induces Apoptosis of Breast Cancer Cells – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5455001/

[35] Gamma-tocotrienol controls proliferation, modulates expression of cell cycle regulatory proteins and up-regulates quinone reductase NQO2 in MCF-7 breast cancer cells – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20683025

[36] Role of Rac1/WAVE2 Signaling in Mediating the Inhibitory Effects of Gamma-Tocotrienol on Mammary Cancer Cell Migration and Invasion – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27904039

[37] Tocotrienols and breast cancer: the evidence to date – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3250526/

[38] Gamma-tocotrienol induced apoptosis is associated with unfolded protein response in human breast cancer cells – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3123668/

[39] DNA Methylation Targets Influenced by Bisphenol A and/or Genistein Are Associated with Survival Outcomes in Breast Cancer Patients – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5448018/

[40] The Role of Soy Phytoestrogens on Genetic and Epigenetic Mechanisms of Prostate Cancer – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26298461

[41] Multi-targeted Therapy of Cancer by Genistein – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2575691/

[42] 2-Methylpyridine-1-ium-1-sulfonate from Allium hirtifolium: An anti-angiogenic compound which inhibits growth of MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231 cells through cell cycle arrest and apoptosis induction – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28624423

[43] In vitro Antiproliferative and Apoptosis Inducing Effect of Allium atroviolaceum Bulb Extract on Breast, Cervical, and Liver Cancer Cells – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5281556/

[44] Diallyl trisulfide, a chemopreventive agent from Allium vegetables, inhibits alpha-secretases in breast cancer cells – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28161636

[45] The Effects of Allicin, a Reactive Sulfur Species from Garlic, on a Selection of Mammalian Cell Lines – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5384165/

[46] Quercetin exerts synergetic anti-cancer activity with 10-hydroxy camptothecin – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28822757

[47] Plant flavonoids in cancer chemoprevention: role in genome stability – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27951449

[48] Cancer Chemoprotection Through Nutrient-mediated Histone Modifications – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5012963/

[49] Luteolin inhibits lung metastasis, cell migration, and viability of triple-negative breast cancer cells – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5207335/

[50] Luteolin suppresses the metastasis of triple-negative breast cancer by reversing epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition via downregulation of ß-catenin expression – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27959422

[51] Inhibition of MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cell proliferation and tumor growth by apigenin through induction of G2/M arrest and histone H3 acetylation-mediated p21WAF1/CIP1 expression – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26872304

[52] Dietary Flavones as Dual Inhibitors of DNA Methyltransferases and Histone Methyltransferases – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5033486/

[53] Synergistic Anticancer Effects of Silibinin and Chrysin in T47D Breast Cancer Cells – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5555536/

[54] What Is the Molecular Signature of Mind–Body Interventions? A Systematic Review of Gene Expression Changes Induced by Meditation and Related Practices – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5472657/

DISCLAIMER: The purpose of this article is to provide information. It should not be interpreted as medical advice, and is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any medical condition, or to be a substitute for advice from your health care professional. If you have breast cancer, it is important that you work closely with a health care professional to properly treat your condition and monitor your progress.

GET MY BEST TIPS on getting through breast cancer and preventing recurrences by signing up for my free e-newsletters and e-books on the right. You can also “like” me on Facebook (Marnie Clark, Breast Health Coach) to get my inspirational snippets, news and updates. I promise to do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.

Epigenetic Factors to Reduce Breast Cancer Risk – Part 1

Epigenetic Factors to Reduce Breast Cancer Risk – Part 1

Epigenetic factors to reduce breast cancer risk has been a particular interest of mine ever since I found out that I had breast cancer in 2004. I have studied everything I could lay my hands on with reference to epigenetic factors. The word means “above genetics” and is the science of how genes can be expressed differently using external factors without changing the DNA structure of those genes.

The reason epigenetics interests me so greatly is because I lost both my mother and my grandmother to breast cancer. When I was subsequently diagnosed with breast cancer myself, I was quite concerned about the so-called genetic aspect of this disease. I spoke about this with a friend of mine and I can remember saying to her “What if everything I’m doing to get well and stay well turns out not to be enough if I’m genetically predisposed to breast cancer?” Her response was to introduce me to a scientist named Bruce Lipton and a whole new way of thinking. Dr Lipton’s book “The Biology of Belief” helped me to understand that we do not have to be slaves to our genes. The book introduced me to the  concept of epigenetic factors which can influence the expression of genes.

I learned that nutrition, thoughts, exercise and quite a few other factors can influence our genes in a very powerful way. What an immensely liberating thought – that we mere humans can play a huge role in turning off the very genes that might otherwise predispose us to breast cancer.

In a series of articles, I will be sharing some of the epigenetic nutrients that provide us with the ability to alter genetic expression, thus possibly preventing or reversing breast cancer. From my best count, here are the best 11 ways they do this (and one article will be devoted to each subject):

Epigenetic nutrients can:

1. Control regulatory genes
2. Prevent damage to DNA
3. Prevent rapid cell proliferation
4. Ease or prevent cancer-promoting inflammation
5. Change malignant cells into healthy cells
6. Restore receptors on cells
7. Inhibit excess estrogen production
8. Trigger cancer cell death (apoptosis)
9. Block growth factors
10. Block angiogenesis
11. Prevent metastasis

PART 1 – NUTRIENTS THAT CAN CONTROL REGULATORY GENES

Through genetic testing, we know that there are a number of gene defects that can predispose a person to certain diseases, including breast cancer. There are quite literally hundreds of ways genes can be influenced to control, slow or stop breast cancer growth. Any of these genes, when faulty, damaged or disrupted, can put us at a higher risk for breast cancer. Fortunately, there are a number of nutrients that have epigenetic targets in cancer cells and they block these processes, and can help to prevent carcinogenesis (formation of cancer cells).

Here are but a few of the most-studied genes involved with breast cancer:

MTHFR

The MTHFR gene plays a critical role in DNA methylation. This is a much-studied and ever-expanding subject, especially for breast cancer patients. According to 2012 research done at the University of Mississippi, a number of genes become abnormally methylated in breast cancer patients. [1] Methylation involves the addition or removal of a methyl group (CH3) to a substance so that it can metabolized. Methylation takes place daily inside cells, millions of times,  and requires the presence of enzymes known as DNA methyltransferases (DNMTs) to catalyze (cause or accelerate) the process.

For example, methylation is required to convert the neurotransmitter serotonin into melatonin. Methylation is involved in converting stronger estrogens into less aggressive estrogens and that is one of the reasons it is included in this discussion. MTHFR working properly means you can break down circulating estrogen and excrete it, otherwise it can build up to dangerously high levels and this increases breast cancer risk. Hypermethylation is known to be associated with estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer. [2]

The problem isn’t just with estrogen, however. MTHFR also provides the directions to produce an enzyme called methylene tetrahydrofolate reductase, which converts inactive folate (vitamin B9) to its active form, levomefolic acid, to enable cells to utilize it. An inability to convert folate into levomefolic acid affects many metabolic processes in the body. Active folate is essential for healthy cell division, DNA synthesis and repair, heart health, good vision, brain development, memory and mood, and so much more.

Helpful Nutrients:

Epigallocatechin-3-gallate – EGCG – found in green tea [3]
Curcumin  – from turmeric [4]
Genistein – from soy [5]
Lycopene – from tomatoes and apricots [5]
Resveratrol [6]
Caffeic acid – found in apples, apicots, buckwheat bran, coffee, chia seeds [7]
Chlorogenic acid – found in apples, tomatoes, black beans, almonds, coffee beans, chia seeds [7]

BRCA1, BRCA2

Much-studied genes, BRCA1 and BRCA2 stand for breast cancer type 1 and type 2 susceptibility proteins. They provide instructions for the creation of proteins that repair damaged DNA and act as tumor suppressors. Having a mutated BRCA1/2 gene has been shown to put a person at a higher risk for breast cancer, ovarian and some other cancers. It is estimated that around 10% of breast cancer cases are caused by mutations in these genes. DNA methylation can be involved here too – a 2014 Chinese study investigating the regulation of DNMT1 (discussed above) in BRCA1-mutated breast cancer found that a transcription factor known as E2F1 was hypermethylated. Another key factor is a process known as histone deacetylation. Without getting into huge detail requiring a chemistry degree to understand it, acetylation of histones involves DNA binding proteins, activation of gene transcription and other cellular functions.  [8] Fortunately, there are a good many nutrients that can play a protective role for those with BRCA1/2 mutations:

Helpful Nutrients:

Genestein – from soy [9]
Epigallocatechin-3-gallate – EGCG, from green tea [9]
Soy foods [10]
Sulforaphane – from broccoli sprouts, cruciferous vegetables [11]
Garlic [11]
Caffeic acid – found in apples, apicots, buckwheat bran, coffee, chia seeds [7]
Chlorogenic acid – found in apples, tomatoes, black beans, almonds, coffee beans, chia seeds [7]
Resveratrol [12]
Vitamin D3 [13]

Special note for BRCA1/2 mutation carriers – when taking B-vitamins, carriers of the BRCA1/2 mutation would be well advised to consult a functional medicine doctor or integrative oncologist specifically trained to deal with this genetic mutation, because there are conflicting studies on the helpfulness of B vitamins for carriers of this mutation. One study reported that high folate levels were associated with an increased risk of breast cancer for BRCA1/2 mutation carriers [14] while another study indicated high folate levels were protective. [15]

Remember too that physical activity has also been found to be associated with a reduction in risk of breast cancer for those with BRCA1/2 mutations. [16]

P53

P53 is a tumor suppressor gene, regulating cell division by keeping cells from proliferating (growing and dividing too fast) or in an uncontrolled way. So you want this one to be working because when P53 is faulty, there is seen to be an associated increase in cancer risk. P53 is considered to be one of the most frequently mutated genes leading to cancer development.

Helpful Nutrients:

Quercetin [17]
Zinc [18]
Apigenin – found in celery, parsley, onions, grapefruit, oranges, chamomile tea [19]
Vitamin D3 [20]
Arenobufagin – isolated from Chan Su, a Traditional Chinese Medicine herb, aka Venenum Bufonis [21] (please do work with a TCM doctor when using this)
Berberine – found in goldenseal, barberry [22]

EZH2

EZH2 is a gene that has been shown in research to be a marker for more aggressive breast cancer. One study indicated “Aberrant expression of EZH2 has been associated with metastasis and poor prognosis in cancer patients.” [23]

Helpful Nutrients:

Omega 3 fatty acids (docosahexaenoic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid) [23]
Ginsenoside RH2 – from Korean red ginseng [24]
Epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) – from green tea [25]
Curcumin [26]
Sulforaphane [27]
Berberine [28]
Tanshindiol – from the Traditional Chinese Medicine herb, Danshen, or Salvia miltiorrhiza [29]
Melatonin [30]

This is by no means an exhaustive list of regulatory genes, nor the nutrients that help to influence them. The purpose of this article is merely to inform you of the ones I am aware of that do exist and as I find more, I will add them to this lists. As you look through these lists of epigenetic nutrients, you begin to notice the repetition of a few, right? I think it’s pretty clear that those are the ones to focus upon and add to your daily protocols.

References:

[1] Epigenetic events associated with breast cancer and their prevention by dietary components targeting the epigenome – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21992498

[2] DNA methylation and hormone receptor status in breast cancer – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4754852/

[3] Suppressive Effects of Tea Catechins on Breast Cancer – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4997373/

[4] Epigenetic diet: impact on the epigenome and cancer – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3197720/

[5] Modulation of gene methylation by genistein or lycopene in breast cancer cells – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18181168

[6] Trans-resveratrol alters mammary promoter hypermethylation in women at increased risk for breast cancer – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3392022/

[7] Inhibition of DNA methylation by caffeic acid and chlorogenic acid, two common catechol-containing coffee polyphenols – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16081510

[8] Regulation of DNA methyltransferase 1 transcription in BRCA1-mutated breast cancer: a novel crosstalk between E2F1 motif hypermethylation and loss of histone H3 lysine 9 acetylation – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3936805/

[9] Reversal Effects of Genistein and (-)-Epigallocatechin-3-Gallate on Repression of BRCA-1 Expression in Human Breast Cancer Cells with Activated AhR – http://www.fasebj.org/content/30/1_Supplement/42.6.short

[10] Dietary intake and breast cancer among carriers and noncarriers of BRCA mutations in the Korean Hereditary Breast Cancer Study – http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/early/2013/10/23/ajcn.112.057760.abstract

[11] Modulation of Histone Deacetylase Activity by Dietary Isothiocyanates and Allyl Sulfides: Studies with Sulforaphane and Garlic Organosulfur Compounds – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2701665/

[12] Acetylated STAT3 is crucial for methylation of tumor-suppressor gene promoters and inhibition by resveratrol results in demethylation – http://www.pnas.org/content/109/20/7765

[13] Cooperation between BRCA1 and vitamin D is critical for histone acetylation of the p21waf1 promoter and for growth inhibition of breast cancer cells and cancer stem-like cells – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4322975/

[14] Plasma folate, vitamin B-6, and vitamin B-12 and breast cancer risk in BRCA1- and BRCA2-mutation carriers: a prospective study – http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/early/2016/07/26/ajcn.116.133470

[15] The effects of plasma folate and other B vitamins on breast cancer risk in BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation carriers – http://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/content/75/15_Supplement/LB-185

[16] Effects of lifestyle and diet as modifiers of risk of breast cancer (BC) in BRCA1 and BRCA2 carriers – http://ascopubs.org/doi/abs/10.1200/JCO.2017.35.15_suppl.1505

[17] Anticarcinogenic action of quercetin by downregulation of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) and protein kinase C (PKC) via induction of p53 in hepatocellular carcinoma (HepG2) cell line – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26311153

[18] Metalloregulation of the tumor suppressor protein p53: zinc mediates the renaturation of p53 after exposure to metal chelators in vitro and in intact cells – http://www.nature.com/onc/journal/v19/n46/full/1203907a.html

[19] Evidence for activation of mutated p53 by apigenin in human pancreatic cancer – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3277744/

[20] 1,25-Dihydroxyvitamin D3 regulates T lymphocyte proliferation through activation of P53 and inhibition of ERK1/2 signaling pathway in children with Kawasaki disease – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28925469

[21] Arenobufagin Induces Apoptotic Cell Death in Human Non-Small-Cell Lung Cancer Cells via the Noxa-Related Pathway – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28892004

[22] Berberine Enhances Chemosensitivity and Induces Apoptosis Through Dose-orchestrated AMPK Signaling in Breast Cancer – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28775788

[23] Dietary omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids suppress expression of EZH2 in breast cancer cells – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2832544/

[24] 20(S)-Ginsenoside Rh2 suppresses proliferation and migration of hepatocellular carcinoma cells by targeting EZH2 to regulate CDKN2A-2B gene cluster transcription – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28928088

[25] (-)-Epigallocatechin-3-gallate and EZH2 inhibitor GSK343 have similar inhibitory effects and mechanisms of action on colorectal cancer cells – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28925507

[26] Effect and mechanism of curcumin on EZH2 – miR-101 regulatory feedback loop in multiple myeloma – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28322158

[27] The Ezh2 Polycomb Group Protein Drives an Aggressive Phenotype in Melanoma Cancer Stem Cells and is a Target of Diet Derived Sulforaphane – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4919248/

[28] Naturally occurring anti-cancer agents targeting EZH2 – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28323035

[29] Biological evaluation of tanshindiols as EZH2 histone methyltransferase inhibitors – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24767850

[30] Melatonin inhibits tumorigenicity of glioblastoma stem-like cells via the AKT-EZH2-STAT3 signaling axis – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27121240

DISCLAIMER: The purpose of this article is to provide information. It should not be interpreted as medical advice, and is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any medical condition, or to be a substitute for advice from your health care professional.  If you have breast cancer, it is important that you work closely with a health care professional to properly treat your condition and monitor your progress.

GET MY BEST TIPS on getting through breast cancer and preventing recurrences by signing up for my free e-newsletters and e-books on the right. You can also “like” me on Facebook (Marnie Clark, Breast Health Coach) to get my inspirational snippets, news and updates. I promise to do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.

The Role of Resveratrol in Breast Cancer Prevention

The Role of Resveratrol in Breast Cancer Prevention

Over the past week I have been listening to a variety of vastly interesting online talks aired in a summit entitled “Interpreting Your Genetics”. Genetics and epigenetics have been a particular interest of mine since I learned I had breast cancer back in 2004.

One of the things I worried about, especially since I had lost both my mother and her mother to breast cancer, was the possible genetic aspect of this disease. I worried about it a lot until I learned about epigenetics and how the things we eat, the thoughts we think and many other environmental factors influence our particular genetic heritage. We do not need to be slaves to our genes!

Resveratrol is a compound found primarily in the skin of red grapes, but  is also found in pomegranates, peanuts, peanut butter and a few other food sources. It is resveratrol’s role as an influencer of genetic expression that I find particularly interesting. For one thing, if you are someone who has a problem with methylation (and I will be writing about this subject very soon), meaning you have a genetic abnormality that shows you don’t methylate properly, resveratrol helps to modulate or balance that gene. One of the things I learned in the summit was that resveratrol doesn’t push the gene to excess or down-regulate it, but works to balance it. There are a variety of other natural substances that also do this, and I will be writing about them soon too!

Resveratrol Minimizes Circulating Estrogen

If the body’s ability to process circulating estrogen (and xenoestrogens) goes out of balance, this can be one of the causative factors for breast cancer. High levels of estrogen metabolites do not get excreted and are allowed to circulate and these compounds can react with DNA in breast cells. Excess estrogen (regardless of derivation) in the body is actually genotoxic (toxic to genes). Two American studies [1], [2] on resveratrol and N-acetylcysteine (NAC) found that the pair minimized the action of estrogen on MCF-10F cells (healthy human breast cells, estrogen receptor-alpha negative and aryl hydrocarbon receptor positive). Researchers stated “Through these effects, the combination of NAcCys [NAC] and Resv [resveratrol] is expected to inhibit the initiation of cancer by estrogens.” [1] For those with estrogen receptor positive breast cancer, this is VERY interesting research.

Resveratrol Mitigates Chemotherapy Damage to Heart

One 2017 animal study [3] investigated the ability of resveratrol for helping to mitigate the cardiotoxicity and damage of a commonly-used chemotherapy drug, doxorubicin. Researchers found that resveratrol prevented some of the heart damage and cardiotoxicity associated with this drug. They stated “resveratrol may be used prophylactically as a possible adjuvant therapy to minimize cardio-toxic side effects of Doxorubicin in cancer patients.”

Resveratrol Blocks Dioxin

One of the things I learned in the Interpreting Your Genetics summit is that resveratrol blocks dioxin, a highly toxic chemical compound. One article said dioxin was one of the most toxic chemicals known to science. A major source of dioxin exposure is through diet, primarily from eating beef, fish, pork, poultry and eggs (another reason to choose organically grown). So to discover that resveratrol has the ability to block dioxin is huge. I found a Canadian study released in 1999 [4] that did indicate resveratrol had antagonist activity on the cellular binding sites to which dioxin normally attaches.

It does not appear that clinical trials have yet commenced with regard to resveratrol and breast cancer, however, many other facets of health have been studied. We have clinical trials for resveratrol in the treatment of diabetes, atherosclerosis, hypertension, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, metabolic syndrome and so many more. It is clear that resveratrol has some very healing properties.

One important thing to realize is that resveratrol comes from grapes and grape skins. Grapes are very highly sprayed with chemicals, one source estimated 56 different pesticide residues were found by the USDA on conventionally grown grapes. [5] So choosing organic resveratrol thus becomes a necessity. I have sourced a very good one for you, this company ships to most countries – just change the country in the upper left-hand corner to suit your location.

References:

[1] Resveratrol and N-acetylcysteine block the cancer-initiating step in MCF-10F cells – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4425208/

[2] The Etiology and Prevention of Breast Cancer – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4522944/

[3] Prophylactic Supplementation of Resveratrol Is More Effective than its Therapeutic Use Against Doxorubicin Induced Cardiotoxicity – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5519168/

[4] Resveratrol Has Antagonist Activity on the Aryl Hydrocarbon Receptor: Implications for Prevention of Dioxin Toxicity – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10496962

[5] http://www.whatsonmyfood.org/food.jsp?food=GR

GET MY BEST TIPS on getting through breast cancer and preventing recurrences by signing up for my free e-newsletters and e-books on the right. You can also “like” me on Facebook (Marnie Clark, Breast Health Coach) to get my inspirational snippets, news and updates. I promise to do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.

Soy Proven To Be Good For Breast Cancer Survivors


Image source: freedigitalphotos.net

Soy Proven To Be Good For Breast Cancer Survivors

Just in case we had any lingering questions in our minds as to whether it is safe to eat soy after breast cancer, a brand new study confirms that it is not only safe but protective. We have a BUNCH of these studies now, yet this is one of the things I am asked with great frequency. I have written several articles about it for my website (links below) but there still seems to be so much misinformation given to women with breast cancer about soy.

If you don’t want to read this entire article, here’s the bottom line – minimally processed organic soy foods are considered safe and healthy to eat. The important takeaway – if you are going to eat soy for preventive purposes, it needs to be the type of soy that is not highly processed – whole soy such as tempeh, miso, edamame, tofu, soy milk, soy sauce. And always choose organic, non-GMO soy.

Do I eat soy? Yes! I do choose frequently to eat and enjoy whole organic soy foods. Things like miso, tofu and edamame are things I include in my diet fairly often. There are so many great recipes and dishes that include these healthy soy options.

Now for the rest of you that want all the nitty gritty research…

I love reading new research, especially when it helps us understand new things that relate to breast cancer. I love it when new research debunks old ways of thinking because it helps you to decide for yourself whether or not to give something a try. PLEASE don’t base your decision to not have soy products on something your doctor told you – mainly because many doctors are not up to speed on the latest nutrition research. I believe it’s up to us to teach them!

What’s The Perceived Problem with Soy and Breast Cancer?

The main reason we have, in the past, been warned off having soy products after breast cancer is because soybeans contain compounds known as isoflavones. Isoflavones act like weak estrogens, also termed phytoestrogens. The estrogen-like properties of soy have raised concerns in the past for women with estrogen-receptor-positive breast cancer, which is the main type of breast cancer. The worry is that the phytoestrogens might potentially influence cancer to grow. But that theory has not been proven, quite the contrary. What we are finding is that phytoestrogens occupy estrogen receptor sites on cells, preventing stronger estrogen from the body (and also environmental estrogens known as xenoestrogens) from exerting their more powerful influence. So phytoestrogens appear to have a protective and balancing effect on hormones.

The New Research

The latest study, appearing in the journal Cancer in June 2017  1 investigated the effects of soy isoflavones on breast cancer survivors. The National Cancer Institute-funded study collected data from the Breast Cancer Family Registry for 6,235 breast cancer patients over a period of 113 months (9.4 years). The program collected clinical and dietary data on participants and researchers specifically analyzed the soy intake of these women. They found that:

1. Eating foods rich in soy isoflavones was associated with reduced all-cause mortality;

2. A 21 percent decreased risk of death was enjoyed among women eating the highest amount of soy foods. This was also true for women with hormone-receptor-negative breast cancer AND women who did not have hormone therapy.

This is really interesting! The study tells us that soy isoflavones have a beneficial impact on women with breast cancer, regardless of whether their tumor was hormone-receptor positive or negative, also regardless of whether or not the women received hormone therapy such as Tamoxifen.

But Wait… There’s More!

This is not the only study on soy and breast cancer. I have four other, older, studies to share with you. In May 2012 a joint study 2 between Chinese and American researchers, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition followed 9,514 breast cancer survivors in America and China between 1991-2006. Those who consumed soy and its isoflavones had significantly reduced mortality from breast cancer and a “statistically significant reduced risk of recurrence.”

Canadian researchers investigated the same thing in 2013. The title of the study was Soy, Red Clover, and Isoflavones and Breast Cancer: A Systematic Review 3. Basically, they investigated various medical databases looking for human interventional or observational data relating to the safety and efficacy of soy and red clover isoflavones for patients with breast cancer, or at high risk. They concluded: “Soy consumption may be associated with reduced risk of breast cancer incidence, recurrence, and mortality. Soy does not have estrogenic effects in humans. Soy intake consistent with a traditional Japanese diet appears safe for breast cancer survivors. While there is no clear evidence of harm, better evidence confirming safety is required before use of high dose (=100mg) isoflavones can be recommended for breast cancer patients.

In addition to that, an American study published in Anti-Cancer Agents in Medicinal Chemistry in 2013 4 also reviewed past studies and compared the available literature, looking at the anti-cancer vs cancer-promoting effects of soy isoflavones in humans and animals. Researchers concluded “it appears that soy isoflavones do not function as an estrogen, but rather exhibit anti-estrogenic properties. However, their metabolism differs between humans and animals and therefore the outcomes of animal studies may not be applicable to humans. The majority of breast cancer cases are hormone-receptor-positive; therefore, soy isoflavones should be considered a potential anti-cancer therapeutic agent and warrant further investigation.

In a 2014 meta-analysis, which is a study that analyzes all of the research on a particular topic, published in the journal PLOS-One by Chinese researchers 5, it was found that eating soy helped to prevent breast cancer in women of all ages. Researchers found that eating soy cut the risk of breast cancer by a whopping 41 percent!

One important precaution: Supplements and protein powders containing soy protein isolate and concentrated sources of isoflavones DO appear to stimulate the growth of estrogen-dependent tumors and should be avoided. Also avoid highly processed soy products such as soy flour, soy oil, silken tofu, TVP (texturized vegetable protein) and soy isoflavone supplements. These are not proven to be good for our health.

In the end, you must do whatever feels right for you. If it’s not a good fit for you, for instance if you hate the taste or texture of tofu, no problem! Move on to something else. There are plenty of anti-cancer foods – see my page Diet and Cancer for more ideas. If you have soy allergies, obviously eating soy is not going to help you. But eating a mainly plant-based diet is hugely beneficial and helps to cut the risk of breast cancer by a huge degree (especially when combined with exercise).

Other articles that may be of interest: Phytoestrogens – Harmful Or Beneficial For Hormone Driven Breast Cancer?
Is Soy Bad For Women with Breast Cancer? A Definitive Answer

References:

[1] Dietary isoflavone intake and all-cause mortality in breast cancer survivors: The Breast Cancer Family Registry – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28263368

[2] Soy Food Intake after Diagnosis of Breast Cancer and Survival: an In-depth Analysis of Combined Evidence from Cohort Studies of Us and Chinese Women –  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3374736/

[3] Soy, Red Clover, and Isoflavones and Breast Cancer: A Systematic Review – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3842968/

[4] Soy and its Isoflavones: the Truth Behind the Science in Breast Cancer – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23919747

[5] Soy food intake after diagnosis of breast cancer and survival: an in-depth analysis of combined evidence from cohort studies of US and Chinese women – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3374736/

GET MY BEST TIPS on getting through breast cancer and preventing recurrences by signing up for my free e-newsletters and e-books on the right. You can also “like” me on Facebook (Marnie Clark, Breast Health Coach) to get my inspirational snippets, news and updates. I promise to do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.

Eating Greens and How It Affects Immune Health

Image source: rgbstock / johnnyberg

Eating Greens and How It Affects Immune Health

My mother always used to tell me “eat your greens, they’re good for you!” It turns out, mother was more right than she could possibly know.

Eating one’s greens may be even more crucial for immune health than we previously thought, according to recent research which has discovered that an immune cell population essential for intestinal health may be controlled by leafy greens in the diet.

The immune cells, termed innate lymphoid cells (“ILCs”), are located in the lining of the digestive tract. They were discovered in 2013 by researchers at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Molecular Research in Australia. [1]

Let me back-track a bit. Science has, for many years, divided the immune system into two types: innate and adaptive. Innate immunity is present at birth and does not require prior exposure to protect you against pathogens. Adaptive immunity only develops when you have been exposed to a pathogen, for instance chickenpox. Once exposed to a pathogen, your immune cells are able to recognize the invader and mount a defense against it. Adaptive immunity provides the SWAT team that identifies an invading enemy and makes the specific weapons (known as antibodies) needed to destroy it. The fascinating thing about ILCs is that they are neither innate nor adaptive, they sort of straddle the two.

ILCs include cells that have been known for decades, such as natural killer (NK) cells and lymphoid tissue-inducer (LTi) cells. NK cells are key in protecting us from cancer as they recognize a huge array of tumor cells and cancer stem cells and help to eliminate them through cytotoxicity and the production of cytokines. Other ILCs are found mainly in the mucosal lining of the gut and in other mucosal-associated lymphoid tissues, where they work hard to protect us from pathogens.

The 2013 research [2] discovered that a gene called T-bet is essential for producing these all-important ILCs. Going back to the subject of eating greens, they found that the gene responds to signals in the food we eat. They discovered that T-bet is the key gene that tells precursor cells to develop into ILCs. It does this in response to signals from the food we eat and to the presence of bacteria in the gut.

Here’s how it works. Apparently proteins in green leafy and cruciferous vegetables interact with a cell surface receptor that switches on T-bet. Researchers think that the proteins in leafy greens may be part of the same signaling pathway used by T-bet to produce ILCs.

These researchers were excited about the discovery because it has been exceedingly difficult to isolate or produce ILCs. So finding out that something as simple as leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables in the diet can turn on the gene responsible for making ILCs is noteworthy. Without eating greens and without T-bet, the body becomes more susceptible to bacterial infections and other diseases.

Beyond their role in immunity, ILCs are also found in adipose (fat) tissue where they regulate thermogenesis and prevent inflammation that may lead to metabolic syndrome, obesity-related asthma and insulin resistance. [3]

Interestingly, while reading all the research as I prepared to write this article, I came across any number of web articles that boldly denied that diet had any role to play in bolstering immunity – despite the vast amount of research that’s being published to the contrary. Some people live in an interesting land called DENIAL.

For more information on which foods help with immunity and fighting cancer, see my page Diet and Cancer.

References:

[1] Gene Discovery Reveals Importance of Eating Your Greens –
https://www.wehi.edu.au/news/gene-discovery-reveals-importance-eating-your-greens

[2] T-bet is essential for NKp46+ innate lymphocyte development through the Notch pathway –
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4076532/

[3] Innate lymphoid cells: A new paradigm in immunology – http://science.sciencemag.org/content/348/6237/aaa6566

GET MY BEST TIPS on healthy ways to beat breast cancer and prevent recurrences by signing up for my free e-newsletters and e-books on the right.  You can also “like” me on Facebook (Marnie Clark, Breast Health Coach) to get my inspirational snippets, news and updates.  I promise to do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.

I Love This New Nebulizing Essential Oil Diffuser

Organic Aromas Raindrop Nebulizing Diffuser

I Love This New Nebulizing Essential Oil Diffuser!

One of the things I love, use daily, and promote the use of to my clients, are essential oils. In a single bottle of essential oil there is so much potential! They contain so many amazing phytochemicals that are proving in research to be good for so many ailments. I’m continually finding new ways to enjoy their therapeutic benefits and diffusing is one of my favorite ways to use them. I had been using an ultrasonic (cool mist) diffuser but it just recently stopped working so I did a little looking around and found this new nebulizing essential oil diffuser by Organic Aromas.

I used to have a nebulizer diffuser years ago but it was one of the old styles that made so much noise I found it drove me crazy (well crazier than usual). It also ATE UP WAY TOO MUCH oil! It would take 20 drops at a time and that wouldn’t last too long. That’s when I switched to the ultrasonic cool mist diffuser and I still like that style except during the rainy season here in Australia. It does add some humidity to the room which is nice in the hot dry summer season but not so nice when it’s already 90% humidity outside and raining.

Anyway – it appears that nebulizer style diffusers have come a long way in the meantime.

What Is The Difference Between A Nebulizer and an Ultrasonic Diffuser?

Nebulizing diffusers  have an air pump that sends condensed air to a nozzle tube which controls the direction of the vapor. A stream of air blows across the nozzle tube, creates a vacuum and propels undiluted essential oils upward. As they rise, the pressurized air hits the essential oil droplets and causes them to atomize into micro-particles which then fill a glass reservoir. Once in the glass reservoir, the micro-particles rise and are emitted from the reservoir as a vapor which is released into the room.

Ultrasonic diffusers have a water reservoir and a lid. When the unit is plugged in to electricity, a small, flexible membrane at the bottom  of the water reservoir vibrates ultrasonically. This passes energy to the water, breaks up water molecules, and turns water from a liquid to a vapor. The vapor is propelled into the air and carries along with it the now-diluted drops of essential oil.

There are other types of diffusers too. I recently wrote an article on this very subject for the folks over at The Truth About Cancer website. Here it is: Diffusing Essential Oils 101: The Best Diffusers, How to Use Them & DIY Oil Blends   Check out the article, you will get a lot more information about various types of diffusers there.

The Organic Aromas Nebulizing Diffuser

Back to the current topic, my new Organic Aromas nebulizing diffuser. It arrived in a very well-packaged and sturdy box and the company sends you links to videos on how to set up the diffuser and how to clean it properly, all good information.

The thing I like best about the Organic Aromas nebulizing diffuser, however, is that it is so QUIET! It’s fantastic, especially in comparison to my last one. I got the opportunity to use it this week for my 3-year old granddaughter who woke up with a horrible cough, it sounded like whooping cough. We placed the diffuser in her bedroom at bedtime, placed a particular oil blend called “RC” in the diffuser (it’s great for bronchial problems), let it run for just a little while and it was so quiet, it didn’t disturb her slumber and she got over the worst part of that cough in no time flat. Here are some of the features of the Organic Aromas nebulizing diffuser:

  • It is equipped with a “touch sensor” light switch allowing you to turn the LED “mood light” on or off any time with a swipe of a finger
  • It’s very quiet!
  • It uses no heat (which can wreck the therapeutic effects of an essential oil), and no water, so it delivers just essential oil into the air of the room where the diffuser sits
  • It has a dial control that allows you to precisely control how much oil you diffuse
  • It uses little energy, running for 2 minutes on, then 1 minute off
    It has an auto shut-off feature after running for 120 minutes
  • It is rated for rooms up to 80 square meters (800+ square feet)
  • The diffuser looks great. It has a handsome hand-made wood base and blown glass top which looks elegant anywhere you place it
  • It measures approximately 10″ (25 cm) tall x 6″ (15 cm) wide
  • It arrives with the appropriate electrical cord and electrical plug adapter for your market (USA, UK, EU, Australia, etc)

Here is a link to the diffuser I’m enjoying, you can see all of their other products too. And no, I’m not getting paid to write this review, I just love this diffuser and want to share it with you.
The Organic Aromas Raindrop Nebulizing Diffuser

GET MY BEST TIPS on getting through breast cancer and preventing recurrences by signing up for my free e-newsletters and e-books on the right.  You can also “like” me on Facebook (Marnie Clark, Breast Health Coach) to get my inspirational snippets, news and updates.  I promise to do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.  

7 Effective Ways to Lower Cholesterol without Statins

7 Effective Ways to Lower Cholesterol without Statins

We already know that obesity is linked to breast cancer, there are several studies that have linked the two quite effectively. Now it appears that having high cholesterol levels MAY also put us at a higher risk for breast cancer.

Several studies have recently been published investigating whether there was an association between hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol) and breast cancer.  There have been mixed results, with one preliminary British study saying there definitely is an association, and one French study finding no association between blood lipids and breast cancer risk.

Dr Harold Burstein, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School and a spokesman for the American Society of Clinical Oncology has stated “The link between cholesterol and breast cancer risk is mild, at most, and has not been a consistent finding in different studies, especially when other factors such as weight, obesity and diet are factored into the epidemiology.”

So the experts don’t agree and the studies are inconclusive but we already know that having high cholesterol levels is bad for our cardiovascular health.

Also in the breast cancer community, patients treated with aromatase inhibitors often develop hyperlipidemia, hypercholesterolemia, and hypertension, all of which are recognized risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

So it only makes sense to do what we can to naturally reduce high cholesterol levels without the  use of statin drugs, which come with their own set of problems and side effects.

Following is a guest post from Kate Forsyth over at Be Healthy Today. Kate has shared 7 great tips on how to effectively lower cholesterol levels without statin drugs.

GUEST POST from KATE FORSYTH

Thanks to the onslaught of fast food and junk food we have easily available nowadays, a lot of people are battling with the bulge. This means having a high cholesterol content in the body. And that’s not good.

As we all know, having too much of something is always a bad idea. To ensure a healthy lifestyle, we always need to check the levels of everything. With regard to cholesterol levels,  one way that people ensure they’re not too high is through taking statins.

Statins, to put it simply, are cholesterol-lowering medications. How do they lower the blood cholesterol levels? They block the action of a specific chemical in the liver that is necessary for producing cholesterol. Take note that having too much cholesterol in the blood causes plaque buildup on the artery walls. This buildup will eventually cause the arteries to narrow and harden. Blood clots in these arteries will cause a heart attack or stroke. To prevent that, statins are then prescribed.

When a person takes statins, cholesterol levels are thus lowered. Because these levels decrease, this then reduces the risk of heart attacks and strokes. In fact, some studies show that statins effectively lower the risk of heart attack, stroke, and even death from heart disease by around 25%–35%. Other studies also show that statins reduce the chances of recurrent strokes or heart attacks by around 40%.

So how exactly will you know if your blood cholesterol levels are “high”? Most of the practitioners in the medical community believe that the ratio of LDL (bad) cholesterol to HDL (good) cholesterol should be around 2:1. Taking a lipid profile blood test will show the levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in your system.

Total Cholesterol

Below 200 mg/dL Ideal
200–239 mg/dL Borderline high
240 mg/dL and up High

LDL Cholesterol

Below 70 mg/dL Ideal for people with a very high risk for heart disease
Below 100 mg/dL Ideal for people with a slight risk for heart disease
100–129 mg/dL Near ideal
130–159 mg/dL Borderline high
160–189 mg/dL High
190 mg/dL and up Very high

HDL Cholesterol

Below 40 mg/dL (women) Poor
Below 50 mg/dL (men) Poor
50–59 mg/dL Better
60 mg/dL and up Best

Triglycerides

Below 150 mg/dL Ideal
150–199 mg/dL Borderline high
200–499 mg/dL High
500 mg/dL and up Very high

While I’m sure statins are a godsend to many people, wouldn’t it be better to lower cholesterol levels naturally? That way there won’t be any drug dependency, and you’ll have more control over your body.

There are quite a number of ways that you can lessen those high cholesterol levels. Here are a few prime examples that actually work.

  1. Watch That Fat

Make sure to limit your intake of foods loaded with saturated fats, trans fats, and dietary cholesterol. These include butter, fatty flesh (red meat), dairy products, palm oil, as well as coconut oil.

The best choices of food to load up on instead are those with omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, sardines, trout, and mackerel.

Also, opt for foods with polyunsaturated fatty acids and monounsaturated fatty acids. These two will help lower LDL. Many plant-derived oils contain both. Some examples are safflower, grapeseed, olive, and peanut oils. (note by Marnie – make sure they’re organic!)

  1. Eat More Protein

For your protein content, great sources are legumes, beans, seeds, and nuts. Specific examples are red beans, pinto beans, white beans, and soybeans. They’re full of essential nutrients and help lower total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, blood sugar levels, and insulin levels.

  1. Fiber Is Your Best Friend

Foods with high fiber intake have been proven to help lower high cholesterol levels. Excellent sources of fiber include oats, barley, peas, yams, sweet potatoes, and other potatoes. You can also stock up on legumes or beans, such as peas, pinto beans, garbanzo beans, and black beans. Good fruit sources are berries, passion fruit, oranges, pears, apricots, nectarines, and apples. And finally, vegetables rich in soluble fiber include carrots, Brussels sprouts, beets, okra, and eggplant.

  1. Hello, Herbs!

A number of herbs have been noted to help with cholesterol levels as well. These include rosemary, basil, and turmeric. Adding them to your food provides powerful antioxidants that are cardio-protective and can help lower cholesterol levels naturally.

  1. Exercise, Exercise, Exercise

Regular exercise improves cholesterol. Doing moderate physical activity helps raise high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. Regularly exercising helps you lose weight. Making sure you maintain a desirable and healthy weight can gain plenty of benefits. One of these is improving your cholesterol profile. This helps prevent getting other sorts of diseases as well, like type 2 diabetes, strokes, heart attacks, gout, and some types of cancer.

In order to stay on track, it’s a good idea to find an exercise buddy who shares the same goals as you. You can both encourage and help each other out to be healthier.

  1. Say Goodbye to Smoking

If you smoke, quitting ASAP is a good idea. Cutting this bad habit will do wonders to your HDL levels. Once you quit, your blood pressure and heart rate decrease. Within a year of quitting, your risk of heart disease will be half that of a regular smoker.

  1. Get a Good Night’s Sleep

Sleep deprivation has been proven to increase the LDL levels. This leads to high blood pressure and overeating as well. Try to ensure you get a good solid 6-8 hours of sleep every night. Check out bedtime practices that work for you and are effective in providing you with the rest you need.

Author Bio:

Kate B. Forsyth is a writer for Be Healthy Today, who specializes in health and nutrition. Her passion is to help people get an overall transformation of health that lasts a lifetime. In her blog posts, she goes beyond research by providing health-concerned citizens doable and simple tricks to achieve a healthier lifestyle.

SOURCES:

https://www.pritikin.com/your-health/health-benefits/lower-cholesterol/1468-7-tips-for-improving-your-ldl-cholesterol.html

https://draxe.com/lower-cholesterol-naturally-fast/

http://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/how-to-lower-your-cholesterol-without-drugs

http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20552005,00.html#dietary-fiber-0

http://www.newsmax.com/Health/Headline/statins-cholesterol-natural-drugfree/2013/11/14/id/536605/

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-cholesterol/in-depth/reduce-cholesterol/art-20045935

 

Thanks, Kate, for the 7 great tips!

GET MY BEST TIPS on healthy ways to beat breast cancer and prevent recurrences by signing up for my free e-newsletters and e-books on the right. You can also “like” me on Facebook (Marnie Clark, Breast Health Coach) to get my inspirational snippets, news and updates. I promise to do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.

The Truth About Vaccines – Are They Safe?

http://MarnieClark.com/the-truth-about-vaccinesThe Truth About Vaccines – Are They Safe?

An argument is raging across the globe, and it may get worse before it gets better. Parents and grandparents are up in arms fighting with each other, their friends, doctors, and even legislators. It’s a subject so controversial for some that it eclipses political events, the world economy, and the healthcare debate itself. People want to know the truth about vaccines and whether or not they are safe.

Vaccine safety and news about increasing adverse reactions, both in adults and children, is a very real concern. Medical doctors are increasingly being confronted with parents who want to diverge from the recommended vaccine protocol, asking to vaccinate selectively (or sometimes not at all).

Parents and grandparents are asking –

– How do I know for sure that vaccines are safe for my child?

– Is my child at high risk of having a bad reaction?

– How often should we administer vaccines? Can we space them out?

– How MANY vaccines are really necessary?

– Should we vaccinate at all? Are there alternatives?

– Speaking long term, are we doing more harm than good?

And much more. In my humble opinion, the biggest problem facing the vaccine controversy today is that there’s too much noise. Too much propaganda and emotional arguments. Too many opinions and too few facts.

Just like other “hot button issues”, everyone has an opinion (factual or not), and there’s BIG money at play to try and tip the hand in one direction or the other.

How To Know What’s Best?

How do you know what’s best for you and your child? Not only are we facing the questions about vaccine safety and integrity, now we’ve got to deal with, “Who decides what’s best? Me or the government?”

California entered the fray when it passed a mandatory “forced vaccination” law in 2016, much to the outrage of many of its citizens.

How would you feel if your government mandated that you MUST vaccinate (or must NOT), even if it goes against your religious or philosophical beliefs?

What does it say for freedom when the government starts making major medical decisions for you and your children? Where do we go from here? How did we even get to this point?

Way back in 1796, when Edward Jenner somewhat accidentally cured a child with what was then known as “cowpox,” it was a major medical breakthrough. People in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s were dying from diseases that could be controlled by vaccines, and with that the race was on.

These days, we’re vaccinating our kids against literally everything, but we still don’t know how many of these newer vaccines react in the human body over a period of time.

Did you know that in many cases, the double-blind placebo safety studies have not been done like they are for other pharmaceutical drugs? The vaccine companies themselves have immunity from the government. That means you cannot sue them if something goes wrong, and your child is injured from the vaccine. Couple that with the rising anger on both sides at the thought that “the other side” is reckless and ignoring the facts, and you have an issue that’s just about reached boiling point.

We owe it to our children and our grandchildren to learn as much information as we can (good and bad) about vaccines, so that we can protect them and give them the best chances of having a vibrant, healthy future — free from disease in this modern world.

Fortunately, Someone Has Done Something About This Issue

Even though the debate is contentious, one brave team has decided to do something about it. Filmmaker, author, and health freedom advocate Ty Bollinger, the man who produced the record-setting documentary “The Truth About Cancer” (now seen by 10 million people), has an epic new series about to be released. Ty and his team traveled the world to interview over 60 of the best vaccine experts on the planet, on both sides of the debate. Scientists, researchers, doctors, clinicians… the list is huge.

Their goal with the series is to bring some facts and sanity to the heated vaccine debate. To investigate both sides and separate fact from fiction, so parents can make their own decision about what’s best for their family. The result is a new 7-part documentary series called “The Truth About Vaccines.”

The reality is, no matter whether you’re a staunch vaccine supporter, or you believe they should be eliminated completely, your voice matters, and the health of your children and grandchildren matter too. You deserve to learn all you can about the science and statistics behind vaccines, to weigh the benefits and the risks for your own family.

Ty and his team reject the idea that you have to “pick a side” and approach the vaccine safety topic the same way they did cancer – interview the best experts, collect the facts, look at the science, and then pull it all together to find the real truth – free from speculation, hype, and emotional bias.

On April 12th at 9pm Eastern US time, “The Truth About Vaccines” premieres, and the answers will be revealed. 7 episodes in 7 days. It’s the biggest, most comprehensive documentary series on vaccines ever released, and the whole thing is completely FREE.

Click HERE to get a sneak preview and register to watch the entire series free of charge. It’s a one-time event. It’s your chance to join the debate in a positive and meaningful and very powerful way. Your health of your children and/or grandchildren depend on it.

GET MY BEST TIPS on healthy ways to beat breast cancer and prevent recurrences by signing up for my free e-newsletters and e-books on the right. You can also “like” me on Facebook (Marnie Clark, Breast Health Coach) to get my inspirational snippets, news and updates. I promise to do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.

YouTube Videos by Dr Michael Greger, A Great Source of Nutrition Facts

Dr Michael Greger
Dr Michael Greger

YouTube Videos by Dr Michael Greger, A Great Source of Nutrition Facts

One of my favorite sources of nutrition facts and information are Dr Michael Greger’s YouTube videos.  They are full of great information on nutrition, all backed by research and common-sense thinking, and he really delves deeply into the subject he is discussing. He also explains it all so clearly and concisely, so that the average person can understand.

The particular things I really like about Dr Greger and his videos are his witty dialogue, the way he simplifies medical jargon as he’s reciting the facts of medical studies, and the fact that the videos are in a short, easy-to-digest format. I appreciate the fact that he reads so many studies on a particular subject, boils it all down for us into 3-4 minutes of information, and delivers the facts with a minimum of fuss. No messing around – I especially like that, when you don’t have much time to waste on finding out about something, it’s a real plus! Just the fact that he reads all of those research studies (he obviously has an inquiring mind), that alone would turn us mere mortals blue in the face. Oh, and he’s not pushing any products, another nice thing.

Some of my favorite YouTube videos by Dr Greger are:

Are Organic Foods More Nutritious?

Antimutagenic Activity of Green Tea vs White Tea 

Is Soy Healthy For Breast Cancer Survivors?

BRCA Breast Cancer Genes and Soy

Cancer Reversal Through Diet?

Apple Skin: Peeling Back Cancer

Is Distilled Fish Oil Toxin Free?

Each video is only 4-5 minutes long and definitely worth your time and attention. Go check out some of these – I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. If you go to the NutritionFacts.org website, you will find a treasure trove of instructional videos over there on a huge variety of health subjects. Use the search field to find what you’re looking for. The YouTube channel is called NutritionFacts.org, so go on over to YouTube and subscribe to his channel and they will email you when new videos are released.

Searching for more information on breast cancer and nutrition? Visit my page Diet and Cancer.

GET MY BEST TIPS on healthy ways to beat breast cancer and prevent recurrences by signing up for my free e-newsletters and e-books on the right. You can also “like” me on Facebook (Marnie Clark, Breast Health Coach) to get my inspirational snippets, news and updates. I promise to do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.

The Telomerase Test for Monitoring Breast Cancer

Image Source: Dreamstime / Dmitry Sunagatov Image Source: Dreamstime / Dmitry Sunagatov

The Telomerase Test for Monitoring Breast Cancer

One of the things I am frequently asked is whether there are new tests for cancer markers available that help you monitor the level of cancer in your body. One such test is the CA 15-3 cancer antigen test, and you can read more about that in my article: The CA 15-3 Cancer Marker Test and its Accuracy.  Another test that is available to us is the telomerase test, although to my knowledge it is not widely used.

What is Telomerase?

Telomerase is an enzyme involved with your DNA. It is called a reverse transcriptase enzyme. It acts like a template to make more DNA sequences and adds them to the ends of chromosomes. Telomeres are essential for maintaining the stability of those chromosomes. Think of telomeres as the protective cap on the end of a highlighter pen. Telomeres protect the important information-carrying DNA in cells from injury during cell division.

Healthy cells that are lacking the enzyme telomerase have a problem because the telomeres shorten with each cell division. During DNA replication, the two newly formed chromosomes separate and small bits of DNA are trimmed off the end of the chromosomes. Long telomeres allow these cells to keep on dividing for a longer time and restoring the tissue, whereas short telomeres have to give up early because the protective telomere caps are depleted sooner. Short telomeres are associated with aging more rapidly.

Telomerase and Cancer

Scientists have discovered that short telomeres can lead to chromosomal instability and/or rearrangements, and that is related to cancer. One study stated: “Irrespective of its source, damage acts as the basis for the development of dysfunctional tissues, which are a hallmark of age decline as well as the basis for cancer.” [1]

Another study found that short telomeres also promoted metastasis (cancer spread) in the absence of telomerase activity. [2]

Stem cells have the ability to create the enzyme telomerase – and thus telomeres – and so can cancer cells. This makes them immortal. It has been discovered that if there is a high quantity of telomerase in the body, it can be an indicator that there is cancer in the body somewhere. High levels of telomerase have been found to be present in 85-95 percent of malignancies. The telomerase test is, however, a non-specific test, in other words it can’t tell you where the cancer is located.

So is the Telomerase Test Useful? Accurate?

Apparently the telomerase test can be helpful in the assessment of breast cancer risk. In 2011, a joint review of research by both Brazilian researchers and  scientists at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, entitled “Accuracy of Telomerase in Estimating Breast Cancer Risk: a Systematic Review and Meta-analysis” [3] investigated the accuracy of the telomerase test in predicting breast cancer risk. They thoroughly examined 25 studies that qualified, covering a total of 2,395 breast tumors. They found that 82 percent of breast cancer tumors and 18 percent of benign tumors were positive for telomerase activity. Researchers concluded that “telomerase activity was significantly present in breast cancer when compared with normal breast tissue or benign breast lesions.”

Who is Using the Telomerase Test?

Quite a few alternative and integrative doctors are using the telomerase test to follow the progress of cancer patients they treat. One holistic practitioner in the UK, Dr Patrick Kingsley, has treated cancer patients for over 40 years. Dr Kingsley shared some interesting information about the telomerase test. For the patients diagnosed with cancer with whom he works, he relies on several other tests besides the telomerase test, one which investigates pyruvate kinase levels, and another called the laevorotatory lactic acid test. The combination of these three tests, he felt, were fairly indicative of what was going on in the body. [4] He said that raised telomerase levels in the blood, while often being indicative of the presence of cancer cells, also told him something else. When levels were low, around a few hundred, it made the patient happy because they assumed it meant low levels of cancer in their body. What he found, however, was that raised levels of telomerase in the blood did not necessarily reflect the fact that the cancer was spreading, particularly if they were going through some of the natural treatments he recommends for cancer. Dr Kingsley stated that one actually needed raised levels of telomerase in the blood when fighting cancer, otherwise there was nothing for the immune system to notice and respond to. His experience was that when telomerase levels increased to quite high levels, it was an indication that cancer cells were being killed and releasing that extra telomerase into the blood, that it is a good sign that the immune system is doing its job.

Dr Al Sears of the Sears Institute for Anti-Aging Medicine in South Florida also uses the telomerase test for his patients interested in monitoring their health and for anti-aging concerns. [5]

Of course, there are always nay-sayers, those who feel the test has absolutely no merit. Discuss the telomerase test with your integrative doctor or naturopath and then decide for yourself!

References:

Testing Time for Telomeres – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3166469/

[1] Telomerase at the Intersection of Cancer and Aging – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3896987/

[2] Dysfunctional Telomeres Promote Genomic Instability and Metastasis in the Absence of Telomerase Activity in Oncogene Induced Mammary Cancer – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22086874

[3] Accuracy of Telomerase in Estimating Breast Cancer Risk: a Systematic Review and Meta-analysis – http://www.academia.edu/25335428/Accuracy_of_telomerase_in_estimating_breast_cancer_risk_A_systematic_review_and_meta-analysis

[4] Dr Patrick Kingsley – Breast Cancer, Your Way Forward

[5] http://alsearsmd.com/2015/12/the-most-important-test-your-doctor-wont-order/

GET MY BEST TIPS on getting through breast cancer and preventing recurrences by signing up for my free e-newsletters and e-books on the right. You can also “like” me on Facebook (Marnie Clark, Breast Health Coach) to get my inspirational snippets, news and updates. I promise to do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.

Chamomile is an Effective Cancer Fighter

http://MarnieClark.com/Chamomile-is-an-Effective-Cancer-Fighter

Chamomile is an Effective Cancer Fighter

Welcome to my first article for 2017! I’ve been taking a wee break to spend time with my lovely grandchildren but it’s time to get back to work. This article is all about the wonderful herb chamomile (Matricaria recutita) and how great it is for killing cancer cells.

Chamomile has centuries of use as a remedy for inducing sleep, fighting the effects of stress and anxiety, and calming digestion. New research indicates that drinking chamomile tea regularly can also assist with many other health issues. Interesting 2015 Greek research found that chamomile tea consumption protected against thyroid cancer. For those who drank the tea two to six times per week, these participants had a much reduced risk of thyroid cancer. For the long-time drinkers of chamomile tea, researchers stated “Thirty years of consumption significantly reduced the risk of thyroid cancer and benign thyroid diseases development by almost 80%.” [1]

Chamomile has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, cholesterol-lowering, anti-parasitic, anti-aging, calming, and yes, anti-cancer properties. [2]

We know that antioxidants are important for reducing cancer risk. But that part about anti-inflammation? That’s important too. Chamomile has strong anti-inflammatory properties. Since many disease processes involve inflammation, including breast cancer, this is an important thing to get under control. Prostaglandins and COX-2 enzymes (molecules closely related to the process of inflammation in the body) are higher in tumor tissue than in normal tissue. Many recent studies have confirmed that if the inflammatory process can be stopped, tumorigenesis (the process of the formation of a tumor) stops too. In Germany, chamomile has been approved by the German Commission E for the management of inflammatory diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, for topical application in the treatment of skin disorders, and for inflammatory disorders. [3]

Chamomile’s Phytochemicals

Chamomile contains some very interesting phytochemicals (plant-based, all natural chemicals) including apigenin, luteolin, terpene compounds, chamazulene, alpha-bisabolol, patuletin, quercetin, myricetin, and rutin.

Apigenin has strong antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. Apigenin is a flavone, from the flavonoid family of phytochemicals. Besides chamomile, apigenin is also found in celery, celeriac, onions, grapefruit, oranges, and the herbs thyme, lemon balm and parsley. [4]

Canadian researchers reported in 2014 that apigenin inhibited the proliferation (spread) of four different types of breast cancer:
MDA-MB-231: estrogen receptor negative, progesterone receptor negative, HER2 negative – also known as triple negative breast cancer, highly metastatic
MDA-MB-468: estrogen receptor negative, progesterone receptor negative, HER2 negative, adenocarcinoma, metastatic
MCF-7: estrogen receptor positive, progesterone receptor positive, HER2 negative, infiltrating ductal carcinoma, metastatic
SkBr3: estrogen receptor negative, progesterone receptor negative, HER2 positive, infiltrating ductal carcinoma with lung metastases

The Canadian researchers stated: “low-dose apigenin has the potential to slow or prevent breast cancer progression.” [5]

Luteolin is also a flavone. Researchers at the University of Missouri in the USA reported late in 2016 that luteolin inhibited cell migration, the spreading of cancer cells to lungs and viability of triple negative breast cancer cells. It also induced apoptosis (programmed cell death, absent in cancer cells), inhibited VEGF secretion. VEGF stands for vascular endothelial growth factor, a protein that plays a critical role in breast tumors by enhancing cell proliferation (rapid growth), invasion (spread), angiogenesis (the ability of a tumor to create new blood vessels to feed itself) and metastasis (spread to other tissues of the body). [6]

Terpene compounds are a class of phytochemicals that are components of the essential oils found in plants. Terpenes have some wonderful characteristics. They are highly antimicrobial, anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor and pain relieving phytochemicals. The most exciting aspect of terpenes, however, is that they clean off the receptor sites in cells, which helps to increase cellular communication. They have the ability to cross over the blood-brain-barrier separating the brain from the rest of the body. This means they can have direct effects on the brain. They can also erase incorrect coding information in DNA, and they help to reprogram cells with correct coding information to effect deep healing.

Chamazulene is a phytochemical found in chamomile, it has potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. [7]

Alpha-bisabolol is one of the terpene compounds referred to above. Namely, it is a sesquiterpene. Italian researchers in 2016 listed five ways alpha-bisabolol worked as an effective cytotoxic (toxic to cancer cells) agent. Researchers stated that alpha-bisabolol acted “on different layers of cell regulation to elicit different concurrent death signals.” [8]

Quercetin, a flavonoid, is a strong antioxidant with anti-cancer effects. A 2013 study demonstrated that quercetin reduced proliferation, promoted apoptosis and decreased levels of survivin in MCF-7 breast cancer cells (described above). [9] See also the role of quercetin in breast cancer resistance protein, discussed below.

Myricetin, also a flavonoid, increases antioxidant levels in the body. In 2014, Indian researchers investigated its effects in a small animal trial. Rats were given a specific drug to promote breast cancer and for those who received myricetin, there was a significant protective effect. [10]
2016 research also found myricetin to have anti-cancer properties. It arrests the telomeres in the DNA of MCF-7 breast cancer cells. [11] Scientists have been investigating the use of small molecules to arrest something called the G-quadruplex structure. This has become a potential strategy for the development and design of a new class of anti-cancer therapeutics. While I’m not a scientist and I don’t understand this research sufficiently to be able to explain it to you in layman terms, I do know that telomeres play an important role in cancer and anti-aging. The article at [12] below may help to clarify matters for you.

Rutin is a flavonoid present in chamomile. In 2013, Chinese researchers investigated the role of rutin for neuroblastoma, a particularly lethal form of childhood cancer. Rutin was found to have potent anti-cancer effects on neuroblastoma cells. It induced cell cycle arrest, induced apoptosis, as well as regulating the expression of the gene related to apoptosis. [13]

Breast Cancer Resistance Protein

Doctors and researchers have been stymied in recent years by tumors that increasingly have a resistance to the chemotherapeutic drugs being used to battle the cancer. Identified in 1998, breast cancer resistance protein (BCRP), is a gene found in diverse cancer cells which appear to cause multidrug resistance. BCRP appears to function as part of a self-defense mechanism for the cancer – it enhances elimination of toxic substances (ie most chemotherapy drugs) and harmful agents in the gut and through the blood-brain, placental, and possibly even blood-testis barriers. BCRP expression in cancer cells operates by recognizing and transporting out of the body numerous anti-cancer drugs including conventional chemotherapeutic and targeted drugs. BCRP is also a known stem cell marker, its presence in cancer cells usually indicates drug resistance, self-renewal, and invasiveness and, consequently, poor prognosis. [14]

I’m sharing all of this with you because chamomile, and more specifically, quercitin has been found, in a brand new 2017 study from researchers in the UK, to down-regulate the expression of BCRP, without the neurotoxicity shown by other drugs designed to modulate BCRP. [15]

Curcumin was also mentioned as a down-regulator of the BCRP gene. See my article Harvest the Power of Curcumin to Kill Breast Cancer Cells

So which form of chamomile is best? Both Roman chamomile and German chamomile contain the potent phytochemicals mentioned in this article. Whether you drink the herbal tea or use the essential oil, chamomile is bad news for cancer cells.

References:

[1] The Effect of Greek Herbal Tea Consumption on Thyroid Cancer: a Case-control Study – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25842380

[2] A Review of the Bioactivity and Potential Health Benefits of Chamomile Tea (Matricaria Recutita L.) – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16628544

[3] Chamomile, a Novel and Selective COX-2 Inhibitor with Anti-inflammatory Activity – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2784024/

[4] Apigenin and Breast Cancers: From Chemistry to Medicine – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25738871

[5] Exposure of Breast Cancer Cells to a Subcytotoxic Dose of Apigenin Causes Growth Inhibition, Oxidative Stress, and Hypophosphorylation of Akt – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25019465

[6] Luteolin Inhibits Lung Metastasis, Cell Migration, and Viability of Triple-negative Breast Cancer Cells – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5207335/

[7] Rapid Evaluation and Comparison of Natural Products and Antioxidant Activity in Calendula, Feverfew, and German Chamomile Extracts – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25666499

[8] The Antineoplastic Agent A-bisabolol Promotes Cell Death by Inducing Pores in Mitochondria and Lysosomes – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27278818

[9] Effects of Quercetin on the Proliferation of Breast Cancer Cells and Expression of Survivin in Vitro – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3820718/

[10] Evaluation of Protective Effect of Myricetin, a Bioflavonoid in Dimethyl Benzanthracene-induced Breast Cancer in Female Wistar Rats – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4014640/

[11] Myricetin arrests human telomeric G-quadruplex structure: a new mechanistic approach as an anticancer agent – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27249025

[12] http://www.news-medical.net/life-sciences/Telomeres-and-Cancer.aspx

[13] Anti-Tumor Effect of Rutin on Human Neuroblastoma Cell Lines through Inducing G2/M Cell Cycle Arrest and Promoting Apoptosis – https://www.hindawi.com/journals/tswj/2013/269165/

[14] Breast Cancer Resistance Protein (Bcrp/abcg2): its Role in Multidrug Resistance and Regulation of its Gene Expression – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3777471/

[15] Phytochemical Mediated-modulation of the Expression and Transporter Function of Breast Cancer Resistance Protein at the Blood-brain Barrier: an In-vitro Study – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27771282

GET MY BEST TIPS on getting through breast cancer and preventing recurrences by signing up for my free e-newsletters and e-books on the right. You can also “like” me on Facebook (Marnie Clark, Breast Health Coach) to get my inspirational snippets, news and updates. I promise to do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.

Product Review – Happy Breast Balm

http://MarnieClark.com/happy-breast-balmProduct Review – Happy Breast Balm

Always on the lookout for great products that help to increase breast health, this one actually landed in my lap without my looking for it. A lovely lady by the name of Sue McKenna contacted me and told me about her product, Happy Breast Balm. She liked my website and thought that my readers might like to know about her product. Sue was kind enough to send me a bottle to try, along with a skin brush and instructions on how to use both. I have spent a couple of weeks using Happy Breast Balm and in this article, I’ll share with you more about it.

Sue’s story is similar to my own – we both lost our mothers to breast cancer, and then found we were battling it ourselves a few years later. Sue healed three breast lumps (diagnosis: DCIS) with all-natural therapies. Her story is inspirational, check it out:  How I Recovered from Breast Cancer Using Natural Therapies

The balm Sue describes in that article is the one I’m reviewing today, Happy Breast Balm. Sue used this balm herself , along with a huge amount of other natural therapies, described in the above article, to heal her three breast lumps.

Sue learned that (among other things) using a combination of the balm along with a specific method of dry brushing the skin using a soft skin brush provided stimulation of blood and lymphatic flow, and encouraged detoxification and nourishment to breast tissue. The dry brushing routine was inspired by the work of Dr Bruce Berkowsky (www.naturalhealthscience.com).

Each of the ingredients in Happy Breast Balm are included for very specific reasons. It contains:

* Fractionated coconut oil – A natural antioxidant and antiseptic, it facilitates the absorption of other oils in the product and is a great source of healthy triglycerides
* Organic hemp seed oil – Contains 94% of the body’s daily needs for essential fatty acids in the perfect proportion of omega 3, 6, and 9, also gamma-linolenic acid, or GLA. It’s better than both flax seed oil and fish oil. Hemp is wonderfully healing for many different conditions.
* Magnesium oil – Most of us are deficient in magnesium. Delivered transdermally (through the skin) is a very effective way to get it into the cells of the body. The body relies on magnesium for over 300 biochemical processes. Magnesium helps rid the body of toxins and acid residues, and it is required for the synthesis of vitamin D and absorption of calcium. A Swedish study reported that women with the highest magnesium intake had a 40 percent lower risk of developing cancer.
* Lugol’s iodine – Among other very important functions in the body, iodine suppresses carcinogenesis (the development of cancer) in the breast and other tissues. See my article Why Iodine and Selenium are Useful for Breast Cancer.
* Therapeutic grade essential oils – Included are lemon, grapefruit, thyme, myrtle, peppermint, frankincense, rosemary and ylang ylang. All of these essential oils have very particular anti-cancer properties. I’ve been studying essential oils for years and I can tell you that nearly every single study I’ve read on essential oils discusses their anti-cancer benefits. To see some of this research, just go to Google Scholar or www.pubmed.gov and in the search field put the name of the oil and the word “cancer”. You’ll be surprised at the many studies that have been done from countries all over the world.

More about each ingredient and why they are included appears in the website: http://www.happybreastbalm.com.au/ingredients.html

One thing that really impressed me was the reminder to use affirmations of good health, gratitude and self-love while using the products. This is so often overlooked as we go about our busy days. Take time out to do this, it really is important and makes a huge difference.

The Bottom Line:

I loved using this product. It smells amazing, the texture of it is quite divine – definitely not too oily and it is easily absorbed – and you can really feel that it is a healing product. I especially appreciated the inclusion of the organic hemp seed oil, together with therapeutic grade essential oils. The combination is just wonderful. The product comes from Australia, but Sue does offer international shipping as well.

To order, go to http://www.happybreastbalm.com/shop.html  For my readers, Sue has graciously offered a 10% discount. Just use the discount code “Marnie10″ in the checkout.

For more questions, contact Sue on sue@happybreastbalm.com.

GET MY BEST TIPS on getting through breast cancer and preventing recurrences by signing up for my free e-newsletters and e-books on the right. You can also “like” me on Facebook (Marnie Clark, Breast Health Coach) to get my inspirational snippets, news and updates. I promise to do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.

Yes Your Urine Might Change Color When Taking DIM

http://MarnieClark.com/yes-your-urine-might-change-color-when-taking-dimYes Your Urine Might Change Color When Taking DIM

I have long been an advocate of the supplement DIM, you will find many articles about it on this website. DIM is short for di-indolyl-methane and it is made from plant indoles, natural phytonutrients found aplenty in cruciferous vegetables like kale, cabbage, brussel sprouts, spinach, and my favorite, broccoli. Indoles help to manage out-of-control estrogen and estriol levels in both men and women. Today I’m sharing some information about one of the possible side effects of DIM supplementation. Your urine might change color when taking DIM. It can be a surprise if you’re not expecting it, and even slightly worrisome.

While I was on the subject I took a look at all of the newest (and exciting) research on DIM and have included that information in this article as well.

About That Urine Color Change with DIM…

I have taken DIM myself on many occasions. Recently, however, I changed my DIM product to a stronger formulation and began to notice something rather odd. My urine was a dark orange, almost a bronzey red color. I was also having some weird cramping, rather like very mild menstrual cramps. I have NEVER seen my urine that color before and with that and the cramping, I began to think I had a bladder infection or a UTI. I just wasn’t feeling so good.

Gotta say, all of that worried me a bit. I almost went in for a urinalysis, but then did a quick Internet search and connected the two. DOH! These are common symptoms when taking DIM. So I stopped taking it for a day or two and the dark urine color changed back to normal and any cramping stopped. I wondered why it hadn’t happened to me before because as I say, I have taken DIM before. But then I recalled that I was taking a stronger and better formulation. I’m back on it now and though my urine is dark again, there has been no more cramping.

So Why Does Your Urine Change Color When You Take DIM?

Because DIM is doing great things for you! It can be a sign that it is assisting your liver to detox your body of excess estrogen metabolites and other environmental estrogens (known as xenoestrogens). For that reason, it’s a good idea to also take some sort of liver support while taking DIM supplements. The herb milk thistle is extremely good for this. Also drinking lots of green tea is helpful for liver support. Please also ensure you drink lots of filtered water when you’re taking DIM because your body is trying to excrete toxic substances and you need to help it flush them out of your body. Add a slice of lemon and get some vitamin C too!

There are times when a change of urine color should be checked out by your doctor – see Other Causes for Concern for Dark Urine, below.

New Research on DIM

I’m excited to share some great new research on DIM, just released. Older studies have already shown that DIM inhibits the growth of human cancer cells by interfering with multiple signaling pathways, reducing the invasion, migration, and metastasis (spread) of cancer cells, as well as promoting apoptosis (planned cell death, which cancer cells lack). It is also a potent stimulator of immune function [1].

Research published in October 2016 by Korean researchers examining the effect of DIM on mice with colitis found that DIM has anti-inflammatory properties (always a good thing for your anti-cancer arsenal). It also suppresses the expression of vascular endothelial growth factor, a growth factor associated with a tumor’s ability to create new blood vessels to feed itself, a process called angiogenesis. [2]

Chinese research published in September 2016 investigating the effects of DIM on mice undergoing total body radiation found that DIM has radioprotective properties [3]. This is great news. Apparantly DIM helps to offset the injury that occurs to hematopoiesis, our ability to create new blood cells. This is one of the reasons people can have alarming decreases in various blood cell types when undergoing radiation.

Joint USA/Chinese research reported in September 2016 (again on mice) found that DIM reduces prostate tumor growth by suppressing a gene known as PCGEM1, while promoting apoptosis. [4]

A joint USA/Indian study on animals released in August 2016 found that two derivatives from DIM (DIM-10 and DIM-14) possessed strong anti-cancer effects, and were responsible for a significant reduction in tumor size in triple negative breast cancer cells. [5] These are cells that are not affected by hormones or HER2 status. An older 2002 study also found that DIM could induce apoptosis in breast cancer cells independent of estrogen receptor status. [6]

A July 2016 Korean study indicated DIM could also be useful for gastrointestinal cancers. [7]

DIM may be beneficial for those carrying the BRCA1/2 gene mutation as well. A small Canadian research study appearing in the British Journal of Cancer in 2014 investigated the ability of DIM to upregulate BRCA1 expression. Upregulating this gene, associated with an increased risk of breast cancer, translates to a reduced cancer risk. Although a small study, the women receiving 300 mg per day (150 mg twice per day) of DIM experienced a 34 percent increase in BRCA1 expression. [8] Very encouraging!

One other interesting thing. When taking DIM, oxygen levels in tumor cells increase. This is a really great thing because oxygen is hated by cancer cells. They thrive in anaerobic conditions (meaning without oxygen) so something natural that increases cellular oxygen levels is beneficial. The study was done at the University of California at Berkeley in 2008 and it was the first to demonstrate that DIM works by decreasing the accumulation and activity a key factor involved in angiogenesis called HIF-1alpha in hypoxic cancer cells. [9]

Here’s the brand of DIM I’m taking.

This is another great brand.

This is a great milk thistle supplement.

Other Causes for Concern for Dark Urine

If your urine turns dark when taking DIM, do not be alarmed. There are times, however, when you do need to be concerned and watchful for other symptoms. If your liver is diseased, you may have symptoms such as yellowing of eyes and skin, abdominal pain, pale or red stool, itchy skin, nausea and loss of appetite. Kidney disease symptoms include loss of appetite, fatigue, problems sleeping, muscles cramping and twitching, and decreased urine output.

References:

[1] 3,3′-Diindolylmethane Stimulates Murine Immune Function In Vitro and In Vivo – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2387240/

[2] Effect of Oral Administration of 3,3′-Diindolylmethane on Dextran Sodium Sulfate-Induced Acute Colitis in Mice – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27700072

[3] 3,3′-diindolylmethane Mitigates Total Body Irradiation-induced Hematopoietic Injury in Mice – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27609226

[4] Regulation of PCGEM1 by P54/NRB in Prostate Cancer – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5041109/

[5] Novel Diindolylmethane Derivatives Based NLC Formulations to Improve the Oral Bioavailability and Anticancer Effects in Triple Negative Breast Cancer – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27586082

[6] Bcl-2 Family-mediated Apoptotic Effects of 3,3′-Diindolylmethane (DIM) in Human Breast Cancer Cells – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11931841

[7] Cellular and Molecular Mechanisms of 3,3′-Diindolylmethane in Gastrointestinal Cancer – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4964527/

[8] BRCA1 mRNA Levels Following a 4–6-week Intervention with Oral 3,3′-diindolylmethane –
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4183839/

[9] 3,3′-Diindolylmethane Reduces Levels of HIF-1a and HIF-1 Activity in Hypoxic Cultured Human Cancer Cells – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2387239/

GET MY BEST TIPS on getting through breast cancer and preventing recurrences by signing up for my free e-newsletters and e-books on the right. You can also “like” me on Facebook (Marnie Clark, Breast Health Coach) to get my inspirational snippets, news and updates. I promise to do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.

The Problem with Taking Antidepressants Along with Tamoxifen

http://MarnieClark.com/The-Problem-with-Taking-Antidepressants-Along-with-TamoxifenThe Problem with Taking Antidepressants Along with Tamoxifen

One of the most prevalent side effects from taking tamoxifen, the often-prescribed endocrine therapy drug for estrogen-receptor positive breast cancer, is depression. Whether the depression is associated with a cancer diagnosis or from taking tamoxifen (or both) we do not know. We do know that up to 25 percent of breast cancer patients suffer what is termed “clinically significant depression” following diagnosis. [1]

Depression is not the only side effect of tamoxifen, by any stretch of the imagination, but it is one of the most prevalent and debilitating side effects. Breast cancer patients and survivors on this drug commonly share with me just how debilitating the depression was for them. Many choose to stop taking it because of this. One told me that coming off the drug was like emerging from a long, dark tunnel out into the sunlight.

SSRI Drugs Prescribed For Depression

So what happens when a woman on tamoxifen goes to her doctor and complains of depression? Yes, you guessed it – she gets prescribed another drug, usually in the form of an SSRI antidepressant. That stands for selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor. Without getting too heavily into the chemistry of how these drugs work (which is not my purpose with this article), in a nutshell, they work by increasing serotonin levels in the brain, serotonin being a neurotransmitter (chemical messenger) that carries signals between brain cells. SSRI drugs work by blocking the reabsorption (aka reuptake) of serotonin, thus making serotonin more available for use in the brain. This is supposed to help ease the depression.

Estrogen’s Role in Brain Health

So why does tamoxifen cause depression? It is an estrogen antagonist, meaning it blocks the receptor sites on cells that estrogen would normally take up and direct the action of those cells. The problem with blocking the body’s natural estrogen is that it has a huge role to play in brain health (among many other biological activities). Estrogen has a protective effect on brain neurons and affects the nervous system in many different ways. By blocking estrogen, tamoxifen quite effectively compromises a person’s moods and cognitive health, even normal coordination and movement. It is a known fact that high doses of estrogen exert an anti-depressant effect in humans.

So What’s the Problem with Antidepressants and Tamoxifen Use?

A 2010 study by Canadian researchers, published in the British Medical Journal, had some interesting (and rather worrisome) findings. The researchers were hoping to discover whether using SSRI antidepressants concurrently with tamoxifen reduced the effectiveness of tamoxifen. The study was done with 2,430 women in Ontario, Canada, aged 66 years or older. These women started taking tamoxifen between January 1, 1993 and December 31, 2005.

What they discovered was quite remarkable. For women taking the SSRI drug Paxil (generic name paroxetine – one of the most commonly prescribed drugs for depression) along with tamoxifen, there was a much higher risk of death from breast cancer, namely a 24% – 91% higher risk, depending on length of time the drugs were taken together. The researchers stated that of the women taking tamoxifen and Paxil, 374 (or 15.4%) of them died of breast cancer during follow-up (mean follow-up 2.38 years). They saw no such risk with other anti-depressants, mainly paroxetine/Paxil. Researchers concluded that the use of Paxil during tamoxifen treatment was associated with an increased risk of death from breast cancer, supporting the hypothesis that Paxil can reduce or abolish the benefit of tamoxifen in women with breast cancer. These researchers concluded “We estimate that treatment with paroxetine for 41% of tamoxifen therapy (the median in our study) could result in one additional breast cancer death at five years for every 20 women so treated.” [2] (bold type added for emphasis)

That’s huge.

A newer American study reported in December 2015 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found no such increased risk for those taking paroxetine together with tamoxifen. The study followed 16,887 Californian breast cancer survivors diagnosed from 1996 to 2007 and treated with tamoxifen. Of this group of women 8,099 (roughly 50 percent) also took a variety of SSRI antidepressants. 2,946 of the women developed subsequent breast cancer in the 14-year follow-up period. Researchers stated “we did not observe an increased risk of subsequent breast cancer in women who concurrently used tamoxifen and antidepressants, including paroxetine. [3]

Huh? Of 8,099 survivors, 2,946 develop subsequent breast cancer and there’s no correlation? What the…?

Uninformed medical practitioners continue to prescribe Paxil and other SSRI drugs that are known to inhibit CYP2D6 enzymes (required by the body for the metabolization of tamoxifen). One 2013 study by Dutch researchers stated that “In clinical practice, one should strive to avoid potent CYP2D6 inhibitors as much as possible in tamoxifen-treated patients to reduce the risk of compromising the efficacy of the hormonal therapy.” [4]

To make matters worse, doctors are prescribing SSRI anti-depressant medications for hot flashes and menopausal symptoms. I was too, but I politely declined my doctor’s offering of this when I was going through terrible hot flashes related to breast cancer treatments. I’m suspicious of these drugs anyway, so that made NO sense to me. Back in 2004 I didn’t even have access to any studies that suggested taking SSRI’s could put me at a higher risk for breast cancer. I just didn’t want these drugs in my body. I also refused tamoxifen due to its long list of side effects and the fact that the State of California and the American Cancer Society have listed it as a carcinogenic agent. Why on earth would we want this in our bodies?

Truthstream Media has an interesting video on this subject on YouTube:

In this video, it is stated that Paxil has a weak estrogenic effect, but enough of an effect to promote breast cancer. Also mentioned is that FORTY to FIFTY PERCENT of American women aged 40-50 are taking these SSRI anti-depressants.

The video also references an older 1999 study entitled Antidepressant Medication Use and Breast Cancer Risk, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology [5]. This study found that taking tricyclic medications (ie SSRI drugs) for more than two years was associated with a two-fold increase in the risk for breast cancer. So we have known since at least 1999 that the use of SSRI drugs could put us at a higher risk for breast cancer.

I just thought you should know about this. As a natural therapist, I wonder about the combined toxicity of tamoxifen and SSRI drugs. Taking these drugs in combination gives the liver a lot of work to do to detoxify them. If the liver is involved in detoxification of these two drugs all the time, that taxes it to an extraordinary degree.

I think there’s a much better way to go. I believe our bodies were uniquely designed to use natural foods, herbs, essential oils and other remedies for our healing. If you’d like to find out more, sign up for my free newsletters over on the right-hand side of this page.

References:

[1] Breast Cancer Recurrence Risk Related to Concurrent Use of SSRI Antidepressants and Tamoxifen – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2892037/

[2] Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors and Breast Cancer Mortality in Women Receiving Tamoxifen: a Population Based Cohort Study – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2817754/

[3] Tamoxifen and Antidepressant Drug Interaction in a Cohort of 16,887 Breast Cancer Survivors – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26631176

[4] Unjustified Prescribing of CYP2D6 Inhibiting SSRIs in Women Treated with Tamoxifen – http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10549-013-2585-z

[5] Antidepressant Medication Use and Breast Cancer Risk – http://aje.oxfordjournals.org/content/151/10/951.full.pdf

Estrogen Effects on the Brain: Much More than Sex – http://misc.karger.com/gazette/66/mcewen/art_05.htm

GET MY BEST TIPS on getting through breast cancer and preventing recurrences by signing up for my free e-newsletters and e-books on the right. You can also “like” me on Facebook (Marnie Clark, Breast Health Coach) to get my inspirational snippets, news and updates. I promise to do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.

Meditation Benefits and 4 Quick Tips To Assist You

http://MarnieClark.com/meditation-benefits-and-4-quick-tips-to-assist-youMeditation Benefits and 4 Quick Tips To Assist You

One of the things I teach newly diagnosed breast cancer patients is that meditation is wonderful for helping us to heal our bodies. For the majority of people going through breast cancer, learning meditation is one of the best things you can do, for so many reasons.

First, for stress relief (and going through cancer is NOTHING if not stressful). Another powerful reason is that when you are undergoing the various tests and treatments (some of which can also fill you with anxiety, like MRIs, CT-scans, bone scans and the like) knowing how to calm your mind and focus on something else is absolutely vital. That’s just scraping the tip of the iceberg.

Going back to the stress issue, research tells us that meditation is one of the most effective methods to relieve stress. If there’s one thing I hear about all too often from women going through breast cancer, it’s stress. Most tell me that in the lead-up to their cancer diagnosis they were struggling with some form of unrelenting stress. And this, they feel, is what let cancer in the door. It was the same for me.

So why is meditation so powerful?

According to the latest research, meditation can help you “rewire” your brain, so that you are less stressed, you have improved focus and ability to concentrate, less anxiety, more creativity, and your memory can also improve! How great is that!

Do you need some help getting started? If you’re anything like me, I didn’t really know where to begin. I struggled. My mind would NOT shut up. Here are four quick tips that will help you.

Step 1. Prepare for meditation.

Set aside some time – it doesn’t have to be a long time, perhaps just 20 minutes. If you only have two minutes, take two minutes. Those could be the most important two minutes of your day! Get a drink of water. Go to the bathroom if necessary. Shut the door so you can have some quiet time. Find a comfortable position (but not too comfortable or you might fall asleep). Loosen tight clothing. If you want to have meditation music playing in the background, put it on. You could also breathe in essential oils to help you focus your mind if you wish (frankincense, lavender or sandalwood are helpful). These things are helpful, but definitely not a requirement. When I worked in an office, I would just sit in the ladies room and meditate for a few minutes – it was the only place I could find some relative peace and quiet.

Step 2. Relax.

Once you’re in a comfortable position, allow your body and mind to relax. There are many techniques to help you relax and what works for one may not work for another. If you need some help finding a good relaxation technique, click here. Allow your mind to just let go. Let there be no effort involved with this. If you find yourself thinking about something, just let it go by like a cloud floating past in the sky. Try not to feel irritated with yourself, just let it go.

Step 3. Mindfulness.

One of the ways you can utilize meditation is with something called mindfulness meditation. Without getting into too much detail, begin to focus your mind on your breath. Just feel it moving into and out of your body. Be aware of your body in time and space. Allow for stillness. Be present. If your mind wanders off, gently bring it back to the present moment.

Step 4. Notice.

Just begin to notice your mind growing more and more still. Look for the gaps between your thoughts. As one meditation guru puts it, those gaps are where the magic happens. It can’t be described, you just have to wait for it, experience it yourself. It may not happen immediately, but increasingly the stillness of your mind becomes more familiar to you. You may notice that as you sit quietly in meditation, your cold hands or feet get warm – this is a lovely reminder that quieting the mind helps the energy, the chi, flow through you better. I sometimes see swirling colored lights behind my closed eyes, rather like the aurora borealis. I notice my nervous system quieting and calming. Meditation is like a healing balm for the nerves.

I hope that helps, but if you still have questions, I created a series of 7 videos answering questions about meditation. Check them out, your question might be answered in one of them.

Why Should I Meditate?
How Do I Keep My Mind From Wandering?
How Do I Find Time to Meditate?
How Do You Know You’re Meditating and Not Just Sitting There?
What Is the Best Meditation Technique For Beginners?
Can I Use Meditation for Healing?
Teaching You How to Meditate

From Ian Gawler, cancer survivor, author, and meditation/health teacher:

Having prepared well, we relax.

Relaxing more deeply, we become more mindful.

As our mindfulness develops, the stillness naturally reveals itself.

We rest in open, undistracted awareness.

There is nothing to do. Simply be aware. Open. Undistracted. Aware.

It is as simple, and as difficult as that.”

Need Help With Your Meditation Practice?

Back in 2004 when I was going through treatments for my breast cancer, I knew that meditation could hold the key to my struggle with stress, and thus possibly the key to my healing.

But I had a very hard time finding a good guided meditation for cancer patients that would lead me through a series of calming visualizations and help me to focus my mind. There were lots of meditation CDs available (no downloads then!) and I tried most of them, but each one had something that drove me crazy – it would be intrusive background music or the person narrating it would have some annoying trait. I finally decided to create my own how-to-meditate course, called Change Your Life Meditation Course (click that link to find out more).

I created it for people who lived in small towns without access to meditation classes, for busy people who just wanted some help and guidance with their meditation practice. If that sounds good to you, click here.

Not sure? Want a free sample? Check out my free guided meditation. This is the very meditation I used each and every day (instead of radiation, but that’s a whole different story).

GET MY BEST TIPS on getting through breast cancer and preventing recurrences by signing up for my free e-newsletters and e-books on the right. You can also “like” me on Facebook (Marnie Clark, Breast Health Coach) to get my inspirational snippets, news and updates. I promise to do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.