Taking the Scare Out of Breast Cancer Treatment Decisions

If you have recently been diagnosed with breast cancer, that alone can scare the heck out of you. Then, to make matters worse, you’re expected to make a bunch of decisions about the treatments being offered to you for the type of breast cancer you have. I mean, let’s face it – you just found out you have breast cancer. Now you’re expected to make some really important decisions based on what your doctor is telling you. It’s enough to send you looney, and it’s no wonder people often make decisions they later come to regret. Let me help you take the scare out of breast cancer treatment decisions.

Let’s slow it all down, shall we? Watch my video. You have time to make these decisions. In all likelihood, your tumor has been growing for a number of years. Taking a little time out to come to terms with (a) the fact that you’ve been diagnosed, (b) the fact that you have a bunch of important decisions to make, and (c) you have no idea what you’re doing. Taking a little time will not hurt in the long run. Just don’t get stuck in that place and make no decisions at all – that wouldn’t be a good thing.

If you need help, send me a message. I have loads of resources and articles for you to delve into. I am available for coaching – call it information gathering. Whatever you want to call it, I can help. Don’t go through this alone.

The Impact of Intermittent Fasting for Breast Cancer Patients

The Impact of Intermittent Fasting for Breast Cancer Patients

If fasting is a new concept to you, it might not sound like much fun because we are conditioned to eat frequently. However, if you are actively battling breast cancer, or are a breast cancer survivor, there are ample reasons for choosing to fast now and then, and today I’m going to share with you exactly what fasting can do for you.

To fast is to purposely withhold food for a finite period of time. Fasting is nothing new – it was used by our ancient ancestors for millennia. Whether they were fasting due to the scarcity of food, or for spiritual or healing reasons, our ancestors frequently utilized fasting. Fasting only fell out of favor as a method of healing in recent decades. Doctors who practiced in the earlier part of the 20th century knew about the benefits of fasting and frequently prescribed it for their patients.

There are at least 19 science-backed reasons for fasting [1], [2], [3], [4], [5]. Fasting has the ability to:

  1. Stimulate genetic healing mechanisms
  2. Turn off “bad” genes
  3. Regenerate the immune system
  4. Stimulate autophagy, the body’s ability to break down old cells and reuse them to make new cells
  5. Regenerate healthy stem cells
  6. Reduce chronic inflammation (and cancer is an inflammatory process)
  7. Help reset and optimize hormone levels
  8. Create more efficient energy
  9. Take stress off digestive system, regenerate tight junctions in the gut, repair gut microbiome
  10. Decrease healing and repair times because energy isn’t being used to digest food
  11. Improve cell-to-cell communication
  12. Enhance fat burning and weight loss
  13. Optimize release of human growth hormone
  14. Improve cognitive function and mental health
  15. Help body rid itself of viruses, bacteria and fungi
  16. Help body make stronger, healthier, more stress-resistant cells
  17. Improve insulin sensitivity
  18. Reduce chronic disease risk
  19. Improve your relationship with food

What Happens During Intermittent Fasting?

When you are fasting and only drinking water, you use up immediately available sources of energy in the form of glucose. Once the glucose is burned, glycogen stored in the liver is burned. Once those two are depleted, the body is forced to use stored fats for energy, a process known as ketosis. It is important to note that muscle proteins are NOT used for fuel during fasting. This only occurs during periods of starvation or certain disease processes, but not when you are fasting intermittently.

Fasting to Reduce Breast Cancer Recurrence

We have several studies that indicate fasting for short periods of time is especially beneficial to reduce risk of breast cancer. [6], [7] One of the most compelling studies appeared in 2016 in the journal JAMA Oncology [7]. Researchers investigated the benefits of fasting with breast cancer survivors, analyzing data from the Women’s Healthy Eating and Living (WHEL) study. They found that those women who fasted for at least 13 hours overnight had a huge 36% risk reduction for breast cancer recurrence. 13 was definitely the “lucky” number – fasting for only 12 hours did not have the same effects of risk reduction.

The lead author of the study, Dr Catherine Marinac, stated “Increasing the duration of overnight fasting could be a novel strategy to reduce the risk of developing breast cancer. This is a simple dietary change that we believe most women can understand and adopt. It may have a big impact on public health without requiring complicated counting of calories or nutrients.”

For one thing, blood sugar levels decrease with prolonged periods of fasting. Researchers found that women who fasted for longer periods of time overnight had better blood glucose control. Each 3-hour increase in overnight fasting was associated with a 4% lower glucose level, regardless of how much women ate.

The best part is that fasting doesn’t cost a thing – just your dedication. 13 hours of fasting is pretty easy to do. You simply stop eating at a predetermined time, say 7:00 pm (the time you begin is up to you), and have nothing but water until 8:00 am the next day when you break your fast. Most of that time you’ll be asleep, so 13 hours of fasting poses no real difficulty. I’m speaking from experience, I do this almost every day and it’s easy. Fasting for longer than 13 hours provides even more benefits, although it can be more challenging to do. Read on.

Regenerating Healthy Stem Cells with Fasting

Stem cells are the cells that give rise to other necessary cells. They are basically building blocks for cells and their role is to create different types of cells. They do this by dividing – when a stem cell divides, each new cell will either be a stem cell or will morph into one of many different cells such as muscle, nerve, red blood cells, and so on. These are specialized cells required for growth and repair, they help rebuild damaged or diseased tissues.

Creating healthy stem cells is super important for breast cancer survivors, because if you’ve been through the gamut of conventional medicine like chemotherapy or radiation, it has been observed that those two therapies induce cancer stem cells – stem cells that give rise to more cancer. Also, increasingly, there exists a rare sub-population of cancer stem cells which are resistant to chemotherapy. [8], [9]

So when I found out that intermittent fasting helped to create healthy stem cells, I knew you’d want to know about this. Here’s what I found out. In order to promote healthy stem cells using intermittent fasting, you need to fast for at least 2 days. 3 days of fasting appears to work even better. For more information, see the section “Here’s How to Go About Longer Periods of Fasting”, below.

Regenerating the Immune System with Fasting

A 2014 clinical study [10] asked participants to fast for 2-4 days on a regular basis over a 6-month period. Researchers found that there was a significant decrease in the production of PKA, an enzyme associated with an increased risk of cancer and tumor growth. There was also a reduction in Insulin Growth Factor-1 (IGF-1), known to promote each of the key stages of cancer development including growth of cancer cells, blood vessel growth in cancerous tissue, and spread (metastasis). As if that weren’t enough, researchers also found that the immune systems of the participants appeared to regenerate. These findings are especially exciting for those who have had their immune systems blasted away by chemotherapy and radiation.

Professor Valter Longo, lead researcher of the study, said “When you starve, the system tries to save energy, and one of the things it can do to save energy is to recycle a lot of the immune cells that are not needed, especially those that may be damaged.” This is a process called autophagy. According to the study’s findings, by fasting for 3 days, followed by eating a healthy diet full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, this regenerates the cells of the immune system.

The study’s co-author, Dr Tanya Dorff, stated “While chemotherapy saves lives, it causes significant collateral damage to the immune system. The results of this study suggest that fasting may mitigate some of the harmful effects of chemotherapy. More clinical studies are needed, and any such dietary intervention should be undertaken only under the guidance of a physician.”

Intermittent Fasting Improves Chemotherapy

Cancer patients are generally told to eat whatever they want when undergoing chemotherapy. It’s pretty bad advice, too. Integrative oncologists and oncology naturopaths know better, and advise their patients undergoing chemotherapy to eat loads of fruits and vegetables to help offset the collateral damage of chemotherapy. We are also finding out that intermittent fasting can assist. For cancer patients, water fasting for 2-3 days prior to treatment and up to 1 day following treatment not only helps the chemotherapy work better, but it reduces treatment-related side effects and toxicity. Several studies [11], [12], [13], [14] have found that short-term fasting retards cancer growth, selectively protects normal cells from chemotherapy toxicity, and does not interfere with the therapeutic effect of the chemotherapy. Prior to fasting, however, please ask your oncologist if you are well enough and strong enough to do this.

Here’s How to Go About Longer Periods of Fasting

If shorter periods of fasting – from 12-16 hours – goes well for you, and you have stable blood sugar levels and your doctor says it’s okay, try some longer periods of fasting. They will definitely be more challenging for you, but if you are wanting to improve stem cell regeneration and immunity, this is definitely worth pursuing. You will probably notice that the first few hours goes just fine, but as you approach lunch time and dinner time, your body is going to expect to be fed. You will be uncomfortable at times. It’s crucial to prepare yourself mentally prior to fasting. See below for other tips on longer periods of fasting for ideas on how to get through it.

36 Hours of Fasting – 1-1/2 days

With this fast, it is recommended that you eat your last meal on a Saturday night (this is optional – the days you choose are up to you), fast all day on Sunday, and break the fast on Monday morning with some green juice. During this fast, you can have all the water you wish – filtered water or sparkling water from glass bottles is best. You may add the following things to your water (they are optional):

• occasional addition of a tiny bit of sea salt or pink Himalayan salt, which helps to replace lost electrolytes and minerals – useful if you get any muscle cramping while fasting
• a wedge of fresh lemon or lime for a little flavor and antioxidants
• a drop of your choice of essential oil (citrus oils are nice) for flavor and antioxidants
• 1 teaspoonful of coconut oil or a cup of non-sweetened herbal tea – only if you are really struggling with fasting and feeling quite hungry

3 Days of Fasting

This is the fast recommended for stem cell renewal and immune system regeneration. This one could be done monthly or even quarterly, or time it to changes of season. For this fast, you can drink as much filtered water as you like, herbal teas and organic bone broth. To prepare your body for this longer fast, it is recommended for the 2-3 days prior to fasting that you eat a healthy, mainly organic, raw food diet so that there are plenty of antioxidants and phytochemicals present in your body to aid the renewal process. Make sure blood sugar levels are well balanced. Be sure to read “8 Tips for Longer Fasts” below.

8 Tips for Longer Fasts

  1. If you have diabetes (any type), you should speak to your doctor to see if longer periods of fasting are safe for you. For many, it will be okay and probably even encouraged because decreasing levels of glucose are good for you and fasting creates this. Some doctors (especially integrative doctors) believe that intermittent fasting and low carbohydrate or ketogenic diets are one of the best ways to deal with diabetes.
  2. If you have cancer and also have cachexia (muscle wasting), longer periods of fasting may not be the best thing for you, so be sure to ask your doctor about it prior to undertaking fasting. For you, it may be better to do daily fasting (for instance the 13 hour fast discussed above).
  3. If you get the go-ahead from your doctor for fasting, prior to doing an extended fast, transition into eating a healthy, mainly organic, plant-based diet and reduce meat eating. This will give your body the building blocks it needs to keep going during the fast.
  4. Water drinking helps to suppress that feeling of hunger and you can drink as much water as you wish. Fill yourself up with water when fasting – take a big mouthful because that is similar to eating a mouthful of food – it keeps your digestive tract working. It will also make you urinate a lot, but that’s a god thing, it helps with the detoxification process.
  5. Create an environment that is conducive to rest and fasting. Don’t plan on doing much during this 3 days of fasting. Give yourself permission to rest and relax. If you can, take time off work, perhaps go into the country where you can be out in nature and breathe in clean air, and focus on your body’s healing. Stay away from stress as much as possible – both physical and mental. Consider this a healing break. We should all be doing this!
  6. During those times when you are struggling with fasting, employing mind-body techniques like yoga and meditation really help to take your mind off the urge to eat. Or go for a gentle stroll outside.
  7. When you do resume eating, go slow. If you have fasted for 3 days, take the next 3 days to eat really mindfully, avoiding prepackaged and GMO foods. Avoid stuffing yourself full of any food, because after fasting for 3 days, your body will have decreased amounts of digestive enzymes, so don’t go out and eat a steak dinner. Allow at least one full day of slowly reintroducing food that is easy to digest like fresh juices (not bottled), kefir water, herbal teas, fruits, fermented foods for your gut, freshly prepared vegetable soups, and organic bone broth. Take digestive enzymes to help you digest the food you do eat.
  8. Especially avoid eating junk food when you resume eating. As you begin to incorporate intermittent fasting into your life, you will notice that the junk food cravings ease over time anyway.

Mix Up Periods of Intermittent Fasting

Various studies have found that the best benefits of fasting occur when people mix up the types of fasting they do – it keeps their bodies constantly having to adapt and that appears to work very well for us. In other words, rather than keeping with the exact same type of fasting you always do, choose one day to fast for 16 hours, then several days later you could fast for 14 hours. Occasionally, do the 36-hour fast and quarterly, do the 3-day fast.

As you can see, intermittent fasting has some very real applications for the cancer patient. By combining a healthy organic diet with exercising at least 30 minutes per day, and doing some intermittent fasting, you can reduce inflammation, promote healthy stem cells, replenish your immune system – and all of these are vital for reducing breast cancer risk/recurrence. So start to develop your fasting discipline (and make no mistake, it is a discipline) – I think you’re going to love how you feel afterward.


[1] Fasting: Molecular Mechanisms and Clinical Applications – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3946160/

[2] Impact of intermittent fasting on health and disease processes – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5411330/

[3] Fasting therapy for treating and preventing disease – current state of evidence – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24434759

[4] Fasting and cancer treatment in humans: A case series report – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2815756/

[5] Calorie restriction and cancer prevention: metabolic and molecular mechanisms – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2829867/

[6] Biomarkers of dietary energy restriction in women at increased risk of breast cancer – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19656771

[7] Prolonged Nightly Fasting and Breast Cancer Prognosis – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4982776/

[8] Radiation induces the generation of cancer stem cells: A novel mechanism for cancer radioresistance – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5103903/

[9] Therapeutic resistance and tumor-initiation: Molecular pathways involved in breast cancer stem cell self-renewal – https://ascopubs.org/doi/abs/10.1200/jco.2007.25.18_suppl.528

[10] Prolonged Fasting Reduces IGF-1/PKA to Promote Hematopoietic-Stem-Cell-Based Regeneration and Reverse Immunosuppression – https://www.cell.com/cell-stem-cell/fulltext/S1934-5909(14)00151-9?_returnURL=https%3A%2F%2Flinkinghub.elsevier.com%2Fretrieve%2Fpii%2FS1934590914001519%3Fshowall%3Dtrue

[11] Fasting and differential chemotherapy protection in patients – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3048045/

[12] Fasting vs dietary restriction in cellular protection and cancer treatment: from model organisms to patients – https://www.nature.com/articles/onc201191

[13] Fasting Cycles Retard Growth of Tumors and Sensitize a Range of Cancer Cell Types to Chemotherapy – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3608686/

[14] Fasting Enhances the Response of Glioma to Chemo- and Radiotherapy – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3439413/

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.

Kool Relief from Radiation Burns

Kool Relief from Radiation Burns

Ever on the outlook for awesome products for my people going through therapies for breast cancer, I wanted to share with you a unique product  that has recently come to my attention called Kool Relief. It was designed using thermodynamics to ease the damage to skin and underlying tissues that occurs during radiotherapy sessions. First a brief explanation of how radiation burns occur.

How Radiation Burns Occur

Radiotherapy targets cancer cells but can also damage or kill off healthy cells. Radiotherapy is administered in repeated doses over a period of days or weeks, and it can cause problems for the body’s natural repair processes because the skin exposed to the treatment is damaged faster than it can repair itself.

Treatment-related factors that can increase the risk and severity of skin reactions include high cumulative doses, the type of beam used to deliver the radiation, a large treatment field, treatment to areas with skin folds such as under the breast, and delivery together with certain chemotherapy drugs. Moderate to severe reactions can occur toward the end of radiotherapy treatments, weeks after treatment, or with a cumulative radiation dose of 45 to 60 Gray (Gy), a measure of radiation dose.

Radiation Dermatitis Can Occur and it Hurts!

One of the most common side effects of radiation therapy is a skin condition called radiation dermatitis. This can range from a mild, red rash, known as erythema, and/or itchy, peeling or flaking skin known as dry desquamation, to a more severe reaction with blisters and wet, peeling skin, known as moist desquamation. These are a direct result of radiation, the symptoms can take up to 90 days to show up, and they an be quite painful.

Another reaction can occur, called radiation recall, which is a rash that looks like a severe sunburn. Although rare, it occurs when certain types of chemotherapy are given during or subsequent to external beam radiation therapy. The rash appears on the part of the body that received radiation and symptoms may include redness, tenderness, swelling, wet sores, and peeling skin. Typically, these side effects start within days or weeks of radiation therapy. But it can also appear months or years later.

Damage from radiation therapy doesn’t end with the skin. Damage  can also occur along the entire radiation beam’s path, resulting in burns and irritation even to underlying tissues. The burned and irritated tissue generates heat that overtaxes the body’s natural defenses because the body has no natural method of efficiently ridding itself of concentrated heat in tissues. Thermal testing during radiation therapy shows that temperatures can rise 4 to 8.5 degrees in radiation-treated tissue over the patients’ body baseline temperatures.

Traditional Remedies Don’t Work Well

Doctors offer only over-the-counter pain killers and skin care products for radiation burns, many of them full of toxic chemicals. Applying these products to the skin does not provide instant pain relief, and for some the discomfort is excruciating. Even moderate radiation burns can affect a patient’s comfort and quality of life and can be an obstacle to the healing process for an already vulnerable patient. For those unlucky enough to experience severe radiation burns, treatment  may be delayed or changed, and that can compromise the effectiveness of such treatment.

Kool Relief to the Rescue

Kool Relief is the brainchild of inventor Mark LeLong, as the result of having a loved one diagnosed with breast cancer. When she went through radiotherapy and had the resulting radiation dermatitis, Mark decided he could do something about that. He had thorough knowledge of engineering principles and thermodynamics. He researched how best to draw heat from burned tissue, and the most efficient mechanism he found for heat exchange was the heat sink.

A heat sink is best known for its use in computers. It is a passive heat exchanger that transfers the heat generated by an electronic or a mechanical device to a fluid medium, often air or a liquid coolant, where it is dissipated away from the device, thereby allowing regulation of the device’s temperature at optimal levels.

Further study and research found that medical grade aluminum could serve as an efficient heat sink for the human body. Adding the ‘blades’ into the design increased the surface area to carry out heat exchange more rapidly. Mark tested the device with his loved one, and it provided the immediate relief he had hoped for. More volunteers were enlisted, and test results again and again proved the device to be immensely successful.

Kool Relief treats radiation burns directly by employing a basic first aid rule, ‘Cool the burn and avoid the pain.’ Kool Relief’s design forces damaging, painful heat to travel away from tender skin and tissue. Once heat is removed, all that remains is cool comfort. Rapid heat removal saves healthy tissue from damage and  pain.

When the smooth, cupped side of the Kool Relief disk is applied to the burned area, heat is absorbed into the device, passes through the opposite side and dissipates into the air. The disk never gets hot, and the body feels a cool sensation that calms and soothes away pain and discomfort.

The instant Kool Relief touches affected skin, inflammatory heat leaves the body. The skin  and underlying tissues are cooled,  thus sidestepping pain and providing immediate cooling relief.

Kool Relief:

· Provides rapid, completely natural, non-chemical relief for radiation burns on any part of the body;
· Is always cool to the touch without refrigeration, but never cold as ice. If it gets warm you just wave it in the air for a few moments and that cools it down again;
· Is compact and portable, with a discreet design for privacy and ease of use;
· Can be used during and after radiotherapy treatments.

It’s a pretty cool little unit. It’s hand-machined from medical grade aluminum alloy, it’s dishwasher safe, it has no moving parts or electronic parts so it will not need to be repaired, serviced or replaced, it uses no batteries or electricity,  and it’s completely recyclable so it’s environmentally friendly.  All in all, a unique product and people are loving the relief they are getting. For more information, go to the Kool Relief website.

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.  

How To Protect Your Skin During Radiation Treatment for Breast Cancer

Image Source: freedigitalphotos.net / khunaspix

Image Source: freedigitalphotos.net / khunaspix

How To Protect Your Skin During Radiation Treatment for Breast Cancer

I am frequently asked by those just about to begin radiation treatment for breast cancer what cream or lotion or ointment they can use to minimize the harsh effects of the radiation on their skin. That’s a great question and I’m always glad that they know this is important. I will answer it shortly.  First it’s important to know what the possible side effects of radiation are.

The Skin Problems You May Encounter With Radiation

Taking care of your skin during and after radiation treatment is really important.  Some of the skin changes that can be experienced during radiation treatment include redness, itching, dryness, swelling and peeling. In some extreme cases there can also be blistering (as with a sunburn), infections, fever and swelling – these symptoms should always be reported to your doctor.

Most of these effects do go away within weeks but sometimes people are left with long-term problems with their skin, such as fibrosis and/or pigmentation changes. For those who have had mastectomies, followed by radiation, followed by breast reconstruction with tissue expanders, there can be real problems.  If nothing is done to manage the side effects of the radiation therapy, the skin can often be quite damaged and this makes the tissue expanders and silicone implants used with breast reconstruction more difficult and uncomfortable because radiated skin can lose its elasticity and be tight and dry.

What NOT To Use

Some women are recommended to have a product such as Eucerin Aquaphor healing ointment.  Now I don’t wish to denigrate a company’s product but no one should be putting this stuff on their breast (or anywhere else for that matter).  Here is the list of ingredients:
Petrolatum, Mineral oil, Ceresin, Lanolin Alcohol, Panthenol, Glycerin, Bisabolol. These look pretty harmless unless you know something about these ingredients.

Petrolatum is a by-product of the petroleum industry, it’s full of xenoestrogens (environmental estrogens) that put us at a higher risk for breast cancer.  No way you should be using anything with petrolatum in the ingredients. Mineral oil is no better, It’s an extremely cheap and commonly used byproduct from crude oil and is a known xenoestrogen.  For more information on xenoestrogens, see my article Protect Yourself From Xenoestrogens and Estrogen Dominance.

Ceresin is a wax derived from ozocerite, a naturally occurring fossil wax found near soft shale. That sounds safe, right? Maybe not. This ingredient has been shown to cause skin irritation and sensitization in some people. You can check it out on the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database (reference below).

Lanolin is a wax obtained from the sebaceous gland of sheep. Years ago, lanolin was a good thing and has been used down through the centuries for moisturizing the skin and for softening leather. Sounds nice and natural, right? But there are hidden problems with lanolin. For one thing, lanolin is removed from sheepskin and wool with chemical scouring. Also, sheep are routinely dipped in pesticides and chemicals such as organochlorine, organophosphate, and pyrethroid to kill parasites. You can be sure that these toxic chemicals will concentrate in the lanolin – studies show that these chemicals bind to lanolin because of its waxy consistency and become concentrated in the lanolin. No way do you want to use anything with lanolin in it on your irradiated tissues.

Panthenol is derived from vitamin B-5. I have no problem with this ingredient, as far as I know, it is a safe ingredient.

Glycerin is chemically produced by combining water and fat, usually from vegetables, and while that sounds nice and natural (you can guess what’s coming!), these days it is generally made from GMO (genetically modified) vegetables such as corn and beets, and people are beginning to have problems with this. Sometimes glycerin is derived from the jatropha plant and back in 2012 the FDA sent out a notification that oils, glycerin, and proteins, if derived from the jatropha plant, may contain toxins. Glycerin actually draws moisture from the lower layers of the skin and holds it on the surface, thus drying the skin from the inside out and that won’t help you during radiotherapy.

Bisabolol is a plant-based chemical derived from certain essential oils. In this formulation it is probably not organically grown, so may be another source of toxic chemicals.

Parabens are chemical preservatives. Be sure not to use anything that contains propylparaben or methylparaben, these are usually the last ingredient in the list, they are associated with breast tumors. Prof Darbre at Reading University in the UK has been studying the effect of parabens on breast tissue for many years and has observed that 99% of human breast tissue samples collected contained parabens.  Her most recent research appears below. Parabens are causing major problems for our breast health.

You Have To Be A Label Reader!

All of this just shows why I teach that you MUST become a label reader when it comes to your body products and cosmetics.  You have to know what’s in them, otherwise you may just be putting yourself at risk for breast cancer (or risk of recurrence).

I am frequently asked for my recommendation on what to do about keeping skin healthy and protected against the burning experienced during radiotherapy so I am happy to share that here.  Although I chose not to have radiotherapy, a number of my coaching clients have used this protocol and it works wonderfully, includes no toxic chemicals nor (most importantly) anything that would hamper the radiotherapy process.

Avoid The Burned Boob!  Marnie’s Skin Protection Protocol During Radiotherapy Treatments

Two weeks prior to commencement of radiotherapy, follow this routine daily. Once radiotherapy commences, follow this routine twice per day, but making sure not to do this within an hour prior to radiotherapy appointment.

  1. Using a cotton pad soaked in organic calendula officinalis oil like this one, apply liberally to area to be irradiated.  It will soak in and should leave no residue that you need to wash off.
  2. Once that has soaked in, then apply a sufficient quantity of organic aloe vera gel (this is a good brand). Saturate tissue with this.
  3. Lastly, dilute 1-2 drops of a medicinal grade lavender essential oil (organic is best if you can get it) in one teaspoonful of organic coconut oil (this is a good brand) or organic hempseed oil (this is a good one) and apply that to the area.
  4. Repeat again at bedtime or the next morning, but not within one hour of the next radiotherapy session.

If you are not in the USA, the links above will not work for you. Check with suppliers in your region or let me know if you need help locating something.

So to recap – two weeks prior to commencement of radiotherapy, you are following this protocol once per day. Once radiotherapy commences, you are using the calendula oil, the aloe vera gel, and the lavender oil mixed with coconut or hempseed oil twice per day (or more as your skin requires).  Continue this procedure on the weekends as well and continue doing this for at least three weeks after the treatments end.  The difference between following this protocol and not doing it is quite stunning. For my clients who follow this protocol, expressions of amazement and delight are frequently made by the radiology tech people, who can’t believe their patients are faring so well.

Why does it work so well?

The calendula oil helps to heal the skin and works better than the commonly prescribed remedies, and it has anti-cancer properties. The aloe vera gel is well known for its burn healing benefits, plus one study showed it may also assist radiotherapy to do its job better. The lavender oil helps to heal burns and wounds and has natural anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, pain relieving and anti-cancer properties. Coconut oil helps to heal burns and keeps the skin well nourished with its essential fatty acids. Hempseed oil has pain relieving, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-cancer, anti-fungal and neuroprotective properties.

Other tips – keep the area out of the sun while you are going through radiotherapy.  Wear loose fitting cotton or natural fiber clothing.  Avoid chlorine whenever you can, both in swimming pools and in shower water (use a good shower filter like this).

For more information on the healing effects of calendula, see my article The Benefits of Calendula Officinalis for Radiodermatitis.  Also learn how curcumin can help you at this time: Going Through Radiotherapy For Breast Cancer? Better Take Curcumin


Relationship between everyday use cosmetics and female breast cancerhttp://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24694726

Parabens can enable hallmarks and characteristics of cancer in human breast epithelial cells: a review of the literature with reference to new exposure data and regulatory status — http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25047802

Phase III Randomized Trial of Calendula Officinalis Compared with Trolamine for the Prevention of Acute Dermatitis During Irradiation for Breast Cancer – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15084618

Anti-inflammatory, Anti-tumor-promoting, and Cytotoxic Activities of Constituents of Marigold (Calendula Officinalis) Flowers – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17190444

Radio Sensitizing Effect of Aloe Polysaccharide on Pancreatic Cancer Bxpc-3 Cells – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27393447

Burn Wound Healing Property of Cocos Nucifera: an Appraisal – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2792613/




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. 

Going Through Radiotherapy For Breast Cancer? Better Take Curcumin!

Image Source: freedigitalphotos.net / artur84

Image Source: freedigitalphotos.net / artur84

Going Through Radiotherapy For Breast Cancer?  Better Take Curcumin!

If you are currently going through radiotherapy for breast cancer, you would be well advised to include curcumin in your daily supplement regime.  I’ll share why in a moment.

First, however, a little rant.  I am frequently told by women going through breast cancer that when they asked their oncologist or their radiologist whether there were certain supplements which would help them get through the treatments, without much variation they are told “Just eat what you want to, evidence doesn’t support that a certain diet or supplements will help you.”


Anyone who advises that nutrition is unimportant for people going through cancer is both ill-informed and dangerous.  Ill-informed because the research is out there!  Evidence that nutrition makes a huge difference is comprehensive.   And I say they are dangerous because such advice causes vulnerable people to ignore or disregard a source of significant help which would improve both their quality of life and their survival.   Good nutrition can indeed reduce the risk of developing cancer, it can slow the rate of progression, and it can very effectively stop recurrences.  Okay, rant over.  Back to curcumin and how it can help with radiotherapy.

Should you not be familiar with curcumin, it is a yellow pigment derived from turmeric, a common root used for spice and cooking.

In a 2007 study, Radioprotection and Radiosensitization By Curcumin, researchers found that  curcumin “…has been reported to protect various study systems against the deleterious effects induced by ionizing radiation and to enhance the effect of radiation. Therefore, curcumin can be very useful during radiotherapy of cancer.  Administration of curcumin in patients will be able to kill the tumor cells effectively by enhancing the effect of radiation and, at the same time, protect normal cells against the harmful effects of radiation.”

In plainer language, this means that curcumin was found to be protective against the harmful effects that occur as a result of radiotherapy, and that curcumin actually enhanced the effect of radiotherapy.

The available information on curcumin suggests that its protective effects may be due to its ability to reduce oxidative stress and inhibit transcription of the genes related to oxidative stress and inflammatory responses.  In addition, curcumin’s ability to enhance radiotherapy could be due to the upregulation of genes responsible for cell death.

A newer Iranian study published in 2013 and done with prostate cancer patients, A Pilot Clinical Trial of Radioprotective Effects of Curcumin Supplementation in Patients with Prostate Cancer found that “Curcumin can confer radioprotective effect in patients with prostate cancer who undergo radiation therapy through reducing the severity of radiotherapy related urinary symptoms.”

I think the best article, and the most relevant one to date is The Effect Of Curcumin On Breast Cancer Cells published in the Journal of Breast Cancer in June 2013.  Although this one didn’t study curcumin’s effects for those going through radiotherapy for breast cancer, take the time to read the study because it will make a believer out of you that curcumin has a powerful chemotherapeutic role to play in the treatment of breast cancer.

For more information about curcumin, particularly its benefits for cancer patients, and for specific dosages, see my article Harvest the Power of Curcumin To Kill Breast Cancer Cells.

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The Benefits of Calendula Officinalis For Radiodermatitis

Image Source: freeimages.com / claudmey

Image Source: freeimages.com / claudmey

The Benefits of Calendula Officinalis For Radiodermatitis

I had an interesting exchange of emails this week with one of my subscribers who was asking me about the benefits of calendula for radiodermatitis (a/k/a the Burned Boob).

Because of my ongoing herbal studies, I am quite well acquainted with the herb calendula officinalis for many health complaints, chief amongst them being the healing of skin complaints like eczema, wound healing, insect bites, etc and it does this mainly through its antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.

Research on Calendula Officinalis and Radiodermatitis

I decided to see if there had been any recent research on calendula, I wanted to satisfy myself that it could be safely used as a healing agent after radiotherapy treatments so as to prevent the dreaded Burned Boob.

I found a very interesting 2004 study: Phase III randomized trial of Calendula officinalis compared with trolamine for the prevention of dermatitis during irradiation for breast cancer which indicated that calendula officinalis was highly effective for the prevention of acute dermatitis for postoperative patients undergoing radiation for breast cancer, better than the trolamine that was usually recommended.  The patients used a particular brand, Boiron, a French company, and it is widely available in many parts of the world.

I also found a 2013 study comparing calendula cream with another widely used aqueous cream called Essex: No differences between Calendula cream and aqueous cream in the prevention of acute radiation skin reactions–results from a randomised blinded trial.  This study, as can be gleaned from the title, found there was no difference between the effects of the calendula cream compared with Essex cream on patients undergoing radiotherapy.  That might be so, however, if you have a look at the ingredients for the Essex cream, it is full of petroleum products, which are known xenoestrogens (see my article Unraveling the Mystery of Xenoestrogens and Estrogen Dominance for more information on the hazards of xenoestrogens) and hormone disruptors, and put us at a higher risk for breast cancer.  Why anyone would recommend Essex cream to a woman who is undergoing treatments for breast cancer seems to me to be irresponsible.

To be fair, there were problems with a few of the ingredients in the Boiron cream as well – both Pegoxol-7 stearate and sodium hydroxide are moderate hazards, according to the Environmental Working Group website, Skin Deep.

Calendula Officinalis Has Anti-Tumor Properties

While scrolling through the list of research on the pubmed.gov website, I came across an interesting 2006 study that indicated calendula officinalis also has anti-tumor properties, as well as having a positive effect on lymphocytes, an important part of the immune system.  The study is titled A new extract of the plant Calendula officinalis produces a dual in vitro effect: cytotoxic anti-tumor activity and lymphocyte activation.  Please read it – I believe this to be important information for anyone going through breast cancer.

I do recommend the use of calendula officinalis for avoiding the Burned Boob.  I do believe, however, that the empowered patient must find a good organic calendula cream or gel and it should be used after each treatment (you might have to clear it with your radiologist however).

Here are a few good ones I found for you:

Weleda Calendula Healing Cream (available in the USA, UK and Australia)

Four Cow Farm Organic Calendula Remedy (Australian company)

Roseneath Organics Calendula Cream (Australian company)

Mukti Calendula Cream (Australian company) – this one also has the benefit of organic aloe vera in it, an especially good healing agent for radiodermatitis.

Lotioncrafter Certified Organic Calendula Extract (USA company, ships internationally)

I hope that helps you – and please contact me if you need any more information or assistance.

If you would like to receive my best tips on getting through breast cancer and preventing recurrences, just  sign up for my free e-newsletters and e-books on the right, and/or “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com). I promise to do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond. 


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