In order to provide my HER 2 positive patients with the best new information and research, today I’m sharing an informative article which recently appeared in Life Extension Magazine about epigenetics and the nutrients which research demonstrates are proving to be extremely useful against this form of breast cancer.
The science known as epigenetics is helping individuals to understand the enormous control we have on whether or not we develop cancer. Epigenetics is the study of heritable changes in gene function that do not involve changes in DNA sequence. This new science is teaching us that we can use factors such as nutrition to turn a gene on and off. For a better, more in-depth explanation of epigenetics, see the Wikipedia entry.
This is important because genes contain the blueprint for the various proteins a cell needs to stay healthy and function normally. Some genes and the proteins they make can influence how a breast cancer tumor behaves and how it might respond to a specific treatment. Cancer cells are tested to see which genes are normal and abnormal, and the proteins they make can also be tested.
What is HER 2 Positive Breast Cancer?
HER 2 positive is a type of breast cancer that has an over-expression of the HER2/neu gene and its associated protein HER2 (Human Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor 2). Science has found that those with HER2+ breast cancer seem to have a higher chance of disease recurrence.
Your pathology report, which gives you information about your particular tumor, will give you information about your HER 2 status.
Up To 50% of Breast Cancer Cases May Be Preventable
According to Alexander Johnson in his article Epigenetics for Breast Cancer Prevention, Life Extension Magazine, November 2012, up to 50% of breast cancer cases are now thought to be preventable through simple changes in diet and lifestyle.
The science of epigenetics is going a long way to shed light on how nutrients and certain drugs can change the way breast cancer cells age and reproduce. The use of specific agents to prevent cancer from developing is called chemoprevention. If utilized properly, these agents can eliminate pre-malignant cells, block the progression of normal cells into invasive tumors, and stop a cancer before it reaches a detectable size or cause symptoms.
With the HER2/neu gene, two things are quite important: (1) taking chemopreventive nutrients that keep DNA from being damaged, and (2) taking chemopreventive nutrients that control regulatory genes
Nutrients That Prevent DNA Damage
- Lycopene – suggested dose 15 mg daily
- NAC (N-acetylcysteine) – suggested dose 600 mg daily
- Coenzyme Q10 – suggested dose 200 mg daily
- Caffeic acids – even though caffeic acid can be found in coffee, it is unrelated to caffeine. Together with its derivative caffeic acid phenethyl ester (CAPE), caffeic acid is a naturally occurring organic compound that is the product of many plants, including coffee beans. Caffeic acid is an antioxidant and it can also act as a carcinogenic inhibitor. Suggested dose 400 mg three times daily.
- Tocotrienols – members of the vitamin E family. An essential nutrient for the body, vitamin E is made up of four tocopherols and four tocotrienols, alpha, beta, gamma, and delta. Tocotrienols protect cell membranes, active enzyme sites, and DNA from free radical damage. Suggested dose 400 mg daily
- Indole-3-Carbinol (I3C) – found at relatively high levels in cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, collard greens and kale, also available as a supplement. Suggested dose 80-160 mg daily.
- Green tea extract – suggested dose 725 mg daily
- Curcumin – suggested dose 400 mg daily
- Melatonin – suggested dose up to 10 mg daily
- Sulforaphane – broccoli extract – suggested dose 400-800 mg daily
- Metformin – originally created as an anti-diabetic drug, Metformin is a drug that is being studied for its ability to suppress HER2 oncoprotein overexpression. Here’s a link to the research on pubmed.gov.
- Soy Isoflavones – better taken as organic whole soy foods like tofu, edamame, miso, tempeh. Just 1/2 cup per day is protective.
- Pomegranate juice and extracts – suggested dose 500 mg daily
- Silibinin and silymarin (milk thistle extracts) – suggested dose 750 mg daily
- Resveratrol – suggested dose 100-250 mg daily
- Selenium – suggested dose 200 mcg daily
Nutrients That Help to Control Regulatory Genes
- Sulforaphane – see #10 above for suggested dose
- Omega-3 fatty acids – EPA suggested dose 1,400 mg daily / DHA suggested dose 1,000 mg daily
- Caffeic acids – see #4 above for suggested dose
- Lycopene – see #1 above for suggested dose
- Resveratrol – see #15 above for suggested dose
- Genistein – a soy isoflavone, see #12 above for more information
Because cancer has multiple causes and phases of development, a multi-targeted approach is the best way to attack this disease.
In addition to the above two factors (protecting DNA and controlling regulatory genes) it is also important to:
- fight cancer-promoting inflammation;
- block excessive cell replication;
- transform malignant cells back into healthy ones
- kill cancer cells;
- restore receptors to a healthy state;
- if you have estrogen or progesterone receptor positive status along with HER2+ you’ll want to inhibit the enzyme aromatase;
- block abnormal growth factors;
- cut off the blood supply to growing tumors;
- prevent the tumors you have from spreading.
See my 11 part series of articles about Epigenetic Factors to Reduce Breast Cancer Risk for more information.
“Epigenetics for Breast Cancer Prevention” by Alexander Johnson, Life Extension Magazine, November 2012
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