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 Integrative Medicine: The Prevention and Complementary Treatment of Breast Cancer 

Role of Synthetic Chemicals in Development of Breast Cancer
We are living in the petrochemical era. The petrochemical era was born in the 1940's as a result of technological advances in the procurement of oil and the manufacture of its products. In 1940, one billion pounds of synthetic chemicals were manufactured. By 1950, the amount had increased to 50 billion pounds and by the late 1980's, 500 billion pounds of synthetic chemicals were being produced annually. Many of these compounds are toxic, mutagenic,and carcinogenic. The majority have not been adequately tested for toxicity, let alone for their environmental and ecologic effects. Approximately 600 chemicals have been shown to be carcinogenic in well-designed, controlled and validated animal experiments. Within the scientific community, the overwhelming consensus is that chemicals carcinogenic to animals will also be carcinogenic for humans. In large scale epidemiologic human studies, approximately 25 chemicals have been proven to be carcinogenic. For each of these 25 chemicals, animal research had established carcinogenicity between one and three decades earlier. The epidemiologic studies are all the more significant when it is considered how relatively insensitive epidemiologic studies are establishing the carcinogenicity of chemicals.

Some of these chemicals, such as certain pesticides, fuels, and plastics function as xenoestrogens. They may do so in various ways. Some enhance the production of the so-called bad estrogens. Others bind to estrogen receptors, inducing them to issue unneeded signals to increase cellular growth. Xenoestrogens may enter the body through animal fat because they tend to accumulate in fatty tissues and are concentrated as you go up the food chain. During the past 15 years, experiments reveal that several xenoestrogens cause breast tumors in animals. Xenoestrogens tend to be synergistic in their effects, so that a mixture of tiny amounts of many chemicals may have dire effects. At Mt.Sinai in NYC, Dr.Mary Wolff found the levels of DDE to be higher in 58 women who developed breast cancer compared to those who did not. At Laval University in Canada, 41 women who had estrogen-responsive breast cancers had higher concentrations of DDE and PCBs.

Finally, in a 1990 study of breast cancer and pesticides in Israel, a strong relationship between the two was shown; in the 1970's, Israeli women had one of the highest breast cancer mortality rates in the world. But, in the 10 years that followed a 1976 ban on several organochlorine-type pesticides, the incidence of breast cancer declined 20%, while it increased in other industrialized nations. Prior to the ban, some dairy products had pesticide residues as high as 500% above U.S. levels and residues in human breast milk were 800 times the level measured in the breast milk of American women.

Role of the Lymphatic System in Removing Toxins from Body
It is the job of the lymphatic system of the body to help drain toxic substances from tissues and poor lymphatic drainage may play a role in breast cancer formation. The lymphatic system is a specialized part of the circulatory system that functions as a central component of the immune system. It consists of fluid called lymph, derived from blood and tissue fluid. The lymph moves through lymph vessels called lymphatics back into the bloodstream. Lymph contains cell debris, nutrients, waste products from the cells, hormones, toxins and many other substances. It is the microenvironment of the cells. Lymph flow is dependent upon muscle contraction that massages the outside of the lymphatic vessels, respiration, which pulls the lymph along each time we inhale, pressure from the pulsation of arteries, changes in posture and passive compression of soft tissues. It is very sensitive to constricting external pressure which can impede its flow.

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 About The Author
Michael Schachter MD, FACAM Director of the Schachter Center for Complementary Medicine, Michael B. Schachter, M.D., is a 1965 graduate of Columbia College of Physicians & Surgeons. He is board certified in Psychiatry, a Certified Nutrition......more
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