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 Integrative Medicine: The Prevention and Complementary Treatment of Breast Cancer 
 

Over 85 percent of the lymph fluid flowing from the breast drains to the armpit lymph nodes. Most of the rest drains to the nodes along the breast bone. Bras and other external tight clothing can impede flow. The nature of the bra, the tightness, and the length of time worn, will all influence the degree of blockage of lymphatic drainage.Thus, wearing a bra might contribute to the development of breast cancer as a result of cutting off lymphatic drainage, so that toxic chemicals are trapped in the breast. This idea has been popularized recently by Sydney Ross Singer, Ph.D., with the publication of his book Dressed to Kill: The Link between Bras and Breast Cancer by Avery Press. In this book he describes an epidemiologic study that he carried out which shows a strong link. This study is similar to the early studies that showed a relationship between smoking and lung cancer. Women who wore bras more than 12 hours daily had a nineteen times greater chance of developing breast cancer than those who wore a bra less than 12 hours daily. Women who never wore bras seemed to have an even greater protection. So, the take home message to women is to wear bras as little as possible and when wearing them try to choose one that is least constricting.

Dietary Measures to Help Prevent Breast Cancer
As mentioned previously, the accumulation of synthetic chemicals, such as pesticides, plays a role in the development of breast cancer. Thus avoiding these synthetic chemicals in food, water, and the air would be wise. Whenever possible, organically grown foods, which do not contain pesticides, should be eaten. Water should be pure and not contain pesticides, chlorine, fluoride and other synthetic chemicals. Many spring waters are fine. Otherwise, water should be purified, as many urban and suburban water supplies cannot be trusted. Many filters remove chemicals and chlorine, but if the water is fluoridated, a reverse osmosis type of water purifier is necessary to remove the fluoride.

Some xenoestrogens found in some fruits, vegetable and other whole foods are actually protective with regard to breast cancer. Many natural chemicals in foods are beneficial. Vitamins and minerals, as well as accessory food factors, can be helpful in many ways. Much of the damage and mutations that occur in breast tissue cells are mediated by highly reactive chemicals called free radicals, which form as a result of poorly controlled oxidation reactions. To help prevent this damage the body contains certain anti-oxidant proteins, such as SOD or superoxide dismutase, which help to neutralize oxidatively induced free radicals. The two types of SOD require three minerals--zinc, copper and manganese-- to function properly. Thus deficiencies of any one of these minerals may predispose to oxidation damage with resulting increased risk of breast cancer.

Certain vitamins, such as A, E, and C also function as anti-oxidants and deficiencies of any one may increase breast cancer risks. Many other nutrients in food appear to have protective actions. The flavones and carotenoids are two classes of nutrients found in food that offer a great deal of protection. To help ensure against deficiencies, whole fresh foods should be used as much as possible--fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains and some animal products in proper balance should be eaten. Processed, highly refined foods containing white sugar and starch should be avoided as much as possible. Excessive fatty foods should be avoided. Foods containing hydrogenated fats should be completely avoided.

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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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