Week Four of Women Wellness Month – Breast Cancer Prevention.
Supplements that Help.
Written By: Amanda Hunter ND.
There is a wise old saying: ‘you can’t supplement your way out of bad choices’.
But …. if you are actively reducing your exposure to toxins and chemicals in your food, on your skin and in your environment and eating a plant rich, healthy diet then correct supplementation can give you a whole other level of prevention.
In the final part of this four week blog, I’ll give you the information you need about the most effective supplements to include in your daily life, and also the foods you can use like a supplement to boost your defences.
You may need to purchase some of these supplements through your Naturopath, Integrative Medicine Doctor or health food stores with qualified naturopaths to advise you. This will also ensure you are buying the best quality product.
Supports the body’s natural defence mechanism for eliminating carcinogens and tumour promotors, and has a protective effect on breast tissue. Effective oral dose is 400-6000 mg a day.
Food Source: highest in grapefruits, apples, oranges, and cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, kale, cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts etc) potatoes.
Indole-3-Carbinol (I3C) and DIM
I3C is an antioxidant that blocks oestrogen receptor sites on the membranes of breast and other cells, thereby reducing the risk of breast and cervical cancer. DIM is formed in the stomach from 13C.
Effective oral dose is 200-400mg a day.
Food Source: broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, brussels sprouts.
Lactobacillus bacteria have been shown in studies to have anti-tumour activity against colon cancer and possibly breast cancer. Along with other species of healthy bacteria, they can inactivate or inhibit cancer causing compounds in the gut, and boost gut immunity. Support your gut with probiotics.
Food Source: fermented veges, kimchi, kombucha, fermented soy products.
Mushrooms and Herbs
Shiitake and Coriolus mushrooms and extracts of the herbs Astragalus and Siberian Ginseng have anti-tumour and immune stimulating effects. The mushrooms are being looked at for their ability to lower the risk for breast cancers in pre-menopausal women. These are available in high potency supplemental form from your practitioner.
Food Source: a diet high in mushrooms – use a variety of different ones.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
High blood levels of omega 3s are associated with a reduced risk of of many cancers, including breast cancer. If you supplement with fish oil, talk to a professional about a quality, high potency brand.
Food Source: oily fish such as salmon, sardines, trout – cold water, deep sea fish 2-3 times a week.
This is an excellent, easy to use supplement. It has multiple actions in cancer prevention and has an important role in preventing the production of catechol oestrogen – known to be responsible for oestrogen induced cancer. Dose can be varied but generally 500mg twice a day.
Selenium acts in multiple ways to prevent cancers from developing. It comes in 3 major forms and it is best to include all three in any supplement for cancer prevention. These 3 forms are: Sodium Selenite, Selenomethionine, Selenium-methyl L selenocysteine. Use a dose of 200 mcg once a day, or twice a day if you are very deficient.
A word of advice: it is easy to be selenium deficient if you diet is low in selenium rich foods or the soil it is grown in is selenium deficient (quite common). However, it is also advisable to know your true selenium status before you supplement. That you can do with a simple blood test: ask your doctor or practitioner to test your “Red Cell Selenium”. That will give you a more accurate picture. If its tending to low – supplement, if not, great, you are getting enough from your diet.
Food Source: brazil nuts, eggs, garlic, onions, broccoli, celery, cashews, fish, oysters, crab, wholegrain cereals, seleno-yeasts, organ meats, butter.
An important vitamin that has a big role to play in cancer prevention, including breast cancer. To check if you need more vitamin D, a blood test for Vitamin D3 levels comes first. You need to have your D3 levels between 70-100 ng/ml. If you are just on 70 ng/ml, I would supplement with once capsule of 1,000 i.u of Vitamin D3 daily. Retest in 3-4 months to check your levels.
St Mary’s Thistle
A readily available herb, whose polyphenols inhibit tumour promotors. It also supports liver function and detoxification of possible cancer causing agents.
This has given you some good, active supplements to think about.
The following relates to high potency foods that act preventatively against breast and other cancers.
Flaxseed and its lignans have potent anti-oestrogen effects and are being looked at in breast cancer prevention strategies. So great to include in your diet.
Is a flavone abundant in grapefruit, plant-derived beverages, vegetables such as parsley, onions, oranges, tea, chamomile, wheat sprouts and some seasonings. Research has shown that a diet rich in flavones is related to a decreased risk of cancer, especially breast cancer.
Flavones and flavonoids all have anticancer properties which help in the prevention of breast cancer. They are obtained by eating a wide variety of fresh fruit and vegetables and incorporating your powerful spices like tumeric and ginger into daily life.
Broccoli and Broccoli Sprouts
Broccoli, especially from a fresh, organic or biodynamic source is a great source of breast protecting compounds but you need to know how to cook it to get the best out of it.
- Steam mature broccoli for 3-4 minutes – no longer than 5 or its lost its valuable compounds. Avoid microwaving it.
- If you boil it: blanch it only in boiling water for no more than 20-30 seconds, then immerse in cold water to stop the cooking process.
- Use it fresh: it loses its protective compounds in the first 10 days after harvest and frozen broccoli has less capacity to produce them.
- Eat your broccoli with mustard type foods such as daikon radish, wasabi, arugula, coleslaw or mustard seeds to maximise its potency.
- For recipes needing longer cooking times, chop your broccoli and wait before cooking for about 40 minutes. This allows the active sulforaphane to form before you cook it and it is relatively heat stable. For broccoli soup, blend the raw broccoli first, wait 40 minutes, then boil it.
Three day old raw broccoli sprouts consistently contain up to 50 times the amount of anticancer compounds found in mature broccoli.
This gives you super-charged nutrient density so you can eat less of them while still getting great benefit.
The ‘Super Foods’
There are so many of them and they all provide nutrient rich, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory support. Some of them contain known anti-cancer compounds and some have compounds yet to be discovered. Include them in your diet where you can.
All these foods are easy to include in your diet and they provide you with the anti-cancer compounds that protect your breast and other hormonal tissue. This is a list of more to enjoy:
- Resveratrol: red wine (especially the old style, Italian hand made wines), grape skin, cranberry, mulberry, lingberry, bilberry, blueberry, jackfruit, peanuts.
- Lycopene: tomatoes (especially cooked in olive oil), watermelon, pawpaw, oranges.
- Curcumin: tumeric – cook in oil or use a quality supplement.
- Green Tea: the highest but active compounds in black and white and herbal teas.
- Red beetroot: significantly good protective effects.
- D-Limonene: very active compound found in orange, lemon and lime peel. Tip: finely grate any of these citrus peel into your salads and cooking every day. Super flavour, super value.
That is the end of Clean Tea’s series on Breast Cancer Prevention. I hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as I’ve enjoyed presenting it, and been inspired to make the changes that make a difference.
Amanda Hunter ND.