Can Breast Cancer Be Prevented?
Sometimes it seems that every magazine, newspaper, radio show, and piece of mail has a headline declaring that every woman’s risk of developing breast cancer is increasing. There is a numbing feeling of inevitability in these pronouncements. More and more women think about breast cancer as a when rather than an if.
It’s true that there’s more breast cancer now than ever before, that between 1979 and 1986 the incidence of invasive breast cancer in the United States increased 29 percent among white women and 41 percent among black women, and incidence of all breast cancers doubled. It’s true that the percentage of women dying from breast cancer has remained virtually unchanged over the past 50 years, and that every 12 minutes throughout the last half of the 20th Century another woman died from the disease.
And it’s true that it is the disease that women fear more than any other, that it is the biggest killer of all women aged 35 to 54, and that of the 2.5 million women currently diagnosed with the disease, half will be dead within ten years.
These facts frighten me, and they also make me angry. My studies spanning 25 years and many disciplines have convinced me that the majority of breast cancers are causally related to the high levels of radiation and chemicals released into our air, water, soil, and food over the past 50 years. United States government researchers estimate that 80 percent of all cancers are environmentally linked.
What can be done? The answer isn’t as simple as a yearly mammogram. That may help detect it, but it won’t prevent it. To prevent breast cancer we need to take individual and collective action.
Effective action requires understanding the causes of the disease and what decreases risk. But there are few conclusive answers to these queries, partly because most research focuses on eliminating breast cancer after – not before – it occurs. Science has validated so few risk factors for the disease that 70 percent of the women diagnosed have “no identifiable risk factors.”
Unfortunately, our sex, age, reproductive history, family history, exposure to radiation (such as fallout from above-ground atomic bomb tests), race, culture, and height are beyond our control. When we’re told these are the only risk factors, we can be left with feelings of hopelessness and panic.
But when we include risk factors that are considered “not well substantiated” – but which are clearly contributing to breast cancer incidence – including ingestion of and exposure to prescription hormones, hormone-mimicking organochlorines, prescription drugs, petrochemicals, and electromagnetic fields, as well as unwise lifestyle choices such as smoking tobacco, drinking alcohol immoderately, wearing a bra, or not exercising, then we can find many ways to lower the risk. No need to panic.
We can help prevent it on an individual basis by buying organically grown food, filtering our water, building powerful immunity, living wisely and vigorously, being in touch with our breasts, using natural remedies for menopausal problems, and by paying attention to our Wise Healer Within.
Can Breast Cancer Be Prevented?