Dr. Michael Wald, nicknamed The Blood Detective, is the director of Longevity Services at Integrated Medicine of Mount Kisco, located in Westchester New York. He has appeared on ABC World News Tonight with Diane Sawyer, Channel 11 PIX, Channel 12 News, CNN, The Food Network and other media outlets. He earned an MD degree, is a doctor of chiropractic and a certified dietician-nutritionist. He is also double-board certified in nutrition. He has published over a dozen books with three additional titles due for release late 2013 including: Frankenfoods – Genetically Modified Foods: Controversies, Lies & Your Health and Gluten-A-Holic: How to Live Gluten Free and the Blood Detective’s Longevity Secrets. Dr. Wald can be reached at: www.intmedny.com or by calling: 914-242-8844 (Ext. 1).
Breast Cancer Prevention & Treatment – The time is now!
My 25-plus years of practicing holistic health care has taught me one important lesson – namely, that regardless of what health issue someone wants to tackle it’s always best to attack it from as many angles as possible – and breast cancer treatment and prevention is no exception.
At no other time in modern history has there been more options for reaching and maintaining our health. Much is known about the potential impact of the environment, foods and nutrition, stress, exercise and other lifestyle factors for prevention and for the development of effective treatments for breast cancer. Below I have provided many of the most important considerations. I need to stress that it is often up to the individual to be educated in these areas if they want to optimize one’s efforts to maintain health and wellbeing.
Perhaps the most important segment of this series of blogs introduces the concept of “biochemical individuality” or BI. In short, although thousands of nutritional studies for example have shown significant advantages of the use of diet and nutritional supplements for both treatment and prevention of breast cancer, it’s essential for one’s BI to taken into account when developing the most effective prevention and treatment strategies.
What’s in a name? The many forms of breast cancer
The term breast cancer might imply to some that the very same approach, whether allopathic, holistic or a combination should be the same for each individual; and nothing could be further from the truth. Each person has unique nutritional needs, different genetic predispositions to all manner of health and disease and responds differently to health care efforts, both preventive and treatments. Even though I have designed health and healing plans based upon individual needs, there are many health strategies that one should keep in mind when it comes to breast cancer…whether women, men, young, old or regardless of any other individual differences.
- Multiparity, or being pregnant many times, reduces one’s overall risk of developing breast cancer. Not having children at all or having children later in life carries a higher risk of developing breast cancer. Women, who have had their first child after the age of 30, especially have a higher risk of developing breast cancer.
- Birth control: Birth control pills or certain forms of injectable hormones such as depot medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA or Depo-Provera), carry an increased risk of developing breast cancer, especially compared to those who never use these forms of synthetic hormones. Once a woman stops taking these synthetic forms of hormones, the risk of breast cancer is thought to decline. In my patient population, those that choose birth control or other forms of synthetic hormones are placed on various nutritional supplements, and emphasize various foods, that help the body better manage hormones in the liver and other tissues. Some of these supplements might include L-5-methyltetrahydrofolic acid (active folic acid), methylated B12 (active vitamin B12, activated vitamin B6 (pyridoxyl-5-phosphate, vitamin E (as d-alpha tocopherol succinate), calcium-D-glucarate, I3C (indole-3-carbinol), DIM (diindolymethane), vegetable concentrates and others based upon one’s personal health situation and goals and various laboratory tests.
- Breast density: High mammographic breast density (H-MBD) has been associated with increased breast cancer (BC) risk, even after adjustment for established breast cancer risk factors. A large longitudinal study, the first carried out in Mediterranean women, suggests that specific dietary components may play a key role in determining MBD in this population, thus possibly modulating breast cancer risk. I only perform sonogram bone density of the foot on my patients because this type of testing involves no radiation and has been proved to be equivalent, in terms of accuracy, to DEXA (radiation) bone density testing.
- Receiving hormone therapy after menopause: Receiving progesterone and/or estrogen after menopause increases one’s risk of developing breast cancer, particularly, it is thought, if these hormones are combined. Once these hormones are stopped one’s risk seems to decline. Circulating oestrogens and androgens are positively associated with the risk for breast cancer in premenopausal women.
- Breast-feeding: Several studies have shown that breast-feeding may lower one’s risk of developing breast cancer in the first place, particularly if the breast-feeding lasts between 1-2 years.
- Breast Implants: Maybe linked to developing a form of lymphoma. If this is true, then it may also be eventually proved that other forms of cancer and autoimmune diseases may also result from placing foreign substances in the body.
- Alcohol intake: Alcohol is clearly linked with an increased risk of developing breast cancer. Even small amounts of alcohol, such as a single drink per day, increase one’s risk of developing breast cancer. No one knows exactly why this is, but some of my theories include toxins in alcohol. Also the toxin’s produced by the body in its attempt to metabolize alcohol can have adverse effects upon the liver and intestines detoxification enzymes. Many nutrients and foods help support proper detoxification including, but certainly not limited to, milk thistle, N-acetyl-cysteine, ubiquinone, reduced glutathione, glycinate, methionine, alpha-lipoic acid, concentrates of dozens of fruits and vegetables and others.
- Overweight or obesity: Obese or overweight, particularly after menopause, is linked to a higher risk of developing breast cancer. More accurately, an increase in fat mass and a loss of lean body tissue is associated, not only with a greater risk of overall morbidity (quality of life) and mortality (death rate), but also a poor outcome from virtually all causes of ill-health and disease. A test called a bio-impediance evaluation helps to insure that a person’s health efforts reduce body fat and cause no loss, and preferably an increase, in lean body mass. The reduction of obesity would have been an effective strategy for cancer prevention, but the reality is that worldwide obesity has kept increasing for decades, remaining a major avoidable cancer risk secondary only to smoke. The present studies suggest that vitamin D may be an effective agent to reduce obesity-associated cancer risks in women. With a balanced and realistic plan, I have found that most of my patients successfully lose a huge percentage of body fat. Weight gain and obesity are among the most important risk factors for post-menopausal estrogen-dependent breast cancer (EDBC). Weight gain is associated with oxidative stress, which in turn promotes breast cancer progression. Modulation through anti-diabetic, anti-inflammatory and antioxidants drugs combined with endocrine therapy may constitute a targeted approach in post-menopausal EDBC. Fat is essentially an estrogen factory!
- Smoking: Tobacco smoke increases the risk of developing breast and other forms of cancer particularly when someone starts smoking at a young age. Smoking can increase the body’s need for various nutrients and thus disease risk. Nutritionally oriented blood work can help reveal many of these nutritional imbalances so that corrective measures can be taken.
- Sleep: Day-shift workers: Meta-analysis demonstrates that circadian (sleep) disruption is associated with an increased BrCA risk in women. Working at night seems to offset circadian rhythms, and perhaps adversely affecting normal melatonin levels, increasing one’s risk of breast cancer development. Melatonin, tryptophan, phenibut, magnesium and some other natural compounds may reduce one’s risk; in the case of melatonin, it should only be taken by day-shift workers if they plan on working on this schedule for the long term. Melatonin should only be taken at night before bed in those who are NOT day-shift workers. Those who are day-shift workers take melatonin in the day, but once again, only if it is expected that they will maintain this working schedule for the long-term. Melatonin taken incorrectly can adversely affect not only sleep, but can offset sleep patterns and other hormones. What is very important to know about melatonin is that it is proven to improve breast cancer outcome when taken by women with breast cancer.
- Antiperspirants: Aluminum Chlorohydrate is a common ingredient found in many under-arm antiperspirants, lipsticks, and sunscreens. This ingredient can absorb through the skin and form malignant cells as a result of an accumulation within the tissue.
Biochemical Uniquness – How and why to get tested for your unique nutritional imbalances
The number and variety of nutritional products including vitamins, minerals herbs and other nutritional compounds scientifically studied for both prevention and treatment of breast cancer is far beyond the scope of these blogs. It’s important to keep in mind that a careful health and medical history, nutritional questionnaires, detailed laboratory and functional tests are performed. Here are a few examples of the most important tests that I use to determine the right type of food plan and nutritional supplements to provide my patients – whether they wish to prevent and treat breast cancer.
- Complete Blood Count and Chemistry Profile: These lab panels include red and white blood cells, electrolytes and other basic tests, but I further evaluate them by performing a nutritional interpretation of each of my patients results by comparing them to healthy individuals and not merely “average” people – this is what the regular tests ranges used by all doctors (known as “clinical” ranges) compare people to. Bottom line, if you want average health then use only “clinical ranges”; if you want a shot at optimal health then also use “functional ranges”.
- Homocysteine and Methylmalonic acid tests: These tests, when combined let me know if my patients are receiving the appropriate amounts of, and USING, vitamin B6, folic acid and vitamin 12 correctly. Eating foods and taking nutritional supplements with these or other nutritional compounds does not always mean that one is absorbing or using their nutrients properly. Active folic acid, B12 and B6 is not the same as what most foods or even vitamin supplements contain. It is essential, especially in the case of folic acid, to take only the active form; it’s important for reducing cancer risk in the first place and plays a potentially important role in cancer treatment as well.
- Vitamin D3 (25-OH) and vitamin D3 (1, 25-OH): The higher normal one’s level of vitamin D the lower one’s overall morbidity and mortality from any cause of death.
- Vitamin C serum levels: The higher the blood levels the better for breast cancer treatment.
- CRP-cardio – A non-specific inflammatory marker with important nutritional considerations. CRP in the “cardio” form of the test, is thought to be the single most predictive blood test that predicts morbidity and mortality (along with other tests). Different type of inflammatory markers reveal other potential health issues and nutrient needs and include: ESR, fibrinogen, ferritin and tumor necrosis factor alpha and others.
- Antibody Profile – A panel that measures a variety of antibodies that identify potential nutritional targets.
- Comprehensive Immune Testing: We have many immune systems. The most important that should be measured, and can reveal many important nutritional clues, include: cell-mediated immune tests, complement immune testing and Humoral Immune Tests.
- Body Composition Tests – A simple test that measures one’s percentage of muscle, water and fat and metabolic rate – all important predictive markers of disease risk and survivability.
- Sonogram Bone Density: Loss of bone density may be associated with calcium breast cysts (highly predictive of breast cancer development), osteoarthritis and hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis).
This is my short list – other evaluations are based on the unique health history, stage of disease, health goals and other factors.
Environmental Chemicals & Breast Cancer That Might Influence Breast Cancer Development & Recovery
- Most DNA mutations related to breast cancer occur in single breast cells during a woman’s life rather than having been inherited.
- 85,000 synthetic chemicals on the market today including, but not limited to, preservatives, lipstick, sunscreens, and deodorants, the flame retardants to our sofas, plasticizers in our water bottles, pesticides on our fruits and vegetables, and GMOs.
- 70% of those with breast cancer have no known risk factors like late menopause, children late in life or family history or genes.
- Non-industrialized countries have lower rates of breast cancer compared with industrialized countries; those who move to countries with lower rates experienced lower rates. Estrogen is linked to development of breast cancer. Xenoestrogens act like estrogens (weed killers and pesticides, plastic additives or by-products, ingredients in spray paints and paint removers, and polyvinyl chloride (PVC), used in food manufacture and food packaging, medical products, cars, toys, credit cards, appliances, and rainwear.
- The burden of environmental chemicals has been underestimated (http://www.bcaction.org/our-take-on-breast-cancer/environment/)
What are some simple lifestyle considerations to increase wellness and breast cancer prevention?
- No smoking and avoidance of second hand smoke and air pollution.
- Eliminate saturated and trans fats.
- No alcohol: Alcohol consumption is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer, increasing linearly even with a moderate consumption and irrespectively of the type of alcoholic beverage.
- AvoidingEstrogens are known that they may produce breast cancer by actions on estrogen receptors and also as chemical carcinogens, as a consequence of their oxidation leading to reactive metabolites.
- Avoiding excessive radiation and taking nutritional precautions are associated with a reduction in risks.
- Type 2 diabetes mellitus is an independent risk factor for cancer such as pancreatic, liver, colorectal and breast cancer. In addition, diabetes decreases the risk of prostate cancer. Further stressing the importance of diet, exercise, and proper supplementation.
- Infections (viruses) and breast cancer
- Human Papilloma virus HPV- High-risk human papillomaviruses (HPV) are the causative agent of several cancers especially breast cancer.
- Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV), a common herpes virus, has been reported to be a risk factor for many diseases, including malignant diseases such as glioma, neuroblastoma, and breast cancer.
- Evidence is accumulating that one or more beta-retrovirus is associated with human breast cancer.