I don’t need to bore you with statistics telling you that breast cancer rates are rising in Canada, particularly Manitoba. Rather than instill in you a sense of fear, increasing your stress hormones and making you even more susceptible to this disease, I will try to give you hope that you can do many things to prevent breast cancer.

First of all, understand that cancer cells are not foreign cells. Cancer cells are fed the same nutrients, hormones and peptides that feed our normal cells.   A cancer cell can call itself as such because it has lost the ability to commit healthy cell suicide – apoptosis. A cancer cell keeps on living with no turn-off switch. Many therapies targeted toward cancer cells are trying to initiate this process of pre-programmed cell death. Our body’s immune system can recognize when and if a cell has lost the ability to die. It monitors our internal environment for these rogue cancer cells before they increase. At some point, though, the immune system cannot keep up in some people and a tumour forms. The cancer is then visible on imaging, and surgery, chemo and radiation intervention begin. It is at this point that I see most of my cancer patients. We then start making the body inhospitable for further cancer growth.

What if we could always encourage the body to be strong enough to fight cancer? This would involve monitoring several critical systems in the body to ensure balance. Cancer takes years to appear, and you can bet that your body knows how to keep it at bay throughout your lifetime. What changed? When did you notice that certain aspects of your life seemed out of balance? What aspects of your life are currently out of balance? What situations do you find yourself resistant to? Where are you putting too much or not enough of your energy? Are you nourishing yourself?

Most breast cancers are hormonally driven. This means there are more receptors for hormones like estrogen and progesterone in the average breast cancer cell than in a normal healthy breast cell. Hormonal balance beginning at a young age is essential yet commonly overlooked. Many young women are put directly onto birth control pills to manage dysregulated menstrual cycles when it is a fact that birth control pills increase the risk of hormone-dependent cancers! Why not start with less invasive techniques addressing the root cause of the hormonal imbalance in the first place, which may or may not involve looking at systemic sources of inflammation, nutritional deficiencies or chronic stress? Other sources of hormones that are much more difficult to control are our exposure to xenoestrogens, man-made compounds that mimic estrogen. BPA in plastics and methylparaben in cosmetic and skin care products are two more common xenoestrogens. You can choose to avoid plastics in your home, and you can choose to buy products that don’t contain these types of chemicals. If you have had a lifetime of exposure, as most people have, talk with your Naturopathic doctor about how to safely and effectively test for these compounds and then detoxify them.

I often run a comprehensive hormonal metabolite panel with my hormonally positive breast cancer patients at the beginning and periodically throughout their treatment. This allows us to see precisely where the imbalances are and allows for appropriate treatment targets through specific types of natural supplementation or intravenous medicine.

Not all breast cancers are hormonally driven, so we look toward other targets for treatment. The body is equipped with a unique immune system that uses white blood cells to find and kill rogue cancer cells and initiates the healing process using the inflammation cascade. Inflammation is good until it is not. Inflammation is akin to having your thermostat control your furnace to heat your home, but when your thermostat malfunctions, your furnace burns too hot and burns down your house. Inflammation that goes unchecked in the body begets cancer. There are several ways that we can control inflammation ourselves. Choosing less inflammatory foods to eat, testing ourselves to determine our food sensitivities, quitting smoking and recreational drug use, reducing/eliminating our consumption of alcohol, exercising regularly and improving the quality of our sleep.

Healthy immunity: we focus on that immune system again. Did you know some nutrients stimulate your immune system? Vitamin D, for example, is low in most patients upon a cancer diagnosis. Underlying chronic viral or bacterial infections will also deplete your immune strength over time. Chronic stress wreaks havoc on the secretion of the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol will directly suppress your immune system and decrease your immune fight. All of these components can be tested for, evaluated and effectively treated using a variety of natural medicines and approaches.

The key to health is balance, but the problem is a lack of understanding of which systems are out of balance. A Naturopathic doctor can address those imbalances using various testing methods to ensure effective treatment targets. Breast cancer prevention is a multi-faceted lifestyle approach involving proper nutrition, a healthy immune response, balanced inflammation, proper hormonal breakdown and exposure, adequate detoxification capabilities, and a positive attitude.

I have seen Naturopathic medicine work in my breast cancer population to prevent the disease in a known BRCA + environment and prevent recurrence post-treatment. I also treat many women with active breast cancer alongside their conventional therapies with very positive outcomes. I would be happy to discuss how Naturopathic medicine can help you as you deal with a potential cancer diagnosis or to discuss prevention strategies.

Dr. Jessica Beatty, BSc. ND
Naturopathic Doctor (MNA, OncANP)

Appointment Hours:
Mondays: 1:00 pm – 8 pm
Tuesdays & Thursdays: 9:30 am – 4:30 pm