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Top 10 Myths Surrounding Breast Cancer

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Author: Dr. John Dempster, ND, Toronto, ON

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Top 10 Myths Surrounding Breast Cancer

I'd like to shed some light on the #1 Killer in women today: Breast Cancer. Currently, Breast Cancer is the most common cancer in women. A woman's lifetime chance of getting breast cancer is almost one in eight - and is increasing every year. There has never been a better time to consider what is at the root of this debilitating and often fatal illness. There is an increasing body of research demonstrating a link between cancer and diet, lifestyle, and environmental factors. See below for my Top Ten Myths about Breast Cancer:

1. Breast Cancer is not Preventable

Fact: Almost 98% of Breast Cancers are believed to be prevented by changes in diet, lifestyle, and environmental factors. Using supplements, getting safe amounts of sunshine, addressing chemicals in our household and workplace environments, and managing stress are all HUGE factors that are PROVEN to have a role in the prevention of Breast Cancer - and many other forms of cancers and chronic disease. There is an enormous amount of research demonstrating that optimizing Vitamin D levels can help prevent 77% of all cancers - including breast. The good news is that there are many non-invasive and reliable tests to help detect some of these imbalances.

2. The only proven treatments for Breast Cancer are Radiation and Chemotherapy

Fact: Rates of cancer are still climbing even with the widespread use of standard therapies. Let me be clear - both Radiation and Chemotherapy have been life-saving for certain types of cancer. Sadly, the evidence is mounting that we are losing the war on cancer by relying solely on these 2 strategies. Currently, more and more research is being performed on natural cancer treatments - with promising results. Cancer needs to be addressed at the root cause in CONJUNCTION with killing/removing cancer cells directly. Naturopathic Medicine's main tenant is 'Treat The Root Cause of Illness' - thus is vitally important when addressing cancer and any other chronic diseases. This is not to say we ignore standard therapies - they do have an important role in cancer treatment. Sadly, many allopathic practitioners often hastily push aside natural therapies (stating lack of research and interaction with standard therapies) that are showing promising results - and have been doing so for many years.

3. Chemotherapy is safe for everyone

Fact: Chemotherapy is toxic to both cancerous AND healthy cells. Once again, let me be clear here - oncologists offer extremely important treatments for cancer, and are dedicating their lives to helping find a cure. I respect these individuals immensely. Sadly, despite all collective efforts in cancer research/treatment - we continue to lose this battle while spending billions of dollars towards this cause. Cancer is expected to exceed Heart Disease as the #1 killer in North America in 2010. There has never been a better time for us in to integrate evidence-based natural therapies alongside appropriate use of surgery/chemotherapy/and radiation. Licensed Naturopathic Doctors have an extensive background in pharmacology and have a thorough understanding of concurrent treatment of natural therapies and pharmaceutical treatment. There is an ENORMOUS potential for those going through cancer treatment to benefit from concurrent therapies that is supervised by an INTEGRATIVE practitioner, such as a licensed ND.

4. Diet and Lifestyle have no role in Breast Cancer

Fact: Current research shows large amounts of supportive evidence showing nutrition and lifestyle play an enormous role in the prevention and treatment of Breast Cancer. Patients who embrace an integrative cancer program often look and feel better during standard treatments. It is not uncommon to hear from patients of their oncologists pleasant surprise saying "whatever you're doing - keep doing it!". While there is no magic-bullet cure for cancer, the best course of action (based on existing research and clinical observation) is combining BOTH naturopathic and allopathic fields of treatment for the best care possible, including cancer!

5. Regular Mammograms are the best way to detect Breast Cancer

Fact: Current research is showing alarming evidence that regular use of mammograms may harm more women than they help. This is due to the compression of sensitive breast tissue and exposure to harmful x-rays. This may be shocking & disturbing to hear, but a recent ground- breaking study by researchers from the Nordic Cochrane Centre in Denmark found that mammograms may harm ten times as many women as they help. This is not to say mammograms have no use or role in cancer prevention and diagnostic strategies. Mammogram technology is also improving in order to provide less radiation and invasive testing. However, doctors in Europe and North America have been investigating less invasive methods of breast cancer screening - such as Thermography. This safe and non-invasive approach is becoming more widely accepted in North America as a primary annual breast cancer screening tool detecting hot spots in breast tissue suggestive of a subsequent necessary mammogram for further details.

6. BRCA-positive women should consider mastectomies to prevent Cancer

Fact: This treatment is as invasive as it comes. With the research existing today on the role that triggers such as stress, excess alcohol/tobacco, hormonal replacement therapy, environmental chemicals, etc., this is where we NEED to focus on a prevention strategy. Smart medicine includes looking at the whole person, addressing known environmental and genetic factors, and customizing a plan accordingly. Licensed Naturopathic Doctors are experts in this approach.

7. Hormones are not involved in Breast Cancer

Hormone imbalances are a known trigger for breast cancer. For every patient that walks through The Dempster Clinic with breast cancer, or wants to reduce their risk of breast cancer - I recommend an Estrogen 2:16 ratio test. This simple test provides imperative information necessary to balance both types of estrogens. An imbalanced level can increase risk of breast cancer. The good news - if an imbalance is discovered - there are many core nutritional methods that can be applied to balance estrogen levels. 

8. If my mother had Breast Cancer, I'll get it too

Fact: Genetics play a role, but do not ultimately determine if you will develop Breast Cancer (or other cancers for that matter!). There is a fascinating area of medicine being researched called Nutrigenomics. This area of medical research demonstrates the link between diet, lifestyle, and disease. Just because you were born with bad genes - doesn't mean you have to get sick! Renown scientist/researcher Dr. Jeffrey Bland has demonstrated that genetics are like 'light-switches' - meaning they can be activated or deactivated by environmental triggers. Work with a licensed ND who can help investigate triggers in your lifestyle today.

9. Sunlight causes Cancer

Fact: Safe amounts of sunlight can actually PREVENT cancer. Studies have now shown that low levels of Vitamin D can increase your risk of cancer by as much as 50%. A very simple blood test - Vitamin D(25) - is the best way to determine if your levels. New research recommends a starting dose of Vitamin D3 is 5,000 IU's per day. Liquid Vitamin D is showing faster absorption rates than pills.

10. Environmental toxins are not linked to Breast Cancer

Fact: There are 256 known cancer-causing chemicals common in everyday use. According to Kenneth Olden, Ph.D., Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Toxicology Program, there are 256 KNOWN cancer-causing agents existing in everyday use. These range from cigarette smoke, cosmetics, pesticides on foods, etc.. For example, there are up to 1200 chemicals found in each cigarette! But what about the not so obvious forms of toxins? We live in a plasticized world today and chemicals from plastics (i.e. Bisphenol A, Pthalates) are now being found all over the planet - including our water supply. These known carcinogenic agents are polluting the air we breathe, water we drink, and food we eat. Begin a health assessment with an Integrative health professional today  and become accountable for your health.

For more information about Dr. John Dempster ND visit
20 Holly Street, Suite 200, Toronto, ON M4S 3B1
Tel: (416) 496-8633   Toll Free: 1-800-551-4381