Breast Cancer Blog
Our blogs are written by Janet or by guest bloggers and take an in-depth look at topics relevant to breast cancer. Some of the topics are from the book, and some are from other sources.
Using Yoga and Meditation to Help me Stay in Remission
Yoga and meditation are among the things I do for exercise and stress reduction.
Understanding Immunotherapy for Breast Cancer
Currently, the type of breast cancer that responds best to immunotherapy is triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC)
Cannabis and Breast Cancer
The website of the National Cancer Institute has a summary of studies showing that cannabis has antitumor effects and can also stimulate appetite, relieve pain, reduce nausea and vomiting, and reduce anxiety.
What You Need to Know About Mammograms
Many women feel they are protecting themselves against breast cancer when they have their annual mammogram.. However, the truth is that, while mammograms can be useful in detecting breast cancer, they have no value in preventing it or in curing it; and even the value of early detection is less impressive than many people think.
Fasting to Reduce Side Effects of Chemotherapy
I had followed a program that uses fasting for days around each chemotherapy infusion to reduce the side effects .
3D Printing and Breast Reconstruction
3D printing can be used to grow new nipples using living cells and to regrow whole breasts
Reducing Stress to Stay in Remission
One thing experts seem to agree on is that cancer patients should find ways to reduce stress. Even mainstream cancer centers usually offer things like tai chi, yoga, and meditation for this purpose.
Do I Need a Patient Advocate?
Many cancer patients are not able to do the research they need in order to make informed decisions, either because they are too sick or because they don’t have the skills. They can enlist friends or relatives to help, or they can hire a patient advocate.
Making Medical Decisions
When you are newly diagnosed with any serious illness, you will have to make decisions that could have life-or death consequences. You need to know all your treatment options, the likely survival outcomes, and all the side effects and other short-term and long-term risks for each option. You want to be very sure that you will be better off with treatment than without treatment, and you want to be sure that any treatments you choose are the best ones available. You should read whatever you can, and you should also ask questions of other patients and your doctors.
Cancer and the Precautionary Principle
As global climate change adversely impacts economic growth, the right-wing corporate elites are counting on new technologies to save the global economy. One is genetic engineering, which is creating entirely new organisms (GMOs) that don’t exist in nature. Another is geo-engineering, which aims to alter the weather to counteract global warming (also used for military purposes). Another is nanotechnology, which manipulates atoms and molecules. What could go wrong? What are their effects on cancer? It would seem that if ever the precautionary principle were called for, that time is now. However, so long as corporations have the ability to corrupt politicians with money, citizens will be subjects in a global science experiment without our consent.
Body Weight and Breast Cancer
After I finished chemotherapy in 2011, my medical oncologist began expressing concern about my weight. Overweight is usually defined as a Body Mass Index (BMI) over 25. In postmenopausal women, overweight is considered a risk factor for estrogen receptor-positive...
My Anti-Cancer Diet
My integrative oncologist has me on a remission maintenance program designed to keep any residual cancer cells from proliferating and also designed to prevent the development of new cancers caused by chemotherapy and radiotherapy. The program consists of diet, supplements, and physical fitness, as well as stress reduction and avoidance of carcinogens,
Pros and Cons of Bisphosphonates to Reduce Risk of Osteoporosis When Taking Anti-Estrogen Hormones
Aromatase inhibitors can cause bone loss, so patients taking them are often prescribed bisphosphonates to help prevent osteoporosis. Unfortunately, they are not always warned about the serious side effects.
Understanding Anti-Estrogen Therapy
About 80% of breast cancers are estrogen-receptor positive (ER+), which means they need estrogen in order to grow. There are two main types of oral anti-estrogen therapy: selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs) and aromatase inhibitors (AIs). While they both aim to slow or stop the growth of hormone receptor-positive tumors by preventing the cancer cells from getting the hormones they need to grow, they work by different mechanisms and have different safety profiles.
Radiation as a Cause of Breast Cancer
Radiation is a major environmental carcinogen. The most important distinction in terms of health is whether the radiation is ionizing or non-ionizing. Ionizing radiation has enough energy to remove electrons from atoms, which turns them into ions and creates free radicals. Cancer is the illness most commonly associated with ionizing radiation, because it damages the DNA in cells. Cells that are rapidly dividing, such as those in infants in growing children, are most sensitive to ionizing radiation. Pregnant women in particular should try to avoid ionizing radiation.
Textiles and Breast Cancer
Our skin is permeable, so everything we put on it is absorbed into our bodies. The chemicals used to make these fabrics and finishes have been linked to many health problems including cancer, immune system damage, behavioral problems and hormone disruption, and they also harm wildlife and the environment.
Lawn and Garden Products and Breast Cancer
Chemical pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers all contain known or suspected carcinogens that can be absorbed through the skin, by mouth, or by breathing sprays, dusts, or vapors. They are especially dangerous to children and pets, and they also damage the environment.
Some gardeners now specialize in organic lawn and landscape care. You can hire someone or you can do it yourself.
The Meaning of Life
I think there are three things that make life worthwhile. Nobody achieves perfection in any of them, but I think our lives can be measured by the progress we make in each of these three areas.
Household Cleaning Products and Breast Cancer
Household cleaning products are a big issue for cancer patients because there are known or suspected carcinogens in so many things, including anything antibacterial (they contain pesticides); air fresheners; all-purpose cleaners; cleaning products for the bathroom, kitchen, floors, dishes, laundry, furniture; pet stain and odor eliminators; wood and tile cleaners; stainless steel cleaners; oven and BBQ cleaners; jewelry cleaners; tarnish removers; and much more.
Kitchenware, Food Packaging, and Breast Cancer
There are some food-related dangers in cookware and food packaging. In 2005 the EPA fined chemical giant DuPont a record $16.5 million because for decades it had been covering up the health hazards of a chemical known as C8, also called PFOA. In 2005 the EPA Science Advisory Board found that PFOA is a likely human carcinogen. PFOA was a main ingredient in making Teflon™, the non-stick coating used on pots, pans, bakeware, cooking utensils, and many small electric kitchen appliances. PFOA was also used to make grease-resistant coatings for food packaging, such as microwave popcorn bags, pizza boxes, and wraps for greasy items like French fries
Personal Care Products and Breast Cancer
You may think of your skin as a protective barrier, but because of its pores, it acts more like a screen. That’s why medication patches applied to the skin can deliver drugs into the bloodstream. That means that any personal care products you put on your skin can also potentially enter the bloodstream. It has been estimated that if you use conventional personal care products like shampoo, toothpaste and shower gel every day, you can absorb almost five pounds of chemicals and toxins into your body every year. Putting chemicals on your skin or scalp may actually be worse than eating them.
The Truth About Cancer Charities
Pinktober is almost here. All the cancer charities are asking for our money and our time. Some want us to raise money for them by running in marathons, and every October we are encouraged to buy products that wear pink ribbons. Cancer patients and their supporters have responded with great generosity. But all cancer charities are not equal. Sadly, many of the cancer charities have been corrupted, taking corporate money and participating in pinkwashing
Plastic and Breast Cancer
Almost all commercially available plastic products leach chemicals with estrogenic activity, which is linked to an increase in breast cancer. The best solution, and one we can all do, is to reduce the amount of plastic products we are buying and using. This will be safer for us, safer for the environment, and usually cheaper as well.
Drinking Water and Breast Cancer
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) just unveiled their Tap Water Database. It provides the most complete source of information available on the state of American drinking water. EWG collected data from the EPA and from state agencies based on testing done between 2010 and 2015 by 48,712 water utilities in all 50 states. The utilities found 267 contaminants.
Overdiagnosis and Overtreatment of Breast Cancer
A bombshell study was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in early 2017. Danish researchers studied data on more than 1.4 million women aged 35 to 84 between 1980 and 2010. They found that increased screening for breast cancer caught additional cases of small, slow-growing tumors that were unlikely to harm the patient, but it did not catch additional cases of more aggressive and dangerous cancer that were likely to kill the patients.
How to Evaluate Dietary Supplements for Safety and Effectiveness
In order to stay in remission, I work with an integrative oncologist who, among other things, recommends a large and expensive quantity of supplements. There is a great deal of evidence for the anticancer effects of the supplements I’m taking, but the research cannot...
Understanding Food Labeling
A basic understanding of food labeling is helpful In order to make sure you have a healthy diet,. Many food labels are confusing, and some are intentionally misleading. Some label claims are controlled by the government, but most are simply unverified marketing claims. This guide should give you an understanding of the issues and provide a basis for making your shopping decisions.
Epigenetics and Breast Cancer
The exciting new science of epigenetics has shown that environmental factors can affect our genetic risk of cancer and other diseases. The good news is that epigenetic changes can go both ways—not only can environmental factors cause cancer; they can also prevent it and potentially cure it. Although the science of epigenetics is in its early stages, we now know that we have more control over cancer and other diseases than we thought we did.
Breast Cancer Mortality Will Increase Under Trumpcare
We don’t know what changes will be made to Trumpcare in the Senate, and we don’t know whether the bill will pass in its new form. But we can safely predict that reductions in coverage will lead to higher mortality from breast cancer and other causes.
How to Choose the Best Hospitals and Doctors
When patients are facing cancer treatment they are usually frightened and feeling vulnerable. However, it is vital to keep in mind that you are a consumer purchasing a very expensive service. If you have cancer, your life may depend on the choices you make, so you should be more careful than you would be in buying a house or a car.
Do I Have to Avoid Sugar and Other Carbs?
The science concerning the best diet to prevent cancer and cancer recurrence is a work in progress, but I think that conventional oncology underestimates the importance of diet. As patients, it behooves us to be proactive and do our best to protect ourselves.
Conventional, Integrative, and Alternative Care for Breast Cancer
For my cancer treatment, I chose an integrative approach, and I also use it to help me stay in remission. But because of my high risk of recurrence, I have thought quite a bit about what I would do if the cancer came back, in my breast or in other parts of my body. In the years since my conventional treatment I have continued my research, and as a result, I have come to have less and less confidence in conventional oncology. The possible benefits need to be weighed against the very significant sources of harm.
Why Doesn’t Cancer Research Focus on Prevention?
I think there are two reasons that cancer research doesn’t focus on prevention, and both of them have to do with money. The first reason involves profits to the pharmaceutical industry; there is more money to be made from drugs that might extend cancer patients’ lives by a few months than there is in trying to develop drugs to prevent cancer. The second reason has to do with carcinogens spewed into the environment. If corporations were held accountable for their toxins, it would cost them billions. It’s cheaper for the corporations to lobby congress to escape accountability and to get in bed with cancer charities.
Understanding Cancer Research
If you want to be a patient who can take charge of her own treatment, you need to have a basic understanding of how cancer research works, so you can use it to make decisions about your care.
Radiation Therapy Can Cause Cancer to Spread
Radiation is a known carcinogen, and radiation therapy can cause cancer to spread in two ways. First, it can cause secondary cancers to other parts of the body. Second, it can create stem cells, which are up to 30 times more lethal than other cancer cells.
Chemotherapy Can Cause Cancer to Spread
We know that breast cancer treatment can cause breast cancer to spread, but the position of the mainstream cancer establishment is that the benefits of treatment are likely to outweigh the possible harm. My position is that patients should be given all the information they need to make the choices they consider best for themselves.
Breast Surgery Can Cause Cancer to Spread
Surgical removal of cancerous tissue (and even biopsies) can cause the cancer to spread. Since it is generally accepted in cancer research that about 90% of patients die from metastases or secondary tumors, and only a small minority die from a primary tumor, this information should of great interest to doctors as well as patients.
Blaming the Patient for Having Cancer
People seem to want to believe that we can control what happens to us; they don’t want to face the fact that bad things can happen to good people. The fact is that anyone could get cancer. More than 75% of women with breast cancer have no family history of the disease, and many of them also have very healthy lifestyles.
Help From Pets
My Chihuahua (in the picture) was a great comfort to me when I was undergoing chemotherapy. Many cancer patients report being helped by their pets. Some say they felt closer to their dogs than to humans throughout their journey—their dogs intuitively knew when they were sad or in pain and needed a buddy to be with, and never left their sides. And, unlike humans, they never said the wrong thing.
How I Kept My Hair During Chemotherapy
I was told that with the chemicals I was using, Taxotere and Cytoxan, I would lose my hair but it would grow back, no problem. However, when I checked on breastcancer.org I found that many patients were heartbroken because their hair loss was permanent (there are now numerous lawsuits against the maker of Taxotere for failure to disclose this fact). This motivated me to investigate ways to keep my hair. That’s me in the picture wearing a Penguin cold cap. I did not lose my hair.
My Tour of Cancer Clinics in Tijuana
Out of the blue, I received an email invitation from the Cancer Control Society to join a bus tour visiting cancer clinics in Tijuana, Mexico. I had heard about clinics in Mexico, in the Caribbean, Europe, Israel, and China that use techniques that are not part of mainstream cancer care in the United States, and I was very curious.
Understanding Endocrine Disruptors
Breast cancer, already the most common cancer in the United States, is projected to rise by 50% by 2030, according to researchers at the National Cancer Institute (NCI). They expect 441,000 new cases in 2030, up from 283,000 in 2011. Philip Rosenberg, a senior investigator in the division of cancer epidemiology and genetics at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), says that part of the rise can be attributed to the increased number of ER+ breast cancers. This trend is likely caused by changes in “circumstances and lifestyles,” but the research model looked at total numbers, not causes, he said. Of course I am interested in the causes, because my breast cancer was ER+, which means that it needs estrogen to grow. I don’t want a recurrence or metastasis. Also, I am in the majority. Almost 80% of breast cancers are ER+, and this number is on the rise.
What You Need to Know About GMOs and Cancer
The Center for Food Safety says: A number of studies over the past decade have revealed that genetically engineered foods can pose serious risks to humans, domesticated animals, wildlife and the environment. Human health effects can include higher risks of toxicity, allergenicity, antibiotic resistance, immune-suppression and cancer. As for environmental impacts, the use of genetic engineering in agriculture will lead to uncontrolled biological pollution, threatening numerous microbial, plant and animal species with extinction, and the potential contamination of all non-genetically engineered life forms with novel and possibly hazardous genetic material.