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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

What You Don't Know About Breast Cancer -- But SHOULD! Part 1

Breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed invasive cancer and the second leading cause of cancer deaths in U.S. women --  that's the bad news. And here's MORE bad news. It isn't hard to take that statistic and think breast cancer is something that hits out of the blue and it is waiting to lurk and attack. 


Or if you've already been diagnosed with the disease, it's understandable that you may feel helpless and totally reliant on what your doctor tells you is your "only" or best chance to be cancer-free.


But in just a sec, I'm going to give you some GOOD NEWS.


First, let's get this out of the way: I'm not here to give you medical advice. Yep, some of my friends have nicknamed me "Dr. Baker", but the only medical degree I have is from the school of hard knocks and intense -- and I mean intense -- study on my own of medicine, science, nutrition and research.


Bottom line:  I am a critical thinker and a voracious learner. I'd like to share what I've found out with you in this blog, Sherry Baker's HEALTHY STUFF -- about breast cancer and a whole lot of other things.


I am a pro med/health journalist who studies the research daily that is emerging from all over the world. And I'm here to say it is time we stopped living in FEAR of breast cancer and embrace the good news that we can start doing things to help us take control of our health .


And, yes, there are lots things to do to lower the odds we'll get or die from breast cancer.  Women need more than the latest " think pink" cancer industry marketing gimmick -- no matter how well intentioned it may be -- and they need more than elusive hope. 


How about some facts, including NEW ones that give  woman not just hope but  tools to raise the odds you won't get breast cancer. And, if you do, you'll have more of a fighting chance  to take control of lifestyle choices that may make a huge difference in the future of your health.


So here's the first of several blogs about real science -- no mumbo jumbo or wishful thinking -- about breast cancer. What you  should know  if you want to stop thinking of breast cancer from a total FEAR standpoint and look at it as something that does not come out of the blue..


One big factor may be what you are , or aren't, eating.


So let's get started and looking at veggies -- specifically the cruciferous ones.


The whaaaat ones?


"CRUCIFEROUS"..


Food in the cruciferous, or cabbage, family of vegetables all contain phytochemicals, vitamins, minerals, and fiber that make them healthy food choices. In addition, researchers have long noted an association between a diet rich in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, bok choy and cabbage and a decreased risk in breast cancer.



But how do these foods in particular exert an anti-breast cancer protective effect?

Scientists in the University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB) say they've found the answer. In a study published in the journal Carcinogenesis
, Leslie Wilson, professor of biochemistry and pharmacology, Mary Ann Jordan, adjunct professor in the Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, and their research team reveal how the healing power of these vegetables works at the cellular level.

"Breast cancer, the second leading cause of cancer deaths in women, can be protected against by eating cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage and near relatives of cabbage such as broccoli and cauliflower. These vegetables contain compounds called isothiocyanates which we believe to be responsible for the cancer-preventive and anti-carcinogenic activities in these vegetables. Broccoli and broccoli sprouts have the highest amount of the isothiocyanates," the study's first author, scientist Olga Azarenko, explained in a statement to the media.

The study focused on the anti-cancer activity of one of these isothiocyanates dubbed sulforaphane, or SFN. "It has already been shown to reduce the incidence and rate of chemically induced mammary tumors in animals. It inhibits the growth of cultured human breast cancer cells, leading to cell death," Azarenko stated.

Azarenko discovered SFN inhibits the proliferation of human tumor cells in much the same way anticancer drugs taxol and vincristine do. However, SFN is much less toxic than the currently used drugs.



"SFN may be an effective cancer preventive agent because it inhibits the proliferation and kills precancerous cells. It is also possible that it could be used as an addition to taxol and other similar drugs to increase effective killing of tumor cells without increased toxicity," Wilson said.



In another study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, scientists looked at the diets of more than 6,000 Chinese women and found that those with the highest intake of two cruciferous vegetables, Chinese cabbage and white turnips, had a lower risk of postmenopausal breast cancer than those who had the lowest intake.

Interested in adding more cruciferous vegetables to you diet? Remember that eating them raw or only lightly steamed is the best way to retain their phytochemicals and other anti-cancer compounds.