Why Women On HRT Should Eat More Parsley and Celery

August 2, 2011 by  
Filed under Natural Medicine, Womens Health

A new study by the University of Missouri has found that a compound in parsley and other plant products can stop certain breast cancer tumor cells from multiplying and growing.

Why is this particularly relevant for women on HRT? Because of the well established research showing that certain synthetic hormones used in HRT (a progestin called medroxyprogesterone acetate (MPA) can accelerate breast tumor development. When tumor cells develop in the breast in response to MPA, they encourage new blood vessels to form within tumors and the blood vessels then supply needed the nutrients needed for the tumors to grow and multiply.

This study was published recently in Cancer Prevention Research and highlights the work of Salman Hyder, Professor of biomedical sciences in the College of Veterinary Medicine and the Dalton Cardiovascular Research Center. This was not a human trial, but exposed rats with a certain type of breast cancer to apigenin, a common compound found in parsley and other plant products. The rats that were exposed to the apigenin developed fewer tumors and experienced significant delays in tumor formation compared to those rats that were not exposed to apigenin.

Hyder found that apigenin not only blocked new blood vessel formation, thereby delaying, and sometimes stopping, the development of the tumors but it also reduced the overall number of tumors. However, this is only an animal trial and while apigenin did delay tumor growth, it did not stop the initial formation of cancer cells within the breast.

If you want to be proactive around breast cancer risk, then there are some simple changes to your diet that can help.

So What Should You Eat?
Apigenin is most prevalent in parsley and celery, but can also be found in apples, oranges, nuts and other plant products. Because apigenin is not absorbed efficiently into the bloodstream at the present time scientists are unsure of how much can or should be taken as there are no specific dosage for humans yet. However, it appears that keeping a minimal level of apigenin in the bloodstream is important to delay the onset of breast cancer that progresses in response to progestins such as MPA so in which case crunch on some celery and start eating the parsley you have been decorating your dinner plates with!

Increased Risk of Breast Cancer Recurrence With Common Drugs

High blood pressure is increasingly common with more and more people on lifelong medication to control it. However, we need to remember that the human body doesn’t exist in separate, unconnected parts and that if you take a drug directed at one particular organ or problem, it doesn’t mean that medication will only zero in on one symptom or function.

It can, and often will, impact other processes, cells and organs or even the immune system and a disturbing example of this is the connection that has just been made between widely prescribed drugs commonly used to control high blood pressure and heart failure in women and breast cancer.

According to a new study by researchers at UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, ACE inhibitors and beta blockers (the most frequently prescribed drugs for high blood pressure and heart problems) appear to be linked with an increased risk of recurrence in women who have had breast cancer. Dr. Patricia Ganz, author of the study, used data from the Life After Cancer Epidemiology (LACE) study, which included patients diagnosed with early stage breast cancer, as the basis for the research. Her findings have led her to conclude that a much larger clinical database study is needed as she was both concerned and surprised at the negative effect of the ACE inhibitors on chances for breast cancer recurrence.

For me this confirms the belief that medicine needs to be dealing with the whole picture and not just looking at isolated conditions or symptoms. Many women will certainly need to be taking medication for high blood pressure if they have not managed to control it by other more natural means like diet and exercise but drugs never act in isolation.

Many years ago I was involved with the writing of a book called The Medicine Chest which looked at the interaction between prescription drugs, food and supplements and it was quite startling to me to realise the impact that so many drugs have well outside their original sphere of influence.

No woman who has experienced breast cancer ever wants to repeat the experience and therefore this research is a timely reminder that by taking care of your own health and asking questions about every medication you are prescribed you will improve your own chances for well-being and longevity.

A good doctor will always answer your questions about what contra indications come with the drug and if they do not — and you cannot change your doctor — then I’ve always found pharmacists to be extremely helpful and the Internet is always a backup research tool.

If you have had breast cancer and are taking medication for either heart problems or high blood pressure then please discuss this with your doctor, particularly if you are under any degree of stress. A study carried out in September 2010 concluded that chronic stress works as a “fertilizer” to feed breast cancer progression through inflammatory signaling, significantly spiking the spread of disease.

We know that inflammation appears to play an important role in breast cancer and different classes of drugs may influence different pathways of inflammation is so as well as adopting a healthier lifestyle dealing with stress is also a high priority.

What the Newspapers Don’t Tell You About Breast Cancer

March 30, 2011 by  
Filed under Health, Womens Health

I generally avoid items in the mainstream press, as they get a lot of coverage, but some things need an alternative response and the item that ran last Monday in the Daily Mail is certainly one of them.

It suggests that women at risk of breast cancer could be given daily dose of pills to ward off disease, and that recommendation comes from an expert review published in the journal Lancet Oncology. That recommends all women with a greater than 4 per cent above average risk of developing breast cancer in the next ten years should be offered preventative drugs and closer monitoring. At present there are 44,000 new cases of breast cancer every year but this new initiative would equate to one in ten women being offered drug treatment and could double the number of women over-50s advised to take preventative action. In reality this means the drug Tamoxifen which is already linked to serious health risks.

Of course any women at serious risk needs to take every precaution, but this new trend of ‘preventive’ health care which has also seen women prescribed HRT as a ‘preventive’ for symptoms of menopause is not one I can endorse. This sounds perilously like the policy that has seen the widespread prescription of statins to people who may be at risk of heart problems, but are certainly at risk of the side effects of being on a continuous drug regime for a condition they may not have.

Women with higher than average odds of breast tumours already have access to regular checks and some are given drugs to cut their chances of contracting the disease and in extreme cases are offer both mastectomies and hysterectomies. But these are extreme cases, and Tamoxifen in trials has shown that it may reduce the risk of the most common kind of breast cancer by around a third in women of the highest vulnerability. These women know the price they will pay for having breast cancer and that treatment may be appropriate for them but to extend out to less vulnerable women a drug that has raised doubts in many is not a good idea in my view

The known, serious side effects of tamoxifen are blood clots, strokes, uterine cancer, and cataracts and less serious side effects are similar to the symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes and vaginal discharge. Tamoxifen is licensed in the U.S., but is not widely used, mainly due to concern about potential side-effects, and an inability to predict cancer risk accurately.

A more natural approach includes using natural hormones such as progesterone which counteracts and balances oestrogens potentially carcinogenic effect, going on an anti-cancer diet, having a healthy weight and taking more exercise. Tony Coope, a doctor who works with natural hormones in his practice had this comment to make:

“There are several problems with this approach, part of a trend in medicine that I think is very counter-productive. Firstly, there is the focus on intervening at this level with drugs which have known and serious side effects, when there are bio-identical alternatives that perform this function more efficiently, at lower cost, and without harmful side effects.

Secondly, it distracts us from exploring the root cause of the problem, which is at the level of the Unconscious, the storehouse of beliefs and attitudes that create our perception of the world we live in, and drive the mutations and expression of our genes.

As Dr Vincent Felitti of San Diego has commented, a person unfamiliar with fire would be initially tempted to treat the smoke, – the most visible aspect of the problem. Fortunately for us our fire departments have learned to distinguish cause and effect long ago; if they hadn’t, they would be using fans instead of water hoses.

Unfortunately in modern medicine it seems that we are still often investing in fans.”

If you wish to read articles by Dr Coope and others who work in the field of natural hormones then please visit my women’s health website at www.bio-hormone-health.com

Preventing Breast and Colon Cancer with your Feet

December 15, 2010 by  
Filed under Health

Whatever ‘new’ discovery about cancer prevention comes along (like a daily aspirin), there are certain well-established principles that we need to remember first. Once you have sorted out a healthy diet that you will stick with and reduced environmental and emotional stresses in your life then 10,000 cancers a year could be prevented in the United Kingdom alone if people took several brisk walks a week, according to a report from the World Cancer Research Fund.

“You don’t have to be an athlete to reduce your cancer risk,” said Henry Scowcroft of Cancer Research UK. “There’s solid evidence that certain cancers — including breast and bowel cancer — are less common in people who do regular, moderate exercise such as brisk walking.”

Nor are we talking about marathon effort here as the report found that an average of just 45 minutes of moderate exercise per day could prevent roughly 4,500 cases of bowel cancer in the United Kingdom each year and approximately 5,500 cases of breast cancer. That is more than 10 percent of the current cancer figures so that has to be worth paying attention to.

Walking is something everyone can fit into their life, whether it’s not taking the car down to the local shop for the paper, or getting off the bus a stop early and walking the rest of the way. If walking doesn’t appeal then any moderate exercise that you enjoy will fit the bill so dust off the dancing shoes, set to in the garden, go for a swim and it even includes vigorous housework like vacuuming. Just ten minutes a time, done regularly is better than slogging away for an hour every other week, and surely such a simple change to reduce your cancer risk has got to be worth it.

Exercise is effective for cancer prevention because cancer cells are typically oxygen-deprived, and exercise is a direct way to deliver extra oxygen to cells throughout the body and to improve the immune response. Exercise can also regulate the production of certain hormones that, unregulated, may spur tumour growth.

Get out those walking shoes, and if it’s still too slippy out there put on some music and dance!

Lower Risk of Breast Cancer Linked to Reduced Hormone Therapy

December 6, 2010 by  
Filed under Health, Womens Health

For the first time scientists can show a direct link between reduced hormone therapy and declines in breast cancer. The researchers saw such a striking decrease, they believe they also have uncovered indirect evidence that hormones promote breast tumour growth. The declines occurred in the age groups that most widely embraced then abandoned hormone therapy.

The use of hormone therapy surged in the 1980s and ’90s but at the same time, there was a steady increase in the rate of breast cancer. In mid-2002, following a landmark report of the Women’s Health Initiative indicating that the risks of oestrogen plus progestin therapy outweighed its benefits, hormone therapy fell into widespread disfavour with millions of women either giving it up or looking for alternatives.

So HRT has long been associated with a high breast cancer risk and the best advice if you are taking it is to use the lowest dose possible for the shortest time you can in order to relieve hot flashes and night sweats. Many doctors assume that women can safely take hormones for four or five years but Dr. Rowan T. Chlebowski, first author of an article published this week in The Journal of the American Medical Association and an oncologist at U.C.L.A. Medical Center said “I don’t think you can say that now. I know some people have to take it because they can’t function, but the message now is that you really should try to stop after a year or two.”

If you are taking HRT for osteoporosis prevention, or want more information on natural hormone alternatives, then can I suggest you study the articles on my other health site at www.bio-hormone-health for a fuller picture.

The study has been published online by the Journal of Clinical Oncology and senior author Karla Kerlikowske, MD said “We show that the incidence of breast cancer decreases if you take the hormones away. The fact that we’re continuing to see a decrease in invasive cancer means that the effects of stopping the hormones may be long-lasting.”
The study uncovered a clear pattern: women 50 to 69 years old had the highest level of hormone usage — and showed the biggest reduction in invasive breast cancer when they stopped, from 40 cancers per 10,000 mammograms in 2002 to 31 cases in 2005, 35 cancers in 2006. There was a parallel drop in cancer among women older than age 70.

Strikingly, the scientists found that among women 40 to 49 years old, who were less likely to have been on hormone therapy, breast cancer rates did not change over the course of the decade studied. The study supports the idea that in giving such artificial hormones it was also promoting tumour growths.

Previous research has found that hormone treatment can cause delays in diagnosis by increasing breast density, making tumours harder to see on mammograms. Delayed diagnosis may increase the risk of successful treatment and it is also possible that hormones may feed the growth of some breast cancers or the blood vessels that tumours need to grow and spread.

Pregnant women and breast cancer — the good news

October 4, 2010 by  
Filed under Health

It is a widely held belief both by the public and the medical profession that women treated for breast cancer while pregnant will have a worse outcome than women who are not pregnant. Now the good news is that with current treatment such women do in fact have an improved rate of disease-free survival and a trend for improved overall survival.

This research has been done by the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and presented at the 2010 Breast Cancer Symposium. The researchers put it down to the fact that previous treatment for pregnant breast cancer patients meant they were not always given the standard of care chemotherapy available. Another factor is that they also often refused or delayed their therapy until after delivery due to a belief that it could be harmful for their unborn child.

Certainly we know that chemotherapy, although designed to kill cancer cells, can be damaging to the body and the immune system so their fears were realistic and not unfounded. However, more recent studies have shown that since 1992 a chemotherapy regimen was deemed safe for both the mother and unborn child.

The reasons for the disease-free and overall survival discrepancy are still unknown according to their chief researcher, who stated that understanding their findings is of research priority. What I wonder though, is whether they haven’t missed a very basic and vital factor when considering the mortality rate of pregnant women with breast cancer. That is the human will, and a powerful desire to stay alive for the unborn child.

I have written much on our ability to heal ourselves through our own attitude as much as the health care regimes that we adopt and I would have thought that protecting the life of a child, through preserving the health of the mother, was one of the most powerful motivating factors for a woman that you could find.

We know that our thoughts influence our physical responses; positive thoughts produce a different balance of hormones and chemicals in the body than do negative ones.

Belief and Cancer Care
Whether pregnant or not, anyone dealing with cancer in any form is well advised to consider their own state of mind alongside any treatment they are taking. I have mentioned before the music by Sulis, used and researched by the Bristol Cancer clinic, to help reduce blood pressure and anxiety and promote calmness in their patients and families.

I make no apologies for repeating it, as it is an invaluable aid for anyone wanting to promote a more calm and healthy state of mind and you will find it on this website www.sulismusic.com – together with more information on that research.
The album that I listen to constantly from Sulis is called Chameleon and you can listen to tracks from it on their website.

Home Device For Detecting Breast Abnormalities

August 4, 2010 by  
Filed under featured, Womens Health

A new hand held device for women to use at home as part of their regular monthly self examination can actually view the inside of their breasts to detect abnormalities and cancers. Developed in the UK, is now commercially available, and could prove invaluable for early detection and particularly useful for women with a family history of breast cancer.

A trial recently took place at the symptomatic breast clinic at Sunderland City Hospital which involved 300 women and was designed to assess whether a UK device, Breastlight, could accurately detect abnormalities and cancers. It works by shining a very bright but harmless red LED light through breast tissue where veins and other blood vessels show up as dark lines, often referred to as the ‘map’ of the breast. This is normal, but if a woman detects other dark spots or shadows, this is generally an indication that there is an abnormality. Of course there may be nothing to worry about such as a benign lesion like a bruise or blood filled cyst or it may require further investigation

The researchers found that it could detect malignancies as small as 7 mm and presented this data at the European Institute of Oncology’s 12th Milan Breast Cancer Conference. confirms that Breastlight, a device for women to use at home when carrying out their breast health awareness routine, detects malignant tumours, picking up lesions as small as 7mm.

The women in the trial had all been referred by their G P for a breast assessment and they were examined with Breastlight before their standard clinical assessment. The findings were then compared to those seen with mammography, ultrasound and biopsy. Breastlight was highly effective as it:

• detected 12 out of 18 malignant tumours which were then confirmed as positive using biopsy (giving a sensitivity of 67%)

• correctly identified as negative 240 out of 282 breasts (giving a specificity of 85%)

• detected malignant tumours as small as 7mm (it is generally accepted that malignancies below 1.8cm are non-palpable)

• detected a number of variants of cancers regardless of age or density of breast tissue or menopausal status of women1

The researchers were impressed with the sensitivity and specificity of the Breastlight device though of course it should not in any way replace mammography but that can provide an early warning as part of an early warning screening routine as it can reliably pick up abnormal lumps which can be further investigated to assess whether benign or malignant. It could also be extremely useful for women who have confirmed recurrent benign cysts and find it difficult to examine themselves.

In addition to trial in Sunderland, Breastlight usage has been evaluated at-home in a User Study involving over 1,200 women that reported it encouraged breast examination, at recommended frequency levels, and gave women confidence in their breast examination. 80% of women said they felt more confident when using Breastlight in addition to their existing routine and it increased the frequency of examination considerably.

It is not intended to replace but to augment regular self examination, backed up by regular mammograms. You should find it in major Boots stores, online at www.breastlight.com or at www.boots.com with a recommended price of 84.99 – not cheap, but as an early warning system for cancer it could prove priceless.

US Courts Back HRT and Breast Cancer Risk

March 15, 2010 by  
Filed under Health


It was as far back as 2002 that the link between breast cancer and HRT was first reported and the drug companies have been fighting a fierce rearguard campaign ever since. It was the Women’s Health Initiative study who came to this conclusion after a long term and massive research project and began around 8,000 lawsuits in the US.

Now in a record breaking judgement by a Philadelphia state-court jury, Wyeth, a division of Pfizer, was ordered to pay $6 million in punitive damages to Audrey Singleton, a retired school bus driver from Alabama,who developed breast cancer after taking the company’s menopause drugs. The award included $3.45 million in compensatory damages and $6 million in punitive damages awarded to punish the company for their conduct. Audrey Singleton alleged that Wyeth knew about the risk of breast cancer from Prempro and failed to warn the public about the risk of the drug.

The jury made this award on the basis that the company failed to warn about the risks of the drug and took only minutes to come to their decision. Audrey Singleton began taking Prempro in August 1997 and a mammogram taken at that time was normal, but in January 2004 she was diagnosed with breast cancer and stopped taking the drug. Until 1995, many patients combined Premarin, Wyeth’s estrogen-based drug, with Provera which is high in progestins – synthetic progesterone – and Wyeth combined the two hormones in Prempro.

Despite being diagnosed, her physician suggested she stay on the medicine, which Pfizer seem to think lets them off the hook but this verdict is Wyeth’s seventh loss in ten cases to have gone before juries and the fifth in a row over the drug.

All of the lawsuits focused on allegations that the drug company’s failure to warn consumers and the medical community about the risk of Prempro side effects caused them to develop invasive breast cancer. The company’s attorneys are still continuing to appeal the verdict, as they have in the previous cases, but there can now be no woman who is unaware of the potentially fatal link between HRT drugs and breast cancer.

Nutrition News for Preventing Breast and Colon Cancer

December 22, 2009 by  
Filed under Health


A couple of updates on new research on a spicy solution that could combat breast cancer and some new dietary strategies to prevent colon cancer. First, researchers at the University of Michigan have come up with a combination of spices to prevent breast cancer, and it was reported in Breast Cancer Research and Treatment last month.

The two magic ingredients are curcumin found in turmeric, that bright yellow spice much used in Indian cooking, plus piperine which is in black pepper. They’ve tested their spicy recipe in the lab on breast cells and found that the combination decreased the number of cancer stem cells that fuel the growth of tumours. The spices interrupted the self-renewal process that is characteristic of the cancer-initiating cells but didn’t harm normal breast cells.

Please note that the amount of curcumin and piperine they used was about 20 times as much as could be consumed through diet and won’t be tested on human volunteers until Spring 2010 in order to find out how high a dose of the spices that humans can safely tolerate. So don’t try huge doses on yourself as the results are not known yet, but an extra grind or two of pepper on your food and a curry a couple of times a week couldn’t hurt if you have a predisposition to breast cancer in your family. If you are looking for recipes I use schwartz.co.uk for herb/spice suggestions and they have a spiced pumpkin and prawn salad that sounds a winner for using turmeric in an unusual way.

Colon Cancer:

Two separate studies have suggested new dietary strategies for preventing colon cancer. An American study has found that a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids cut colon cancer risk by nearly 40 percent and the main dietary source for that is found in cold water fish such as salmon, sardines, herring and mackerel.

Another study, from Italy, found that a dietary supplement containing selenium reduced the risk of polyps recurring, also by about 40 percent. They looked at 411 individuals from 25-75 years old who had had one or more colorectal polyps removed. Half of this group received a supplement containing 200 micrograms of selenomethionnine (a combination of selenium and methionnine) plus other nutrients. Polyps recurred among only 4.2 percent of those taking the supplement compared to 7.2 percent of the placebo group.

However, although it’s not known whether selenium alone was responsible for the difference or if other nutrients in the supplement played a role, it is a vital nutrient for everyone for good health. It is a trace element found in soil, and is essential for many body processes and is present in nearly every cell but especially in the kidneys, liver, spleen, testes, and pancreas. It acts as an antioxidant against free radicals that damage our DNA and is often included with Vitamins C and E to help fight against cancer, heart disease and even aging. Other benefits of selenium include protection against heart disease, and can help to increase male potency as well as being involved in the maintenance of hair, skin and eyes.

Good Sources of selenium are brazil nuts, poultry, seafood, and meats. Oats and brown rice can also provide significant amounts, but this can depend on the selenium content of the soil in which they have been grown, so go for organic for the highest amounts.

Breast cancer awareness month

October 10, 2009 by  
Filed under featured, Womens Health


October is Breast cancer awareness month and as this is the most common cancer, and accounts for nearly one in three of all cancers in women, it is timely to pay attention.

There are 45,500 women diagnosed with it every year and one woman in nine will be affected in her lifetime. You can get involved in various events or contribute by buying yourself – or someone else – a fit that contributes to breast cancer research. Among my ‘wish list’ are Debenhams ‘bling piggy bank’, a special edition ipod cover and earphone set or – assuming we are ever going to get some more rain – Asda’s tickled pink wellies and slippers.

If you want to do something more active, then undertake a Friendship Walk to raise funds, or try ‘STEP ON IT’, which is one of Breast Cancer Campaign’s new individual walking challenge. You are asked to walk a step for each of the 46,000people who will be diagnosed with breast cancer in the UK this year.

More details from the website at www.breastcancercampaign.org/how/fwalk_resources/

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