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Natural Awakenings Metro Phoenix & Northern Arizona

Inflammation and Breast Cancer: Chronic inflammation has been suggested as a major risk factor and cause, says Dr. Tom Jemison at Longevity Medical. Are you at risk?

Sep 30, 2013 07:58AM ● By Tom Jemison, NMD

We must acknowledge that not all cancers behave the same. For this reason, it is extremely important to discuss medical history, current and past risk factor exposure and family history with your physician. This information, along with a proper medical workup, will guide treatment strategy.

Known breast cancer risk factors include increasing age, a family history of breast cancer, genetic mutations of the BRCA-1 and BRCA-2 genes, alcohol intake of more than one serving a day, hormone replacement therapies, hormone imbalances, obesity and radiation exposure, among others.

Obesity is a common risk factor for most cancers. Excessive alcohol intake, fast food, high-carbohydrate, high-sugar, low-fruit-and-vegetable diets contribute to weight gain and obesity. A major problem with this type of diet is not only the weight gain, but also the chronic inflammation that these foods fuel. Chronic inflammation has been suggested to be one of the major risk factors and causes of cancer.

Inflammation is a normal cellular and immune system response to aid with tissue healing and infection control. An example of this process occurs with an insect bite. Initially, the cells involved in the area of the bite will signal to the immune system that they have been damaged and disturbed. The area gets swollen, warm to the touch, red and sometimes itchy. The immune system responds by sending in white blood cells to clean up and repair the area. Once resolved, the cells are happy again, the white blood cells move on and the inflammation goes away.

With sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy eating habits, the inflammatory signals never stop. Chronic inflammation over time begins creating problems and can affect normal cellular control processes that can lead to cancer. Reducing chronic inflammation will help reduce risk factors for developing cancer, but will also allow for conventional and alternative treatments to be more effective.

Modifying diet and lifestyle, while incorporating known anti-inflammatory substances should be a significant part of any breast cancer therapy. Patients cannot rely only on occasional hospital or doctor office interventions to completely treat it. Here are some recommendations.

Omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) found in fish oil, flaxseed oil and walnut oil have excellent anti-inflammatory properties. Omega-3 fatty acids have also been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer in pre- and post-menopausal women. Taking 1,000mg daily of DHA and EPA combined is a good place to start.

Curcumin, found in turmeric, is an extremely potent anti-inflammatory and has been shown to reduce breast cancer tumor formation and growth. Studies also show that curcumin helps to reduce chemotherapy resistance in breast cancers. Taken daily as a spice in foods offers some benefit; also, supplementing with curcumin 500mg twice a day is recommended.

Added sugar in the diet greatly increases inflammation and can actually feed cancer cells. Reducing intake will reduce inflammation and reduce the fuel for cancer cells. Adopting a diet high in vegetables, fiber, fruit, healthy oils and protein intake and greatly reducing or eliminating sugars, breads, ice cream, sugary snacks and alcohol is recommended.

Daily exercise will help to reduce weight and will improve health and well-being on many levels. Exercise increases oxygen in the body and will support proper inflammation modulation. Patients report less depression, shorter treatment duration, better prognosis and fewer side effects from conventional therapies with regular exercise. A good start is a brisk walk for at least 15 minutes, which is enough to elevate the heart rate and increase breathing. Be sure to consult with a physician concerning appropriate exercises.

Dr. Jemison focuses on alternative cancer therapies among other areas. For more information, call 602-428-6151 or visit

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