Supplements
Breast Health issues | healthy lifestyle | points | prevention | self exam | investigations

 

Supplements

 

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Green tea or green tea extract. University of Purdue researchers recently concluded that a compound in green tea inhibits the growth of cancer cells. The secret of green tea lies in the fact it is rich in catechin polyphenols, particularly epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). EGCG is a powerful anti-oxidant: besides inhibiting the growth of cancer cells, it kills cancer cells without harming healthy tissue.

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Cruciferous vegetables of the Brassica genus, for example, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower. These vegetables contain indole-3-carbinol and researchers suspect that this component is one of several found in vegetables that may protect against cancer. Diets high in fruit and vegetables are associated with a decreased risk of cancer. Indole-3-carbinol is one of the major anticancer substances found in cruciferous (cabage family) vegetables. It is a memb er of the class of sulfur-containing chemicals called glucosinolates. It is formed from parent compounds whenever cruciferous vegetables are crushed or cooked. Indole-3-carbinol and other glucosinolates (e.g. other indoles and isothiocyanates such as sulforaphane) are antioxidants and potent stimulators of natural detoxifying enzymes in the body. Indole-3-carbinol and other glucosinolates are believed to be responsible for the lowered risk of cancer in humans that is associated with the consumptionof broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, cabbage, and kale. Preliminary studies have also shown indole-3-carbinol has significanlty increased the conversion of estrogen from cancer-producing forms to nontoxic breakdown products.

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Root vegetables such as turnips also contain indole-3-carbinol.

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Rooibos tea contains 37 anti-oxidant compounds which destroy free radicals in the body thus protecting the cells against attack.

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Evening Primrose Oil (avoid during pregnancy). The therapeutic use of Evening Primrose Oil (EPO) was long considered as "alternative medicine" but today European and American physicians commonly prescribe it as the drug of choice to treat mastagia, i.e. tender and lumpy breasts with symptoms of pain and dull heavyness. Mastalgia often occurs in connection with PMS for which EPO also is an effective, a relatively cheap and a safe therapy. The response to EPO therapy is usually slow, often requiring over 6 months for full results. The effective ingredient of EPO is gammalinolenic acid (GLA), which in the body turns into prostaglandin PGE1. It seems to correct the distrubed fatty acid metabolism often prevalent in mastalgia and PMS.

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Grape seed extract. The antioxidants in grape seed extract work hard at helping to control cellular damage, routinely hunting down and neutralizing mutations within the genetic material of cells that could lead to tumour formation. The development and progression of cancers of the lung, breast, stomach, prostate, colon, skin and other body parts may be stalled as a result.

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Folic acid. A team of American and Chinese researchers has discovered that folic acid (folate) is highly effective in preventing breast cancer in both pre- and postmenopausal women. Their investigation involved 1321 women with breast cancer and 1382 healthy controls. The women were between the ages of 25 and 64 years when they enrolled in the Shanghai Breast Cancer Study during 1996-98. The researchers found a clear correlation between dietary intake of folic acid and the risk of breast cancer. Women with a daily intake of 345 micrograms or higher had a 38 per cent lower risk than did women with an intake of less than 195 micrograms - after adjustment for total vegetable, fruit and animal food intake. The protective effect of folic acid was even more pronounced in women who also had a high dietary intake of vitamin B6, vitamin B12 and methionine. Women with a daily intake equal to or higher than 345 micrograms of folic acid, 8.47 micrograms of vitamin B12, 2 mg of vitamin B6, and 1.9 grams of methionine had a 53 per cent lower risk of breast cancer than did women with a daily intakes at or below 195 micrograms of folic acid, 1.32 micrograms of vitamin B12, 1.35 mg of vitamin B6, and 1.27 grams of methionine. Researchers believe that folic acid exerts its protective effect by preventing errors in DNA replication and by helping to regenerate methionine, a vital component in DNA synthesis. They also point out that both vitamin-B12 and vitamin-B6 are vital cofactors required for folic acid to "do its job". NOTE: Most multivitamins have levels of folic acid, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 well above the levels found to be beneficial in the Shanghai study. Shrubsole, Martha J., et al. Dietary folate intake and breast cancer risk: results from the Shanghai Breast Cancer Study. Cancer Research, Vol. 61, October 1, 2001, pp. 7136-41.

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Vitamin B6. Improve symptoms of PMS (premenstrual syndrome) and fibrocystic breast changes. Some women find that taking vitamin B6 supplements eases PMS symptoms. This is particularly true for women who suffer from severe breast pain - fibrocystic breasts, specifically around the time that PMS symptoms occur. The nutrient appears to help by assisting the liver in its effort to wash excess estrogen from the body. In addition, B6 raises levels of the hormone progesterone and assists in the manufacture of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that enhances mood.

 

Some useful dietary and lifestyle tips

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Enjoy more fruits. They contribute powerful antioxidants, phytochemicals, and fibre.

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Enjoy more vegetables. They contribute other powerful antioxidants, phytochemicals and they also contribute fibre.

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Work a Carotenoid-rich food into your day (mango, butternut, chili peppers, pumpkin, spinach, sweet potato, tomato, carrot).

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Eat more fibre, especially from whole grains. Phytochemicals found in whole grains have been found to reduce risk of breast and colon cancers in animal studies.

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Keep fat, saturated fat, and animal fat moderate. Researchers are still trying to figure out if and how the amount of fat (as well as the types of fat) in our food changes our risk for breast cancer. Results from animal studies have suggested the possibility that the amount and type of fat we eat could encourage or discourage certain breast tumours.

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Switch to monounsaturated fats. Research has been showing that monounsaturated oils, such as olive and canola oil, do not have many cancer-promoting effects (Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 97:16, 1997).

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Drink little or no alcohol. At least 50 studies show that alcohol may play a role in breast cancer risk.

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Emphasize variety in food choices. Eating various foods will give many different nutrients and helpful phytochemicals.

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Try to keep extra weight off as you age. A Harvard University study showed that women who gained 44 to 55 pounds after age 18 had almost double the risk of developing breast cancer following menopause, compared with women who had gained only a few pounds.

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Oil used in frying that is heated to high temperatures, or re-heated is a known carcogen. Beware of too much take-out. Discard oil after used once.

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Get bitten by the fitness bug! (or)

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Try to exercise at least 4 hours a week - even if it is just walking. Some studies have found a reduced risk of breast cancer among women who exercise regularly or who were athletic as adolescents.

For more information, please contact the Netcare Breast Care Centre - tel 0860 233 233 or email us on breasthealth@netcare.co.za