ILS Cancer Prevention:  Warding Off Cancer for Life

Many women are at a greater risk of developing breast cancer due to findings of atypical lesions or other precancerous indications, or based on having a high-risk profile such as a family history.  Breast cancer incidence is higher among women over 50 years of age and in particular among non-Hispanic white women.  Among the better studied risk factors are alcohol, smoking, high body mass index (BMI), estrogen use, physical inactivity, and a diet high in refined carbohydrates.

Breast thermography, also known as thermal or infrared imaging, provides an excellent tool for assessing breast cancer risk and monitoring your breast health over time.  The thermogram is a color-coded thermal "fingerprint" of the breast.  If the overall pattern appears to be normal, then future scans should show the same pattern.

The greatest value of breast thermography comes from doing follow-up visits, with each thermogram serving as a snapshot of your breast’s overall condition and then being compared to previous scans.   Any substantial change in the color-coded pattern is a potential cause for concern and may then be followed by specific measures to improve your breast health and eliminate the earliest possible indications of breast cancer.

“Several studies have shown that infrared imaging is a good, and perhaps the best, method for risk assessment in breast cancer…the presence of an abnormal asymmetric infrared heat pattern of the breasts probably increases a woman’s risk of getting breast cancer at least ten-fold.”

[Source:  Head JF, Elliott RL. Infrared imaging: making progress in fulfilling its medical promise. IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology. 2002;21(6):80-5.]

Additionally, mammographic breast density, alone or in combination with other risk factors, has been linked with an increased risk of breast cancer.  Female survivors of Hodgkin’s disease, previously treated with chest irradiation, are also at greater risk of breast cancer.  Additional risk factors include abnormal thermograms, family history, and breast cancer susceptibility genes, BRCA1 and BRCA2.  

We tailor our ILS cancer prevention approach to the results of breast thermography and other risk assessment tools.  Strategies for the primary prevention of breast cancer can be combined for people with multiple risk factors.  A healthy plant-based diet and regular physical activity may play key roles in breast cancer prevention.  This includes increased intake of omega-3 fatty acids and decreased intake of omega-6 fatty acids, resulting in a higher omega-3/omega-6 ratio compared with the western diet. 

High intakes of polyphenols and organically grown, high-fiber foods are also associated with lower breast cancer risk.  Intake of foods with low glycemic index decreases insulin resistance and diabetes risk, and in turn may decrease breast cancer risk.  In some cases, a low-carb or no-carb (ketogenic) dietary plan is recommended, depending on one’s risk profile and various testing criteria.

The modernized Mediterranean diet (blended with elements of the standard Macrobiotic diet) is an effective strategy for meeting these goals and has been shown to reduce overall cancer risk, specifically breast cancer risk. High-risk women should also strive to eliminate environmental endocrine disruptors (including those in the diet) and to avoid drugs that are suspected of increasing breast cancer or diabetes risk. 

Finally, various novel strategies for chemoprevention (the use of pharmacologic or natural agents that inhibit the development of invasive cancer) may involve the use of dietary supplements that target many aspects of oncogenesis.  These strategies work best when used in conjunction with tailored changes in diet and lifestyle.

©  2019,  Mark N. Mead  

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