Write Pink! Prevention, Hyacynth’s Story

Welcome to Write Pink! From the Head, Heart and Feet: Prevention Week. This week we’re focusing on the action part {hence, feet} of breast cancer awareness — what we can all do to lesson our chances of developing breast cancer.

I’m no breast-cancer expert.

But I am a worrier by nature and a journalist by education, {which is like the perfect storm for hours of endless reading in quests for the truth}, so I pay attention to the facts, the research and the studies.

And though I no longer pen for a newspaper, I find being an avid reasearcher is pretty much my job, both as a mother and wife and a Curves owner.

Because I deal with prevention daily {for many, many diseases including but not limited to breast cancer} in each of those roles, I’m constantly picking apart information.

In my reading, there’s a major point that has resurfaced in many studies, and that’s the integeral role elevated estrogen levels play in breast cancer.

Let me dissect it very briefly.

Increased estrogen levels have been linked to breast-cancer development.

So common sense tells us we should consciously try to maintain natural estrogen levels.

But in order to do so, we must know what increases those levels in the first place.

First and foremost, being overweight increases estrogen in the body because our fat tissues releases estrogen.

Right there, we put ourselves at greater risk for devloping not only breast cancer but myriad other diseases.

{Rose will be writing on diet and exercise specifics tomorrow, so be sure to check out her prevention piece.}

After lowering body fat through proper nutrition and exercise, I’ve focused {as a Curves owner and mother and wife} on three things to help maintain proper estrogen levels.

1. If you choose to have babies, choose to breastfeed

From The National Cancer Institute study:

CONCLUSIONS: Women with deleterious BRCA1 mutations who breast-fed for a
cumulative total of more than 1 year had a statistically significantly
reduced risk of breast cancer.

That’s encouraging news. It was so encouraging that way back when our first-born was a small baby, I made it my personal goal to nurse however many kiddos we have for a grand total of seven years because my lactation consultant had shared research that concluded mothers who nursed for seven years had about 1 percent chance of developing breast cancer.

Since I like nursing and the health benefits extend beyond just decreased risk of breast cancer, I thought it would be fun to shoot for the full seven. {Yes, my definition of the word fun here is questionable.}

A 2010 case-controlled study of Sri Lankan mothers found great benefits for breastfeeding mothers in relation to not developing breast cancer:

In conclusion, our study observed a significant inverse
association between both lifetime duration of breastfeeding and average duration per child and risk of breast carcinoma. The findings were supported by dose–response
relationship, with increasing duration of breastfeeding the risk of cancer risk is reduced.

Let me break it down: Mothers who nursed babies for 36-47 months had a 94 percent risk reduction for developing breast cancer.

Nurse on, Baby E., nurse on.

2. Avoid plastics.

About two months ago, I purged about 90 percent of the plasticware in our kitchen — and it only too four years of consciously thinking about reducing our plastic exposure.

I’d read yet another study about the link between plastics and increased estrogen levels just before I went to unload the dishwasher. After I’d collected the plastic containers from the top rack, I opened the cabinet only to have plastic lids and containers pelt my head and arms.

And that was the day the music died, so to speak, and about 90 percent of the plastic went straight to the recycling bin.

I’ll admit. This is controversial. But the research makes sense.

From cancer.org:

A great deal of research has been reported and more is being done to understand possible environmental influences on breast cancer risk.

Of special interest are compounds in the environment that have been found in lab
studies to have estrogen-like properties, which could in theory affect
breast cancer risk. For example, substances found in some plastics, certain
cosmetics and personal care products, pesticides (such as DDE), and PCBs
(polychlorinated biphenyls) seem to have such properties.

I very clearly see a link. So we avoid plastics when possible by adhering to a few simple practices:

1. Use paper bags or canvas at the store
2. Use glass containers for food storage
3. Use food-grade stainless steel water bottles or regular glasses
4. Use glass alternatives to plastic, like what’s featured as today’s giveaway, the Strawesome straws
5. Choose raw materials whenever possible in leiu of plastics (example: wool diaper covers, cloth table covers, wooden blocks, wooden shelves for storage}

Seems overwhelming?

Pick one, and then slowly increase as it feels natural.

3. Use non-hormonal birth control methods

If we’re trying to maintain perfect estrogen composition, it only makes sense to eliminate additional doses of estrogen.

My doctor feels so strongly against using synthetic hormones as birth control, he won’t even prescribe birth control pills.

I won’t go into huge detail, but I will say a few things:

1. The pill made me feel crazy kinds of hormonal {hello, extra estrogen!}.
2. Birth control pills contain estrogen.
3. Diaphrams are effective and easy to use.
4. Our second child was planned {we had been using a diaphragm as birth control before we consciously made the choice to try for number two}

Draw your own conclusions about safe and effective birth control.

You don’t have to be a breast-cancer expert to take reduce your risks of developing breast cancer.

But you do have to look at the research, the links and then take preventative measures, like some of the aforementioned suggestions and methods that have been shared this week.

Link up your Bigger Picture Moment about breast cancer prevention through Wednesday, Oct. 20. {Blog or Facebook notes both work!}

By linking up, you will automatically be entered to win a set of four special edition glass straws from Strawesome {cut down on your plastic exposure!}. A winner will be chosen by random.org.

By commenting on any one of the prevention posts, includingMonday’sTuesday’s or Wednesday’s, you will automatically be entered into a drawing to win Breast Cancer Scientist T shirt {adult or child-sized} from Pigtail Pals.

Reading prevention week articles is a step in the right direction. Now let’s use those feet. What’s the next step you’ll take in prevention? What wheels are turning in your head about ways you could decrease your risk of developing breast cancer?

One response to “Write Pink! Prevention, Hyacynth’s Story

  1. Thanks for the tips on prevention and passing along the latest from the experts. To be frank – yours is the first I’ve seen in print of a caution against using hormonal contraceptives – and as you so wisely put – it’s common sense. The HRT approach to managing menopausal symptoms screeched to a hault when they found scientifically that increased estrogen – gasp – was found to increase the occurrence of breast cancer. Am I suggesting that everyone who takes birth control pills will get breast cancer? No, of course – but I am like the author so anti-bc pills, I (if I have any say in the matter) will not allow my 3 daughters to take them when they are of age. I’m a young-ish breast cancer survivor – contracted when 39 (my twin was 33) and we are both found to have the BRAC mutuation. So while I no longer have to worry about birth control – I will follow some of the above tips so I try my best to avoid the cursed word – recurrence. Thanks!

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