Breast Cancer Awareness: Every Day Advice to PREVENT Breast Cancer from a Survivor

EDITOR’S NOTE: Elki Powers shared this insightful, full of information and resources article with the Pioneer months back. I had intended to run this during “Breast Cancer Awareness Month” – October … but it occurs to me that EVERY DAY needs to be Breast Cancer Awareness, not just the month of October. So, here’s Elki’s article and watch for more about what we can do every day to prevent all cancers — heed some of Elki’s advice.
By Elki Powers
There is an epidemic of breast cancer, yet there has been no progress in either preventing or curing cancer in at least 40 years. Women are dying of breast cancer at the same rate today as they did in 1950. The current emphasis on mammography and early detection does a disservice to women. Mammography is not a cure. Early detection is not enough!

Women want to prevent breast cancer, but research into its causes have been underfunded. Without exploring the causes of breast cancer, we can’t prevent it. Women don’t want to just wait for cancer and hope it
is detected early. They want to know how to keep it out of their lives.

In 1990, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and had my breast removed.
Each week for 6 months, we drove to Portland for my chemotherapy treatments. On the days we went in, I spent the mornings before my treatments at PSU’s library. I used every computer and resourceavailable and looked at journal articles, books, magazine database, newspaper articles…anything I could find on breast cancer. I had decided that I wanted to know about my disease and what I could do to prevent it from coming back.
I found tons of material!!
For one, though there are high risk factors involved with some cancer patients … like early menstruation, late menopause, family member with breast cancer… these account for only 10-20 percent of cancer patients.
A good 80-90 percent of breast cancer patients don’t have any link to these risk factors!
Scientists are saying the key to ALL cancer prevention is reducing or avoiding exposure to cancer-causing agents – they call them carcinogens.

Just look at some headlines I found:
Pesticides from diet linked to breast cancer; Farmers’ cancer risk high; Chlorinated water may increase cancer risks; Study links cancer and dark hair dye; Weed killer linked to cancer found in dogs – is your lawn toxic?;
35 carcinogenic pesticides banned by government agency …

The articles I read pointed to links between cancer and pesticides, cancer and hair dyes, cancer and weed killers, cancer and air fresheners, cancer and plastics. I discovered that there are cancer causing agents in our food, our clothing, our cleaning products, our makeup, our drugs …
Just guess what this is: It can contain ammonia, ethanol, artificial colors and flavors, formaldehyde, saccharine, and PV — which is the same plastic resin used in hair spray. It’s TOOTHPASTE!!

I found this little label in a carton of grapefruit I was going to buy at a wholesale food market:
“The rind of the citrus product you have purchased from Dole has been coated with food grade vegetable and/or mineral based waxes or resins plus food grade lac-resins. Contains water, shellac, morpholine, ammonium hydroxide, oleic acid, wood rosin, propylene glycol, vegetable origin protein, octyl phenol ethoxylated, isopropyl and
silicone antifoam.”

The distributors and manufacturers of these items tell us that there is an “insignificant amount” of poison in this product and that product, but no one is monitoring the cumulative affects of all these chemicals. We’re storing huge quantities of all these “insignificant amounts” in our bodies.
Well, I needed to take control of my body and my life. I had had breast cancer and I didn’t want to return. I decided to change as many things in my life as I could, based on the findings from my readings.
As my husband Richard said to me one day, “if you have a choice between 2 desserts, and one contains a little bit of arsenic and one contains a lot of it…. which one will you choose?”
So, I will share with you some of the things I have changed in my life:

I don’t eat vegetables or fruits that have been sprayed with pesticides. I eat only organically grown produce. You can find ORGANIC signs in several of our local markets.

I don’t use any artificial sweeteners such as saccharine (which has been linked especially to bladder cancer) or aspartame (which you know as NutraSweet or Equal). Aspartame has been linked to M.S., lupus, and the immune system problems.
I never drink soda pops, which are the worst offenders of the use of chemical additives and artificial
sweeteners (especially diet sodas). Interestingly enough, the excessive use of the diet sodas causes a craving for carbohydrates, so the diet advantage is lost.

I don’t eat beef at all, because of the growth hormones, antibiotic and pesticides found it.
EDITOR’S NOTE: You can source local, organic beef without any of the above. FYI.

I use only organic milk, butter, and cheese for the same reason as the beef. The growth hormone that dairies are giving to their cows to increase their milk production has been linked to cancer.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Tillamook County Creamery Association does not use growth hormones.

I do not eat any processed foods such as hot dogs, lunch meats, sausages, or especially bacon. They contain nitrites which combine with other chemicals in the meat to form highly carcinogenic chemicals! The nitrites are just used to make the products look pink and appetizing!

I don’t use any animal or dairy fats because of the fat-soluble pesticides which get stored in it. I cook only with olive oil, and I have found organic olive oil, to boot! I’ve learned that in Mediterranean countries which primarily use olive oil, there is a lower incidence of breast cancer.

I filter our tap water for drinking and cooking, and carry a glass bottle of our water to drink at work.

I’ve even found organic wines where the growers don’t spray their grapes. (Thank goodness!)

I don’t eat anything that has artificial food colorings. Some of the reds and yellows have been found to be carcinogenic.

I read labels very carefully. I avoid any food whose label contains the words “natural flavors”. This is a legal way to hide the use of petroleum based protein called Torutein — which is distilled from crude oil! Because petrochemicals come from the earth, they can legally be called “natural”. Other counties such as Japan, Great Britain and Italy question the safety of petroleum protein, but not the U.S.

I don’t buy anything with additives or preservatives. The literature says that soda pop, sugary cereals and hot dogs have the greatest concentration of synthetic additives on the market. Prepared foods are the main culprits of additives, which you can see by reading the labels.

We have stopped buying processed foods, in general. We eat much more simply…fresh vegetables and grains, lots of pasta with various veggies, a little chicken or turkey or fish.

I don’t use products in spray cans, so I don’t inhale the chemicals used in the spray mechanism.

I don’t use insect killers on my indoor plants. I use soap and water.

I have eliminated my household cleaners and disinfectants. I use a non-carcinogenic product called Biokleen and I make a baking soda paste for scrubbing.

I don’t use room deodorants or air fresheners. They contain toxic chemicals and may contain cancer-causing chemicals. I’m glad to say that after viewing the information on air fresheners, the county commissioners decided to have them removed from all county building bathrooms. (2001)

I do not buy any foods that come in plastic bottles and try to avoid things in plastic food wrap. I store leftovers in glass containers only. It has been found that the chemicals used in the plastic leach into the food they contain. It is troublesome to me that so many people carry around their plastic bottles of water. A few of my
friends have switched to glass.

I don’t use hair dyes. I found out that prolonged use of black and dark brown dyes are linked to breast cancer in both the beauticians and their customers.

I do not take estrogen. It has always been known to be linked to a high risk of breast cancer, but many women are given it because it is supposed to protect against heart disease. I recently learned it does not have any effect on preventing heart attacks, and in a currently ongoing study, estrogen is connected to a slight increase in the incidence of heart problems.

I don’t eat barbecued foods. The blackened portions are carcinogenic and the high temperatures create chemicals in meats that are cancer-causing.

I avoid situations where there are smokers. Second-hand smoke is much more dangerous than ever imagined!

Well, time to get off my soap box. Our life has changed considerably, but I feel good about it. I feel that I’m doing something positive “instead of just waiting for breast cancer.”