October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It’s a month that is about supporting each other through healing and awareness.
A big part of awareness for me is dispelling the myths when it comes to the many kinds of breast cancer, their supposed causes, and how well they respond to “treatment.” For conventional medicine, this treatment mostly means chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery.
Today Show personality Joan Lunden’s announcement in 2014 that she had triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) created a lot of hype around this form of breast cancer in the media. As a bio-energetic chiropractor with 36 years of experience and as a professional who has worked with thousands of women who have or had breast cancer, I would like to dispel some common myths about triple negative breast cancer.
What Are the Real Facts About TNBC?
When Lunden was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer and went public about it, she began to chronicle her course of action, which included 19 weeks of chemotherapy followed by a lumpectomy and six weeks of radiation therapy. Here is what she had to say in an online article for the Today Show:
Doctors found two tumors in my right breast, both triple negative breast cancer, which means it’s more aggressive and faster growing. From the moment you hear the words ‘You have breast cancer,’ it’s almost like you’re shot out of a cannon. You are just propelled at this meteoric speed straight to a cancer surgeon.
The first thing I must question (and you should too) is why is there such a stigma around triple negative breast cancer? If a woman has TNBC, is it REALLY the doom-and-gloom scenario that traditional doctors (and Lunden) say that it is?
The reality is that there is much hope for healing TNBC, especially when one is open to adding evidence-based natural medicines to their healing protocol. The scary scenario that conventional medicine paints around TNBC is caused by the fact that conventional treatments mostly focus on hormone-positive cancers. TNBC cells do not have receptors for estrogen, progesterone, or Her2/neu proteins. Therefore, there is nothing for hormone-based treatments to “latch” on to.
What does this mean for a woman who has triple negative breast cancer and decides to treat it with conventional treatment like chemotherapy?
Unfortunately, a less-targeted and more intense round is often needed. The result is treatment that is even more toxic to the body’s immune system and also treatment that creates very resistive breast cancer stem cells. These cells can potentially create a reoccurrence of cancer and metastasis.
Use Nature to Heal Triple Negative Breast Cancer
Through natural medicine there is hope for women with TNBC. Nature-based protocols work with the body to boost the immune system and target unhealthy cells.
Here is a listing of just a few documented studies that show the effectiveness of natural products for TNBC patients:
- Researches at NYU have discovered the effects of caffeic acid phenethyl ester (CAPE), a major component of bee propolis, which has anti-tumor effects in TNBC-affected women.
- Phytochemicals found in blueberries can inhibit the metastatic potential of TNBC by inhibiting tumor growth, according to a joint study published in the Journal of Cancer Research (2010).
- Curcumin, in turmeric root, has been shown in numerous studies to inhibit the growth of TNBC cells. It also induces a state of targeted apoptosis, or programmed cell death.
- When researchers at the University of Albany in New York gave mice Vitamin D supplements, they discovered that D, which is actually a hormone that regulates over 100 genes in the human body, suppressed the proteins required for TNBC survival. TNBC patients usually have depleted levels of vitamin D, making it a defining characteristic of those who have this form of breast cancer.
- Some studies, including ones published in January and February 2015, suggest that cannabinoids may lower the number of inflammatory cancer cell cytokines, reduce their proliferation, and induce programmed cell death.
Detection Alternatives for Dense Fibrous Breast Tissue
Lunden is a large proponent of early detection for breast cancer, which I am as well. What I don’t agree with, however, is the large-scale advocacy of mammography as the only option.
This trend continues even though there is no evidence that early stage breast cancer detection through mammography has reduced the rate of late-stage cancers. However, there is evidence that low dose ionizing radiation, which mammography uses, increases the risk of breast cancer among high-risk women. (Note: Learn more about the stages of cancer here)
Lunden’s passion for early detection was based on her having dense, fibrous breast tissue. There are many non-harmful options for early detection, however. These include thermography and specific blood tests for very early detection.
Did you know that thermography is especially effective for women, like Lunden, who have dense, fibrous breast tissue? Thermography detects heightened areas of heat in the body to pinpoint where inflammation may be occurring, sometimes years before it develops into full-blown cancer. According to a 2008 study, breast thermography has a 97 percent sensitivity rating in discovering breast malignancies, sometimes even before a lump has formed.
Did you also know that there are hormones and proteins that cancer cells can secrete that can determine if you have cancer (and where), even when it is the size of a pinhead? In my professional experience, the best test to determine if you may have these substances in your system is called the Oncoblot test.
It gives me hope and encouragement to know that 63 to 83 percent of women who are diagnosed with breast cancer now use at least one alternative protocol as part of their overall healing journey.
Each kind of cancer is unique, as is each woman. Choosing healing methods that work with a woman’s own unique body system, instead of against it, is the only way to let nature nurture the body towards health.