Breast cancer has become a major health issue for women in North America. The rate of breast cancer has increased by 1 per cent a year since 1940.
In our country, a woman dies of breast cancer every 12 minutes! It has become the most common cancer-related cause of death in women. World-wide about 1,670,000 women have breast cancer. Our risk of surviving malignant breast cancer is just about the same as it was 50 years ago, when the only treatment was mastectomy; about one in three. The incidence of breast cancer is steadily rising and the numbers are appalling. Between 1973-1998 the incidence of breast cancer rose by over 40%.
October is a month where women of all ages and stages of life will join together and wear pink ribbons to remind us of the seriousness of Breast Cancer and to remember those, whose lives it has touched. We become advocates for more grass roots education like self-breast exams as well as for more research to be done and a cure for breast cancer be found.
However, if I had my wish every pink ribbon would carry an additional message for women. That message would be that “YOU can improve your breast health and reduce the risk of breast cancer right now!”
We need to ask ourselves “What am I doing to truly become aware about breast cancer and preventing it within my own body?” Wearing a pink ribbon is simply not enough.
We are now learning that Breast cancer is likely a result of hormonal imbalances. Specifically they are a result of excess estrogen or Estrogen Dominance. Estrogen dominance describes a condition where a woman can have deficient, normal, or excessive estrogen but has little or no progesterone to balance its effects in the body. Even a woman with low estrogen levels can have estrogen-dominance symptoms if she doesn’t have any progesterone
The Johns Hopkins University conducted a 20 year study, published in 1983 in the American Journal of Epidemiology, showing that women who had good progesterone levels had less than a fifth of the amount of breast cancer. The outcomes suggested that having a normal level of progesterone in balance with normal levels of estrogens protected women from nine-tenths of all cancers that might otherwise have occurred….. in other words hormones in balance.
The Million Women Study of whom about half used or had used HRT(synthetic hormones consisting of estrogen with a synthetic progestin), indicated for the first time that the increased Breast Cancer risk started between one and two years of HRT use, dashing any suggestion that increased cancer risk only developed after long-term use. But the risks grew larger the longer the HRT treatment continued.
What many women do not realize is that we don’t just “GET” hormones as we approach menopause. Women suffer from hormone challenges in their teen years while women in their 70’s and 80’s can still be suffering hormonal challenges. Hormonal imbalance does not only produce cancer in women but can manifest itself with symptoms such as: PMS, Mood swings, PCOS, Endometriosis, weight gain, menstrual headaches, heavy bleeding or irregular cycles and infertility.
We may not be able to our genetic risk factors for Breast Cancer- that is true. However, a growing body of research is showing us that women really can make a difference in their breast health through becoming better informed about how our body makes hormones, understanding about hormonal imbalance and then learning some natural alternatives to deal with out of balance hormones.
Evaluating hormone levels using saliva testing is one way to know if our health challenges are connected to hormone issues. A saliva test kit is inexpensive and can be used in the privacy of our own homes. What a small price to pay to have the peace of mind knowing if your hormone levels are in balance! Taking the test results to our health care practitioner and asking them to work with us toward hormone balance would be a natural “next step.”
I feel that women need to have all the information presented to them on the hormone issue so that they can make a well informed choice as to which path they would like to travel down in order to bring balance to their hormones. It is my goal that in October 2006 women across this country will wear pink ribbons knowing that there are things that they can do to improve their health and reduce their risk for breast cancer. Knowledge is power!!