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The incidence of breast cancer has increased dramatically over the past two decades. The rate has gone from one out of 20 women to a current estimated one out of eight women. That is, 12% of all women in America will develop breast cancer during their lifetime, and the incidence is increasing. This makes breast cancer the most common cancer of American women today. It is the second most common cause of cancer deaths in women, behind only lung cancer in its mortality rate.
If you are at increased risk for breast cancer, actions you can take now will make a great difference in whether you actually get it or not. Natural medicine has much to offer to effectively reduce your risk. Now is the time to take action in order to prevent a potentially devastating disease from making you a statistic. Study the subject if you can, plan a course of action with your doctor, and take action. The actions you take now can reward you for years to come.
Estrogenic Effects of Sunscreen
A 2001 study by the Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology at the University of Zurich Switzerland explored the possible estrogenic effects of sunscreens. They examined six frequently used UVA and UVB screens for estrogenicity and found five of the six increased cell proliferation in breast cancer cells. These were:
[Environ Health Perspect 2001 Mar;109(3): pp.239-44)]
There is more than one kind of breast cancer. Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC) is an advanced and accelerated form of breast cancer usually not detected by mammograms or ultrasounds. Inflammatory breast cancer requires immediate aggressive treatment with chemotherapy prior to surgery and is treated differently than more common types of breast cancer. "African Americans have a higher incidence of IBC than do Caucasians and other ethnic groups (10.1%, 6.2%, and 5.1%, respectively)." source
We have been taught and are reminded frequently by public service announcements and by the medical community that when a woman discovers a lump on her breast she should go to the doctor immediately.
Inflammatory breast cancer usually grows in nests or sheets, rather than as a confined, solid tumor and therefore can be diffuse throughout the breast with no palpable mass. The cancer cells clog the lymphatic system just below the skin. Lymph node involvement is assumed. Increased breast density compared to prior mammograms should be considered suspicious.
You Don't Have to Have a Lump to Have Breast Cancer.
Some women who have inflammatory breast cancer may remain undiagnosed for long periods, even while seeing their doctor to learn the cause of her symptoms. The symptoms are similar to mastitis, a breast infection and some doctors, not recognizing IBC, will prescribe antibiotics. If a response to antibiotics is not apparent after a week, a biopsy should be performed or a referral to a breast specialist is warranted.
A surprising portion of young women with IBC had their first symptoms during pregnancy or lactation. The misconception that these young women are at lower risk for breast cancer and the fact that IBC is the most aggressive form of breast cancer may result in metastases when the diagnosis is made.
One or more of the following are typical symptoms of IBC:
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Antibody: A type of serum protein (globulin) synthesized by white blood cells of the lymphoid type in response to an antigenic (foreign substance) stimulus. Antibodies are complex substances formed to neutralize or destroy these antigens in the blood. Antibody activity normally fights infection but can be damaging in allergies and a group of diseases that are called autoimmune diseases.
Benign: Literally: innocent; not malignant. Often used to refer to cells that are not cancerous.
Biopsy: Excision of tissue from a living being for diagnosis.
Bruise: Injury producing a hematoma or diffuse extravasation of blood without breaking the skin.
Calcium: The body's most abundant mineral. Its primary function is to help build and maintain bones and teeth. Calcium is also important to heart health, nerves, muscles and skin. Calcium helps control blood acid-alkaline balance, plays a role in cell division, muscle growth and iron utilization, activates certain enzymes, and helps transport nutrients through cell membranes. Calcium also forms a cellular cement called ground substance that helps hold cells and tissues together.
Cancer: Refers to the various types of malignant neoplasms that contain cells growing out of control and invading adjacent tissues, which may metastasize to distant tissues.
Chemotherapy: A treatment of disease by any chemicals. Used most often to refer to the chemical treatments used to combat cancer cells.
Chronic: Usually Chronic illness: Illness extending over a long period of time.
Endometriosis: A condition whereby endometrial tissue builds up in parts of the uterus where it does not belong or areas outside of the uterus, forming 'ectopic implants'. Unlike the normal tissue lining the uterus, ectopic tissue has no place to shed in response to a decline in estrogen and progesterone. This results in debris and blood accumulating at the site of the implant leading to inflammation, scarring and adhesions that ultimately cause symptoms and complications. Symptoms typically occur in a cyclic fashion with menstrual periods, the most common being pelvic pain and cramping before and during periods; pain during intercourse; inability to conceive; fatigue; painful urination during periods; gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea, constipation, and nausea.
Epidemiology: The study of the causes and distribution of disease in human populations.
Estrogen: One of the female sex hormones produced by the ovaries.
FDA: The (American) Food and Drug Administration. It is the official government agency that is responsible for ensuring that what we put into our bodies - particularly food and drugs - is safe and effective.
Hormones: Chemical substances secreted by a variety of body organs that are carried by the bloodstream and usually influence cells some distance from the source of production. Hormones signal certain enzymes to perform their functions and, in this way, regulate such body functions as blood sugar levels, insulin levels, the menstrual cycle, and growth. These can be prescription, over-the-counter, synthetic or natural agents. Examples include adrenal hormones such as corticosteroids and aldosterone; glucagon, growth hormone, insulin, testosterone, estrogens, progestins, progesterone, DHEA, melatonin, and thyroid hormones such as thyroxine and calcitonin.
Hypercalcemia: Excess calcium in the blood.
Hysterectomy: Surgical removal of the uterus, by way of either an abdominal or vaginal incision. Removal might include removal of the cervix (total hysterectomy) or not (subtotal / partial hysterectomy). A radical hysterectomy involves surgical removal of the uterus, upper vagina, tissues adjacent to the uterus and possibly the ovaries; usually undertaken for carcinoma of the uterus. A hysterectomy with oophorectomy involves the removal of the uterus and one ovary (unilateral oophorectomy) or both ovaries (bilateral oophorectomy).
Immune System: A complex that protects the body from disease organisms and other foreign bodies. The system includes the humoral immune response and the cell-mediated response. The immune system also protects the body from invasion by making local barriers and inflammation.
Insulin: A hormone secreted by the pancreas in response to elevated blood glucose levels. Insulin stimulates the liver, muscles, and fat cells to remove glucose from the blood for use or storage.
Lactation: Production of milk; period after giving birth during which milk is secreted in the breasts.
Lymph: A clear fluid that flows through lymph vessels and is collected from the tissues throughout the body. Its function is to nourish tissue cells and return waste matter to the bloodstream. The lymph system eventually connects with and adds to venous circulation.
Lymph Glands: Located in the lymph vessels of the body, these glands trap foreign material and produce lymphocytes. These glands act as filters in the lymph system, and contain and form lymphocytes and permit lymphatic cells to destroy certain foreign agents.
Lymph Nodes: Small, bean-shaped nodes at various points throughout the body that function to filter the lymph fluid and attempt to destroy the microorganisms and abnormal cells which collect there. The most common locations are the neck (both sides and front), armpit and groin, but also under the jaw and behind the ears. Swollen or painful lymph nodes generally result from localized or systemic infection, abscess formation, or malignancy. Other causes of enlarged lymph nodes are extremely rare. Physical examination for lymph nodes includes pressing on them to check for size, texture, warmth, tenderness and mobility. Most lymph nodes can not be felt until they become swollen, and then will only be tender when pressed or massaged. A lymph node that is painful even without touching indicates greater swelling. Lymph nodes can usually be distinguished from other growths because they generally feel small, smooth, round or oval-shaped and somewhat mobile when attempts are made to push them sideways. Because less fat covers the lymph nodes in children, they are easier to feel, even when they are not busy filtering germs or making antibodies. Children�s nodes enlarge faster, get bigger in response to an infection and stay swollen longer than an adult's.
Lymphatic System: A network of vessels which collect fluid from the tissues of the body and return it to the blood. Lymphatic fluid (also called lymph) is rich in white blood cells that fight infection and an important part of the body's immune system.
Malignant: Dangerous. mainly used to describe a cancerous growth -- when used this way, it means the growth is cancerous and predisposed to spreading.
Melatonin: The only hormone secreted into the bloodstream by the pineal gland. The hormone appears to inhibit numerous endocrine functions, including the gonadotropic hormones. Research exists on the efficacy of melatonin in treating jet lag and certain sleep disorders. Dosages greater than l milligram have been associated with drowsiness, headaches, disturbances in sleep/wake cycles and is contraindicated in those who are on antidepressive medication. It also negatively influences insulin utilization.
Menopause: The cessation of menstruation (usually not official until 12 months have passed without periods), occurring at the average age of 52. As commonly used, the word denotes the time of a woman's life, usually between the ages of 45 and 54, when periods cease and any symptoms of low estrogen levels persist, including hot flashes, insomnia, anxiety, mood swings, loss of libido and vaginal dryness. When these early menopausal symptoms subside, a woman becomes postmenopausal.
Migraine: Not just a headache, but a disorder affecting the whole body, characterized by clearly defined attacks lasting from about 4 to 72 hours, separated by headache-free periods; progresses through five distinct phases. Prodrome: experienced by about 50% of migraineurs and starting up to 24 hours before the headache - changes in mood, sensory perception, food craving, excessive yawning, or speech or memory problems. Aura: experienced by about 15% and starting within an hour before the headache - disruption of vision (flashing lights, shimmering zigzag lines, blind spot) or sensation (numbness or 'pins and needles' around the lips or hand), or difficulty speaking. Headache: usually pulsating and occurring on one side of the head, it may occur on both sides of the head and alternate from side to side. Muscles in the neck and scalp may be tender; there may be nausea and the desire not to eat, move, see or hear. Resolution: the headache disappears and the body returns to normal. Resolution may occur over several hours during sleep or rest; an intense emotional experience or vomiting may also end the headache. Postdrome: After the headache stops, the sufferer feels drained, fatigued and tired. Muscles ache, emotions are volatile and thinking is slow.
pH: A measure of an environment's acidity or alkalinity. The more acidic the solution, the lower the pH. For example, a pH of 1 is very acidic; a pH of 7 is neutral; a pH of 14 is very alkaline.
Placebo: A pharmacologically inactive substance. Often used to compare clinical responses against the effects of pharmacologically active substances in experiments.
Postmenopause: The postmenopausal phase of a woman's life begins when 12 full months have passed since the last menstrual period and any menopausal symptoms have become milder and/or less frequent.
Serum: The cell-free fluid of the bloodstream. It appears in a test tube after the blood clots and is often used in expressions relating to the levels of certain compounds in the blood stream.
Topical: Most commonly 'topical application': Administration to the skin.