To answer the question “What is breast cancer?”, we have to start with the fundamentals, the smallest parts our bodies are made up with: the human cells. |
When we talk about aging, getting sick and getting disease, usually we don’t realize that we don’t, but actually our cells do. The health of our body depends on how healthy our cells are. The human body is made up of about 80 trillion cells. Those cells continually replicate themselves. Consequently, to slow down our aging process and limit our change of getting sick we have to protect and feed our cells properly.
Our cells are made up of atoms. If these cells are healthy, they consist of paired electrons. Healthy cells replicate and keep our body young and disease free. But if atoms are missing electrons, they destroy surrounding atoms by “stealing” their electrons. Atoms that are missing an electron are called “free radicals”. Free radicals alter or destroy cells and are the cause of premature aging, sickness and disease, like cancer, heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis and many others.
Every day, the DNA in each cell in your body faces about 10,000 attacks from cell-damaging free radicals. Free radicals are naturally produced as your body turns fuel to energy, but you also get them from pollution in air and water, stress, smoking and radiation from the sun.
These volatile molecules cruise around your body trying to stabilize themselves by stealing electrons from other molecules. When they succeed, they create still more free radicals, causing a sort of snowballing procession of damage.
Free radicals don’t just occasionally pop up here and there. Up to 5% of the oxygen that each cell uses is converted into free radicals.
Free radical damage is thought to play a role in the accumulation of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and the lining of your artery walls. This can lead to a narrowing of the arteries called atherosclerosis, which contributes to heart disease. And when free radicals damage DNA inside the cells, it can replicate a damaged cell.The results can be cell mutations that lead to cancer.
Pollution in our environment, pesticides and insecticides used on our land, water treated with chlorine and smoking are sources of free radicals.
So what’s the solution? Fortunately, there are antioxidants who have extra electrons to give away to free radicals, which eliminates their harmful effect and are our body’s defense against the harmful effect of free radicals, causing aging, sickness and disease like cancer.
Cabbage contains an abundance of vitamins, C, E, and carotene and two compounds that studies show can help prevent cancer. Researchers reviewed almost 100 studies that evaluated the relationship between cruciferous vegetables, such as cabbage and cancer. They found that in 70% of the studies, cabbage consumption was associated with a lower risk of cancer. Cabbage is particularly effective in preventing breast-, lung-, and prostate cancer.
However, only 2% of these vitamins are present in the average American diet. Most Americans today don’t eat their cabbage or any other vegetable.The average intake is less than one serving per day of either fruit or vegetables.
The first of these compounds, indole-3-carbinol, or I3C, is especially effective against breast cancer. The compound acts as an antiestrogen, which means that it sweeps up harmful estrogens that have been linked to breast cancer.
Most breast cancer is linked to deficit in estrogen metabolism. The under-nourished female body can’t deactivate its estrogen properly. It uses what is called the estradiol 16-alpha hydroxylation pathway, which leaves the hormone still active enough to cause cell transformation in the breast (and reproductive organs). Over years these cells gradually transform to cancer.The properly nourished female body, however, uses what is called the estradiol 2-alpha hydroxilation pathway, which neutralizes the hormone completely and never leads to breast cancer.
The other compound found in cabbage, called sulforaphane, has been shown to inhibit carcionogens and aid in DNA repair.
Women in Poland eat three times as much cabbage,especially raw cabbage, as women in the US. Researchers studied hundreds of Polish women living in the US and found that women who ate four or more servings of cabbage per week while preteens were 72% less likely to develop breast cancer as adults than the women who ate one serving or less of cabbage a week while preteens. Eating lots of cabbage as adults also provided significant cancer protection.
Dr. Donald Malins, a biochemist from Seatle, reported a new method fot identifying structural changes in the DNA of breast tissues. By using an instrument that bounces infrared radiation off the DNA and by analyzing the signals via a sophisticated computer, he was able to follow the structual damage to the DNA caused by free radicals.
Researchers agree with Malins that the development of cancer is a multistage process that usually takes decades to develop. In adults, cancer may take twenty or even thirty years to develop from the initial mutation of the DNA to its full-blown manifestation. In children, this process may develop more quickly because of their more rapid cell turnover.
Malins noted significant changes within the structure of the DNA as he followed it from normal breast tissue to metastatic breast cancer in all its developmental stages.
Dr Malin believed oxidative stress was the cause of this predictable damage to the DNA, which eventually led to the formation of breast cancer. He further argued that cancer was not so much the result of disfunctional genes as it was the result of genetic damage that highly reactive free radicals caused.
For the past forty years, researchers have believed that abnormal genes are the driving force behind all cancers. But now researchers are beginning to believe instead that individuals with certain genes are simply more vulnerable to oxidative stress than others. This may explain the familial patterns of many types of cancer.
Nutritional science offers us the greatest hope in our fight against cancer and several other degenerative diseases. They not only help to prevent cancer but may actually enhance the traditional chemo- and radiation therapy. How can the process of building up the body's natural defence be bad? Shouldn't physicians want their patients to be as healthy as possible,since cancer treatments are going to put patients under the greatest stress they have had to endure in their lives?
Natural antioxidants and their supporting nutrients are the ideal chemo-preventive agents for many reasons.
* They limit and even prevent the free-radical damage to the DNA nucleus of the cell. * They provide the proper nutrients needed for the body to repear any damage that has been done already. * They are save and may be taken over a lifetime. (Pharmaceutical drugs do not share this advantage. Tamoxifen, which has been shown to decrease the risk of breast cancer, has very serious side effects.) * They are relatively inexpensive. * They provide the best defense against further advancement of cancer. * They protect the body against oxidative stress that chemotherapy and radiation create. * They support the cancer-fighting ability of chemotherapy and radiation. * They inhibit the replication and growth of the cancer. * They have been shown to cause tumor regression in some cases.
We can't deny that the effectiveness of traditional cancer treatments has reached a plateau. Oncologists and radiation therapists must become more open-minded about antioxidant use in their patients. As researchers seriously consider the use of multiple antioxidants at optimal levels, cancer prevention and treatment may well be revolutionized. In the meantime, the research that is presently available supports the use of antioxidants in all stages of chemo- prevention and cancer therapy.
The CSIRO has given practical guidelines to minimize free-radical damage. You can read them in my article: How to protect against cancer.
About the Author: Adrian Joele became interested in nutrition and weight management while he was an associate with a nutritional supplement company. Since 2008 he wrote several articles about nutrition and weight loss and achieved expert status with Ezine Articles.com. He has been involved in nutrition and weight management for more than 12 years and he likes to share his knowledge with anyone who could benefit from it. Get his free report on nutrition and tips for healthy living, by visiting: http://www.nutrobalance2.net
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breast cancer, cancer, cells, free radicals, antioxidants,