Friday Sep 15 | BY |
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You don’t have to wait for breakthroughs in breast cancer research to protect yourself and your daughters now. With October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month approaching, here’s where to start planning.

So much of what we do to prevent disease begins at home. Active prevention means a healthy diet, maintaining normal weight, and adding cancer preventative polyphenol nutrients like those found in green tea and berries.

For breast cancer survivors, prevention of recurrence requires awareness every day for many years. This quiet battle goes on behind big media’s awareness campaign but can make more impact on a single woman’s struggle to prevent and beat breast cancer than the multi billion-dollar research industry.

Thriving Versus Surviving

Among my patients, those with positive beliefs who reframe their point of view from victim to proactive partner, and who work a daily plan to prevent cancer or recurrence have extraordinary results.

Roberta was a two-time breast cancer survivor whose oncologist warned of an imminent deadly third occurrence. She had radical mastectomy of both breasts. Roberta was determined to beat her cancer, and did.

First, she completely changed her diet to vegetarian; drank raw juices daily and walked five miles every day. When she came to see me, she had just finished a five-day wheat grass juice cleanse.

She requested a personalized supplement plan to improve her immune system. She wanted regular acupuncture treatments. She asked that I monitor her progress with regular blood testing, more frequently than your conventional doctor would order. Roberta went on to beat the five-year cancer-free milestone; then it was eight years, then ten, and now she’s more than twelve years cancer free.

Does Treatment Have to Be All or Nothing?

On routine mammography, Paulina’s radiologist found a suspicious nodule. The biopsy confirmed that she had breast cancer. Her oncologist recommended a lumpectomy followed by radiation and chemotherapy. I agreed with her surgeon that the best choice was to take it out. Paulina read up on the latest outcome studies on small, early stage breast tumors. She came back to see me armed with data.

The most recent reports about these minute amounts of abnormal cells, called Stage O cancer, suggests that women who do nothing live as long as those who get treatment. Often, these insubstantial cell changes never advance to aggressive cancer. Faced with this dilemma, I discussed the risks of doing too much versus risks associated with doing nothing. From my clinical experience, over-treatment was not warranted but doing nothing was not an option.

I counseled Paulina that she had to take supplements exactly as prescribed, have blood tests including tumor markers every six months, and a breast MRI once a year. After three years on natural therapies, Paulina felt great. Her tumor markers stayed in the standard ranges. The breast nodule became almost undetectable. It’s now five years out, and her recent MRI was negative for cancerous changes. Her tumor markers are still in the standard ranges.

Maryanne had a similar case, but her biopsy was negative. Despite regular breast exams and annual breast screening that previously discovered fibrocystic changes – not tumors, her gynecologist called for a consultation with a surgeon who recommended radical mastectomy as soon as possible. This prophylactic, “just in case” surgical approach became popular with Hollywood movie stars. But, was it right for Maryanne?

She came to my office in a panic. I ordered lab tests including tumor markers and a breast MRI. I recommended a personalized nutritional supplement program, including polyphenol nutrients. All tests confirmed that Maryanne did not have cancer. She canceled her surgery. After five years, Maryanne remains cancer free.

Five Supplements That Help Reduce Breast Cancer Risk

Breast Cancer Supplements

  1. Flaxseed Lignans:
    Lignans are a group of natural compounds found in woody plants like flax, sesame, and rye bran. Flaxseeds are a particularly rich source of lignans. Studies show that flaxseed oil, especially secoisolariciresinol diglucoside (SDG) lignans make the anti-cancer drug tamoxifen work better.

    Lignans fight breast cancer by altering estrogen metabolism, converting active forms that drive tumor growth into less active forms. SDG may even slow cancer cell growth.

  2. Green Tea:
    Polyphenol compounds found in green tea are rich sources of antioxidants with potent healing properties. Tea polyphenols protect against tumor development and inhibit tumor proliferation once cancer appears. However, just drinking green tea is not enough to prevent breast cancer.

    Scientists identified the cancer-beating chemical in green tea as Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which modulates estrogen receptor function to inhibit cancer cell growth. Angiogenesis, the development of new blood vessels, is necessary for the tumor growth and metastasis (development of secondary malignant growths). Endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is the most potent angiogenic factor. Researchers found that EGCG suppresses tumor growth by inhibiting (VEGF).

    In simpler terms, if new vessels are discouraged from developing, then tumors are inhibited from growing and spreading.

  3. Vitamin K2:
    Researchers found that menaquinone-4, the most common form of vitamin K2 reduces breast cancer proliferation. Menaquinone-7 (MK-7) is the type to use because the liver metabolizes it slower, providing more vitamin K in the body. Taking MK-7 supplements raises vitamin K levels as measured in a blood test. Another type of vitamin K, menaquinone-4, improves bone healing, prevents osteoporosis, and also has a positive impact on the outcome of breast cancer. Until we know more, the best practice is to take a combination of menaquinone-4 and -7.
  4. Iodine:
    When it comes to optimal nutrition and cancer prevention, iodine is the most misunderstood nutrient. For healthy breasts, women need enough iodine. The female breast and thyroid gland are highly hormone sensitive tissues, both changing dramatically when hormone levels fluctuate.

    Breast tissue hyperplasia, the kind of abnormal growth that often leads to cancer, is more active in iodine deficient women and regresses when they take iodine. Women with breast cancer have lower levels of iodine in breast tissue. The research strongly suggests that beating breast cancer involves normalizing thyroid hormone levels and getting enough iodine. Be sure to get a blood test to know your iodine levels.

  5. Vitamin D3:
    Several scientific studies show that supplementing with vitamin D3 reduces breast cancer risk. It seems that vitamin D3 helps modulate estrogen and progesterone, hormones associated with driving breast cancer in women. In a recent European study, vitamin D and calcium supplementation were associated with lower breast cancer risk.

Plan Ahead

Should you get diagnosed with breast cancer, develop a plan. Have a mid-term strategy in mind, as well as a long-range plan of disease modification. Improve your outcome by taking supplements that interfere with tumor growth and spread.

Remember, though a tumor is the most active part of cancer, it’s not the entire cancerous process. From my clinical perspective, it’s not enough to just attack the tumor. A comprehensive, integrative strategy has proven best for my patients.

Take charge of your health. Become informed. Do all that you can to prevent breast cancer, including taking these five supplements. However, remember don’t take mega doses. More is not necessarily better. In extremely high amounts, especially in susceptible people, even beneficial nutrients can be toxic.

Dr. J. E. Williams


Dr. Williams is a pioneer in integrative and functional medicine, the author of six books, and a practicing clinician with over 100,000 patient visits. His areas of interest include longevity and viral immunity. Formerly from San Diego, he now resides in Sarasota, Florida and practices at the Florida Integrative Medical Center. He teaches at NOVA Southeastern University and Emperor’s College of Oriental Medicine.

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  1. Hi Dr. J. E. WILLIAMS. Nice article. “Prevention is always better than cure.” I’ve read an article somewhere that Use of Tobacco, Exposure to chemicals and Overweight are some of the risk factors for Pancreatic cancer. Is it true?

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