Few things are more painful to bear than a diagnosis of breast cancer and all that goes with it! I have three close friends who are breast cancer thrivers today, unfortunately my beloved mother-in-law died from it because the suspicious spot on her scan did not recieve follow up imaging and by the following year, it was too late! She passed away after a long struggle back in 1996. I miss her but I get to love her son, my sweet Sam. We’ve learned so much since then. Today I wanted to share some compelling research about simple, holistic interventions so you can have open conversations with your physician about whether or not these are okay for you:
1. Bone loss treatment may need to be re-evaluated.
I’m not saying that we shouldn’t support bone loss with calcium, but we need to be mindful of the ratios of calcium to magnesium, as well as vitamin D. According to a paper published in Medical Hypothesis (2010), alterations in the serum calcium to magnesium ratio could lead to increased development of new as well as recurrent breast cancer (due to low magnesium levels relatively speaking). The paper states, “Most women with hormone sensitive breast cancer are recommended to take aromatase inhibitors, which causes bone loss and thus are generally prescribed Calcium and vitamin D, but not Magnesium.”
When you take high amounts of calcium all by itself for osteoporosis, it may be better for you to add supportive minerals like magnesium and/or vitamin D. Talk to your doctor. There’s a see-saw with calcium and magnesium in the body. These minerals antagonize each other in terms of absorption, cell function, inflammation and many other chemical reactions. Since my mention of this is probably new to you, I feel the need to take a moment to share one more item from the WEB study (Western NY Exposures and Breast Cancer) published in December 2015, American Journal of Cancer Research who concluded:
We found that magnesium intake alone may improve overall survival following breast cancer, and the association may be stronger among those with high Calcium to Magnesium intake ratio.
2. Natural folate from salads and greens are incredible.
Eating folate-rich foods appears to reduce risk. This was determined when researchers evaluated the diets of 367,993 women recruited from 10 European countries. The reserachers used data from the European Prospective Investication into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study. Eating a diet that is rich in dietary folate may be associated with a lower risk of sex hormone receptor-negative breast cancer, at least in pre-menopausal women.
3. There are natural SERMs like Rhodiola.
The SERMs short for Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators can block estrogen-mediated breast cancer growth and help to maintain bone density in postmenopausal women. You know the drugs as tamoxifen (Nolvadex) and raloxifene (Evista) and others. A paper in Phytomedicine (2016) found that Rhodiola rosea acts a bit like a SERM by binding to estrogen receptors, counteracting TNF alpha and protecting bone cells (osteoblasts) from hydrogen peroxide. You should discuss the risks to benefits with your physician but it seems that with SERM activity, natural Rhodiola might help mitigate or delay menopause-related discomfort and support breast health.
4. Black Cohosh might improve Tamoxifen compliance.
Black Cohosh known botanically as Cimifuga racemosa is an antioxidant and neuroprotective herb. It seems to help reduce the side effects of the drug Tamoxifen (brand Nolvadex), allowing women to stay on it longer if needed. If doctor approves of the natural herbal treatment, you can purchase high-quality versions from health food stores, or online. Just start very low, and titrate up, again please get permission. I am not advising, I am just sharing research so you can see if these things are right for your personal situation.
5. Eating rosemary is beneficial.
This herb contains natural compounds such as rosmarinic acid that are protective of our reproductive organs. Another spice called Spica prunellae (Xia Ku Cao in Chinese medicine) contains this rosmarinic acid. There are studies on rosmarinic acid that are important to breast cancer survivors, for example one that found how it can slow or inhibit bone metastasis from breast cancer and others suggesting that rosmarinic acid can inhibit cell cancer lines (slow down spreading of cancer). These are important findings and so please throw in a sprig of rosemary in as many meals as possible. Make tea and use the essential oil on your skin.
Suzy Cohen, has been a licensed pharmacist for over 30 years and believes the best approach to chronic illness is a combination of natural medicine and conventional. She founded her own dietary supplement company specializing in custom-formulas, some of which have patents. With a special focus on functional medicine, thyroid health and drug nutrient depletion, Suzy is the author of several related books including Thyroid Healthy, Drug Muggers, Diabetes Without Drugs, and a nationally syndicated column.