3 Common Myths About Breast Cancer

by Dr. Jessica Moore, ND

Myth #1:

Among women with breast cancer, dietary soy is a risk factor for recurrence.

Evidence says:

Actually, evidence shows that among women with breast cancer, soy food consumption is associated with decreased risk of death and recurrence.
– JAMA 2009 302(22):2437-2443

Dr. Moore’s tip: I recommend a moderate intake of non-GMO / organic whole (non-processed), organic and fermented dietary soy foods. Good examples of whole food soy products could include: organic edamame (cooked soy beans), organic tempeh, organic miso, organic tofu (minimally processed) and organic soy milk.  Of course, this should be part of a healthy diet plan which will likely include a significant component of plant-based foods, adequate protein, heathy fats and complex carbohydrates. Limit or reduce simple sugars, alcohol and trans or saturated fats.

Myth #2:

Men can’t get breast cancer.

Evidence says:

Approximately 1% of all breast cancer cases occur in men. While more men are diagnosed with testicular cancer every year, more men die from breast cancer annually than testicular cancer.
– CMAJ October 01, 2013 185 (14) 1247

Dr. Moore’s Tip: There are no screening guidelines for men in the general population. However, if a man has particular risk factors such as: a known genetic predisposition (for example BRCA2 carrier), a strong family history, or a history of breast cancer himself the following may be recommended:

  1. Monthly self-breast examination
  2. Semi-annual physician examination (starting at 35yo)
  3. Baseline mammogram at 40yo

Male breast cancer most commonly presents as a subareolar mass. Other symptoms could include nipple retraction or discharge, pain or enlargement of the lymph nodes in the axilla (arm pit).

Myth #3:

Breast cancer is entirely genetic and there is nothing I can do to reduce my risk.

Evidence says:

Actually, only about 5-10% of breast cancer cases are thought to be hereditary. 90-95% of cancer is due to diet and life-style. Dietary risk factors may account for up to 35% of cancer-related deaths for example. – Pharm Res. 2008 Sep; 25(9): 2097–2116.

Dr. Moore’s Tip: I work with patients to reduce or eliminate risk factors for breast cancer using diet, life-style, environmental medicine, metabolic therapies and evidence-informed natural medicines. We may look at physical activity, weight management, stress management, sleep habits, inflammation, blood sugar control or other variables.  A 2018 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that simply eating a higher frequency of organic foods was associated with a reduced risk for cancer. Like this specific example, many of the cancer risk reduction strategies are easy to implement and are also associated with improved energy, health, longevity and aging well.

*References: JAMA 2009 302(22):2437-2443, CMAJ October 01, 2013 185 (14) 1247, Pharm Res. 2008 Sep; 25(9): 2097–2116, JAMA Intern Med 2018 PMID: 30422212

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