Outside the “pink explosion” that comes every October, women year round are dealing with having breast cancer or worrying about getting it. We went to Dr Faryal Luhar, from Dubai’s The Hundred Wellness Center, to find out what women can do to take control of their health when it comes to breast cancer. It turns out there is a lot – everything from nutrition to epigenetics. Here is some of her advice:
Eat your vegetables
“There’s a ton of things you can do from a dietary point of view to decrease your risk and to optimize your breast health,” she says. “The main point would be organic. When it comes to breast cancer, the cruciferous vegetables – that’s all the broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, bokchoy, even watercress – have been shown to inhibit estrogen production. Because if you are estrogen dominant, estrogen is proliferative and it’s going to increase and contribute to breast cancer. So eating cruciferous vegetables regularly, lightly steamed, would be great.”
“This would be my number one go-to, because it’s a really powerful anti-inflammatory, it’s a powerful anti-oxidant. And now there are several studies showing that it induces something called ‘cell death,’ apoptosis, of breast cancer and other cancers as well. It protects against ongoing mutation and the division of these cells that create a tumour… It’s been used in Indian traditional Ayurvedic medicine for centuries as part of the culinary practice. So, again, organic. If you’re using it as a spice, make sure you take it with black pepper or some kind of a fat to increase absorption.” Otherwise, Dr Luhar recommends taking a concentrated version in pill or liquid form, as a supplement.
Stop microwaving in plastic
One of the things Dr Luhar still sees are people doing is microwaving their food in plastic containers. This causes many of the chemicals contained in plastic – including a known endocrine disruptor, Bisphenol A, or BPA, to leach into food. “This is an absolute no-no,” she says. In fact, try to avoid anything that has Bisphenol A in it, including thermal cash register receipts. “They are also toxic,” she says.
Getting your thyroid checked
“One thing that is interesting, and no one pays attention to, is that breast cancer risk is increased significantly if you have low thyroid function and if you are iodine deficient,” says Dr Luhar. “Doctors, actually, never check or treat [women] for iodine deficiency. And this is a key link because iodine is necessary for breast health. So if you are low in iodine, you are increasing your risk significantly for breast cancer.”
Check your vitamin D levels
“This is really crucial for protection against breast cancer, yet 90 percent of people living in Dubai are vitamin D deficient — in a place where we have sunshine all year round,” she says. “I check vitamin D in every single patient of mine. And if they are low, I optimize it. That, then, protects them from many cancers, most importantly breast cancer.”
Women should also look at their personal care products and get rid of chemical preservatives, recommends Dr Luhar. “If anything has parabens in it, stay away from it,” she says. “Try to use things that are a little bit more natural.”
Feature photo courtesy Unsplash
Dr Faryal Luhar is a Canadian naturopathic doctor at DNA Health & Wellness Centre in Dubai.