RESEARCH COMMENTARY by Luana DeAngelis:
Twenty five year follow-up for breast cancer incidence and mortality
Canadian National Breast Screening Study: randomized screening trial
This study, has alarmed some and made others feel they should possibly cancel or wait to take treatment for small tumors. Please don’t cancel your cancer surgery! For others it definitely makes us consider holding off on our next mammogram. Seriously, we’ve been hoping for any excuse to not get our breasts crushed and radiated by that barbaric machine for years! But ladies, before you go making life and death decisions on this, hold on!! Here’s what we’ve already known:
1. A certain percentage of cancers will go on to metastasize regardless of the treatment
2. Mammograms can have a negative effect on breast tissue and increase risk of cellular damage (cancer)
3. Our current system of mammograms and research on new drugs hasn’t affected the incidence, prevalence or death rate from breast cancers
4. Not getting cancer at all is undoubtedly the best option.
So what is new about this study? To begin lets point out that the study itself was using old film technology not our current standard of digital mammograms, perhaps if they did a study using new technologies they’d get a more favorable outcome. However would it benefit people with cancer to spend more funding on mammograms?
This study results illustrate that mammograms do not impact overall survival and can result in over treatment in some cases. But it really only found what we’ve already known to be true, that the biology of a cancer trumps staging. In other words, if you have an aggressive cancer that is life threatening, finding it early isn’t necessarily going to change the overall outcome.
This is why so many find it more feasible to opt for prophylactic mastectomies when they are at high risk of developing breast cancer, because our surgical procedures continue to improve, while our diagnostics do not. Bottom line: Women will benefit in knowing what works for them individually, being aware of their bodies, risk factors and after researching they may decide to utilize other options or a combination strategy that may have higher effectiveness after consulting with medical team. All of our current diagnostics have downsides and you must know what works best for you and what doesn’t.
I have always felt that we have largely overestimated the importance of screening and spent far too much “pink” funding on sustaining and providing mammograms. It is my hope that now funders will be more open to look at and fund other forms of new screening and actual prevention.
People at risk and those that have already been diagnosed, don’t get discouraged. There are many other things that do qualify as actual prevention, other than pre-emptive mastectomies and drugs.
The Women’s Healthy Eating and Living Study (WHEL) study shows that maintaining a diet with five servings of vegetables per day and exercising thirty minutes five days a week can double your chances of survival. This strategy helps even those cancers that are the most pathological aggressive and have few treatment options. Other studies have also concluded this. We can prevent cancer from even happening in over 1/3 of the cases using the same diet and active lifestyle.
We are not powerless. We can create better outcomes. If this 50% improvement was a drug treatment people would come far and wide to implement it, and there would be vast funding spent on giving and getting the treatment. Yet who is utilizing this treatment extensively with patients or helping people to implement it? Additionally, I didn’t see much about this positive study that recently concluded on the larger news outlets yet– but I am still hoping they cover it far and wide.
Perhaps we can begin to now focus on PREVENTION or CASUAL ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH. I mean really, how can we cure something if we don’t know what causes it?
Also, not to sound like a broken record, but how about focusing some of that funding on actually helping people (women) diagnosed with breast cancer to access the resources they need for prevention and quality of life? The things to help them to reprogram their cellular environment after diagnosis? If we do this, In turn they educate their families on the importance of diet and exercise, at a young age and quite probably this will impact the incidence of cancer. If you were never told of the importance of exercise in your culture or neighborhood, and you don’t know and weren’t taught what a healthy diet is, then as a young person you developed habits and addictions that will carry over for the rest of your life.
In our society, the first thing to get cut in school is physical education, what happened to recess?? Don’t we all know about school lunches, bleck! What about creativity to focus the mind, well art and music falls short as well. This is a cultural deficit and it programs unhealthy lifelong programming.
After the age of 7 we respond 95% of the time to our subconscious thought patterns acquired from ages 1-7 . So even if people do read and educate themselves and learn the importance of healthy habits as an adult, they must entirely reprogram their habit patterns to really begin responding differently. Intellectual knowledge is not enough.
To implement new habits many need hands on help, not just education. Reading it is not what gives a busy and sometimes disadvantaged mother the real experiential knowledge to reprogram their childhood habits and implement this new mentality on an subconscious level. Once women acquire this new habit, they will certainly give their children and family that healthier programming! It’s what we do, we take care of others. For the mothers to take care of others they often put themselves LAST. This is why we must put them FIRST.
As a society it would be beneficial for all beings and for the earth itself begin moving towards prevention of disease and sustainable non-patentable treatments and food sources. We need to continue to provide bold leadership (AND FUNDING) in doing this. The current method of cancer care is to diagnose, cut, poison and burn. Well it just doesn’t help the cellular environment.
I state this because as Epigenetics illustrates, it is not necessarily genetics that create dis-ease, it is most often the cellular environment. Take healthy cells and move them to an unhealthy environment they become sick. To fix them we need only move the dish to a healthy environment and they will self-correct. Or we can keep the same environment and pour medicine on them, perhaps they will correct for a while…
The cellular environment is created not just by your exposures but what you put into your body, and the toxic thought patterns and habits we are responding to. All of this needs to be addressed in a hands on prevention and survivorship model. This is what we do at You Can Thrive! and the science keeps showing that this is the cure, just as it is for diabetes and heart disease. Onward!