Nutritional and psychological support for breast cancer

What is breast cancer?

Breast cancer is the growth of a tumor within the breast tissue.

Breast cancer risk factors

  • Personal history of breast cancer in one breast, makes the individual highly prone to the development of the carcinoma in the other breast as well.
  • A family history of breast cancer is a potent risk factor.
  • A high fat diet is linked to breast carcinoma.
  • High alcohol consumption and tobacco smoking are other contributing reasons.
  • Poor physical activity and obesity.
  • Surgery performed on the breast, including breast implants, increase the risk significantly.
Symptoms of breast cancer
  • The first presenting symptom is usually a lump in the breast. Lumps found in the armpit could also be manifestations of breast carcinoma.
  • There could occur, changes in the size of the breast, change in the shape of the breast, inversion of the nipple, discharge from the nipple, or dimpling of the skin over the breast tissue.
  • Occasionally, there could be inflammatory processes, that are characterized by swelling, pain, redness and dimpling. This occurs due to the invasion of the cancerous cells into the lymphatic vessels.
  • Metastasis or spread of the cancerous cells occurs to various parts of the body – lung, liver or bone.
Breast cancer screening

American cancer society recommendations for the early detection of breast cancer

  1. Women, 40 years and older, should have an annual mammogram and an annual clinical breast examination by a physician / health care professional. They should also perform, monthly, breast self examination.
  2. Women aged 20 to 39 years should have a clinical breast examination every 3 years. They should also perform a monthly breast self examination.
Breast cancer early detection will go a long way in determining the prognosis and survival rate of the disease. Breast care is essential part of cancer prevention strategy

Preventing breast cancer
  1. Reduce free radical formation in the body. Cancer develops when the DNA gets damaged by the free radicals. Thus, reducing the free radical formation in the body is the preliminary step in the fight against cancer.
  2. Limit your exposure to dietary, lifestyle, and environmental free radicals. Stay away from cigarette smoke, alcohol, and fatty foods, especially animal fats.
  3. Increase your intake of foods that are rich in anti-oxidants. Anti-oxidants are free radical scavengers and destroyers. They neutralize the deleterious effects of the free radicals and ward off the development of cancers.
Breast cancer prevention diet

  • Avoid trans fats, and saturated fats. Limit your intake of poly-saturated fats. Up the consumption of mono-saturated fats such as olive oil and groundnut oil.
  • Beware of medical prescriptions for breast enlargement and also avoid the excessive usage of oral contraceptives.
  • Regular exercise is a must, and goes a long way in preventing breast cancer.
Foods that fight breast cancer

Cruciferous foods
  • Cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and Brussels sprouts belong to the cruciferous family. These vegetables offer significant anti-cancer benefits. Compounds called glucosinolates and sulphoraphane increase the excretion of that form of estrogen that is linked to breast cancer.
  • Research and laboratory examinations have also demonstrated that sulphoraphane extracts can drastically reduce the size, frequency, and numbers of tumors. They exert a very powerful anti-oxidant effect. These compounds also enhance the liver detoxification processes. 
  • It is recommended that 1 kg of cruciferous vegetables should be consumed per week, to significantly cut the risk of developing cancer.
  • Lycopene found in tomatoes are powerful anti-oxidants and anti-cancer agents. Lycopene neutralizes the harmful oxygen free radicals before they can damage cellular structures. Boost your daily intake of tomato, have juices, soups, and salads. 
  • The redder the tomato, the greater is the content of lycopene in them. Also, eating a tomato with a source of oil, such as olive oil, increases the absorption enormously.
  • Curcumin, the yellow pigment found in turmeric is a potent anti-oxidant, protecting the healthy cells in the body from free radical damage. Clinical trials have revealed that turmeric helps the body, to destroy mutated cancer cells, so that they can not spread through the body, and cause further harm. 
  • Another important study conducted, stated that increasing the consumption of turmeric helps to lower the injurious effects of second hand smoke, which is an important environmental factor responsible for the occurrence of breast cancer. Additionally, turmeric has been reported to prevent the formation of new blood vessels which feed the tumor cells. It also aids in the liver’s detoxification process to get rid of cancer causing compounds.
  • It is advocated that, you add, the fresh grated herb to your meals or season the meals with a spoonful of the powder.
Flax seeds
  • Lignans present in flax seeds offer noteworthy anti-cancer benefits. A study demonstrated that adding flax seeds to the diet helps reduce the estrogen levels in the body. Reducing the estrogen level, reduces breast cancer. 
  • Furthermore, experts say, enhancing the dietary intake of flax seeds also makes the cancerous growths shrink. Additionally, flax seeds are a very good source of omega 3 fatty acids, and are strongly recommended. 
  • Ground flax seeds can be added to the breakfast cereal, smoothie, or to the flour to make breads, cakes, and muffins.
  • Allicin, a compound found in garlic, protects the cells from toxic chemicals and free radicals. They also help stop the growth of the cancer cells once they develop. 
  • 2 or more servings of the herb, per week have been proved to be therapeutic. Always remember to peel, chop, and let the garlic sit for about 10 minutes. Immediate cooking of the herb doesn’t allow the potent anti-cancer enzymes to be released.
Breast cancer diet

Nutritional support to a cancer patient ought to be optimum. Radiotherapy and chemotherapy can have adverse effects like – fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting. These dietary guidelines will greatly improve the nutritional status.

  • Eat small and frequent meals. Take small bites and chew completely.
  • Stay well hydrated. Drink 2 to 3 liters of water daily. Incorporate fresh vegetable and fruit juices. Without adequate fluids, the body can not detoxify the drugs of chemotherapy. A build up of the drugs, causes added discomfort. What’s more, liquids also remove the metabolic by products of the fight against cancer and dead cell debris.
  • A high protein smoothie is advocated. Cancer patients need a serving of high quality protein, especially, if they are showing signs of cachexia (excessive weight loss). Protein promotes recovery, helps maintain muscle mass and protects the gastro-intestinal lining. Importantly, it boosts the immune mechanisms and prevents the development of opportunistic infections. Whey protein is ideal. It has the highest biological value and has immense therapeutic benefits for an individual suffering from cancer.
  • Ginger tea is recommended to people who have nausea and vomiting.
  • Avoid any tea, coffee, alcohol, and aerated beverages. They dehydrate you.
Psychological / emotional management of breast cancer

The emotional impact and shock, of the diagnosis of breast cancer, symptoms, treatment, and various related issues, can be severe. There are breast cancer support groups and depression support groups that provide an understanding and compassionate environment to help patients cope with the disease and gain an outlook from other cancer survivors

When you have a particular disease, and are fearful of it, then, through the thought waves, you are sending signals to the cells to continue with the disease process. On the other hand, if you support the sick body through meditation, you can get well rapidly and get over the anxiety

Meditation technique to heal you
  • Sit in a comfortable position. Watch your breath for a few minutes. Concentrate on your breathing and keep your mind calm and still.
  • Then, think of the breast cancer that you are suffering from. See the ailment as a black spot in the chest region. Meditate on how the disease affects your life.
  • Now, visualize a beautiful nectar waterfall. Imagine yourself under the flow of the nectar. Imagine the flow to be of heavenly nectar, which has the potential to cure.
  • Picture your physical disorder, and the psychological, and emotional turmoil being washed away and completely healed by the divine nectar. Visualize the nectar getting rid of the black spots that indicated poor health.
  • Affirm to yourself, that your body is now free from all disease and sickness.
  • Get up from the waterfall, feeling vibrant and energetic, and knowing that you can visit the waterfall, whenever you choose to.
How will this technique be of assistance to you?
  • This is a brilliant and effective meditation practice that improves health.
  • It enhances longevity.
  • Research says, the content of your thought can have a vivid and striking effect on your physical body. So governing your thoughts correctly and channelizing them in the right manner can help reap therapeutic benefits.
  • Imagining and visualizing a beautiful healing image is therapeutic, physically, and emotionally. This exercise will suffuse you with calmness and tranquility. It will banish thoughts of fear, grief, and anxiety.