An Integrative Medicine Approach to Minimizing Risk and Maximizing Results of Breast Cancer

An Integrative Medicine Approach to Minimizing Risk and Maximizing Results of Breast Cancer

Liz Woolford, M.D.

Breast cancer is the second leading cause of death for American women. Did you know more women are living with breast cancer than ever before, and cancer is now viewed as a chronic disease state?

Mammograms are still the best way to detect cancer early and provide the best opportunity for cure. When to start having them and how often has been debated over the past few years. But we at AIM generally recommend starting at age 40 and screening every other year. Then screen yearly from age 50 until death or other disease states preclude a woman from wanting to intervene if cancer were detected.

While genetic testing has become standard for those with a family history of premenopausal cancers of breasts or ovaries, BRCA gene status is not the only consideration. Age, environment, and stress act as triggers for up to 80 percent of women with breast cancer. And did you know there are epigenes or SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms) that also influence the risk of cancers and chronic disease? It’s true. And one example is COMT (Catechol-O-methyltransferase), which affects how your estrogen is metabolized. Similar to cholesterol with its good and bad subtypes of HDL and LDL, estrogen has good and bad subtypes as well.

Fortunately, you can influence these SNPs with diet and lifestyle. Eating crucifers like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, bok choy, and arugula increases your good estrogen. Keeping your body mass, especially belly fat, under control helps too. Sometimes you need more B vitamins and magnesium to decrease your risk.

At AIM, we personalize our approach to each patient’s needs. We have the luxury of time to fully listen to all your concerns and educate you about your options for testing and treatments. Whether you are trying to avoid a diagnosis, tolerate cancer treatments better, amplify the effects of your chemotherapy or radiation, heal from surgery, or remain in remission, we are here to help.

We know cancer is stressful for patients and their families. Balancing the bioenergy system with treatments such as medical acupuncture, chiropractic care, energy healing, and medical massage therapy is an excellent way to assist healing. Cancer affects your mind, body, and spirit and requires a holistic approach to best balance all three simultaneously. I often tell patients that they can be receiving the perfect combination of chemical treatments, but if they are overwhelmed, exhausted, and depleted, their bodies may not know how to optimize these chemicals. Having bodywork (such as the treatments listed above) alongside chemotherapy can go a long way in assisting tolerance and response to the therapies.

AIM’s team approach to your care allows us to integrate our health care providers’ unique skills and experiences to best support you. In addition to your examination, we review your diet, lifestyle, support systems, lab work, and diagnostic imaging. Then we collaboratively design your personalized treatment plan. Over the past 20 years, we’ve discovered that this approach makes all the difference as you navigate the fears and uncertainties inherent to a diagnosis of breast cancer.

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