As you are probably well aware, October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Prevention and early detection are key to beating this awful disease, and fortunately, many of the therapies and recommendations I provide to help reduce menopause symptoms like night sweats and hot flashes also apply to breast health. Some of these recommendations include:
- Exercise. As I mentioned in my last post , exercise can provide significant menopause relief, especially from night sweats and hot flashes. It’s also well established that regular exercise is a powerful way to reduce breast cancer risk. In one study of women aged 50 and older published in the July 2001 issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, regularly engaging in high recreational physical activity dropped the odds of breast cancer by a whopping 66 percent!
- Avoid conventional hormone replacement therapy. In 2002, scientists reported an up to 79 percent increased risk of breast cancer in women taking conventional hormone replacement therapy. But the latest research not only confirms those findings, it magnifies them. Taking conventional hormone replacement therapy causes the risk of breast cancer to increase quickly–within just a couple of years after starting the hormones. So, don’t assume that it is safe to take these synthetic hormones for a short period of time to reduce menopause symptoms and ease the transition into menopause! Fortunately, if you already take conventional hormone replacement therapy, the good news is that the elevated risk goes back down within just a year or two after stopping. If you absolutely need menopause relief and want to consider hormonal therapy, I urge you to talk to your doctor about bioidentical hormone replacement.
- Melatonin is a powerful breast cancer preventative that also doubles as a sleep enhancer. In one study published in the November 2006 issue of Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry, two groups of rats were put on intense exercise programs. At the same time, one group also received supplemental melatonin. The group that received the melatonin had no increase in tumor growth, while the tumors of the rats that were not given melatonin were significantly larger. In my own practice, I have seen melatonin work wonders for breast cancer prevention, and as a sleep aid for those women who suffer from insomnia due to horrible night sweats. I recommend taking 11.5 mg of melatonin each evening before bed, although for sleep, excellent results may be achieved with as little as 300 mcg per day.
And, of course, it goes without saying that you should be diligent about conducting your monthly self-breast exams and getting screened regularly!