After her mother died of cancer at age 56, actress Angelina Jolie opted for a “preventative” double mastectomy that made headlines around the world. Actress and comedienne Wanda Sykes similarly opted for a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery after being diagnosed with stage zero ductal cancer at age 47. Although the surgery was not considered medically necessary, Sykes said that because breast cancer ran in her family, she didn’t want to spend the rest of her life worrying about it. (U.S. Magazine, Oct 10, 2020).
Just three weeks after Jolie’s very public double mastectomy, a 53-year-old British businessman opted to have his healthy prostate removed. Why? Doctors determined that he faced an elevated risk of cancer because he carried the faulty BRCA2 gene (Curtis Pesmen, Esquire, Oct 21, 2015).
The Mere Mention of Cancer Invokes Fear
No doubt about it, the word cancer can put the fear of God in the bravest amongst us. And many choose desperate measures to avoid the frightening consequences of the potentially deadly disease. The decision to operate on a diseased organ is understandable, but maybe we should step back a bit and ask ourselves… is really necessary to remove healthy body parts because someday they might kill us?
Is There a Better Way to Look at This Problem and Attack It Head On?
First of all, let’s take a deep breath and look at the research. In one of the largest studies done on the subject – involving 26,000 participants — researchers found that women who have the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene and who are diagnosed with breast or ovarian cancer “are no more likely to die of their tumors than those who don’t have the mutations” (Journal of the National Cancer Institute).
Most Cancers Are Preventable
The truth is that up to 90% of all cancers could be wiped out by simply adopting a healthier lifestyle. A study published in the journal Nature says that one’s lifestyle plays a huge role in whether or not a person develops cancer, regardless of their genetic makeup.
We’re told by many of our renowned doctors and mainstream news media that early detection and treatment are the best ways to fight cancer – even when it results in so-called “preventative” radical mastectomies and prostate surgeries. But it’s only fair to ask if there might be more effective, gentle strategies to prevent cancer in the first place.
The good news is that most cancers are not only preventable, but are very treatable using natural means. The first step in preventing cancer is to learn how to avoid the triggers caused by unhealthy lifestyles, something well within our control.
You Have More Control Over Your Genetic Expression Than You Think
When you realize that you effectively teach your genes how to behave and that you can turn your genes off and on much like the circuit breakers in your house, the possibilities are exciting.
Unhealthy habits can lead to chronic diseases:
- Low levels of certain nutrients can promote reproductions errors according to 2014 geneticist working in conjunction with Albert Einstein College of Medicine in NY (Catherine Shanahan, 2016).
- One decade of cell phone use increases your chance of developing brain tumors by 40%.
- A study by the American Institute for Cancer Research in 2019 determined that the majority of Americans don’t realize that certain foods they eat and excess alcohol consumption play a role in the development of certain cancers.
- Chronic stress, and the hormones it unleashes, may be a contributing factor to the decrease in the body’s natural immunity and development of cancer.
When you think about your lifestyle choices and the impact they have on your genes, suddenly you realize you’re not just dealing with your own health, but that of your descendants. This realization often has a way of jarring you out of complacence when considering the legacy you’re leaving behind.
How to Toggle Your Genes On And Off and Become A Genetic Lottery Winner
Never discount the dramatic effects of good nutrition when it comes to reversing epigenic mistakes. Proper nutrition plays a more important role in reversing cancer than you may realize.
We are dealing with a dramatic decline in the quality of soil that our foods are grown in today, the rise of genetically altered food, and untold amounts of dangerous pesticides. The result? The quality of the food sold in groceries around the country is far inferior to that our ancestors enjoyed. That plate of broccoli or mound of salad often has nowhere near the nutrients it once contained.
So what can you do?
- Grow your own food whenever possible or shop from local produce stands and get to know the farmers who provide truly organic produce and non-commercially raised livestock and poultry.
- Discover high-quality nutrient-rich supplements. When you don’t have access to trusted, farm-raised food, this is a great option. And even when you eat a seemingly large amount of cruciferous veggies, for example, it can be more effective to take a whole food supplement (see The BEST Form of Broccoli to Fight Cancer).
- Mind your minerals. Certain minerals turn on or off certain genes in your body. This is good news when you know how to play it. The human body requires 60 different minerals, and if you’re deficient in one or more of these, your body will replace it with harmful substitutes. For example, if the body is deficient in iodine, it will replace the needed nutrient with fluoride (an all-too-common, yet dangerous ingredient found in our water, toothpaste, and routine dental procedures today). See The Iodine-Cancer Connection.
- Minimize your radiation exposure. A possible carcinogen? The World Health Organization thinks so and now classifies cell phone radiation such. Aside from ditching cell phones altogether, one solution is to adopt radiation blocking technology for your phones and computers. See our Resource Section (Electropollution) for suggestions.
Nutrigenomics – The Future of Nutrition
Nutrigenomics is the practice of personalizing key nutrients to one’s specific genetic data. Individualized DNA-based supplement plans include those nutrients that are determined to be insufficient in your body and may include whole food vitamins, minerals, omega-3 fatty acids, amino acids, and probiotics. Look for a nutritionally-literate healthcare practitioner who can test you for insufficiencies. A DNA nutrition test is commonly used to determine which nutrients may be lacking. Home tests are available as well.
Because what we choose to eat interacts directly with our DNA, the choices we make today affect not only our own health… but the health of our children.
“Some of the classic epigenetic research suggests that forgotten strategies may be recalled when genes are given improved nutritional support. And this is why I believe we all have the potential to be – or at least give birth to – generic lottery winners, because a forgetful genome can potentially be retrained.” (Catherine Shanahan, 2016).
Catherine Shanahan, M.D., Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food (Big Box Books, Nov 14, 2008)
P. Anand, A.B. Kunnumakara, C. Sundaram, et al., “Cancer is a Preventable Disease that Requires Major Lifestyle Changes,” Pharm Res (Sept 2008); 25(9): 2097–2116; doi: 10.1007/s11095-008-9661-9.
Johns Hopkins Medicine, “New Study Finds That Most Cancer Mutations are Due to Random DNA Copying ‘Mistakes’” (March 23, 2017).
A.W. Kurian, P. Abrahamse, I. Bondarenko, et al., “Association of Genetic Testing Results With Mortality Among Women With Breast Cancer or Ovarian Cancer,” Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Volume 114, Issue 2 (February 2022); pp 245–253, https://doi.org/10.1093/jnci/djab151.
S. Shapiro, W. Venet, P. Strax, et al., “Ten- to Fourteen-Year Effect of Screening on Breast Cancer Mortality,” Journal of the National Cancer Institute (Aug 1, 1982).
K. Passaperuma, E. Warner, P.A. Causer, et al., “Long-term results of screening with magnetic resonance imaging in women with BRCA mutations,” British Journal of Cancer (May 15, 2012); 107, 24-30.