How Does Naturopathic Medicine Support Breast Cancer Prevention and Treatment?

Breast cancer is diagnosis by an Oncologist and it is devastating result to be given. As a Naturopath I work along side your conventional treatment plan, inline and in consultation with your Oncologist. I do not work as an Alternative Approach.

A Naturopathic C
omplementary Treatment Plan is a broad holistic approach to your treatment is the most logical approach to overcoming the side effects of your Conventional Treatment as well as setting you up for long term health. It is important to treat the presenting symptoms but even more important to treat the underlying cause to ensure the root of the problem can be reached.

Emphasizing a holistic approach, naturopathic medicine offers complementary natural therapies to support and strengthen the body and mind before, during, and after conventional medical breast cancer treatment. Naturopathic medicine can help optimize tolerance to conventional treatments while also providing strategies to reinforce the body’s natural defenses and recovery systems so that each individual is at their strongest capacity to fight the disease.

The Naturopathic Balance

The core of Naturopathy is supporting your body to be in homeostasis – which means balance. When your body is in homeostasis, it has the inherent ability to heal itself.

Balance is important for our bodies-physically, as it is for our mind – emotionally and our spirit – energetically. Balance is needed for our family life, personal life, friendships, professional life, diet & lifestyle, exercise & rest, hours of awake & sleep.

When we are out of balance, our body communicates this to us through various signs & symptoms. Shannon can assist with restoring balance, both addressing underlying causes, as well as treating symptomatically, to provide relief, while the causes are addressed simultaneously.

Working both in hospital oncology settings and in private practices, NDs and naturopathic oncologists aid and collaborate closely with conventional oncology treatment teams. They understand both standard treatments employed by medical oncologists and how best to work in a collaborative model of cancer treatment that includes complementary and integrative therapies.

When treating breast cancer patients, licensed naturopathic doctors (NDs) develop personalized, whole-person treatment plans taking into consideration the stage and type of breast cancer that a person has, their physical and emotional constitution, lifestyle habits, and the conventional therapies being received. Specifically, NDs help to:

  • Naturopathic, Homeopathy and Botanical Individual Treatment Plans. 
  • Vitamins and supplements
  • Dietary and lifestyle modifications
  • Boost and sustain the immune system and minimize inflammation after biopsy, lumpectomy, or mastectomy surgery1,2 with the goal of shortening recovery times
  • Safely reduce side effects of radiotherapy, chemotherapy, and pharmaceutical drug therapies, as well as provide natural synergists to these conventional treatments to enhance their efficacy
  • Support the patient through mental and emotional stresses that any cancer diagnosis and treatment brings
  • Emphasize prevention measures in healthy patients motivated to reduce their cancer risk
  • Develop post-treatment recommendations to reduce the risk of recurrence

Prevention and Metastatic Breast Cancer

Prevention and Early Detection/Re-Detection is something we can all be working towards, even if you are in remission or have had Breast Cancer. 

In addition to providing care to individuals diagnosed with breast cancer, naturopathic doctors can also help individuals at risk identify and implement strategies that can reduce their chances of developing breast cancer. These strategies include natural lifestyle modifications to diet, nutrition, sleep, and exercise, as well as stress reduction. Naturopathic doctors are trained to focus on these health-building areas in order to establish and restore optimal health.

Metastatic breast cancer (also known as stage IV, advanced or secondary breast cancer) is breast cancer that has spread beyond the breast to other organs in the body, such as the bones, lungs, liver or brain. Whilst currently considered incurable, advances in treatment and care mean some people are able to live with metastatic breast cancer for many years.


Early detection
A woman can develop breast cancer at any age, regardless of her level of risk. So it’s important, whatever your risk for breast cancer, to take the time to know the normal look and feel of your breasts as part of your daily routine, know the symptoms to look out for, and see your GP if you find a change that’s unusual for you. 

Lifestyle Changes to assist in Managing your Risk Factors. 

Watch your weight
Being overweight or obese is a risk factor for developing breast cancer. Maintaining a sensible weight is protective against many forms of cancer. Intermittent fasting or the 5:2 diet is a good way to lose excess weight and keep it off. Nightly fasting of 13 hours without food, or longer, also appears to reduce the chance of breast cancer recurrence.

Cruciferous vegetables
Compounds found in members of the cruciferous vegetable family such as broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale, cauliflower and turnips, contain anti-cancer properties which are currently under investigation for breast cancer therapy. Keep cooking times to a minimum, preferring to steam or eat them raw. Aim to eat 2-3 cups daily in addition to other fresh fruit and veg, and chew well to release the bio active compounds.

Iodine
There are links between low iodine intake, poor thyroid health and breast cancer.  Japanese women who eat seaweed daily (rich in natural iodine) have lower rates of both diseases. Low iodine levels in breast tissue is associated with breast disease; it is worthwhile adding a teaspoon of seaweed or sea vegetables to your daily diet for health promotion.

Reduce alcohol
Drinking alcohol is associated with increased risk of various cancers, including breast. To minimise risk, no more than 1 standard drink is advised daily.  Alcohol free nights also confer benefits. Risk increases with alcohol consumption in breast cancer, so try tart cherry juice or reduce intake by mixing your tipple with soda water.

Exercise and daylight
They’re beneficial to overall health and recommended for both breast cancer survivors and as a preventative measure. Aim for 40 minutes brisk walking five days a week, with some higher intensity sessions if you can. More physically active women and those with higher levels of vitamin D, which is made by the action of sunlight on skin, have lower rates of various cancers, including that of breast, uterus and colon.

Reduce toxic load
Opt for a predominantly plant-based organic diet. Avoid processed foods, and cook from scratch. This helps reduce intake of potentially toxic residues from pesticides, additives and packaging. Look for organic personal care products with only natural ingredients.

Self-examination
Checking regularly for any lumps, bumps or irregularities in breast tissue or the nipple can alert you to any potential problems. Checking at the same time in your cycle, about 5 days after your cycle starts is usually best.

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Reference:​​

  • Dirican A., Andacoglu O., Johnson R., McGuire K., Mager L., Soran A. The short-term effects of low-level laser therapy in the management of breast-cancer-related lymphedema. Supportive Care in Cancer. 2011; 19(5): 685-690. Available here: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00520-010-0888-8
  • National Cancer Institute. Lymphedema (PDQ)-Health Professional Version. Available here: cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/side-effects/lymphedema/lymphedema-hp-pdq
  • Vollbracht C., Schneider B., Leendert V., Weiss G., Auerbach L., Beuth J. Intravenous vitamin C administration improves quality of life in breast cancer patients during chemo-/radiotherapy and aftercare: results of a retrospective, multicentre, epidemiological cohort study in Germany. In Vivo. 2011; 25(6): 983–990.
  • Mindfulness meditation for younger breast cancer survivors: a randomized controlled trial. Cancer. 2015; 121(8): 1231-40. Available here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25537522
  • Garssen B, Boomsma MF, Meezenbroek Ede J, et al. Stress management training for breast cancer surgery patients. Psychooncology. 2013; 22: 572-580. Available here: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/pon.3034/full
  • Phillips KM, Antoni MH, Lechner SC, et al. Stress management intervention reduces serum cortisol and increases relaxation during treatment for nonmetastatic breast cancer. Psychosom Med. 2008; 70: 1044-1049. Available here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18842742
  • Anand P. et. al. Cancer is a Preventable Disease that requires major lifestyle changes. Pharmaceutical Research 2008; 25: 9.
  • Greenlee, Heather, et al. Antioxidant Supplement Use after Breast Cancer Diagnosis and Mortality in the Life After Cancer Epidemiology (LACE) Cohort. Cancer. 2011; 118(8): 2048–2058.
  • Pierce, John P., et al. Greater Survival after Breast Cancer in Physically Active Women with High Vegetable-Fruit Intake Regardless of Obesity. Journal of Clinical Oncology. 2015.
  • Dirican A., Andacoglu O., Johnson R., McGuire K., Mager L., Soran A. The short-term effects of low-level laser therapy in the management of breast-cancer-related lymphedema. Supportive Care in Cancer. 2011; 19(5): 685-690. Available here: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00520-010-0888-8
  • National Cancer Institute. Lymphedema (PDQ)-Health Professional Version. Available here: cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/side-effects/lymphedema/lymphedema-hp-pdq
  • Vollbracht C., Schneider B., Leendert V., Weiss G., Auerbach L., Beuth J. Intravenous vitamin C administration improves quality of life in breast cancer patients during chemo-/radiotherapy and aftercare: results of a retrospective, multicentre, epidemiological cohort study in Germany. In Vivo. 2011; 25(6): 983–990.
  • Mindfulness meditation for younger breast cancer survivors: a randomized controlled trial. Cancer. 2015; 121(8): 1231-40. Available here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25537522
  • Garssen B, Boomsma MF, Meezenbroek Ede J, et al. Stress management training for breast cancer surgery patients. Psychooncology. 2013; 22: 572-580. Available here: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/pon.3034/full
  • Phillips KM, Antoni MH, Lechner SC, et al. Stress management intervention reduces serum cortisol and increases relaxation during treatment for nonmetastatic breast cancer. Psychosom Med. 2008; 70: 1044-1049. Available here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18842742
  • Anand P. et. al. Cancer is a Preventable Disease that requires major lifestyle changes. Pharmaceutical Research 2008; 25: 9.
  • Greenlee, Heather, et al. Antioxidant Supplement Use after Breast Cancer Diagnosis and Mortality in the Life After Cancer Epidemiology (LACE) Cohort. Cancer. 2011; 118(8): 2048–2058.
  • Pierce, John P., et al. Greater Survival after Breast Cancer in Physically Active Women with High Vegetable-Fruit Intake Regardless of Obesity. Journal of Clinical Oncology. 2015.