The Complete Natural Medicine Guide to Breast CancerJulia Woodford March 1, 2004
Sat Dharam Kaur
This is, by far, the best book I have ever read on cancer of the breast. In it, Sat Dharam Kaur leaves no stone unturned in her quest for the causes and cures of this condition, which currently affects one woman in nine in Canada and one in eight in the U.S. The volume of research contained here is encyclopedic, yet it’s presented with an elegant simplicity which allows the reader to easily absorb and digest its various parts.
This is not just a book about breasts. They are, after all, only the tips of a woman’s iceberg. Underneath the surface is an organism supremely sensitive to incoming stimuli, whether from diet, environment, or a woman’s mental state. According to Kaur, “The health of our breasts is intimately linked and dependent upon the health of our other body systems. If we have breast cancer, healing depends on accurately assessing imbalances in each of these systems, and then correcting them.”
In the first chapter, significant risk factors for breast cancer are analyzed, including: genetic lineage; number of children (more is better); breast density (avoid HRT); level of exercise (more is better); prescription drugs (antidepressants, blood pressure pills, cholesterol lowering drugs — all increase risk of breast cancer); hair dye usage; and exposure to hormone disrupting environmental chemicals. At the end of the chapter, Dr. Kaur asks the reader to fill out a “Breast Health Balance Sheet”, a summary of breast cancer risk factors and protective factors. Once completed, this can give any woman a good snapshot of her own personal level of risk.
In Chapter 2 we are introduced to the various body systems and how they either accelerate or reduce development of cancer in the breast. For example, in regards to the digestive system she comments: “What we eat, how we eat, when we eat, how we absorb and how we eliminate our food strongly affects the vitality of the liver, how our hormones express themselves, and ultimately our breast health.” This chapter also analyzes several common breast conditions, including the various types of breast cancer. As well, the pros and cons of different breast screening tools, from mammography to thermography to biopsy, are discussed.
Hormonal fluctuations are scrutinized in Chapter 3, with an emphasis on estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, and the various factors influencing their ebbs and flows. This is a subject of importance, since some breast tumours are known to be estrogen-sensitive. One of the significant organs involved with hormonal balance is the thyroid, a gland nourished by iodine and impaired by environmental chemicals, drugs, junk food, and stress. In the subsection on iodine’s link to breast health, Dr. Kaur observes that the incidence of breast cancer is higher in areas where the soil is deficient in iodine, zinc, and selenium. (Since the Great Lakes region falls into this category, Ontarians take note.) This is significant because, according to Kaur: “Breast cells are more sensitive to stimulation from estrogen when iodine is deficient, increasing breast cancer risk.” There is also an interesting point made that Japanese women have low breast cancer rates because they are the world’s largest consumers of iodine-rich seaweeds. (Contrary to the popular theory that Japanese consumption of soy foods is what prevents their breast cancer, I suspect that the seaweed factor is more significant.)
The chapter concludes with a comprehensive chart on Hormone Balancing Strategies for Breast Cancer Prevention, a user friendly summary that inspires one to take action.
Chapter 4 moves into the area of “Environmental Impact on Breast Health”, a look at EMFs, petrochemicals, pesticides, and more. This is really scarey stuff, but Kaur remains optimistic that women can drastically reduce their exposures through lifestyle changes. She also urges us to become politically active in order to reduce the toxic load on our environment.
In Chapter 5, Detoxifying our Bodies, we discover the detoxification pathways that nature has built into our bodies (liver, lungs, lymphatics, etc.), and how to stimulate and energize each one. The exercises and worksheets included elevate this section to a hands-on workbook for readers who are ready to do the dirty work of clearing out years of waste accumulation. Early in the chapter, Kaur comments: “Without robust circulation, toxins accumulate as they would in a stagnant pond, creating a kind of acid sludge that deprives local tissues of oxygen.”
There are many aspects to clearing out the ‘stagnant pond’, and although the complexity of it — from detox enzymes to liver protective herbs to antioxidants — can seem overwhelming, it is a regime that could save your life.
This chapter goes on to describe “Liver Loving Formulas for Healthy Breasts” (think dandelion, milk thistle, chelidonium), liver cleansing herbs and foods, ways to rebalance acid/alkaline levels, strategies for removing parasites and yeast (using pumpkin seed, wormwood, cloves, homeopathics), and more. Also included are a dizzying array of herbs, foods, and strategies for cleansing the colon and restoring friendly bacteria to stomach and bowels. My favourite part of this chapter is called “Sweating it Out”, in which Kaur describes the benefits of sweating for cancer prevention and gives precise protocols for maximum therapeutic benefit. Specific herbs and vitamins, plus recommended dosages, are described in terms of how they accelerate the effectiveness of a sauna detox program. This will be of great interest to those involved in the popular infrared sauna sweat therapies endorsed by Dr. Sherry Rogers.
Because the lymphatic system is so critical to our immune status and in turn breast health, Chapter 6 is devoted entirely to herbs, foods, exercises, and massages to clear and tonify the lymphatic pathways. According to Kaur, “Six practices that will improve lymphatic circulation are dry brush massage, contrast showers, rebounding, exercise, going braless, and breast self-massage.” She explains the protocols for each of these, with instructions and formulas for best results. For example: “One of the factors that promotes tumour growth is poor microcirculation in the area where the tumour develops. Contrast showers are excellent ways to improve the microcirculation, bringing nutrients and oxygen to the cells and removing waste more efficiently.” This chapter is valuable because it includes not only western herbal formulas, but also the Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine theories and formulas as well. Whew, this writer has really done her homework!
Eating Right for Breast Health is the theme of Chapter 7, which again offers comprehensive coverage of the subject. Here we learn of the benefits of brassicas, broccoli sprouts, garlic, and sea vegetables. And a special subsection, “Good Fats and Bad Fats” goes into a subject which has received much confusing media coverage of late. Yet Dr. Kaur clarifies and verifies exactly which oils are most effective in preventing and even treating breast tumours. In her words: “Omega-3 fatty acids, found primarily in flax seed oil, purslane, black currant seed oil, and cold water fish oils, protect us from breast cancer. Saturated fats found in meat, butter, animal products, coconut oil and peanut oil, increase breast cancer risk, as do hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated fats.” So margarine, french fries, and baked goods are out. In this section we are also introduced to fibre, phytoestrogens, and high potassium foods.
Dr. Kaur ups the ante in Chapter 8, with indepth coverage of Nutritional Supplements for Breast Health. Top honours go to the B vitamin complex, plus vitamin C, D, and ten different minerals. If I’d had any questions before about vitamin supplementation for women’s health, they are well addressed here, as Kaur brings the latest research into sharp focus.
The remaining three chapters continue to expand the big picture: Psychological and Spiritual Means of Preventing Breast Cancer; Breast Disease Treatments; and Working with Healthcare Professionals. Each chapter carries her signature trademark of meticulous research and compassionate delivery of the material. This book is so research-heavy, it would be easy to blow out all your circuits before reaching the end. So here’s my advice — spend a month with each chapter. Focus on it, digest it, act on it. At the end of a year, you will have integrated into your life one of the most valuable guidebooks on women’s health that has ever been written. Not only will this reduce your risk of breast cancer, it will also increase your chances of living a long and healthy life.
Julia Woodford founded Vitality Magazine in 1989, and has been its Editor-in-Chief for the past 30 years. Prior to a career in publishing, her studies included Political Economics at York University, Journalism at Ryerson University, and Psychology, PhysEd, and Anthropology at University of Toronto. She remains a lifelong student of herbalism, nutritional medicine, and the healing arts to this day. You can read her columns on the <a href="https://vitalitymagazine.com/">Vitality website</a>. She is also the Show Manager for Whole Life Expo, Canada’s largest showcase of natural health and green living. Learn more at the <a href="https://www.wholelifeexpo.ca/">Expo website</a> In 2018 she received a “Hall of Fame” award from <a href="https://www.nationalnutrition.ca/">National Nutrition</a>. In 2019, she was nominated for a “Person of the Year” award by <a href="https://www.nationalnutrition.ca/">National Nutrition</a>.