As the season changes to fall, breast cancer awareness month rushes in with the dropping of leaves, and we survivors can easily get caught up in the emotional triggers that come with all the hype and scary stories that accompany this month of awareness.
Then there’s the idea of awareness itself.
Sure, early detection is important but isn’t prevention more important?
What if, in addition to regular mammograms and breast exams we focused on supporting our metabolic health?
Would that change the ever-rising numbers of breast cancer diagnoses?
According to the National Institute of Health, it would.
But what steps can you take to support your metabolic health?
How do you even know what your body needs?
Well, your body has a special way of telling its story and in this episode, I’ll walk you through how to know that story and how to be the editor so that story becomes the best seller you want it to be.
Listen now and let’s step into a place of power.
Referred to in this episode:
Read the full transcript below:
Laura Lummer 0:00 You're listening to the breast cancer recovery coach podcast. I'm your host, Laura Lummer. I'm a Certified Life health and nutrition coach, and I'm also a breast cancer thriver. If you're trying to figure out how to move past the trauma and the emotional toll of breast cancer, you've come to the right place. In this podcast, I will give you the tools and the insights to create a life that's even better than before breast cancer. Well, let's get started. Hello, friends, welcome to episode 283, of better than before breast cancer with me, Laura Lummer, the breast cancer recovery coach, I'm so excited that you're joining me today because this will be the first podcast episode to come out in October 2023, which is, of course, Breast Cancer Awareness Month. And for those of us on this side of a breast cancer diagnosis, this month has a lot of significance. It might be exciting, inspiring, scary, might bring up anger, it might trigger things for you. Because we know that the whole pink movement serves a purpose and breast cancer awareness. And early detection is a wonderful thing. To be aware of checking yourself and seeing whether or not you have signs or symptoms that something is wrong. And detecting it and treating it early is beautiful. But the fact is that once you've detected it, you already have it. And it's too late. So I want to talk today about more than just awareness and detection. I want to talk about breast cancer prevention. And I want to talk about it. Because for all of us who are either in the experience of treating breast cancer, in the experience of going through breast cancer treatment, and now trying to support our body's ability to heal, or for those of us like me who are living with metastatic breast cancer, and daily doing all we can to support our body's ability to heal. What are our goals, we want to avoid recurrence, we want to go into revision, we want to stay stable. I mean, as amazing as it might sound, we could live with a certain amount of cancer, right? I have kind of a lot of cancer in my body. But where it is right now I'm not in pain, I'm active, I'm able to live my life. And as long as it stays right where it is. I'm okay with that. Right? It's golden, let's just keep it where it's at. But there are a lot of things that I have to do. In order to make that happen. I take an integrative approach to health because the metabolic approach to health and our metabolic health, meaning all the processes that happen in our body and keeping them at an optimal level are critical when it comes to supporting our wellness. And putting off the early detection and diagnosis. Right. There's no 100% guarantee. Of course, we all know that. But the more we do for ourselves, the better our chances are that we reach those goals that we want for our health, and that we avoid the outcomes that we don't want, the better our chances are. And we always want to stack the odds in our favor, right? So what about breast cancer awareness month is difficult for some people? Well, one thing that comes to mind is the stories we hear. We hear a lot of stories that are very scary, some stories that are heartbreaking, just tear you up about people who've lost lives and people who have lost loved ones. And when I coach my clients, I know a lot of them get caught up in the stories that they hear. And something that's super important to realize right now is that someone else's story is not your story. We get to choose to stay in our own story. And what I want to encourage you today through this podcast is to learn more about your story. And here's what I mean by that we have out in our society, quite a bit of fear. I know we like to motivate people through fear for some reason, instead of encouraging them through healthy options. But there's a lot of fear around genetic predispositions. There's a lot of powerlessness around this idea that if I have certain genes, I'm doomed, whether it's certain genes that predispose you to breast cancer, or genes that predispose you to obesity, diabetes, or other things that are unpleasant that we don't want to go through in our physical body. And the way that we understand our story is to know what those genes are. I highly recommend getting some genetic profiling done. And I don't mean just in testing to see if your Bronco on Abraca to positive but really going through so Mmm, fantastic options that are available to you now to understand what's happening inside your body to understand your genetics. And here's why. Because genetics are just a piece of the puzzle. And epigenetics are another piece of that puzzle. And epigenetics, let's say that, let's say that it's a book, right? So your genetics are the story. But your epigenetics are the editor of that story. And they're going to decide who gets to stay in the story, who's the act of character who's the prime villain in the story. And we get to influence our epigenetics. So when we know our story, when we have a report that says, hey, here's your genetics, here's what's going on in your body, here's what you've inherited from your parents, then we have some extremely valuable data to work with, and not to be afraid of, because the more we know, the more we can do to influence whether those genes are turned on, or turned off, whether they're going to present symptoms, whether we're going to feel the effect of what they could create, are whether we're going to make sure and stay in an optimal state of health. Now, when it comes to understanding how much our metabolism influences our risk of breast cancer, and how much our metabolism influences how healthy we can be, and how much we can support our immune system and our body's ability to support itself in healing, I want to tell you some actual statistics, because the idea of things like braca, one and braca, two and a few other genes that I'm going to tell you about today, that scare people, is the idea that if I have it, I'm doomed, I'm gonna get cancer. And the fact is that even with genes like braca, one and braca, two, and I'm gonna give you some numbers, on how many people actually get cancer from those genetic predispositions shortly. But even with those, it doesn't mean that you're going to get cancer. Not everyone who has those gene variants get cancer. Why is that? What is influencing that? What is influencing all of our genes. So our metabolism and our genes are both playing a role, right? Cancers is really complicated thing. Our bodies are complicated, things are amazing. They're miraculous. But we've can step into a lot of power. And when we step into that power, by taking control of our metabolic health, here's the thing that happens. We don't have to be so scared. We don't have to just wait for the next scan, wait for the results of the next blood test and wonder, what is this going to mean to me? What is going to happen to me? What is cancer doing to me? Right, Laura Lummer 8:02 as I said before, we don't have 100% control over that. But if we know we are stepping in and doing everything we can to stack the odds in our favor, we feel a lot more confident, and we're plagued by a lot less fear. And that's something I really want to encourage in you in all of us today. So to give some kind of an idea about how much metabolism and metabolic health actually plays a role in our lives, and in the risk of breast cancer. Here's a quote from the Journal of Breast Care in 2018. It starts off by saying increasing rates of obesity, lack of physical activity, sedentary behavior, and frequent alcohol consumption are major lifestyle related risk factors for breast cancer. In fact, it has been estimated that about 1/3 of breast cancer cases are attributable to factors women can change. My lady's attributable to factors women can change 1/3 30%. Think about that. How much less suffering? How much less disease? How much less pain could we be experiencing avoided? You know, how much of this could we be avoiding? If we step into accepting and learning and implementing healthier lifestyle practices that support our metabolism? Now, I'm gonna go into something because I want to talk to you more about genes because genes are fascinating. genetics are fascinating, but to grasp this idea that you can have some control over how your genes work. I think there's so much power in that if You look at the American Cancer Society, and I will post a link to this article breast cancer risk factors, you cannot change. Okay, this is the name of the article, breast cancer risk factors you cannot change. Alright. One of them well, the very first one being born female. Well, that's true, we can't change that we were born female. Okay, getting older. If we live, we're gonna get older. But then it moves into genetics. And one of the first genes referred to, as you could probably anticipate is braca. One and braca. Two, right? But are you aware that less than 10% of breast cancer cases are thought to be hereditary, even according to this article, right? braca one and braca two, many people think that if you have this gene, it means it's a gene that causes cancer. But braca one, BRCA one is actually a tumor suppressor gene. And what happens is when that gene isn't working correctly, then it's not as effective at suppressing tumor activity, right, because we've always got mutations happening in our body, we've got cancer cells popping up here and there. And we've got genetics that kind of take control of those and help us stay in an optimal state of health. And then sometimes when those genes aren't working properly, they don't do their job, and cancer as an opportunity to route right. If we have a vulnerability in our immune system, if we're not in our optimal health, if we're really stressed, all of these things can contribute to the ability of a cancer cell to find a nice warm, cozy place to start to grow. So I wanted to address this specifically because the title of this article breast cancer risk factors, you cannot change, I want to be really clear on this, you may not be able to change the fact that you have a bracket one or a bracket to gene, but you can change whether or not that gene is activated. Okay. And according to the National Institute of Health, guess what keeps braca one and braca two genes from being activated if you have those mutations, being physically active, maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding smoking, and avoiding alcohol. For things that people with braca one Brocker to or people with a history of Ashkenazi Jew hereditary Ashkenazi Jew genetics in their life Laura Lummer 12:29 also have an elevated risk. And these lifestyle factors are also according to the National Institute of Health can keep those genes from being turned on and resulting in the growth of cancer. Another gene that is known to be one of the most common genes that seems to be contributing to breast cancer diagnosis is called the ATM. The ATM gene is a gene that helps repair damaged DNA. So when it's not working, or not doing cellular repair, right, so inheriting abnormal copies of the gene are linked to a high rate of breast cancer. But guess what, according to Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, what do you think are some of the things that you can do to reduce the risk of cancer? If you have an ATM gene variant, avoid smoking, maintain a healthy weight, participate in regular physical activity. Keep a healthy diet with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, limit yourself to one to two alcoholic drinks per day, which I think is very generous. That seems like a lot to me, protecting your skin from the sun and knowing your medical history, all lifestyle factors. In fact, this is a really interesting study. Also, when it comes to braca one and braca. Two. This is in the Journal of genetic counseling. Okay, so this is an article published in 2017 in the Journal of genetic counseling, so you would think in the Journal of genetic counseling of cancer is going to be attributed to genes it's going to say, hey, you know, it's all about genetics. That abstract of this article begins with braca. This is a quote braca. One and two mutation carriers are at higher risk of breast cancer and ovarian cancer, physical activity. overweight, smoking and alcohol consumption, are jointly responsible for about one in four postmenopausal breast cancer cases in the general population, one in four. So this study looked at women who have had children and had reduced their physical activity and gained weight to determine what was going on with their breast cancer risk knowing that they had Abraca one or braca two mutation. So what this study found was that physical inactivity which is described as fewer than any kind of sports activity less than once a week, what they we found was that 48% of these carriers were physically inactive 41% were overweight, 27% smoked, and 70% consumed alcohol 3% greater than eight alcoholic beverages a week. So what they found here was that physical inactivity was four to five times more likely in carriers that had children. But the overweight was not associated with having children, that the carriers with children were a subgroup that could specifically benefit from lifestyle support to reduce breast cancer risk. Guys, this is in the Journal of genetic counseling. And it's saying you got to support your metabolic health, we've got to step in and take charge of our lives, we've got to step in and take charge of our lifestyles, we've got to be honest with ourselves and do what can be really tough work. Even just being straight with ourselves sometimes, and getting through the stories in our head of what we're willing to change and what we're not willing to change. It puts us in this place of power. Because when we can do that, we can turn this titanic, right, we can shift where our bodies are headed, we can support ourselves. And as I said, we don't have to worry about awareness, because we want to focus on prevention. Now, of course, we're gonna follow all of the things that we're supposed to follow to be sure we're safe and do our blood work and do our scans and keep up with it. But wouldn't it feel great, it's like flossing in between dental appointments, right? You're gonna do that if you brush regularly and you floss regularly, you feel a lot better about going to the dentist, we got to take care of our bodies in the same way. In the article, another gene that is talked about is called check to see H e k two. This is another gene that normally helps repair DNA. And if a check two gene is mutated, it increases breast cancer risk. But in a 2020 study published by precision oncology, they looked at over 2000 people and found that 53 of those 2300, people had a check to variant. So that check to variant the people that had the check to variant were more likely to have higher grade estrogen and progesterone receptor positive tumors than people who were checked to negative. But here's the interesting thing. A higher proportion of participants was checked to positive variants. And invasive breast cancer were obese, a higher proportion of those compared to those that had just a regular check to negative variant were obese. 28% versus 18%. And this study concluded that there's a potential association among obesity, family history and breast cancer risk in especially young check two gene carriers. But that deciding factor that seemed to push things over was the over weight in the body, a metabolic factor. So the great thing about that is we can change this, right? I'm so passionate about metabolic health, and especially because of how I lost my dad. Right, my dad had major obesity. He was morbidly obese, which resulted in type two diabetes. And the last 13 years of my dad's life, he could not lay flat. I feel emotional talking about it. He slept upright in a recliner chair because his body was so heavy, he couldn't breathe if he laid down. metabolic health is critical for quality of life. And as breast cancer survivors, and the powerless things we often go through embracing something that gives us power, embracing something that can change the direction of our lives. Why would we want that? Even if it's difficult, because you don't want there's help available and support available for you. If you find yourself in a poor state of metabolic health, and you realize that you need some extra love and support and guidance in order to turn those tables. It is so critically important. And it's not just about food. And it's not just about exercise. It's about good mental and emotional health. It's about processing negative emotions that we store in our body from the time we're children, little T traumas, big T traumas all through our lives. It's about getting the right kind of sleep. It's about managing stress. It's a holistic pick Sure, you know, when we talk about mind body, there's just no separation. So all of the emotional gunk that we have there, that is also impacting our body. I've heard studies that show that it's an extremely stressful conditions, people, cholesterol levels can increase up to 50%. In times of high stress. That's how much our emotions impact our health. Now, you've had a breast cancer diagnosis, you've had a trauma, okay? Whether you admit it openly look at it, accept it, evaluate it, process it, I don't know. But it's a trauma, right? It's a near death experience, you're looking at your mortality. And now, understanding that you can step into your metabolic health will give you more power to feel like you have some control over what comes to you in the future. Right. So how can you learn this? How do you know what kind of genetics you have? And then how do you know what to do about them. Laura Lummer 21:02 So I'll tell you after my diagnosis, I had a genetic profile done by a company called nutrition genome, and nutrition genome gives you an A crazy comprehensive report on everything about the genetics that they look at. It's a 95 page report. And it breaks down what genes affect inflammation in your body, what genes affect hormone support, detoxification, DNA protection and damage repair. But I want to share with you something that I think is so cool, because you may have heard about the gene that MTHFR and in fact, I did a podcast a while back on the MTHFR mutation and what it means for us as breast cancer survivors, and I'll link to that in the show notes. So this episode, but I have several MTHFR variants. But I want to share with you some of the information and gets to just reinforce how much lifestyle factors can change the direction of our health. So let me first just start off by giving you a super simple explanation. MTHFR are genetic variants that can influence the methylation process in our body. And at the very basic, simplest level, methylation is a chemical process. It's a modification of DNA, and other molecules that might be retained as cells divide and make more cells. So as our cells are dividing, we want to keep them intact, right? But methylation is a process by which we kind of transfer little parts of those cells around little molecules and pieces. Yeah, it's so scientific, right? That's a super scientific explanation. But it's a chemical process that's really critical in supporting healthy DNA structures. And when you have variants in this MTHFR gene, it can affect how well and how effectively your body can methylate and that can result in having a pretty serious impact on your overall health. So let me tell you some of the things that improve MTHFR functioning, and I'm reading this straight from the nutrition genome report from mine. So one of the variants I have is called an MTHFR 677 gene. What improves the function of that gene riboflavin and methyl folate? What decreases the function of that gene? proton pump inhibitors, so antacids, oral contraceptives, anticonvulsants, antivirals, anti biotics, acid blockers, antacids, again, and NSAIDs. So aspirins and Tylenol, things like non steroidal anti inflammatories, have another MTHFR mutations, the 1298 gene, I got a bunch of these Well, I read the MTHFR mutations, they just love me. What makes that mutation better. Vitamin C, l, arginine, Folate, Magnesium, holy basil, which is Tulsi, selenium, royal jelly, and deep breathing techniques, deep breathing, my friends, deep breathing affects your genetics. You know, we talk about on this show so often these simple practices we can do, and even when I work with my clients and suggest these simple practices, often we just poopoo that like Yeah, yeah, I've heard of that. I've heard of that. But have you tried it? Have you checked it out to see how much it supports you? What causes that MTHFR 1298 variant to function poorly? Chronic stress, oral contraceptives, arsenic, lead aluminum, where we find a lot of those in an unfiltered water, tap water, synthetic folic acid. So supplements you have to be careful about the supplements you take and that's why it's so important to seek out this integrative support and how through metabolically trained physicians because supplements are just not anything we want to mess around with. A spar team. Artificial sweet Igner sparking oxidative stress. And high protein diets can affect this gene and make it function. It hamper the function of that gene. So this is another reason why when we understand the story of our body, when we look at this storybook full of genetics, we can say, Oh, wow, I haven't been following a high protein diet, I'm tired all the time. Or I see the symptoms, maybe you're activating a certain gene, and he don't even know it. Now, the DNA report that comes from nutrition genome, it's the one that I go to. And it's the one that we use. And er is the go to report in the metabolic Training Institute of Health. So as a certified terrain advocate, that's the one that I recommend. It's got over 170 Health Reports, I'm I'm not making any money off this, I'm just telling it to you. Because here's the thing. People say to me, as soon as I bring up genetic testing, or other kinds of labs, or things that support them and give them data, which they can use to support their metabolic health, the first thing I hear is, oh my gosh, that's probably expensive. This test is $359. And when I think back at how much money I've spent on different supplements, before I even knew what was good for me what was right for me what were for my body before I found this path to really understand the data and stop just guessing. And every time I read a book or her to some kind of a podcast or something about the next greatest supplement, I threw it in hundreds and hundreds of dollars, went in to things that I don't even know if they even benefited me. But I know they cost me a lot of money. So the reason why I would recommend that you take a look at this story of your body by getting this type of a really comprehensive genetic test done. So you stop wasting money. And so you stop wasting time, and you stop doing things that can potentially be harming you. And you really understand, really understand. So you've got the story in front of you. And it comes with little links that you can click for all the scientific studies that backup everything they say that support why certain foods are better for that genetic predisposition than other foods. And in this report, it talks about heavy metal pesticides sensitivity, it talks about your how you metabolize your proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, DNA repair hormones, methylation, a ton of stuff, even moods, mental health and anxiety and Brain Repair. So it's so incredibly valuable. And I know I've done shows on this before, but I want to emphasize again, this is an investment in you, and your future, because your metabolic health is a game changer. But you can't really shift it if you don't understand it. So getting an understanding, and then taking it to a professional like myself like a metabolically trained advocate or physician and having them interpret this for you. And making that small investment in yourself. So that you truly understand how your body works, the story that it's telling you, and how you can best support that story and make it best seller name. So as we go into October, and you hear all the things that just seems so scary, and all the stories and you think I don't want to go that way, I don't want that to happen to me. No, you have some power over that. A lot of power over that. Think about what I shared with you that data that 1/3 of diagnosed breast cancer cases can be avoided. Holy cow, that's amazing. So let's step into this. Let's support our metabolic health. By making decisions and getting whatever support you need to address the lifestyle factors that give you the best chance for the best outcomes in your life. All right, links to all these articles, links to nutrition, genome, all of that I'm going to put in the show notes for this episode, the breast cancer recovery coach.com forward slash 283. Please look at them. Please read through them and make a decision and a commitment in this month of October to commit to breast cancer prevention for yourself to support your metabolic health. And I am here to support you. You know you can find me at the breast cancer recovery coach.com You can follow me on Facebook or Instagram breast cancer recovery coach, join my life coaching membership better than before breast cancer life coaching membership where we dig into all this stuff, everything from the way we think to what we eat to how we approach our life to why we do or don't do the things that we say we want to do what we say we don't want to do. There's so much to be worked on and so much to support ourselves and this isn't a journey that you want to do alone. So I'll talk to you soon. Until then. Be good to yourself. Take care