Lifestyle Choices and Breast Cancer Prevention

by Jane, UK

In recent months there has been a lot of media portrayal about preventive mastectomy (also known as prophylactic mastectomy or risk-reducing mastectomy) re-ignited by Angelina Jolie’s high profile decision to have a preventive double mastectomy.

I have been wondering about this subject as I am a woman and also someone who in the past has had breast health issues.

From my own experience over many years of making lifestyle choices that support me and in taking far more care of myself, I have found that my general health and well-being has improved immensely – so too has my overall health as a woman.

Could lifestyle choices possibly play a role in supporting the prevention of diseases such as breast cancer?

“New figures show that breast cancer is now the most common form of the disease in Britain. This country also has the highest death rate for the disease in the world” (Harding 2013).

The recent media portrayal of preventive mastectomy has raised many conversations about cancer prevention and as I researched for this article I found there are many statistics, articles and blogs written about breast cancer and breast cancer prevention.

Cancer prevention is perceived as any action taken to lower the chance of getting cancer and, anything that increases the chance of developing cancer is perceived as a cancer risk factor.

In the case of breast cancer prevention in the recent media, there have been statistics that state preventive mastectomy may significantly reduce the chance of developing breast cancer in moderate and high-risk women, such as those who test positive for changes or mutations in certain genes (e.g. BRCA1 or BRCA2), bearing in mind “the US Preventive Services Task Force recommends that only women with a strong family history think about getting a BRCA genetic test which is only 2% of US women” (Fox & Aleccia 2013).

In amongst the many articles and websites women are also cited to be at risk if they:

  • Have had previous breast cancer,
  • Have a family history of breast cancer,
  • Have breast changes that increase the risk of breast cancer (e.g. abnormal cells – lobular carcinoma in situ),
  • Have had radiation therapy to your chest before the age of thirty (for example as a treatment for Hodgkins Disease),
  • Have diffuse and indeterminate breast micro-calcifications or dense breast tissue.

Whilst there is current research into breast cancer and its causes, “much research is still needed to understand breast cancer – and its causes – fully” (Harding 2013). Such as examples the National Cancer Institute and the longitudinal Breakthrough Generations Study Breakthrough Breast Cancer set up in 2004 to investigate genetics (via blood samples), lifestyle (e.g. diet, alcohol intake, occupation) and environmental factors that may change the risk of a woman developing breast cancer.

In looking further at the risks of getting breast cancer, there are also often cited relative risks (as cited by GenesisUK) such as:

  • Age at first menstrual period;
  • Age at menopause;
  • Age at first birth;
  • Number of pregnancies;
  • History of breast feeding;
  • Use of the contraceptive pill; and
  • Use of Hormonal Replacement Therapy (HRT).

Environmental chemicals have in the past also been suggested as relative risks to getting breast cancer, though as yet there don’t seem to have been any studies that show a direct link with developing breast cancer. 

Studies Linking Lifestyle to Breast Cancer

Lifestyle choices are also cited as a possible relative risk for breast cancer (e.g. American Cancer Society, National Cancer Institute) and “statistics show us that nine out of ten of us are willing to make lifestyle changes to reduce our risk of disease” (Harding 2013).

The American Cancer Society suggests that women can lower their risk of developing breast cancer by considering their body weight, physical activity and diet – stating that some studies show that a diet rich in vegetables, fruit and fish for instance has been linked with lower risk of breast cancer.

GenesisUK suggests “there is now evidence that physical activity has a protective effect against breast cancer”, partly through controlling body weight and also due to the positive effect on body hormone levels, which could potentially lower the risk. GenesisUK also suggest that there are several studies that have shown breast cancer has been linked to alcohol intake and that women who are tee-total have a lower risk of breast cancer compared to those who drink alcohol, and the level of risk rises with the level of alcohol intake.

Genetics and Epigenetics

There is another level of lifestyle choices that could be considered here too. We know that genetics were a factor in Angelina Jolie’s decision to have preventive mastectomy, however, the other aspect of genetics that hasn’t featured highly in the websites, articles and media coverage on preventive mastectomy – epigenetics.

“Epigenetics is the mechanism by which environmental changes alter the behaviour of our genes” (McKie 2013). McKie suggests all sorts of life events can affect DNA methylation levels in our bodies, including diet, illnesses, ageing, chemicals in the environment, smoking, drugs and medicines. From these, McKie concludes that epigenetic changes produce variation in disease patterns – “we have studied identical twins who have different tolerances to pain and shown that they have different states of methylation. We have also produced similar results for depression, diabetes and breast cancer. In each case, we have found genes that are switched on in one twin and switched off in the other twin. This often determines whether or not they are likely to get a disease.” (McKie 2013)

Rankin suggests that “epigenetics research proves to us that environmental influences, including hormonal factors are affected by our thoughts, beliefs and feelings that affect how your genes express themselves” (Rankin 2013). Rankin goes on to suggest that studies have also shown that environmental factors can override certain genetic mutations, effectively changing how DNA is expressed, and that scientists are now learning that the genome is far more responsive to the environment of the cell – especially the hormonal environment created by our thoughts, beliefs and feelings, in that the way we are, we think, we feel and what we do affects us more deeply than we may realise – to the extent that our genetics can change.

Is Double Mastectomy the only Preventative Option for Breast Cancer risk?

Considering this article so far, what do the many media articles and web pages suggest are the options for women in reducing their risk of breast cancer (aside from elective bilateral preventive mastectomy)?

For those with medium to high risk of breast cancer chemo-prevention is now available in the UK as recently announced by NICE, who suggest that ‘Tamoxifen or Raloxifene’ taken daily for 5 years can cut breast cancer risk by 40%, with a protective effect for up to a decade, although there can be side effects including hot flushes and blood clots.

There are also options for:

  • Raising awareness – being breast aware, getting to know what your breasts look and feel like and what is normal for you in how your breasts look and feel.
  • Health education – to raise awareness of diseases in the breasts and the possible symptoms, know what changes to look for e.g. lumps, pain, discharge from the nipple.
  • Close monitoring – e.g. periodic mammograms and regular check-ups of a clinical breast examination performed by a health care professional.
  • Avoiding menopausal hormone use (Keefe & Meyskens 2000).

In addition to the above, lifestyle choices are often cited as preventive to the development of breast cancer, e.g. limit or cut out alcohol consumption, bring a focus to diet by moving away from processed foods and undertaking regular exercise.

Where might epigenetics play a role here?

In some research on epigenetics (McKie, 2013; Rankin, 2013) there is growing suggestion that lifestyle choices do play a role in the prevention of illness and disease.

I know for myself as mentioned above, in gradually and tenderly making many lifestyle changes, such as my diet, my rest and sleep, in exercising and in stopping things that had a negative impact on my body (e.g. alcohol, dairy, rushing around, burning the candle at both ends), my health has and continues to improve. And the long term conditions I have had (endometriosis, eczema and asthma for instance) have dissipated.

In wondering about the prevention of illness and disease there is clearly much that needs to be considered in the context of each woman’s unique risk factors, level of concern and how she feels in knowing her body as only she does.

“You know your body better than any doctor does – and only you can know what’s right for you” (Rankin 2013).

Whilst I am not in the shoes of Angelina Jolie or others for instance who are at high risk of breast cancer, nor would I want to make light of the choices any woman in this position has made, for these are serious considerations, what I can say is that lifestyle choices have made an enormous difference to the quality of my health and life overall.

And if, as epigenetics purports, lifestyle and the way we think and feel has an impact not only on our health and well-being but also on our genes, then maybe it is a worthy consideration for all women (and men) – whatever their circumstance, state of health or risk factors are.

It just may be that we could reduce the risk not only of breast cancer, but also of other illness and disease. That is worthy of further research and consideration.

Further Reading:
Endometriosis – Experiences and Observations on Women’s Health – Part 1
Mastitis – Experiences and Observations on Women’s Health – Part 2

References:

  1. American Cancer Society (2012) –”Breast Cancer Prevention and Early Detection“. Retrieved August 30, 2013
  2. Anderson, B. O. et al. (2008) “Guideline implementation for breast healthcare in low-income and middle-income countries: overview of the Breast Health Global Initiative Global Summit 2007”. Cancer, 113, 2221–43.
  3. Breakthrough Breast Cancer (2004) – Breakthrough Generations Study into the Causes of Breast Cancer – In Breast Cancer Risk Factors – The Facts. Joint Publication Breakthrough Breast Cancer & BMA. P 37
  4. Chan, Amanda. (2013, May 14) “Double Mastectomy: why Angelina Jolie had breast removal surgery“. Huffington Post. Retrieved from
  5. Dobson, Roger. (2013, June 9) “Professional women more susceptible to breast cancer“. The Independent.
  6. Fox, Maggie & Aleccia, JoNel. (2013, May 15) “More women opting for preventive mastectomy – but should they be?” NBC News.
  7. Genesis UK. Preventing Breast Cancer Charity – Retrieved August 30, 2013.
  8. Harding, Charlotte (2013, July 04) “10 ways to prevent breast cancer” (femail.co.uk). Mail online.
  9. Keef KA & Meyskens FL Jr. (2000) “Cancer Prevention”. In: Abeloff MD, Armitage Jo, Licther As, Neiderhuber JE, Editors. Clinical Oncology 2nd Ed. London: Churchill Livingstone, 2000
  10. McKie, Robin (2013, June 02) “Why do identical twins end up having such different lives?” The Guardian.
  11. National Cancer Institute (2006) – “Fact Sheet Preventative Mastectomy – Retrieved August 30, 2013.
  12. NHS Choices. (2012) “Breast Cancer (female) prevention“. Retrieved August 30, 2013.
  13. NICE Guidance. (2013) “Familial breast cancer: Classification and care of people at risk of familial breast cancer and management of breast cancer and related risks in people with a family history of breast cancer“. Retrieved August 31, 2013.
  14. Rankin, Lissa (2013, May 16) “Was Angelina Jolie ‘Medically Hexed?” Care2 Healthy Living.
  15. Roberts, Michelle (2013, June 25) “Breast Cancer: NHS to offer tamoxifen to at-risk women“. BBC News.
  16. World Health Organisation (2013).  “Breast Cancer: Prevention and control“. Retrieved August 31, 2013.

171 thoughts on “Lifestyle Choices and Breast Cancer Prevention

  1. We can all undertake our own personal research by choosing to live in a more caring and self-nurturing way and be aware of how this affects our health and sense of well-being.

  2. Such a great article Jane, it makes sense to take care of every aspect of our lives would impact on our health and well being. The key is the quality of love that we live with.

  3. As the evidence grows that lifestyle choices have a significant impact on whether or not we get e.g. breast cancer it has to be worth exploring how we can support ourselves and each other to make the necessary changes to reduce our chances of succumbing to disease due to our daily choices.

  4. Interesting that 9/10 are willing to make changes to assist thier health but very few actually do make sustained long term lifestyle changes. I think that is the most stand out difference with students of The Way of The Livingness is the changes are long term and sustained.

    1. Absolutely we need to support each other in making changes and students of The Way of The Livingness have shown how this is not only possible but very sustainable.

  5. Lifestyle choices are being more and more recognised for the impact they have on our health, ‘lifestyle choices are often cited as preventive to the development of breast cancer, e.g. limit or cut out alcohol consumption, bring a focus to diet by moving away from processed foods and undertaking regular exercise.’

  6. There is much to deeply consider here in how much we allow our thoughts, beliefs and feelings to affect the whole of our being and what we allow to run, influence and reconfigure our body that takes us further away from our natural and true way of being.

  7. Even if we just have a small inkling of the possibility that our lifestyle could effect our health then surely we need to do absolutely everything we can to ensure we are not living in a way that is to our detriment. It seems to me like we do know certain things ill effect our health, yet we tend to ignore them – it doesn’t make sense.

  8. Is there a reason many don’t want to look at their lifestyle choices, especially when we understand the impact it can have? ‘what I can say is that lifestyle choices have made an enormous difference to the quality of my health and life overall.’

  9. There is much to consider here Jane, it makes sense that we are the ones who are best placed to know our own body and how we are feeling. When we change our way of living to take our body more into consideration with tenderness and true care we empower ourselves to take responsibility in the way we are living and the body responds very willing to support us when it too feels supported by us.

  10. Could the way we live and the choices we make be the most significant factor in our level of health and well-being? More and more people are discovering, ‘many years of making lifestyle choices that support me and in taking far more care of myself, I have found that my general health and well-being has improved immensely – so too has my overall health as a woman.’
    So, ‘Could lifestyle choices possibly play a role in supporting the prevention of diseases such as breast cancer?’

  11. Bringing greater understanding to the choices we make with regard to prevention and treatment of breast cancer is vital. Everyone has cancer cells floating around in our bodies. Understanding why some continue to grow and cause problems is essential. Boosting our immune systems with sensible lifestyle choices makes sense to me.

  12. We are not born with cancer. It is not natural to us body. And what do we do between birth and getting cancer? Live life. Therefore the way we live has to naturally play a significant role in why we develop cancer or any other disease for that matter

  13. Your article is certainly worthy of more consideration and research as the statistics you have quoted here are quite alarming. The current way we address illness and disease is a band-aid affect with just treating symptoms, it is far more healing for the body if we begin to look at the underlying causes and treat the root cause.

    1. I agree Anna – it could be empowering for us all – women and men, to look at the illnesses and diseases we can be affected by – whether we have the illness directly, or whether one of our friends or relatives have an illness or disease. If we looked beyond a ‘fix’ or ‘solution’ we may realise that it doesn’t have to be this way – and that we can either prevent or turn a condition around with self-care, self-regard, nurturing and learning through our daily living choices.

  14. “lifestyle choices have made an enormous difference to the quality of my health and life overall.” Being aware that every choice we make can affect our health invites us to take responsibility for our own wellbeing in the way we choose to live.

  15. We can all be our own research laboratory if we choose to recognise the impact of our daily lifestyle choices on our bodies and then we have the option to make changes that will support us to take better care of ourselves. Rather than seeing ourselves as victims fighting an aggressive invader we can choose to explore how we have been impacted by not just our physical choices but also by the thoughts that we have allowed our mind to run with and the ideals and beliefs that we have taken on.

  16. One of the things I have noticed is that most cancer’s are a manifestation of a combinations of other undiagnosed illnesses , or some diagnosed illness. Its like when a person goes to the dentist to get a decayed tooth out. The decay did not just start today or yesterday , it’s a culmination of choices of the person not to take care of their body and teeth, the tooth extraction is just the consequences of neglect.
    It would be great instead of breast care that girls were started at a young age on body care, knowing that doing so would be proactive in their future health.

    1. A great point John. Prevention is always better than cure. Making good lifestyle choices supports good health and decreases the chances of getting many different illnesses.

  17. It is incredible that many people do not know that there is research that shows that even our thoughts can change the expression of our DNA. I myself have experienced this too, since changing my lifestyle and also paying attention to my thoughts and being tender with myself instead of negative and judgmental my life feels totally different and I have no doubt that this could be also reflected in my expression of my DNA maybe now suppressing genes that would have caused illness if I would have been keep on going the way i was thinking about myself when I was younger.

    1. I agree Lieke – why is it not widely known and shared even through our upbringing and all parts of our lives – that every choice we make has a ripple effect on our health and wellbeing and lives for better or for worse.

  18. Jane that is exactly it, how you have made different choices and you have noticed that this has affected how the body is responding for you in life. The epigenitics is such a fantastic reflection for us and it means we have to start taking responsibility for all our choices.

  19. ‘Lifestyle choices have made an enormous difference to the quality of my health and life overall.’ For every choice that has to be a consequence, and when we make choices that come from love the consequences are positive, and equally when we make unloving choices the consequences either come out as an illness, rash, spots, something minor, or stored in the body and eventually comes out as something more serious, for example a tumour, cancer, organ disorder, or any number of other illnesses and diseases, and we therefore have a huge responsibility to ourselves.

  20. It’s interesting that the research doesn’t more fully explore behaviours as part of the possible risk factors, I know in some research there were correlations made between loneliness and social isolation and heart disease and stroke. When I saw the high figures of breast cancer for women in the UK I wondered if there were societal customs, behaviours for example, that may contribute to so many women getting this disease. Different behaviours can put different parts of the body into stress, why should breasts be any different?

    1. I agree Melinda – until we are open to looking at everything, at being honest and transparent, and we are willing to take responsibility for how we are living we will continue to research and treat symptoms and not get to the root of illness and disease.

  21. This article is still so relevant today with rates of breast cancer and other diseases increasing as is recognition of the role played by lifestyle choices. What is not yet happening is the willingness of many women to take responsibility for their own health and to look at the steps that they could be taking to decrease their risk of becoming a disease statistic. What will it take for this to happen? I feel that it will be a variety of factors including well-researched and written blogs like this one which are without any sensationalism and simply present the facts for someone to come to their own decision.

  22. ‘Lifestyle choices have made an enormous difference to the quality of my health and life overall’. I second that Jane. Sometimes illness such as cancer comes in order to deeply clear the body, but if we don’t then make lifestyle changes it is hardly surprising that secondaries (metasteses) occur.

  23. At the end of day our every choice that takes us away from living in a way that takes full responsibility for being all that we are is going to played out in the body. We think we are getting away with our little treats, we think we deserve our down time drinks, our recreational smokes, our competitive sports, our blob out screen time, our gourmet eating or our junk foods and we think that we can swallow the frustration of being there for everyone, being the nice pleasing person at the expense of our own health and then we come down with cancer or some other disease and we all cry out ‘why me?’

  24. I love reading cancer awareness articles such as this, that bring the focus back to what we can do personally to action change. Sometimes we can get so caught up with “fighting” this disease, raising money for research, running marathons to bring awareness…. all of which are great but if we think about it, is any of it really working? Sure we have been doing it for a longtime but all the while cancer rates and statics continue to rise. What I have noticed is in all of this activity it can be easy to loose sight of the obvious and that is our lifestyle choices, and our personal and very integral role and responsibility in leading a new normal when it comes to health and well-being.

    1. Well said Sarah. And some of the things that are now linked to illness, disease and cancer e.g. alcohol, the food we eat, lifestyle, are actually things that are done to raise money and awareness about cancer – a recent breast cancer campaign was all about women joining together to eat cake. I know from my own body that stopping eating cake (dairy, gluten, sugar) has made a huge difference to my health and wellbeing for instance – so its interesting that one of things that impacts our lifestyle is one of the things that is done to raise awareness about cancer.

      1. That is a classic, it has always baffled me how we justify these things. I remember a little while ago someone I know entered into a bike ride from Byron Bay to Brisbane – for those that do not live in Australia, lets just say – that’s a really long ride! It was to raise awareness for testicular cancer – I’m sorry to be crass but riding for days putting pressure on your testicals and your back, not to mention, competing and pushing yourself through extreme weather conditions, body pain, all in the name of ticking a box for cancer is exactly what hundreds of men need to do for 9 days straight? Or is it? Well maybe not but that’s what we are sold!

  25. Two and a half years on from your post there is at last mention in the media about the importance of lifestyle in cancer prevention, namely how alcohol consumption and lack of exercise raises the risk. There is little research being done however due to the lack of incentive by drug companies, who prefer to fund pharmaceutical solutions rather than funding prevention. The latter is not a money spinner for them.

  26. Finally it is becoming more and more widely accepted that our lifestyle affects our health, ‘Could lifestyle choices possibly play a role in supporting the prevention of diseases such as breast cancer?’

  27. “The American Cancer Society suggests that women can lower their risk of developing breast cancer by considering their body weight, physical activity and diet – stating that some studies show that a diet rich in vegetables, fruit and fish for instance has been linked with lower risk of breast cancer.”

    If you take this exert alone and consider two things, the first that a fast food restaurant called Mac Donald’s is world wide the most poplar place we choose to eat. Then the miles of funding we pour into trying to cure this disease which is great but what if the answer to cancer is much simpler than we think? We can be teased at school or even as an adult for being a weirdo if we choose to eat healthy food, this culture needs to be addressed if we want to truly live a healthier life.

    1. I agree Ray, and Sarah. The funding budgets for research into cancer get bigger each year – yet parallel to this the rate of people getting cancer continues to get higher and higher. Yes people may be living longer with cancer or in remission, but none the less the root of cancer hasnt been ‘nailed’ as yet. As you say Sarah if we sit back and observe and join up the dots of what we see in our world today and how our bodies feel we can see that despite the technology, pharmaceuticals, research studies, medical care available – we are not getting to the bottom of what is going on. In life the answers are often right under our very nose and in this case this is absolutely it – our body which is right under our very nose – and the way we are living or running that body. Make any simple change towards deepening self care such as more hydration, going to bed earlier, trying and testing which foods feel nourishing and which dont we can soon feel a change in our body, and realise that we have the answers ourselves, if we take the time to feel, experiment and make new choices.

      1. The reason we do not want to look at these simple life choices in regards to supporting the rise in cancer is that because we want an answer to cancer that requires zero responsibility, that allows us to continue with everything we are doing and every way we are living but solves the cancer issue. If we don’t change the current trends and culture towards pharmaceutical companies solving our problems we are going to never truly heal cancer. The pharmaceutical companies need to be a support to life style changes not the other way around.

  28. I am reading a lot of articles that are saying similar things. Like this one they are not critical of a particular area or form of treatment but broadening our awareness around what is now a very popular disease. We often look for a one hit answer as a race of people when it would seem a rounded approach, considering and being aware of many things supports. Breast Cancer is running rampant from what I read and so this would tell us we are still missing the mark, so what’s next? It would seem from the break down in social skills and our care for ourselves and each other that a change maybe needed. Many are remembering times gone past were we acted and treated each other differently. We all need the support to return to something we are clearly walking further away from. This one, Breast Cancer is in particular direct for women, what are we or they missing because their bodies are screaming stop.

  29. Thank you for bringing to the fore that the way we live very much determines the quality of our everyday life and that we are not just victims to our DNA . We have a choice, always. And in every moment we can make this choice to be one that is caring and loving of ourself.

  30. Our bodies respond to an intelligence that is far more advanced than our current scientific understanding. But this not understanding does not mean it is not there and we cannot start to live it. When we connect to our body we in fact connect to an universal intelligence that is available to us all, not dependant on our level of education or mental brightness and will bring to us the choices in life that will eventually restore a natural balance in our bodies in which illness and disease will get a complete new definition.

    1. Yes Nico – sometimes in a moment of stopping we can feel there is more to life than meets the eye. I know I always felt tired and wanted to go to bed around 9 pm but everyone else around me went to bed later. There was and always has been something in my body that gets ‘pulled’ to a rhythm, one that is greater than what the eye can see – and the more I feel it, and the more I allow my body to show me the more I realise our body is connected to something far greater – a natural rhythm and order in the world – one that is always there waiting for us to connect to when we so choose, and one when we do choose feels the most natural thing in the world. Nowadays I go to bed around 9pm every day and my body loves it.

      1. I do know that too Jane, that there was always a feeling to do things different to what I had planned or was told to do. For instance with food. Already from young I remember disliking drinking milk, but everything in my immediate environment pushed me in a way to just do it and with that came many arguments, from ‘it is healthy for you and everybody else likes it so why don’t you’ to ‘you just have to learn to drink it’ or ‘you must finish your milk before you can go back to your playing’. All this pushing made me at the end accept milk and other diary products as part of my diet and by doing so I numbed my body so I was not that aware anymore but the fact still remained that my body did not like milk in any type shape or form as it clearly demonstrated to me with regular colds and a lot of mucus in the body. Now I have made the choice to not take any diary products anymore and my body really loves it and since then I rarely have a cold or blocked nose and I feel much more healthy and vital too.

  31. As a society we have a responsibility to remind woman that we do have choices, things may happen in our lives that are unexpected or tragic but there are always choices within these circumstances.
    What this article points out is the possibility that our lifestyle choices may have actually have an affect on our health and well being. Sure it may need more time to be proven in depths by sicence but that does not make it any less true.
    If you look at the sunset with the naked eye or a baby sleeping and then try to take a photo, it often cannot capture what is there in full, meaning technology is not always able to pick up what is in front of it like we can naturally. That does not mean that the baby or sunset is any less beautiful. We need to start to view Science as an amazing support, not the be all and end all. When we consider the past, Science said the earth was flat and there was simply no other explanation besides the fact that men would sail of the edge of its dangerous waterfalls.

    In truth it was known the earth was a sphere since ancient Egypt but it took a very long time for modern science to catch up.
    In the 1400’s they nearly caught up but there were only very few on board with this round concept and they were considered crazy. These few were people that dared to question, they were in fact tapped in to the intelligence of the body (something we all have access to, if we treat the vessel, the body we are given with care and love). These people were guided by their hearts, they new in them with no certain proof that the earth was round.
    The question is: are we brave enough to follow what we know is true when it comes to illness and disease: we all know that our choices affect us, that we cannot sit back and say that everything that happens has nothing to do with anything that we have absolutely no control…. For the human body in its wholeness, with the heart leading, holds more intelligence that any technology created by simply one organ, the brain.

    1. Indeed Sarah, in fact it is all there, the intelligence we can connect to is waiting for us to be discovered in our own bodies as these are tapped in to a wisdom that is far more than our human brains can imagine. We do not have to wait until science matches up with this wisdom and continue to suffer the results of that waiting in our body as illness and disease. We can become our own healer if we connect to that grander whole through our body and from that make the lifestyle changes that feel natural to us.

      1. The question on everyones lips is why do we resist and fight our body and our true intelligence so much? Why is it so hard to make the right choices that lead us home? Well…. I want to answer my own question here…When you leave home and go wayward and you are gone for a longtime, sometimes the right choices can feel wrong, foreign even, and the wrong choices feel familiar and can be feel right…. they are comfortable and this comfort feels like home. When you have been gone a longtime, home takes getting use to but when you settle back in you will wonder why you ever left.

      2. I can agree with that Sarah, coming home, there where we actually belong ,can make us start to wonder why and for what reason have we ever chosen to leave this place. But this to me is not important, important to me is that I am back home and to celebrate that and to live this with with all who I am and to understand that any tension I may feel is because I am asked to become more and to continue with my evolution, and not to, as I might have done in the past, to choose for that comfortable life by dulling this tension with any food, thought or behaviour.

      3. A wise man I know once said that if you cannot feel the tension in your life on a daily basis, then you have slipped into the comfort and a pattern, the tension is not overwhelming or dramatic, it does not need to be worked out or even worked on but if you allow yourself to feel it and allow others to feel it around you, it is in this place you will witness the unfolding and magic of evolution.

    2. Great point Sarah. There are many things in life that are so-called ‘normal’ yet, just because it is normal or mainstream it does not mean it is true or good for the body. And, often because everyone else does something we dont feel empowered to go against the tide even if our body is screaming at us. When I was 21 I tried drinking coffee and each time I got sick – palpitations, sweats, pain in my gut, and diarrhoea but I kept trying it as everyone else drank it. In the end I realised my body was telling me loud and clear it cant tolerate coffee – so I stopped trying and have lived my adult life without coffee. I love how our body shows us what it needs – whatever the latest ‘science’ study is telling us. Ive seen some studies that tell us coffee is good for us – I know absolutely that coffee is not good for my body and that for me is also science – my own science – the science of my body.

      1. That is very true Jane, we are walking taking instruments of truth, when we allow our bodies to communicate to us, they are the best proof of what is healthy for us and what is not.

  32. What I have come to to truly understand, lifestyle choices is to be with me always. Stay in-tune with my body. Know that it deserves all the love that only I know it deserves. ““You know your body better than any doctor does – and only you can know what’s right for you” (Rankin 2013).”
    Super article again Jane Keep! You again prove if you put the effort in to find answers they are there to be found, deep within.

  33. This is a great question Jane ‘Could lifestyle choices possibly play a role in supporting the prevention of diseases such as breast cancer?’ We all think about products face creams body lotion, living too close to chemical factories etc, but what about the everyday choices we make all the time, getting stressed about work or a situation, not being able to express what we want to say, all these choices have a profound effect on our body and our health.

  34. There is so much to consider around cancer and lifestyle and how our lifestyle choices can support us and in the event of any disease can assist us while we undergo the needed medical treatment. The biggest stand-out here is that we know our bodies and our best support no matter how our health is to live in a way that support those bodies of ours.

  35. There is much to consider here. While every man and woman has a choice in how they treat their body as in the case on Angelica Jolie having a double mastectomy surely it is worth studying and pondering on other approaches such as epigenetic’s to prevent illness and disease.

  36. Since this article was written 3 years ago there has been increasing recognition that lifestyle choices impact whether people get cancer and other diseases or not but it feels like we still have a long way to go in disseminating what this actually looks like for people and supporting them to start introducing dietary and lifestyle changes that will increase their general health and wellbeing and lessen their chances of developing disease. The media could play a really positive role in this if they chose to let go of the dramatic headlines and saw their purpose as serving humanity rather than their bottom line.

  37. “Could lifestyle choices possibly play a role in supporting the prevention of diseases such as breast cancer?” Absolutely. As Serge Benhayon has said ‘Life is Medicine’. In taking responsibility for the choices we make in the way we live we play an active part in our own health and well-being rather than relying on others to ‘fix’ us.

  38. Great points raised here Jane. The choices we make regarding our health and well-being absolutely need to be in the context of what is right for the individual, however there is much to be said for more conversations like this where we are presented with a range of other options to consider where we can support our own health and well-being (education, breast awareness etc.) which would support the overall detection and incidence of illness and disease.

  39. Jane, Your sharing of the findings of epigenetic’s is a consideration each of us could take when it comes to the health and wellbeing of our bodies. If we allow ourselves to be honest, we can feel the impact of each choice on our body, either we expand and feel vital from our choices, or we feel burdened and heavy. If we used this as our marker we would consider our choices more wisely and may begin to change those choices that feel burdensome and heavy. Just on choice change, could be the metabolic change in our body that prevents a disease.

  40. what a great holistic report to read, offering a wide variety of points of views. An addition of a personal spin to top it off. If all academic papers were written like this I would read more of them in my spare time.

  41. Through a continued commitment to caring for ourselves we begin to feel our bodies from the inside out so our breasts are felt in their fullness and/or their wholeness .This very real feeling of our breasts, in my experience, has made me even more caring of them and this extends from tender massage through to how I choose to move, what I consider to eat and the activities I choose to take part in. My whole way of being, my lifestyle if you like, was so much more male orientated and I was using male-type energy to get things done. What a huge difference when we begin to honour our beautiful womanliness and nurture this more delicate yet strong and powerful part of ourselves.

    1. Beautiful story Elaine. I was a ‘tomboy’ when I was younger, I liked my ‘sporty’ body, but it was hardened and tight and I had horrendous period pain/endometriosis so something wasn’t true in the way I was living. Nowadays my body is soft, tender, warm, and I love how tender it feels – the delicateness is finally coming out and just as you share it is a constant reminder to treat myself delicately and move delicately too.

      1. Thank you for your reply Jane, it brought me back to this page to be inspired again. It also makes me realise how much is going on in a day, how much we are processing the events that happen to us and how so important it is to treat ourselves like the precious beings we are in order for all of this unfolding to take place in the most gracious way possible.

  42. Jane this is a super informative blog, and full of information. It made me appreciate how knowing our own breasts is vitally important as we are best placed to notice any changes to them, and building that relationship up with them has helped me appreciate my connection to my whole body too.

    1. I agree Sally that it has been in building a connection with my breasts that this has not just been about my breasts but actually is about my relationship with my whole body. It was my lack of connection with my body for many years thus having no regard for it that contributed to developing breast cancer. Now having had surgery not just to fix the problem but as a learning to develop another way to be with myself as a woman I am learning the importance of whole body love and care which naturally contributes to the health of my breasts.

    2. great point Sally – whilst we can read about breast care, and others can tell us about it (e.g. our GPs) in the end it is down to us to take our own responsibility not just in connecting to our breasts and feeling how they are, but also in the daily living choices we make that can impact on our health and nurturance.

  43. Epigenetics is a field that is growing and is being taken more seriously in understanding mainstream health and wellbeing from conception throughout the lifespan. If environmental factors do have such a powerful influence as scientific research is suggesting, why then is there such negative media attention on Universal Medicine and the ways students are adjusting their way of life and noticing better health and wellbeing outcomes? Surely what is happening is worth reporting in a positive fashion so that others have the opportunity to also learn and adjust their lifestyles if they so choose.

  44. If you don’t know the cause of breast cancer you are reduced to finding connections. If the cause is something encompassing like how you live your entire life, then you will be overwhelmed by the large number of true connections but you will not find a comprehensive cure, let alone healing, that way.

  45. Love what you have presented here Jane. Breast cancer and breast cancer prevention are hot topics indeed. With the statistics showing alarming numbers of women each year being diagnosed with breast cancer, we do need to look at why this is happening and begin to address the situation. But our approach needs to consider the deeper roots of why the breast cancer is happening and why it is on the rise as much as it is, and hence when we look at the “preventative” strategies, though fine at first glance, we need to ensure that they are not just band-aid mechanisms that appear to address things but only do so on a superficial level – for even if a woman has a preventative double mastectomy, if she does not change the other things in her life (lifestyle, diet, addressing the way she feels and experiences life and levels of stress etc), she is essentially still ‘at risk’. There is so much we can do as women to care more deeply for ourselves, and it is time we took greater responsibility for this. We don’t have to be ‘victims’ – and whether we get breast cancer or not, we can be pro-active with our lifestyle choices and look at how to change the way we live in a way that truly supports us as the beautiful women that we are.

    1. I so agree Henrietta – “hence when we look at the “preventative” strategies, though fine at first glance, we need to ensure that they are not just band-aid mechanisms that appear to address things but only do so on a superficial level – for even if a woman has a preventative double mastectomy, if she does not change the other things in her life (lifestyle, diet, addressing the way she feels and experiences life and levels of stress etc), she is essentially still ‘at risk’.” Our healthcare services can have a tendency to focus on ‘fixing’ and they do a great job, but in society we dont seem to have a longer term – prevention, or bringing understanding to the root of our ills and the consequences of the way we live. Only when we truly look at these will be start to get to the bottom of what is going on and why the rates of illness and disease continue to sky rocket.

    2. The point you make here “We don’t have to be ‘victims’ – and whether we get breast cancer or not we can be pro-active with our lifestyle choices and look at how to change the way we live in a way that truly supports us as the beautiful women that we are.” is truly valuable as often articles like this are read and unless a woman has breast cancer they are not fully taken notice of. Every time we hear of someone we know or any woman with breast cancer there is an opportunity to take stock and look at how we are in relationship with ourselves as a woman.

      1. True Julie – and why wait until we have an illness or disease to take care of ourselves? we have that choice every single day to take care of ourselves – arent we worth taking care of?

  46. Jane thank you for a brilliantly presented article balancing a spread of research and your personal experience. Very wise words that each woman choice is to be respected and the fact that you may have offered a very significant blog to encourage women to so their own research is excellent.

    1. Its a good point you make Simon – too often in life (I know I have) we take things on face value or put up with things or are led by the latest research into this or that – when we have a choice, and there is much we can understand by understanding ourselves in the world and what our body feels – which is as you say our own research.

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