If you live in a toxic dump, or you have NEVER eaten a vegetable, or you are always stressed out, there is a possibility that one factor has caused you to get cancer. More often, though, cancers are caused by a combination of elements that have created an enviroment for cancer to proliferate. Not enough oxygen, too much sugar, a compromised immune system, abnormal pH levels, clogged digestive tract, toxins, parasites and some say viruses can all contribute to a cancerous environment.

Listed on this page are some underlying contributors to this disease:

hereditary genes
hormonal imbalance
poor diet
toxic focus
pesticides/environmental toxins
endocrine disrupters
being tall
sleep apnea

Hereditary Genes
Three out of every four women who are diagnosed with breast cancer do not have a family history of breast cancer. There are different types of breast cancer; lobular carcinoma, Pageant's disease, non-infiltrating ductal carcinoma, medullary carcinoma just to name a few. A cancer gene has been found but is responsible for a low percentage of breast cancer cases.

Hormonal Imbalance
There are different types of tumors. Lumps can be tested to see if they "estrogen receptive" or "progesterone receptive" which means they are hormonally influenced. Up to two-thirds of breast cancer tumors are estrogen or progesterone receptor positive. This is significant because these tumors tend to grow relatively slow. This test could influence treatment decisions as there are drugs that binds to estrogen receptive cells. Another test that can be done on a lump measures its rate of growth. Some tumors grow rapidly while others take years to grow. A slow growing tumor may not be much of a threat to an octogenarian.

Radioactive substances are made up of unstable atoms that can harm the body. A radioactive element is structurally similar to its nonradioactive counterpart, differing only in the number of neutrons it contains. If you do not obtain sufficient amounts of calcium, potassium, and other nutrients in your diet, the body will absorb the radioactive elements that are similar in structure to these nutrients. For instance, radioactive strontium-90 is similar in structure to calcium. If someone who is deficient in calcium is exposed to this radioactive substance, the body will absorb it and attempt to utilize it as though it were calcium. Likewise, radioactive cesium-137, which is similar to potassium will be absorbed by the body if it does not maintain sufficient levels of potassium.

Victims of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster were given large amounts of iodine in an attempt to prevent their bodies from absorbing the radioactive iodine-131 from the fallout. In the neighboring towns of a nuclear plant in Tennessee, the Tennessee Valley Authorities issued iodine pills to the population as a preventative even though there were no documented emission of radiation from the plant. Iodine is needed by the thyroid to produce hormones that help regulate certain body processes. Radioactive iodine-131 in the thyroid could cause damage to nearby cells and decrease the functioning ability of the thyroid.

Modern mammography equipment uses very small doses of radiation and does not cause an increased risk of breast cancer. Since X-rays do accumulate in the body, you want to minimize the amount of X-rays you receive.

Although the practice of mammography has had little impact on the number of fatalities from breast cancer, it still can be instrumental in early diagnosis of breast tumors. Early diagnosis followed by early treatment is the best weapon we have against breast cancer today. Getting a mammogram is no substitute for a self exam where you check your breasts physically and visually for any changes.

Microwave ovens no longer use radiation; they use sound waves to raise the temperature of food. However, there is increasing concern that microwaving in plastic containers could be harmful as the process can cause harmful chemicals to be absorbed by the food. Some microwave ovens can cook unevenly which means harmful bacteria could proliferate and cause illness.

Poor Diet
High estrogen can contribute to breast cancer. A poor diet makes it difficult for the liver to rid the body of excess estrogen.

The average American diet is chromium deficient due to the lack of chromium in our soil and water and by a diet high in refined white sugar, flour and junk foods.

American soils are deficient in 75 minerals. In the US, it is common practice to refurbish depleted soils with nitrogen fertilizers. Science News (136:255, 1989)
Research indicates that this process reduces the vitamin C content of vegetables. Furthermore, it has been observed that the gassing of tomatoes, bananas, and other produce to improve and hold their colors for longer periods of time actually diminishes their vitamin C content drastically.

Pasteurization of orange juice reduces Vitamin C content (heat kills Vitamin C). Saturated fats bind with Vitamin C in the body. Foods high in sugar remove Vitamin C from the body. Studies show that 70 percent of Americans between the ages of 15 and 55 have insufficient levels of Vitamin C in their bloodstreams.
Freezing destroys Vitamin E.

John Heinerman, Ph,D., in his book Dr. Heinerman's Encyclopedia of Nature's Vitamins & Minerals, discusses nutritional deficiencies and the role they play in our health. This book discusses nutritional therapy and sites many scientific studies and case histories.

Toxic Focus
"A focus has been described as a chronic, abnormal, local change in connective tissue, capable of producing the most varied distant effects beyond its immediate suroundings, and therefore in constant conflict with local and general defence."    pg 117, Cancer A Second Opinion
Root canal filled teeth, infected teeth and chronically-diseased tonsils and even a fully-healed scar may sometimes act as a focus depleting the immune system of its defense. These are potentially large sources of toxicity and may contribute to a host of degenerative conditions.

Read more about the effects of root canals on the immune system.

Falling victim to stress can have a strong effect on our health. Stress produces biochemical changes, many of which have negative effects on health. Lack of time, too much work, family problems, financial worries are stress factors that we all must manage.

Stress is specific physiological responses to perceived or real external or internal demands placed upon a person. Stress responses, the bodies way of preparing itself for fight or flight, can be observed in a number of observable symptoms - sweaty palms, tight neck muscles, an upset stomach. Other symptoms, like elevated blood pressure, higher cholesterol, hormonal imbalance and lower resistance to disease, are harder to see but can be very detrimental to your health. Excessive worry and anxiety, feeling keyed up, and having no interest in intimacy are all signs of too much stress.

Stress produces "stress hormones" that increase the production of arachidonic acid, from which the body makes prostaglandins that increase platelet stickiness, blood pressure, water retention and inflammation. These are protective in the jungle for fight or flight. Stress reduction is an important healing factor for breast cancer patients. Meditating or finding a quiet place inside yourself allows us to leave stresses outside.

Pesticides, chlorine, formaldehyde and other environmental toxins/plastics
"More than 75,000 chemicals inhabit your environment."

"Chemical carcinogens enter our bodies through the food we eat, the water we drink, the air we breathe, through our houses and work places, via our automobiles, toxic waste dumps and waste incinerators and even from our fields and lawns."

These quotes are from a MAMM magazine article by Helen Caldicott, MD called Toxic Soup. I first read papers by Caldicott some fifteen years ago when she spoke out against the hazards of nuclear waste and nuclear bombs. She has always been a well-versed advocate of the environment. In Toxic Soup, Caldicott reveals the coincidental increase of breast cancer (1% per year since 1940) and the production of synthetic chemicals that has increased 350 times from 1940 to 1982. Here are just a few facts from the four page article:
  • 4.5 billion pounds of pesticides are spread on parks and agricultural fields each year.
  • 65% of fresh fruits and vegetables contain detectable pesticides and the U.S. federal agencies can only detect half of the 400 poisons that pollute our food.
  • Chlorine, used to clean our water, is a carcinogen. Chlorine reduces intestinal flora, causing immune system to be active during digestion thereby reducing immune function for fighting disease and ridding the body of toxins.
  • Organochlorines (chemicals that contain chlorine) are used in insecticides, defoliants, plastics, solvents, soaps, detergents, cosmetics, refrigerants and dry cleaning fluids. 15,000 different organochlorine compounds have been released into our environment.
  • Organochlorines bear a strong structural and functional resemblance to estrogen and can mimic this hormone in both humans and animals.
  • One corporation, Zeneca Groups, earns more than $1.5 billion per year selling herbicides, one of which is the suspected human carcinogen acetochlor. Zeneca Groups also earns more than $500 million selling Tamoxifen and operates a chain of seven cancer treatment centers in the United States, including Cedar-Sinai Comprehensive Cancer Center in Los Angeles and St. Vincent's Hospital Comprehensive Cancer Center in New York City.
  • Breast Cancer Awareness Month was initiated by Imperial Chemical Industries, Zeneca's former parent company. This preventative drive focuses on lifestyle factors and does not adequately address how the chemical industry continues to pollute with impunity.
  • While the chemical industry has no right to contaminate our environments and our bodies, we participate in this chemical madness by demanding worm-free apples, perfect vegetables, plastic products, bug-free houses, weed-free lawns, dry-cleaned clothes, white paper, cardboard containers and disposable diapers.
For more information on Organochlorines and Breast Cancer:
1017 West Jackson
Chicago, IL 60607
Greenpeace (Canada)
185 Spadina Avenue
Toronto, Ontario, MST 2C6


What can you do to protect yourself from pesticides and other chemicals?

Endocrine Disrupters
Some man-made chemicals have the potential to disrupt the endocrine system of animals and humans because they are closely related chemically to the estrogens in our body. These "environmental estrogens" can mimic the effects of natural hormones or block them from functioning properly. This can result in birth defects, immune problems and cancer.

Natural environmental estrogens are called phytoestrogens and are found in legumes, garlic, carrots, apples and coffee. When eaten in large amounts, plants containing these phytoestrogens can limit the reproduction of their predators. Phytoestrogens are not stored by the body and so do not cause permanent damage.

Synthetic environmental estrogens, however are not easily broken down and have been found to be more detrimental to animals and humans. These artificial estrogenic molecules are referred to as endocrine disrupters and can be found pesticides, plastics, detergents, lacquers and other everyday materials.

Because they do not break down easily, remain in the environment for long periods of time, accumulate within tissue (because they are fat soluble) and are stored in animal tissue, endocrine disrupters have a tendency to accumulate at the top of the food chain. Therefore eating meats (beef, chicken, pork, fish and egg) or drinking milk of animals who have accumulated pollutants in their system is a likely source for humans. The amount of ingestion through air, water or plant foods would be substantially low.

Dioxin, a byproduct of several industrial processes, most prominently from paper mills, has been linked to reproductive problems. In high enough concentrations, this compound (carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and chlorine) will harm the immune system. Dioxin has been linked to human reproductive problems and is suspect to play a role in the increasing occurrences of breast, testes and prostate cancers.

Living in an Affluent Society
Now that we've made you paranoid about your environment, let's take a look at the opinion of David Plotkin, M.D. in his lengthy article "Good News and Bad News About Breast Cancer." Plotkin believes that the increasing incidences of breast cancer are influenced by our societies affluence. Because women today live longer, begin menstruating younger, breast feed less and reach menopause at an older age than our ancestors, they are subjected to fifteen to twenty times more estrogen-pregesterone cycles. Plotkin's article is informative and thorough. (24 pages long)

According to the authors of "Dressed to Kill" there is even a significant connection between breast cancer and the practice of wearing bras.

My opinion Interesting concept and well documented small scale study, but it does not explain the lack of correlation between the rising breast cancer rates from the 50's and the, in my opinion, larger availability of more comfortable bras. At the turn of the century, undergarments were harnesses. In the sixties many women took their bras off. Breast cancer incidences continued to rise during the bra burning era.

On the other hand, a large majority of breast lumps occur on the upper and outer quadrant of the breast, as were mine and I noticed that the end of the underwire from my bra was rather close to my lumps. End of my opinion

Squeezing and/or pushing your breast up can be uncomfortable and can leave your breasts tender at the end of the day. Some women have breasts that change one whole cup size within their menstrual cycle. Singer's study showed that women who had experienced breast cancer had experienced more bra related discomfort than those who had not had breast cancer. His conclusion was that bra constriction played a role in the disease. But could the bra discomfort be caused by the same factors that caused the breast cancer? At any rate, if constriction is an issue, those of us who do choose to wear bras may benefit by wearing more comfortable bras.

Being Tall
July, 2011: New research published in The Lancet Oncology and based on data from 1.3 million individuals suggests that taller women are at an increased risk of a wide range of cancers. The reason why height equates to greater cancer risk remains a mystery.

According to Dr. Jane Green, lead author of the study, the link between greater, height and increased total cancer risk is similar across different populations from Asia, Australia,Europe, and North America.

The types of cancers which were found to increase with height include cancers of the breast, ovary, womb, bowel, leukemia, and malignant melanoma.

Sleep Apnea
The researchers from the University of Wisconsisn-Madison looked at cancer rates in more than 1500 people, in a study of sleep problems that has spanned 22 years. Sleep-disordered breathing (SDB), commonly known as sleep apnea, is associated with an increased risk of cancer mortality, according to the study.

While previous studies have associated SDB with increased risks of hypertension, cardiovascular disease, depression, and early death, this is the first human study to link apnea with higher rate of cancer mortality.

Lead author Dr. F. Javier Nieto, chair of the Department of Population Health Sciences at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, says the study showed a nearly five times higher incidence of cancer deaths in patients with severe SDB compared to those without the disorder, a result that echoes previous findings in animal studies.

"Clearly, there is a correlation, and we are a long way from proving that sleep apnea causes cancer or contributes to its growth," says Nieto, an expert in sleep epidemiology. "But animal studies have shown that the intermittent hypoxia (an inadequate supply of oxygen) that characterizes sleep apnea promotes angiogenesis-increased vascular growth - and tumor growth. Our results suggest that SDB is also associated with an increased risk of cancer mortality in humans."

May, 2012: According to research to be published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, those affected by severe sleep disordered breathing (SDB) are 4.8 times more likley to develop cancer than those who are not. Those with moderate SDB are at double the risk, and those with only slight SDB have a 10% increased risk of developing cancer. Read more at

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