March 2014: Activate Your Lymphatic System
As I write this from my daughter's apartment in Goa, India, I am aware of the alarming rise in breast cancer in the developing world, and ponder the possible causes. Is it because women are having their children later, having fewer children, are breastfeeding less, and have increased stress as they manage home and work? Is it the prevalence of hormone-disrupting plastics, heavy metals and pesticides? Is it a more Westernized lifestyle in urban areas, with increased ingestion of alcohol, less exercise and more weight gain in the well-to-do? Whatever the causes, it's urgent that we delineate a global prevention plan.
The Indian Council of Medical Research determined that 10 out of every 100,000 women living in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, and Bangalore were diagnosed with breast cancer about 10 years ago, compared with 23 women per every 100,000 today. The rate has more than doubled in the last 10 years. Another recent global study commissioned by GE Healthcare, estimated that by 2030, the incidence of new cases of breast cancer in India will increase from today's estimate of 115,000 to around 200,000 per year.
This month we'll focus on the many ways you can improve your lymphatic circulation to protect your breasts. We invite your participation, stories, recipes, community events and feedback! Please continue to share what you learn, pass the newsletter along, and be part of a global breast health solution.
Also this month we are pleased to welcome Kathrin Brunner to our editorial team.
Sat Dharam Kaur ND
Creator of the Healthy Breast Program, co-founder MammAlive Foundation
Julie Groulx RMT
Healthy Breast Program co-ordinator, co-founder MammAlive Foundation
Upcoming Healthy Breast Training Programs
The Healthy Breast Program is now composed of three different streams: the Healthy Breast Foundations Program, the Healthy Breast Yoga Program and the Healthy Breast Practitioner's Program.
We have several Healthy Breast Programs coming up soon. If you have already attended one of these programs, you may attend the same program again at half price. For groups of ten people attending the
Healthy Breast Program and/or Mind-Body Approaches to Cancer and Health, each person in the group can attend at half price. Bring your patients, colleagues and friends!
Mind-Body Approaches to Cancer and Health with Dr. Gabor MatÚ, Toronto, May 30-31, 2014
The Healthy Breast Foundations Program, with Julie Groulx, China, April 23-27 2014, November 12-16 2014
The Healthy Breast Foundations 12 week Online Program, begins on the following dates June 6- August 29 2014, September 5- November 21 2014
The Healthy Breast 12 Week Foundations Program (with yoga class), with Julie Groulx, Toronto, Lotus Yoga Centre, www.lotusyogacentre.com, contact Julie for more information.
I am thrilled to partner with Dr. Gabor MatÚ
in teaching the program in May. For those of you who may not know him, he is a brilliant doctor and writer, author of "When the Body Says No" and several other wonderful books. Please come to the whole May course (Foundations + Yoga) if you can, or to his workshop May 30, 31.
What Restricts Your Lymphatic Circulation?
by Julie Groulx RMT
Did you know that the natural bounce of your breasts is the main method of drainage for your breast tissue?
We live in a culture that trains us at a young age to restrict the movement of our breasts. As adults, many of us wear improperly fitted bras, which leave red marks on our skin and restrict our breathing and lymphatic circulation, contributing to cyclical breast tenderness and eventual breast disease. The anatomy of our breasts is designed for movement. A rich network of vessels comprising our lymphatic system runs through our breasts and facilitates the transport of 75% of the lymph in your whole body!
Unlike blood vessels, the lymphatic vessels in our breasts don't have muscle pumps to assist the movement of fluid through them. A tight, improperly fitting bra is like a dam impeding the flow of lymphatic fluid, which works with our immune system to help eliminate toxins. If your breasts feel congested or painful, it usually means your lymphatic circulation is restricted. This will allow more toxins, such as pesticides, heavy metals and plastic resideus to accumulate in your breast tissue.
The following factors can impede the natural drainage of your breasts:
1) Musculoskeletal imbalances
Tightness in the pectoral muscles and fascia in the chest can act as an obstacle to the drainage of your breasts. Tight chest muscles affect posture, causing the shoulders to round inwards.
2) Poor posture
Many of us spend countless hours sitting at desks. Lack of exercise and slouching can decrease lymphatic circulation.
3) Tight clothing (including improperly fitted bras and chest binding)
If your bra leaves red marks that last for more than 20 minutes once you have removed it, it's too tight. If your shoulder straps leave marks on the top of your shoulders or the straps are digging in, your bra isn't doing it's job correctly. Underwire bras can put pressure on the tissue beneath, restricting lymphatic circulation. Minimize how many hours a day you wear a bra or other restrictive garment. Find a bra with wider, softer shoulder straps if you are large-breasted, and avoid underwire bras.
4) Radiation, chemotherapy, removal of lymph nodes
Radiation scars and chemotherapy can damage lymphatic vessels and lymph nodes, cause loss of muscle strength, and pain on movement. Practice techniques to help drain your tissues such as gentle stretching, yoga and lymphatic massage.
5) Scar tissue (surgical or functional)
Scars in breast tissue from plastic surgery, breast reductions and mastectomies (full or partial) impede drainage of fluid in the breasts. Self-massage, castor oil packs, and stretching of the shoulders, neck and chest can decrease scar tissue. Some massage therapists are trained in therapeutic breast massage.
6) Edema, lymphedema, congestion in the tissue
Localized swelling impedes overall lymphatic circulation. Manual lymphatic drainage from a therapist who is trained in treating lymphedema can help, along with compression garments, stretching, daily exercise, deep breathing, swimming and rebounding.
7) Stress and shallow breathing
Take regular breaks while working at home or at the office, getting up to move, stretch and breathe deeply for 11 minutes every 2 or 3 hours. Walk daily for 40 minutes, and practice deep breathing for 5-15 minutes a day until it becomes a habit. Deep breathing improves the circulation of lymphatic fluid.
Tips for Improving Lymphatic Circulation
The following practices can improve your lymphatic circulation and detoxify your tissue. These techniques can help you manage lyphedema and can also help to prevent it. Incorporate these tips into your life as daily or weekly habits.
- Dry brush massage
- Alternating hot and cold showers
- Regular exercise (40 minutes daily)
- Regular swimming (preferably in a non-chlorinated pool)
- Deep breathing
- Breast self-massage
- Lymphatic drainage massage
- Going braless so your breasts can move
- What goes on your skin is absorbed into your lymphatic system. Consider using natural moisturizers and beauty products.
- Make sure your bra is not too tight and avoid underwires - your bra should leave no red marks when you remove it
- Increase your water intake
- Practicing yoga for lymphatic circulation
For details on how to incorporate self-care for your lymphatic system, click here
This month the MammAlive team was invited to Toronto's Iyashi Bedrock Spa
to show love to our lymphatics, relax and enjoy their infrared sauna.
How to Prevent Lymphedema and Reduce Its Effects
Lymphedema is a chronic condition of local fluid retention that can be congenital or caused by damage to the lymphatic system. It is commonly seen after breast cancer surgery or radiation and can severely impact quality of life.
As part of surgery for breast cancer, most women have several or many lymph nodes removed from the underarm area. This prevents the lymphatic fluid from being drained properly, and fluid can build up in local tissues either on the side of the chest wall, the underarm area or in the arm or hand, resulting in discomfort, a feeling of heaviness and swelling in the limb. Sometimes there is discolouration of the skin over the swollen area, and increased susceptibility to infection. This trend in breast cancer treatment is slowly changing as research on lymphedema and its impacts on daily life increases. Although strategies to preventing its occurrence are becoming better known in breast cancer surgery, lymphedema can develop months or years after surgery or radiation. Taking simple precautions and preventative measures is recommended if you have had several lymph nodes removed whether or not you currently have lymphedema.
Click here to read more.
Research on Heavy Metals and Breast Cancer
by Sat Dharam Kaur, ND
One of the things I look for in my patients with breast cancer is heavy metal toxicity. I was surprised several years ago to learn that many of the heavy metals, such as mercury, can bind to estrogen receptors in breast cells and mimic the hormone estrogen. Collectively, they are known as metalloestrogens.
Mercury is by far the most common metalloestrogen detected in toxic metal urine tests. It is present in every person who has mercury amalgam dental fillings and every person who consumes fish. Often levels are extremely high. We can protect ourselves by replacing amalgam fillings with porcelain, avoiding fish, and doing a heavy metal detox for at least three months.
Certain heavy metals are implicated in breast cancer, either because they mimic the hormone estrogen or they are carcinogens, or both.
The metals iron, nickel chromium, copper and lead can cause DNA mutations and tumor growth. One study compared the levels of heavy metals in human breast cancer tumors as compared to benign breast tumors, and found that levels of iron, nickel, chromium, zinc, cadmium, mercury, and lead were higher in the cancer samples, suggesting that heavy metals encourage cancer growth. Other studies have found higher levels of alum-inum in the nipple fluid of breast cancer patients compared to healthy controls.
Another study deter-mined that the metals mercury, copper, cobalt, nickel, lead and tin can bind to the estrogen receptor, mimicking the hormone estrogen. Mercury chloride can stimulate the growth of breast cancer cells.
A 2014 study of cancer patients from the Malwa region of Punjab (where there are much higher cancer rates than the rest of India), found that breast cancer patients had elevated lead, uranium and barium in their hair samples, compared to healthy controls, likely derived from their water supply, as well as from soil and phosphate fertilizers. Uranium levels were double the amount in breast cancer patients compared to those found in a control group, and over six times higher than the normal reference range. Read more ...
It is important that each of us tests for heavy metals annually to determine if any heavy metals are present, and then undergo a detoxification regimen to remove them. Work with a naturopathic doctor to monitor and remove your toxic metal burden to protect your breasts.
|Video Abstract: "Hair metal concentration in healthy and cancer patients of Punjab"|
Say No to Heavy Metals!
Educate yourself on the sources of exposure for the heavy metals most likely to undermine breast health, and do your best to avoid or remove these sources. Here are some of the common sources of:
Mercury - fish, dental fillings, coal-fired power plants, pesticides, vaccinations, cosmetics, well water, fertilizers, floor wax, fungicides, thermometers, compact fluorescent light bulbs.
Cadmium - refined foods, drinking water, shellfish, seafood, liver and kidney meats, electroplating, fertilizers, silver polish, PVC plastic, car exhaust, motor oil.
Aluminum - pots and pans, antiperspirants, antacids, cosmetics, water supplies, baking powder, beer and pop cans.
Lead - calcium from bonemeal, soil, brass key rings, canned pet food, lipstick, hair dye, mascara, lead bullets, PVC containers, stained glass, pottery, old paint, car batteries, cable coverings, toothpaste.
Tin - canned food, tin foil, jewellery.
Nickel - cocoa, nuts, hydrogenated oils, water, tobacco, sewage sludge, dental crowns and bridges, stainless steel manufacturing, car exhaust, car batteries, tires, brakes, baking powder, cigarette smoke, coal powered generators, cooking ware and utensils, fertilizers, batteries.
Uranium - food, soil and drinking water where uranium levels are higher. Phosphate fertilizers (used on cotton). Root vegetables such as potatoes, parsnips, turnips and sweet potatoes contribute the most uranium to diet. Exposure is higher if you live near uranium mining, processing, and manufacturing facilities or where depleted uranium weapons have been used.
Barium - in air where barium is mined, refined or produced; burning of coal and oil, fish and seafood, soil contamination, barium enemas.
Selenium: A Natural Defence
by Julie Groulx, RMT
Studies have shown that selenium, a trace element naturally present in many foods, reduces the effects of heavy metals on your health, supports normal thyroid function and may decrease breast cancer risk.
Plant foods are a major source of selenium. The selenium content of foods can vary depending on the minerals present in the soil they are grown in. The recommended daily allowance for adults is 55 mcg per day.
Here is a list of foods high in selenium to incorporate in your diet this month to support your health.
- Brazil nuts
- Shiitake mushrooms
- Sunflower seeds
- Oat bran
- Sesame seeds
- Chia seeds
- Whole grains
- Brown rice
Changing dietary habits takes time. Reduce consumption of animal protein and fish as you increase vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds.
Please share how you protect your body from heavy metals on our Facebook page.
Click here to read how selenium may reduce the risk of many cancers, including breast cancer.
Be an Activist: Eliminate Aluminum in Antiperspirants
Each month we'll focus on an environmental initiative to lend our voices to a greener, safer earth. This month our focus is on phasing out aluminum in antiperspirants.
Please sign and pass along (share via email and facebook) this petition to the Canadian government to ban aluminum in antiperspirants and deodorants. Petition
Some deodorants and antiperspirants that do not contain aluminum or parabens are made by Weleda, Aubrey and Burts Bees.
Our March Breast Health Challenge
Reduce your heavy metal exposure!
- replace aluminum cookware with stainless steel, ceramic or glass
- avoid antiperspirants or deodorants that contain aluminum and use the do-it-yourself deodorant below or one from the following companies: Weleda, Aubrey or Burt's Bees
- consult a biological dentist about replacing mercury fillings with porcelain or glass fillings. You can find a biological dentist here.
- stop eating fish/seafood to decrease mercury and cadmium levels
- see a naturopathic doctor to test for heavy metal toxicity - the most accurate method is by using a 6 hour urine sample after taking a chelator such as DMPS.
- take 3000mg vitamin C on a regular basis and eat 45 grams of fiber a day to help eliminate toxic metals
- use the cilantro pesto recipe below regularly to pull out toxic metals
Love Your Body
Love Your Pits DIY Deodorant
by Kathrin Brunner, CNP
Do you love your armpits and your lymphatic system? Commercial deodorants contain a number of different toxins that do NOT. Treat your body this month by wearing natural deodorant!
Here is a list of ingredients to look out for and to avoid when purchasing deodorants:
- Aluminum is often found in antiperspirants because it blocks your sweat ducts. It also disrupts your hormones and is toxic to your brain in large doses.
- Phthalates are linked to reproductive disorders and can be hidden under the listing, 'fragrance'.
- Parabens are estrogen-mimickers that have been found in breast cancer tissue.
- Triclosan disrupts the hormones and affects our thyroid and reproductive glands.
- Benzyl alcohol is a skin irritant.
- BHT, butylated hydroxytoluene, are skin irritants and allergens.
- Fragrance, this unregulated term can contain highly allergenic ingredients, phthalates and other hormone disruptors.
I know it can be a struggle to find a natural deodorant that works so, I made my own and hit success with this really simple recipe.
1/4 cup baking soda
1/3 cup arrowroot powder (or organic cornstarch)
20 drops tea tree essential oil
20 drops lavender essential oil (or other preferred oil for scent)
5-8 Tbsp coconut oil (depending on the consistency you'd like)
This is why it works so well:
Coconut oil works well in DIY deodorants because it's antimicrobial (bye bye smelly bacteria) and healing for the skin (so long razor burn). Baking soda kills bacteria, neutralizes odour, and soothes itch. Arrowroot powder helps to absorb excess moisture. Essential oils, like lavender and teatree, are antimicrobial, heal the skin and add a nice scent.
Please share your favourite natural body care recipes with us on our Facebook page.
Recipes of the Month
This green drink has become a staple for me as well as my patients. It decreases sugar cravings, alkalinizes the body, supplies easily digested protein and helps cleanse the liver and kidneys. It makes a great morning meal, and can be sipped throughout the day.
1 medium avocado
2 cups fresh spinach or kale
3/4 cup cucumber (1/2 cucumber)
few sprigs parsley
1 Tbsp fresh ginger root
2 cloves garlic
2 Tbsp hemp seed powder
2 tsp ground flaxseed
2 tsp ground chia seed
juice of 3 limes
╝ tsp cayenne
pinch sea salt
2 cups water
Put all ingredients in food processor or blender and blend. This quantity should equal approximately one litre plus one cup. Drink one cup and pour the rest into a 1 litre mason jar and drink throughout the day at meal times, making more if needed. Refrigerate between meals.
Sat Dharam's Cilantro Chelation Pesto
Fresh cilantro, or Chinese parsley, draws mercury, lead and aluminum from the body.[i][ii] This delicious pesto can be eaten daily after removal of dental fillings, during a metal detox or any time at all!
4 cloves garlic
1/3 cup Brazil nuts (for selenium)
1/3 cup sunflower seeds (for cysteine)
1/3 cup pumpkin seeds (for zinc, magnesium)
2 cups packed fresh cilantro, or Chinese parsley
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 tbsp. lemon juice (for Vitamin C)
2 tsp. dulse powder (for minerals)
Bragg's liquid aminos (to taste)
Process the cilantro and oil in a blender until the cilantro is chopped. Add the garlic, nuts and seeds, dulse and lemon juice and mix until the mixture is finely blended into a paste. Add a squirt of Bragg's to taste and blend again. Store in dark glass jars if possible. It freezes well, so purchase cilantro in season and fill enough jars to last through the year. Use daily for at least 3 weeks as an annual detox for mercury, lead and aluminum. It's great on baked potatoes, pasta, toast, with rice or as a vegetable dip. Make it part of your fall cleansing routine.
[i] Aga M, Iwaki K, Ueda Y, Ushio S, Masaki N, Fukuda S et al. Preventive effect of Coriandrum sativum (Chinese parsley) on localized lead deposition in ICR mice. J Ethnopharmacol. 2001 Oct;77(2-3):203-8.
[ii] Omura Y, Beckman SL. Role of mercury (Hg) in resistant infections & effective treatment of Chlamydia trachomatis and Herpes family viral infections (and potential treatment for cancer) by removing localized Hg deposits with Chinese parsley and delivering effective antibiotics using various drug uptake enhancement methods. Acupunt Electrother Res. 1995 Aug-Dec;20(3-4):195-229.
Healthy Breast Program at the JCC in Toronto
For the third time, the Healthy Breast Program is being offered as a series to the public at the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre in Toronto at Spadina and Bloor on Wednesday afternoons 12:15-1:45pm, beginning April 2-June 18. Thank you to Daya Kaur for teaching this initiative. If you know anyone in Toronto who can benefit, please pass on the link.
Healthy Breast Program Travels to China
Our gratitude goes to Julie Groulx who will be teaching the Healthy Breast Foundations program in China, April 23-27, 2014.
Our Annual Fundraisers!
MammAlive Foundation Update
We are excited to share that we have applied for non-profit status to support our mission of creating a global community of women educating women in breast health and cancer prevention.
We'll be holding two annual fundraisers that our Healthy Breast Educators can initiate annually in their own communities. Two of our fundraising goals this year are to create scholarships for the Healthy Breast Foundations program and to generate funds to offer our programs free of charge in underserved communities and two Toronto hospitals in 2015.
Please contact Julie if you would like to attend or contribute to one of our events, organize a local fundraiser, sponsor a student or host one of our workshops. Help us spread the word about breast cancer prevention!
Healthy Breast Yogathon, Saturday Oct 4, 2pm- 6pm, Lotus Yoga Centre, Toronto
Experience yoga to stimulate your immune system, improve your lymphatic system, and increase awareness of breast health. Support the Mammalive Foundation with your class donation. Every small contribution counts.
The MammAlive Foundation was founded in 2012 by Sat Dharam Kaur and Julie Groulx to support a vision of women empowering women through breast health education.
The causes of cancer are multi-factorial and there are preventative strategies that are available today. Empowering women to take a proactive approach in preventing or reversing the disease is essential. This can be achieved by forming a global network of healthcare practitioners, yoga teachers and advocates who are passionate about women's health. We can spread our message of hope, wellness and accountability towards global change for one another, our daughters and Mother Earth. We invite you to work with us. You may forward this ezine to friends, students and patients by clicking below.