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Why All the Pink Ribbons?
By Jen Morganti, ND, NEEDS Education Director

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so you'll see everything splashed in pink, from football players' cleats to soda cans. The pink ribbon symbolizes the Susan G. Komen Foundation's breast cancer awareness, but that doesn't make everything rosy. It does feel good to participate in a "Race for the Cure;" there's camaraderie; it's a fun event; and it may make us feel like we are doing something to help a friend or relative who has suffered from breast cancer. But if your genuine intent is to help find a "cure," you may be wise to send resources elsewhere; it's estimated that only 20% of Komen funds go towards actual research. Their bigger focuses are on community services, education, and screening. However, their style of education does not focus on what you might expect, such as good nutrition or supplements for healthy breasts. And as the medical community is currently debating the parameters for recommended breast screening, we might also question the necessity for that Komen service. If you're considering a donation to Komen, keep in mind that the expenses to run this type of organization are enormous, and so are the upper management salaries. If you're interested in contributing towards breast cancer research, consider other organizations, such as the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation. Be sure to do your research on any charity you choose to send your donations, making sure that their values and priorities are in line with your own.

If you want to promote breast health awareness in October, but choose not to join the pinkwashing trend, what are your alternatives? You could focus on sharing information with friends and family about healthy food and lifestyle choices to support healthy breasts. Start with the basics: avoid processed foods, artificial sweeteners, and trans fats. Help educate others on how to incorporate healthy food choices such as whole grains, vegetables and fruits, and organic protein sources. And set a good example. Research shows that when we practice healthy habits ourselves, it's more contagious to the people around us rather than if we just talk about it.

Keep Estrogen in Check

Estrogen dominance tends to be one of the main culprits with gynecological problems, and it seems to be starting at a younger and younger age now. To restore balance, look for herbs and nutrients that support detoxification and metabolism of estrogen. The liver is the key organ in estrogen metabolism, but with the many environmental toxins assaulting it daily, the liver can be overloaded and incapable of efficiently processing excess hormones. Some of the toxins it deals with are actually "xenoestrogens," chemicals which can trigger a hormone-type response in the body and increase the burden further.

Two nutrients have been researched and shown to be critically important for metabolizing estrogen properly. Nutrients such as DIM (found in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli) and calcium D glucarate can support the metabolism of estrogen into healthy forms (estriol) rather than potentially harmful forms. Supporting the liver with these nutrients helps keep hormones in balance and contributes to healthy breast cellular structure.

Phytoestrogens, such as lignans (extracted from pine) and isoflavones (isolated from soy), function as selective estrogen receptor modifiers. They help block certain estrogen receptor sites on cells, thus preventing "bad" estrogen from exerting its harmful effects. Phytoestrogens are known to have a gentle and safe estrogen effect and are also used in menopause to alleviate related symptoms.

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