Category Archives: cancer
I have received many requests to share a natural sunscreen recipe. I developed this recipe several years ago because I wanted to be able to protect myself from sunburn without exposing myself to the harmful chemicals found in most OTC sunscreens. I have found it to be very effective. Please note you may need to apply it more frequently than other sunscreens.
This time of year, it’s not uncommon to hear many frightening warnings about the “dangers of sun exposure.” These warnings make me cringe. The truth is that sun exposure is very beneficial to our health. Severe sunburn is not. Recent research found skin cancer is not caused by simple sun exposure but is caused by severe sunburn. In addition, several studies found the most common ingredients in OTC sunscreens actually CAUSE skin cancer. Even newer research discovered sun exposure (without sunscreen) increases the levels of nitric oxide in our system. Nitric oxide is known to lower blood pressure and improve heart health. Please read Shining Light on the Truth About Sun Exposure for more information about the necessity of sun exposure.
What’s the solution? Here are my tips for allowing sun exposure to improve health:
- Get 10-20 minutes of unprotected sun exposure every day. After you have a good base tan, it’s fine to spend longer periods of time in the sun as long as you do not burn.
- Use a natural sunscreen. See links at the end of this article to a few pre-made versions I really like.
- Keep a close eye on how much sun you’ve gotten. If you think you’re in danger of burning, take time to put on more clothing or to apply a natural sunscreen.
My sunscreen recipe follows. This is easy to make and has ingredients which are easy to find. I included links to make it easier to find the ingredients. Each of the oils used has a natural SPF ranging from 6-30. I added zinc oxide powder to the recipe to provide added protection. This sunscreen is very effective, but may need to be applied more frequently. You can feel free to add a few drops of essential oil to add fragrance if you like.
Good Works Wellness Natural Sunscreen Recipe
o 1/2 cup beeswax pastilles
o 1/2 cup unrefined shea butter
o 1/2 cup organic extra virgin coconut oil
o 3/4 cup combination of organic hempseed, macadamia nut or wheat germ oil(s)*
o 5 tablespoons zinc oxide powder
o Optional: 1/2 tablespoon essential oil
*You may use a single oil or a combination of oils to total 3/4 cup. Note you can make the natural sunscreen thinner by adding more liquid oil or thicker by adding less.
Gently melt the beeswax over a double boiler, then whisk in the other oils until all oils and butters are melted. Gradually stir in the zinc oxide powder and blend until well blended. Add essential oils after that if desired. This is best stored in a glass container.
Pre-Made Natural Sunscreens
If you don’t have time to make your own sunscreen, I recommend the following, some of which are water-resistant:
- Badger SPF 30 Natural Sunscreen (This one’s my favorite.)
- TruKids Children’s SPF 30 Natural Sunscreen
- Nature’s Gate SPF 50 Water-Resistant Natural Sunscreen
Photo Courtesy of Rhys Asplundh
Last Saturday I was honored to participate in the March Against Monsanto, a global march protesting genetically modified organisms (GMOs). I confess I’ve started and stopped this article multiple times since then. My desire to share truths about GMOs is so strong I had to resist writing a book on the subject. This post shares information designed to introduce you to the dangers of GMOs and to provide additional educational resources. I was surprised Saturday by how many people knew little about GMOs but were anxious to learn as much as they could. The following facts will hopefully inspire you to learn more and to make avoiding GMOs a priority:
- GMOs are banned or tightly restricted in over 60 other countries due to safety concerns, yet are not even labeled in the US. Countries includingJapan, Australia and all countries in the European Union have either banned genetically modified organisms or strictly limit their use. Don’t you think it’s odd other countries are concerned enough to ban or restrict GMOs, yet the US has done nothing? All of those countries also require genetically modified foods to be labeled. End result? Food manufacturers who bombard the market with foods containing GMOs in the US don’t use genetically modified ingredients in countries where their use is restricted.
- According to the Grocery Manufacturers Association, 75 to 80 percent of processed food in the US contains genetically modified ingredients. Many people eat GMOs in every bite of food throughout the day yet are completely unaware they are consuming genetic code that was forced into a combination which nature never intended.
- When plants are genetically modified, they have DNA snips from other species inserted into their genetic strand. This means genetic code from bacteria, fish, insects, goats and other organisms are commonly inserted into plant genes. Combining genetic code which nature never intended to be joined together requires the use of radiation and strong chemicals. The biotech companies often insist this genetic manipulation is the same thing as creating hybrid crops. The scientific process and manipulation used is in no way similar.The inserted gene snips typically contain genetic code intended to cause one specific change; however, genetic sequencing is so complex that the gene snips contain genetic code that could create large numbers of unknown and unanticipated effects. We are already beginning to see the effects of this in rising rates of chronic disease, food allergies, digestive disorders, etc.
- Foods containing GMOs are not tested for safety. The companies who produce the seeds are required to do their own “safety” testing on the seeds, but no long term testing has been done on how the foods grown from genetically modified seeds affect human health. Two recent studies showed genetically modified organisms negatively affect health in serious ways. (See References for links to those studies.) Most of the biotech companies selling genetically modified seeds require purchasers to sign an agreement stating they will not use the seeds for scientific study. This ensures NO outside agencies can conduct external safety studies. Not allowing the seeds to be subjected to scientific study would appear to be criminal, but is completely legal under current US laws.
- In the years preceding the introduction of genetically modified seeds into our food system, FDA scientists tasked with studying the seeds repeatedly warned the genetic manipulation could create unpredictable, irreversible side effects including increased levels of food allergies, toxic overload, nutritional depletion and new diseases. We have seen every one of their warnings come true, yet their insistence that long-term safety studies were needed was ignored. According to the Institute for Responsible Technology, “The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) doesn’t think [GMOs are safe]. The Academy reported that ‘Several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with GM food,’ including infertility, immune problems, accelerated aging, faulty insulin regulation, and changes in major organs and the gastrointestinal system. The AAEM asked physicians to advise patients to avoid GM foods.” Between 1997 and 2007, the incidence of food allergies in the US rose 25%, while the incidence of allergic reaction to food requiring hospitalization rose 256%. It is important to note the most rapidly rising allergens – soy and corn – are also the most prevalent GMO crops. Newer studies are proving the connection between GMOs and food allergies, but much more study is needed.
What You Can Do
Here are my top four recommendations for how to combat genetically modified foods:
- Educate yourself: Use the links shown below to learn as much as you can about GMOs and then dedicate yourself to educating others
- Stop buying them. Your dollars are votes. If you refuse to purchase products containing GMOs, companies will be forced to stop selling them. Use the Non-GMO Shopping Guide as a reference. Avoiding GMOs should include buying organic meat and produce and strictly buying grass-fed beef. (Most animals raised for slaughter in the US are also fed GMO crops. One cannot avoid GMOs while eating non-organic, mainstream meat.)
- Let your legislators know their GMO voting record will influence your decision to vote for them.
- When you see a notification about a petition to demand labeling or restrict usage, sign in. Online petitions are successful in growing numbers.
I recommend the following resources for additional education:
- Non-GMO Shopping Guide
- Institute for Responsible Technology: THE expert resource for scientific information on the dangers of GMOs
- Non-GMO Project: Verifies products do not contain GMOs
- Genetic Roulette: Powerful educational movie
- Seeds of Deception: Great book providing an overview of the situation
A famous actress, mother and philanthropist’s recent announcement that she had a double mastectomy as a preventive measure against breast cancer has everyone wondering what her true risks were and whether her decision was warranted or extreme. Please let me say I very much respect her decision and her desire to protect herself out of love for her children. Any decision related to cancer and other health matters is highly personal. There are no “right” or “wrong” decisions. I applaud her for taking control of her health and making the decision which was right for her. I also strongly encourage other women to do thorough research before making a similar decision.
Her decision was reportedly based on her family history of breast cancer (her mother died at age 57 after battling the disease for a decade) and the fact she was tested for and told she has a mutation in the BRCA1 gene.
What are BRCA1 and 2 Gene Mutations?
In their normal state, the BRCA1 and 2 genes help stop abnormal cell growth. They provide a natural form of protection against breast cancer. When these genes are mutated – typically by environmental toxins and other lifestyle factors, not solely heredity – they stop providing the protection they were designed to. If left unchecked, this may lead to an increased risk of breast cancer. If is important to note that only 2% of breast cancers result from a BRCA1 or 2 gene mutation, and that less than 0.25% of the population has such mutations. While researching this article, I spoke with and read quotes from multiple MDs and surgeons who are frustrated that many women are getting elective double mastectomies who do not have the BRCA1 or 2 gene defect.
Why Preventive Mastectomies Often Fail
Unfortunately, the following factors may make the decision to have a preventive mastectomy an extreme measure offering little or no protection:
- Only 2% of breast cancers involve BRCA1 or 2 genes; and approximately only 0.25% of the general population has the mutation.
- Women who had preventive mastectomies often get breast cancer in spite of having little or no breast tissue. Tumors form where breast tissue was previously.
- Women who have preventive mastectomies often believe they are “safe” and therefore fail to make simple lifestyle changes that greatly reduce their risk of developing breast cancer.
- Genes are activated and inactivated by environmental and lifestyle factors. Having the gene may statistically increase the likelihood of cancer developing, but it is not guaranteed and the likelihood can be diminished.
- One study found the risk primarily increased when women with a BRCA1 or 2 gene mutation had their breasts exposed to radiation – such as that from a mammogram. This is significant because women with known BRCA1 or 2 gene mutations are often advised to get a mammogram every three to six months. Although this recommendation is intended to help, the excess exposure to radiation can be very harmful.
- An article published in 2011 in The Journal of the American Medical Association reported the link between the BRCA genes and breast cancer was grossly overstated. The study found that preventive surgery, at best, may only add 3-6 years of life. This low gain in life expectancy exists because preventive surgery does not provide 100% protection from breast cancer, offers no protection from other cancers, and provides no protection against other causes of death.
What Are Other Options?
The cancer industry in the US treats cancer as an “inevitable” disease that cannot be prevented instead of encouraging people to live in a way that reduces the likelihood of cancer developing. The following tips for preventing and reducing the likelihood of developing breast cancer are based on scientific data and research:
- Have thermograms done to check for breast abnormalities and tumors instead of mammograms. Thermograms are an alternative form of scan with significantly lower risks and radiation exposure. Thermograms are also known to provide higher levels of detection.
- Eat your veggies. Several studies proved cruciferous vegetables contain a phytochemical which actually turns off mutated BRCA genes. This study found as little as one serving per day of cruciferous vegetables greatly reduced cancer risks. Indole-3-Carbinol (IC3) in broccoli has also been shown to reduce the activity of the BRCA genes.
- Get out in the sun. Multiple studies have identified a connection between breast cancer and low Vitamin D levels. A study done in 2009 determined 30% of breast cancers could be prevented if men and women would maintain adequate Vitamin D levels. (On a side note, a more recent study which concluded Vitamin D was of no benefit cannot be trusted because the study used a flawed protocol. The study did not use a high enough dosage of Vitamin D to make any difference in health outcomes.) One cancer study estimated that as many as 600,000 cases of breast cancer each year could be prevented if adequate Vitamin D levels were maintained. Vitamin D plays a powerful role in genetic expression and is also known to cause the death of cancer cells. Its value in treating and preventing breast cancer should not be underestimated. (It has been proven beneficial in preventing over 16 different cancers. Are your levels adequate?)
- Maintain normal weight and insulin levels. It is commonly recognized that obesity and insulin resistance (resulting in excess amounts of insulin in the bloodstream) are connected to breast cancer. Eating a diet low in high-glycemic carbohydrates can help with weight maintenance and may help improve insulin resistance. Regular exercise is also known to reduce the likelihood of developing cancer.
- The American Institute of Cancer Research estimates that about 40% of breast cancer cases in the US – or approximately 70,000 cases per year – could be prevented using simple lifestyle changes such as making better food choices, exercising more, and choosing a diet high in natural foods. Some experts think these numbers are actually a low estimate and that significantly more cases of breast cancer could be prevented by improved lifestyle habits.
- Consume adequate amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids and limit intake of Omega-6 fatty acids. Multiple studies have shown a connection between Omega-3 fatty acid deficiencies and breast cancer. These studies also found higher rates of breast cancer among women who had excess levels of Omega-6 fatty acids compared to their Omega-3 levels. Good food sources of Omega-3 fatty acids include wild salmon, chia seeds, walnuts, sardines, olive oil, hemp seeds and eggs. Taking an Omega-3 fatty acid supplement is also a valid option. I prefer Krill Oil due to its purity and because its fatty acid content provides other benefits.
As I stated previously, decisions related to health are very personal. I encourage you to do extensive research before making extreme choices.
BRCA Genes In Breast Cancer Chemoprevention, Eliot Rosen, National Institutes of Health
High Penetrance Breast and/or Ovarian Cancer Susceptibility Genes, National Cancer Institute, 3/4/2013
BRCA1 and BRCA2 as molecular targets for phytochemicals, British Journal of Cancer
Research Interests, Donaldo Romangolo, Bio 5 Institute, University of Arizona
Comparison of Effect Sizes Associated With Biomarkers Reported in Highly Cited Individual Articles and in Subsequent Meta-analyses, John P. A. Ioannidis, MD, DSc; Journal of the American Medical Association, 2011;305(21):2200-2210. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.713
Vitamin D for cancer prevention: global perspective; Garland, C.F., et al. 2009
Vitamin D and prevention of breast cancer: pooled analysis; Garland, C.F., et al. 2007
Estrogen and Insulin Crosstalk: Breast Cancer Risk Implications. The Nurse Practitioner. 2003
Opposing effects of dietary n-3 and n-6 fatty acids on mammary carcinogenesis: The Singapore Chinese Health Study. USC/Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, 2003
Regulation of tumor angiogenesis by dietary fatty acids and eicosanoids. Division of Nutrition and Endrocrinology, American Health Foundation. 2000
Graphics: All graphics in this post courtesy of Tips Times