Interviewer: Helayne, you co-authored a book called "The Whole-Food Guide for Breast Cancer Survivors." You can talk about that a little bit and how that book came out.
Helayne: Well, I got particularly interested in this topic several years ago when I lost my dad. He died of lung cancer. And in the subsequent years I lost an aunt and one of my dearest friends. So that's what really got me very motivated to learn as much as I could about this topic. And I was teaching then at a school called Bauman College and the director of that school also had a very personal interest in cancer and I suggested we team up and do something about that and the book is the result.
Interviewer: How much work goes into something like that? Research?
Helayne: A lot. There is years of research that goes into a project like this. If you have taken a look at the book, you'll see that most of what we do is backed up by at least one or usually a lot more than one study. And so it takes a long time to go into pub med and go into the literature and really get a handle on what sort of research has been done on the topics you're looking at. And what kinds of hypotheses it supports.
Interviewer: Talk about that research a little bit. Let's start with the main risk factors of breast cancer. Do we have a good handle on what those are?
Helayne: I think we have a very good handle on what the risk factors are for breast cancer. We don't know them all and there's certainly some genetic susceptibilities that come into play, but what the research is telling us more and more is that it's the, what we call the terrain of the body that really is what sets the stage. As somebody puts it at this conference, Cancer Controls Society, yesterday, you can load the gun, but something's got to pull the trigger. So we're all kind of loading the gun with toxicity in our environment and with physical and mental and emotional stress and with the standard American diet, which is highly, highly toxic to ourselves and to our metabolism in general. So we're all loading the gun. If we get into a situation where we become very inflamed or we have some kind of a triggering event, and inflammatory event or it could be an emotional event or sometimes it's an event that involves the teeth, a root canal, an infection or something that pulls that trigger, that can actually put us into, take the cancer cells that have kind of been quietly circulating around in our system and bring them into an active state.
Interviewer: When you talk about terrain, how much of a factor is diet?
Helayne: Well, I'm a nutritionist. So I think diet is virtually everything. Obviously it's not because we've got environmental toxicities and then we've got physical fitness level and we've got mental and emotional and spiritual health as well. But that said, I will say that diet is huge because diet is what goes in and out of us every single day. And diet is not just fuel. You know people think of diet as sort of like the fuel you put in your car. But it's a lot more than fuel you put in your car. It's also the leather seats and it's the steering wheel and it's the brakes and it's everything. It's the engine. It's the radiator. Because the food that we put in becomes the building blocks of ourselves. It gets incorporated as raw materials for various parts of our body. So what we're eating is becoming our body. And if we're eating, for example, margarine which is plastic, then our bodies are becoming plastic.
Do we have a good idea of what some causes of many cancers including breast cancer are? Helayne Waldman is a nutritionist and author of a book on breast cancer. She discusses what her years of research found on the topic and what some of the 'triggers' for cancer might be. Learn about what she found and what research points to as a major risk factor for breast cancer.
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