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Mitchell Gaynor

Mitchell L. Gaynor, M.D. is Founder and President of Gaynor Integrative Oncology and Clinical Assistant, Professor of Medicine at Weill Medical College, affiliated with Cornell University and New York Hospital.[…]

Oncologist Mitchell Gaynor on how eating right and meditating can help prevent breast cancer.

Mitchell Gaynor: Well I think it's very important for people to work with their doctors, to work with nutritionists, to work with whoever their healthcare practitioner is to design the diet that does include a broad base of fruits and vegetables. One of the easiest ways of doing this is to go for the different colors because each of the colors represents different phytonutrients that's gonna have a different effect on the immune system, different antioxidants, a lot of different things. So you wanna have a very balanced diet, really the amount of fruits and vegetables that people you really need 6 to 8 servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Most people aren't getting close to that and one of the things I tell people, you know, if people say “Well I have to travel a lot" you know, “I have school activities to do with my kids after school, I don't have time to eat that much" is juicing, so you can buy a great vegetable juicer for $200 or $250 and you can juice every day. So I give people different juicing recipes depending on what their putting in their diet, things like carrot, celery, cacao, broccoli, cucumber, ginger, wheatgrass. There are a number of things that people can put in depending on what they're eating. It's a good way of getting a lot of those servings every day and quickly and it tastes good also and so then you wanna think about other foods that maybe you're not thinking of. I prefer my patients to try and eat organic as much as possible. One thing I do tell patients though, I'd rather have them eating fruits and vegetables that weren't organic rather than skipping 'em because they're not organic. Because I do believe the beneficial phytonutrients you're getting from fruits and vegetables outweighs the fact that they're not organic. But if you can find organic that's the best because you want to minimize what's called your toxic load. The toxic load is the total amount of toxins whether it's mercury that's coming from the longer live predator fish, so I'll tell people it's a good idea to get your mercury level checked. Everybody should know what their serum mercury is and that is really looking at methyl mercury. That's you're getting more from the longer live predator fish and those include tuna, shark, tile fish, swordfish and mackerel. Those are the longer live predator fish, the fish that eat other fish because there's a process called bio-accumulation so as any toxin works its way up the food chain, whether it's DDT or mercury, it will increase and humans eat from the top of the food chain. I also tell people to eat as a low a saturated fat diet as they can. Saturated fat is animal fat and so in the water studies show saturated fat can increase something insulin like growth factor. Every time your pancreas has to make insulin, your liver is making something called IGFs or insulin like growth factors. These are tumor promoters especially for breast cancer. So there are a number of studies showing that women with the highest circulating insulin levels increase the risk of breast cancer. So the other thing that women wanna be very careful about is low refined sugar, low refined or bleached flour. So you wanna go more with whole grains, things that are sweetened with honey, molasses. If you need an artificial sweetener, I recommend for my patients Stivia which is from a root, a very, very good, very, very pure nutrient and so every time you're eating refined sugar, also what's going up, your insulin levels and your insulin like growth factor. So there's a huge data on the link between obesity and breast cancer. We know with every 10% increase above her ideal body weight, her risk of breast cancer, a women's risk of breast cancer, is gonna continue to increase and we know that two times, we talk about windows of vulnerability, those are the times in a woman's life when her risk is particularly high. Those are the times when breast tissue is developing the most rapidly, that's in utero--so literally what you're eating for your baby can affect her risk of breast cancer down the line--and during adolescence. Adolescence is typically the time when people don't have the best diet in this country and it's very important because that's when breast tissue is developing and we know that from a Harvard study women that eat the least sugar during adolescence have a lower rate of breast cancer, significantly so later in life. So that's very important and it's very important also for people to think about other things like flax seed. Flax seed can be ground--you don't wanna eat the whole seeds because it's very hard to ingest-- but flax seed contain compounds called lignons. What do lignons do? Well, they do several very important things as it relates to breast cancer. One, lignons can lower insulin like growth factor which we just discussed as a tumor promoter, they can lower something called epidermal growth factor, which is another growth factor for breast cancer and they can lower something called VEGF, or vascular endothelial growth factor. Those are all promoters that helps breast tumors form new blood vessels. So flax seed is something that people should consider talking to their doctor, their nutritionist about adding to their diet. Soy, there's been a lot of controversy about soy but it's clearly shown in epidemiologic studies that in the countries where they consume foods like miso, tofu, tempeh, that thing, there's a lower risk of breast cancer. Also, there's a longer time between menstrual periods, so every time a woman has a period, her estrodiol, her peak estrodiol, is gonna go up. So longer duration between periods, less estrodiol peaks and that's one of the reasons women that have had children before the age of 35 have a lower risk of breast cancer because then during pregnancy they're producing a estrogen called estriol which isn't as estrogenic, not as likely to induce breast cell proliferation as estrodiol. Getting your period earlier, before age 12 for instance increases your risk of breast cancer because there's more estrodiol stimulation. Going through menopause later, after age 50 increases the risk of breast cancer because there's more estrogenic stimulation. So we know for instance eating a diet in saturated fat, fat cells are producing more estrogen and there's a class of compounds in cruciferous vegetables called endothricarbinol. Endothricarbinol is one substance that can literally change the type of estrogen, metabolite of estrodiol in a woman's body from the type that promotes breast cancer, to the type that actually protects against breast cancer. It also decreases when estrodiol binds to breast tissue, it decreases the response to that. The form of endocarbinol in stomach acid will form diindolylmethane, that's the form that's actually circulating in the body but endocarbinol is I believe a very, very important nutrient to consume in the form of cruciferous vegetables. It's been found that women that consume just two bowls of miso soup a day, lower the risk of breast cancer, have a reduced risk of breast cancer. Women that consume flax seed and cruciferous vegetables, lower risk of breast cancer. So, you know, I believe everything in moderation, I don't believe you need to go out and take soy supplements but to include foods like miso, tofu, tempeh is reasonable for most women and I also believe that it's very, very important to really minimize your exposure to processed foods, try and go with more whole grains, things like that. Whole grains break down in the gut to short chain fatty acids and this is very important for a different part of your immune system called GALT or Gut Associated Lymphoid Tissue. One of the biggest parts of your immune system is in your gut and it is very important to put the right foods there, the right probiotic bacteria and there are probiotic bacteria's like acidophilus and lactobacillus, so yoghurt containing those cultures, good thing to include in your diet, organic if possible. So that's an example of the variety of foods I tell people to consume.