Posts Tagged ‘Breast Cancer’

Why Aromatase Inhibitors Fail Women

In Alternative Cancer Therapies, Alternatives to Anti-Hormone Therapy For Breast Cancer, Alternatives to Hormone Therapy for Breast Cancer, Alternatives to Tamoxifen, Breast Cancer, Tamoxifen, Uncategorized on November 13, 2017 at 5:27 am

Aromatase inhibitors fail when tumors outsmart them.  Researchers have long been studying how resistance to aromatase inhibitors (AIs) happens so that they can find a solution. The resistance effectively makes these drugs powerless, causing the cancer to return. One in every four or five women relapse within ten years of AI treatment and develop metastatic cancer. [i]

Estrogen plays an important role in the development of hormone-dependent breast carcinomas, or at least some estrogens do. While ovarian estrogen synthesis ceases at menopause, peripheral and local tissue’s aromatization of androgens to estrogens continues and becomes the main source of estradiol (the more cancer-promoting estrogen). What this means is that while your ovaries are no longer producing estrogen after menopause, and your adrenals are producing only a small amount, breast cancer cells may actually have a way to produce their own food supply.

Theoretically, the aromatase inhibitor could be reducing circulating estrogen to dangerously low levels, while estrogen in the breast, axillary, and belly could still be dangerously high. Hence, AIs fail the patient, who then suffers the ill-effects of the drugs with no benefit.

The Research

Until recently, scientists assumed the tumors developed resistance in some way, but didn’t know how. Scientists have now discovered why AIs may stop working in some patients. Research done at the Imperial College London and the European Institute of Oncology in Milan has found that some breast tumors evolve to make their own estrogen, rendering AIs ineffective. While the ovaries cease to produce estrogen after menopause, the hormone is still made in other tissues via the enzyme aromatase.[ii] The team, led by Dr Luca Magnani, found that in one in four patients taking AIs, the tumors had increased production of aromatase in the cancer cells. They found that the tumors were able to increase the number of aromatase genes via a process known as amplification.

So, while AIs work by cutting off the tumor’s fuel supply (estrogen), the cancer adapts by making its own –an efficient survival mechanism. The research points to a particular gene (CYP19A1).  When more copies of this gene are produced, it triggers the increased production of aromatase, the very enzyme the drugs are trying to block. This allows cancer cells to make their own estrogen and thus reproduce and spread.[iii] It seems to be a bit of a survival mechanism-the AI cuts off the food supply so the tumor outsmarts it by making its own.

We found that 21.5% of AI-treated, relapsed patients had acquired CYP19A1 (encoding aromatase) amplification (CYP19A1amp)…CYP19A1 amplification caused increased aromatase activity and estrogen-independent ERα binding to target genes, resulting in CYP19A1amp cells showing decreased sensitivity to AI treatment. These data suggest that AI treatment itself selects for acquired CYP19A1amp and promotes local autocrine estrogen signaling in AI-resistant metastatic patients.[iv]

When an aromatase inhibitor stops working, most oncologists will try another type of AI.  The problem is that if the cancer cells have started making their own aromatase, the second (or third) drug will be useless. Identifying the over-expression of the CYP19A1 may help doctors determine which women are not good candidates for AI therapy or who might be candidates for alternative therapies. The aforementioned researchers are now working on a test to identify whether a patient’s tumor has started to increase aromatase production, and make its own estrogen.

Dr. Magnani also suggested that when cancer returns, a biopsy should be done to see how the cancer has evolved, which may help guide treatment decisions. Often this can be helpful, but just as often, it fails to offer much information. This is a decision you need to make in consultation with your oncologist or other qualified professional.

Obesity Plays a Role

Excess body weight has been linked to an increased risk of postmenopausal breast cancer, and research also suggests that obesity is associated with poor prognosis in women diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer. Fat tissue contains the enzyme aromatase that converts hormones called androgens to estrogens. Human abdominal, breast, and axillary fat have the ability to convert androgens into estrogens.

So, heavier women end up with higher blood estrogen levels as well as enhanced local production of estrogen than leaner women. Elevated serum estrogen levels as well as enhanced local production of estrogen have been considered primary mediators of how increased body weight promotes breast cancer development in postmenopausal women.

On the Horizon

I have long been pointing out that most of have seriously declining levels of estrogen as we age –which has been found to compromise overall health. For this reason, AIs are quite dangerous as they block essential estrogen.

However, it has recently been reported that plasma estrogen levels do not necessarily reflect tissue estrogen concentrations. Several studies have found that tissue estrogen levels may be ten- to 20-fold higher compared to plasma levels in postmenopausal women. Furthermore, recent studies have demonstrated that a large proportion (close to 100%) of the biologically active estrogen is considered to be produced locally in the breast carcinoma after menopause.[v] Therefore, likely a more effective method would be to inhibit estrogen of breast tissue than that of systemic circulation. More studies need to be done on this.

At this point, studies are being conducted in China to see if a locally-applied aromatase-inhibiting patch using letrozole would be effective and offer a less toxic solution to the standard drug AIs.

As reported in AAPS PharmSCiTech (a Journal of the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists), a mouse study revealed that compared with oral administration, transdermal administration could produce high local drug concentrations and low circulating drug concentrations. This could reduce systemic side effects. Therefore, it might be a new option for breast cancer therapy to inhibit aromatase activity via transdermal patches for site-specific delivery of letrozole.

But again, more studies need to be done to determine if a local patch would be effective for cells outside the breast area, and independent studies should also be done (ones not paid for by a pharmaceutical company).

So, should women with estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer take inhibitors of estrogens? The decision of whether or not to use estrogen blockers is a complex one that each woman can only make if fully informed. The potential negative effects on the brain, heart, and overall quality and quantity of life, as well as treatment failure, should be weighed against the immediate risk of recurrence.

However, in making a treatment decision, it is most important to speak with an oncologist who is fully aware of the limitations and potential negative effects of these drugs and who is prepared to discuss alternative options. It is equally important to educate yourself on natural alternatives as typically these options are not discussed by medical doctors.

Important is to realize that in the presence of adequate progesterone, estrogen cannot easily fuel breast cancer tumors.[vi] Perhaps for now, a better solution is to make every effort to reduce aromatase activity and to increase production of progesterone.

Progesterone may also be the answer to why AIs seem to work for some.  I could postulate that the answer again might be progesterone, especially for those patients who are PR + as well as ER+, but that is just one possibility.

For more information regarding consideration of natural alternatives, please read:

Natural Alternatives to Hormone Therapy for Breast Cancer  

Why You May Want to Reconsider Estrogen-Blocking Aromatase Inhibitors and Tamoxifen 

* The CYP19A1 gene provides instructions for making an enzyme called aromatase. This enzyme converts a class of hormones called androgens, which are involved in male sexual development, to different forms of the female sex hormone estrogen. Mutations in this gene can result in either increased or decreased aromatase activity.

This information is for educational purposes only and is not a recommendation to forgo anti-hormone therapy. It is not intended to treat, cure, prevent, or diagnose any disease or condition. This post does not represent medical advice nor should it be considered to be medical advice or a replacement for medical advice.  I encourage you to discuss this information with your integrative oncologist, naturopathic doctor, or conventional oncologist and make your own decisions.  The information provided is from my research and not to be taken as scientific evidence. 

ej portrait 150resElyn

~~If you don’t know your options, you don’t have any~~

Elyn Jacobs is a breast cancer survivor and certified holistic cancer strategist who helps people make better, healthier, non-toxic choices. She emphasizes the critical nature of addressing the root cause of cancer and not just its presenting symptoms (such as the tumor). Elyn specializes in understanding the role of estrogen in breast cancer and debunks the myths associated. She is a Contributing Editor for The Truth About Cancer and was creator and host of the Survive and Live Well Radio Show on the Cancer Support Network. Elyn is on the Medical Advisory Board for BeatCancer.Org and is on the Advisory Board to the Radical Remission Project. Elyn was the former Executive Director of the Emerald Heart Cancer Foundation. Contact Elyn via her website. Elyn offers consults via Skype, phone or in person.

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[i] https://www.nature.com/articles/ng.3773   https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5326683/



[iii] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/behindtheheadlines/news/2017-01-24-new-insights-into-why-breast-cancer-drugs-fail-for-some-women/

[iv] https://www.nature.com/articles/ng.3773

[v] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2974128/

[vi]  http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/45/1/277.short


Bone Health Myth for Breast Cancer Patients

In Bone Health Cancer Treatments on February 11, 2017 at 10:09 am

Are you worried about the effect breast cancer treatment can have on your bones? Has your doctor recommended an aromatase inhibitor to manage your breast cancer? Or have you been diagnosed with osteoporosis or have been told you are at risk of bone loss? Has your doctor recommended a conventional osteoporosis drug which can disrupt the natural remodeling of bone tissue over the long term and can cause negative side effects like unusual bone fractures and joint and muscle pain?

Unfortunately, much of what your doctor may have told you about bone loss and bone-regrowth may not exactly be the truth—and well, you might have been led down the infamous ‘primrose path’ about aromatase inhibitors.  However, you need to know that there are safe, effective ways to build strong healthy bones—without harmful drugs.

The Problem with Calcium Supplements

Common calcium supplements are not particularly beneficial. First of all, if calcium works so well for building bones, why do millions still suffer from osteoporosis and osteopenia? Clearly calcium is not the answer–at least not alone in the standard supplement form.  Plus, calcium supplements are not risk-free.

Numerous studies have found calcium supplements to increase risk of heart attack and stroke.  Researchers at Johns Hopkins found that calcium supplements accelerate vascular calcification and increase mortality in patients with renal failure.  They determined that calcium builds up in the arteries, inhibits blood flow, and increases the risk of heart attack.

A 2013 study done by the NIH (National Institutes of Health) found there is an increased risk of heart attack, stroke or other cardiovascular diseases from taking calcium supplements.  Other studies have found the same results.

Plus, you need to be careful with most calcium supplements as many have a high lead content. Believe, me, it is far better to get your calcium from food, or at the very least, plant-based supplements. Dietary calcium from grass-fed cheeses, leafy greens,  broccoli, and other plant sources are helpful because they are taken in small amounts that are absorbed throughout the day, whereas supplements tend to be taken all at once, causing blood calcium levels to spike above normal, which might not be a good thing.

The Problem with Aromatase Inhibitors and Bone Loss

Hormonal treatment for breast and prostate cancer can lead to bone loss and increase the risk for osteoporosis and fractures. Breast cancer patients treated with aromatase inhibitors are more likely to have bone loss and fractures. Aromatase inhibitors (AIs) are associated with significant risk of osteoporotic fractures and bone mineral loss. Similarly, men who receive androgen deprivation therapy to treat their prostate cancer face an increased risk of bone disorders.

Estrogen plays a major role in the growth and maturation of bone, which involves the remodeling of bone.  Cells known as osteoclasts dissolve bone tissue, and then osteoblasts fill in the holes. This process is disturbed when there are low serum estrogen levels. A deficiency of estrogen causes bone loss and cancellous bone, otherwise known as spongy bone.

Bisphosphonates such as Fosamax, and others aim or claim to slow the rate of bone loss.  Yet, they come with serious side effects (damage to the lining of the esophagus and stomach; damage to the jaw bone, which can mean jaw pain, loose teeth; nausea, indigestion, heartburn and host of other issues) and do not appear to be very effective. Studies have found that bisphosphonates actually cause your bones to become brittle and vulnerable to fractures.

A 2015 meta-analysis of 33 studies was published in the BMJ (British Medical Journal). The analysis concluded that bisphosphonates actually disrupt normal bone remodeling and do nothing to prevent fractures. Instead, they make bones more susceptible to fracture. There is a better way.

Natural Solutionsiphone-transfer-photos-432

  • Sunshine or Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium. The amount needed will vary per individual, so it is important to have your vitamin D levels monitored by your doctor.
  • Vitamin K2— it is critical to have sufficient vitamin K2 in order to ensure that calcium is bound and held in bones and at the same time is removed from our arteries, joints or other tissues where it doesn’t belong. K2 also provides defense against fluoride calcification in soft tissue organs such as the arteries and brain. Vitamin K2 also inhibits cancer cell lines, such as colon, breast, leukemia, brain, and many more.
  • Strontium — Strontium is a common metallic element that the body can absorb and use as if it were calcium. It is a naturally occurring mineral in the same mineral family as calcium and magnesium that has been shown to promote bone growth. Doctors have known for years that strontium builds bone.  Numerous studies show that it works better than calcium. However, while strontium can be found in food sources, there’s not enough in food to have a significant effect if you already have osteoporosis or osteopenia. Therefore, you might want to take strontium in supplement form. If you don’t currently have osteoporosis, then eating plenty of food high in strontium may be enough to protect you. Foods high in strontium include spices, seafood, whole grains, root and leafy vegetables, and legumes.  (If supplementing, consider 200-500 mg daily).  Don’t take your strontium with calcium as they compete with each other for absorption.
  • Orthosilicic acid: Research shows that orthosilicic acid promotes the formation of osteoblasts, the cells that build bone. The more osteoblasts you make, the denser your bones will be.  Scientists have also discovered that orthosilicic acid may help promote bone formation by stimulating the production of collagen –a protein found in connective tissue, including bone– which helps to bind muscle and bone tissue together and increases bone mass. Orthosilicic acid is often called soluble silica, and is found in foods like oats, barley, seawater, bone broth, and some drinking water.  Beer has a high concentration of silicon (silica).  Dark beer in particular, with its high hop content, contains significant silicon. While yes, drinking beer will support bone mineralization and the creation of collagen, bone broth or taking hops might be just a bit better for you. (See bone broth below). 
  • Bone broth is extremely high in mineral such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus. Plus, the minerals in bone broth support the immune system and contain many healing compounds such as proline, glycine, glutamine, and collagen. Collagen plays an important role in the building of strong, flexible bones.
  • Magnesium is necessary to convert vitamin D into its active form so that it can turn on calcium absorption. That can often mean that we might not need extraordinarily high doses of vitamin D, but rather a combination of vitamin D along with magnesium and other nutrients to make the vitamin D work efficiently. Like vitamin K2, magnesium helps to preserve bone structure by drawing calcium out of the blood and soft tissues back into the bones.
  • Green leafy vegetables provide calcium, strontium, and other essential minerals necessary for bone health.
  • Lysine builds collagen, which holds your bones together—sort of like glue. It also helps your body absorb calcium and decreases the amount you excrete in urine.  (500-2000 daily). As a bonus, it is also strongly antiviral, which is important for those with breast cancer.
  • Manganese promotes bone growth; leafy vegetables and pumpkin seeds and teas are great sources. You may also find that you get manganese in your multi-vitamin.
  • Copper –while copper slows bone loss and is essential in small amounts, it also supports cancer. So, while you need some, don’t take too much (supplements should not exceed 2 mg), including through food choices.
  • Boron increases bone strength, supports bone mass, and slows bone loss. Likely you will get boron in your multi. If not, you can try this one by DFH that I use. OR just take a boron supplement.
  • Vitamin C mineralizes bone and stimulates bone-forming cells to grow
  • Probiotics — According to a resent study, treating osteoporosis with a probiotic may enhance bone density as osteoporosis can result from intestinal inflammation and probiotics can have anti-inflammatory effects. [i]
  • Zinc also builds bone and helps them from becoming brittle (30-50 mg daily)

So, with all these safe and healthful natural substances, why are doctors still prescribing calcium and harmful drugs that clearly are not working? At least now you are empowered to improve your bone health without harmful drugs.

This article was updated 12/30/2018

Found this article helpful?  Please let me know.



~~If you don’t know your options, you don’t have any~~

Elyn Jacobs is a breast cancer survivor and holistic cancer strategist who helps people make better, healthier, non-toxic choices. She emphasizes the critical nature of addressing the root cause of cancer and not just its presenting symptoms (such as the tumor). Elyn specializes in understanding the role of estrogen in breast cancer and debunks the myths associated. She is a Contributing Editor for The Truth About Cancer and was creator and host of the Survive and Live Well Radio Show on the Cancer Support Network. Elyn is on the Medical Advisory Board for BeatCancer.Org and is on the Advisory Board to the Radical Remission Project. Elyn was the former Executive Director of the Emerald Heart Cancer Foundation. Contact Elyn via her website. Elyn offers consults via Skype, phone or in person.

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[i] https://universityhealthnews.com/daily/bones-joints/natural-treatment-for-osteoporosis-probiotics-are-becoming-a-key-component/




Best Steps for Vital Health in 2015

In Uncategorized on January 2, 2015 at 9:18 am

7 Genechanger Resolutions for Body, Mind, and Soul

The following is reprinted with the permission of Dr Mitch Gaynor.  I hope these tips help you attain blessed wellness throughout this and every year.

Best Steps for Vital Health in 2015, by Dr Mitch Gaynor

gaynor GTPThe Gene Therapy Plan: Taking Control of Your Genetic Destiny with Diet and Lifestyle (Available April 2015-Preorder Now)

So here we are in a brand new year, one, I hope, that will bring you vibrancy and joy and a renewed commitment to your health. When you’re strong, everyone around you benefits. When you’re joyful, everyone nearby wants to respond in kind. I’ve always marveled at how a simple smile can change the mood of those around us. I’ve seen a smile switch the energy in hospitals, and I’ve seen that happen every time I greet one of my patients. Nothing is so dire that a smile, or a friendly hello, won’t redirect.

Here in our brand new year, the Genechanger approach to health is particularly viable. Genechanger modalities – healthy food, being present, exercise, positive attitude, toxic-free environments, nutrients, and gratitude – not only increase health for you, but for those around you. Their benefits also work far into the future, for your children and future generations, because they directly modify your DNA for the better.

In this first newsletter of 2015, I’ve broken down epigenetic steps to better health in 7 simple categories. Think of them as resolutions for the body, mind, and soul. If you can do them every day, you’ll have maximum success. If you waver from time to time, please don’t worry about it. We want to decrease stress, not add it.

So, welcome to a brand new year and the simple ways that you can change your future to one of health and poise. Please remember: Destiny is not fixed, the body is not static, and it’s never too late to bring back balance. Happy 2015 to you and yours!

Best 7 Genechanger Tips for Health Throughout 2015Even if you don’t practice all of these suggestions every single day, remember that incorporating them  – even for a few minutes or on most days – builds up the habit of doing them, which, in turn, makes their practice easier.  Practicing also enhances your sense of self-esteem and self-care.1. Being Positive

In my work as an oncologist for more than 30 years, I have incorporated meditation and sounds (mantras, guided meditation, Tibetan singing bowls, crystal sonic therapy) to enhance the health of my patients.  As scientific research reveals time and time again, a mind that is calm has less chance of being disposed to disease and helps lessen disease that might already be present.  I encourage my patients to meditate and to pray, whatever is most comfortable for them.

In The News

One recent reminder of the efficacy of positive thinking came on NBC’s “Evening News with Brian Williams” a few days before Christmas. Two consecutive nights included segments about the impact of prayer on the brain. Andrew Newberg of Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, and his research team documented that contemplating a loving God reduces stress and that intense prayer and meditation can permanently alter functions and structures in the brain, including increased activity in the brain’s frontal lobes, home to consciousness and decision making. (Newberg is also author of “How God Changes the Brain.”)

A recent study from the University of California looked at the effects of meditation on the same person using two different techniques and found that there were “strong correlations between depth of meditation and neural activity in the left inferior forebrain.”  We can’t claim definitively that positive thoughts cure disease, or that negative thoughts cause disease, but we can say that positive thoughts, prayer, and meditation release neurotransmitters like serotonin (which decreases stress) and enhance brain function which, in turn, augments better health.

2. Best Fresh Foods

I can’t say it enough: Eat healthy food because, in fact, you are what you eat.  The choice for natural organic foods, especially fruits and vegetables that are free of preservatives, artificial coloring, and hundreds of other chemicals, assures that you are feeding your body with the healthiest nutrition available and avoiding environmental toxins like pesticides and man-made preservatives.  Please skip the boxed, canned, and plastic-sealed foods. Keep salt, trans-fats, fast foods, saturated fats, white sugar, artificial chemical sweeteners, and refined grains to an absolute minimum. Avoid meats that have been fried and breaded.  Eat more salmon and grilled chicken.  If this means you must shop every couple of days, plan to do that.

Foods And Genes

Nutritional genomics analyzes the effects of foods on the genes. I have been studying and practicing the application of better nutrition for my patients throughout my career and seen verifiable, positive, medical effects for patients who change their diets and lifestyles.  Like other good habits, you’ll learn to shop more frequently for fresh food, and, most likely, you’ll wind up with fewer items at checkout.  You will avoid those “impulse” items that offer a quick fix, but can also help promote chronic conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

BBC News recently reported that eating seven or more portions of fruit and vegetables each day is even healthier than the recommended five portions per day. Researchers from the University College London confirmed better health benefits through an analysis of 65,226 men and women in surveys conducted over seven years.


Juicing is one of my top recommendations to patients simply because it’s fast, easy, and provides a sure way to consume several recommended portions in one morning drink.  In my new book, “The Gene Therapy Plan: Taking Control of Your Genetic Destiny with Diet and Lifestyle,” due in April from Viking, you’ll find many recipes that focus on the healthiest foods for our bodies, including an abundance of easy juicing recipes to kick-start your day.  One piece of good news:  According to researchers at the University of North Carolina, purchase of ready-to-eat, grain-based desserts (pies, cakes, cookies) decreased by 24% between 2005 and 2012.

3. Best Nutrients Personalized for You

Many of my patients are stunned the first time I hand them a few pages circled with my recommended nutrients and supplements for their particular stage of recovery from cancer.  There are a total of 10 pages of such supplements from which I choose for each patient – everything from chaga mushrooms, curcumin, and turmeric to B-4, lycopene, and blackseed cumin. Most patients are taking less than 20 daily supplements.  But the moral here is that while nutrients and supplements are definitely a boon to building up the immune system, reducing inflammation, turning on tumor suppressant genes, etc. – choosing which supplements is something you definitely need to pursue under the guidance of a well informed physician or other health care professional.

Research Confirms

Just two research examples of their efficacy: Vitamin D, selenium, and calcium have demonstrated effectiveness in reducing colectoral and breast cancer as reported in the “European Journal of Cancer.” Another study confirmed the effectiveness of dietary components that targeted breast cancer and its prevention.

Supplements, like drugs, may have adverse effects when taken together, and only a nutritional professional knows which are appropriate, which work best together, and which work with your current medications. We have a number of blogs on the genechanger website about the efficacy of various nutrients.  What’s most important is that you take supplements as recommended for your particular set of medical needs.  Just going out and buying the latest thing you heard about on TV is not healthy.

4. Body Care Through Exercise

Every single one of us, I’d venture to say, already knows that frequent exercise is good for us.  We know that regular exercise helps us lose weight, combat disease, boost our energy, and uplift our mood.   According to the Mayo Clinic, exercise can also boost sexual energy, promote better sleep, and provide some fun.  From an epigenetic point of view, there are direct benefits to our genes, as well.  That means the positive effects of exercise are long standing, for ourselves and for our future offspring.  According to the CDC, less than 50% of American adults use aerobic exercise, only 24% participate in muscle-strengthening activity, and a very disappointing 20% meet guidelines for participating in both.

Exercise Your Brain

What we know from the genechanger perspective:  According to research cited by the Mayo Clinic, for instance, there is solid scientific evidence to support the use of DHEA, a brain hormone that leads to the production of androgens and estrogens, to increase bone density, another good case for supplementing your exercise when appropriate.

There’s also a study from the Harvard School of Public Health just released in December that found that for older people, adding weight training to your exercise routine is the key to losing belly fat. Their study reviewed habits of more than 10,000 men over the age of 40 between 1996 and 2008.  Conclusion:  Aerobics can take off the pounds, and weight training can take off the inches.

Be Consistent

The best exercise, of course, is done several times a week, if not every day.  You must pace yourself, check with your physician if you have any chronic diseases, and evidence, anecdotal and scientific, supports the idea of exercising with another, or at least in a gym setting, to keep you motivated.

I recommend 20-30 minutes a day of weight-bearing exercises (walking is probably the easiest to pull off) at least five days a week.

5. Beautiful Toxic-Free Environments

The environment I want to talk about is not just the sky, ocean, lakes, rivers, and forests that we must do all we can to protect for future generations.  In addition to having fewer toxins in our exterior environment, we need to focus on how to create toxic-free environments, particularly in our homes. Entire books have been written about the dangers of environmental toxins, including my own, “Nurture Nature Nurture Health: Your Health and the Environment.”

Unseen, these toxins are ubiquitous and buried in the chemicals that dye upholstery, drapes, carpets, pillows, bedding, and bath products.  They’re in our microwaves and televisions. Harmful toxins also account for how furniture is manufactured and line the cans that hold food products.  They’re likely to be in baby bottles. PVC, the third most widely produced synthetic plastic polymer, is everywhere – plastic containers, plastic wrap, your credit cards, etc. PVC is a plastic that makes us think it is the only way to store (and heaven forbid) heat food.  It is not.

Avoid Plastic

Do not use plastic in microwaves. A Dartmouth study found that when heating plastic wrap with olive oil in a microwave, the concentration of xenoestrogens (cancer-producing estrogens that act like natural estrogens) was 500,000 times greater than the minimum amount of estrogen required to produce cancer cells in a test tube.

Briefly, be mindful of the following:

  • Look for the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) label for low-emitting formaldehyde furnishings.
  • Choose all wood products.
  • Chose carpeting made fro jute, cotton or wool.
  • Dry clean textiles as infrequently as possible.
  • Never use plastic wrap, plastic containers in a microwave. [okay so maybe skip the micro when at all possible]
  • Use non-chlorine bleach.
  • Make sure there is no lead paint in your home.
  • Read labels on cosmetics and skin care labels to avoid excessive chemicals.
  • Have your home tested by a certified hygienist for the presence of VOCs (volatile organic compounds), carbon dioxide, and asbestos.

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of ways that chemicals pervade our environment, including our homes and offices.  Just be mindful that toxic chemicals have been linked to almost every kind of cancer, emphysema, COPD, heart disease, children’s asthma, ADHD, the list goes on.  Each of us can use our time in stores to say no to those products that rely on chemicals to preserve, color, or manufacture.

6. Being Present

In recent years, the mindfulness movement has become almost as popular as yoga in this country.  Both are Eastern-sourced techniques that restore the mind and body to its natural state of being.  In America, meditation’s benefits have been adapted for Western practitioners. More than 700 hospitals in America, alone, have staffs that have been formally trained in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), which originated with Jon Kabat-Zinn.

Be Where You Are

A simple way to think of mindfulness is being present.  Hundreds of studies have confirmed that being present helps reduce stress, contribute to healthier relationships, aid self-regulation, decrease stress and aggressive behaviors, help alleviate depression, lower blood pressure, and more.  Sharon Salzberg is one of this country’s earliest teachers of mindfulness meditation.  She, along with Joseph Goldstein and Jack Kornfield, are credited with bringing mindfulness practice to the west more than 30 years ago.  Salzberg says, “Mindfulness meditation quiets the mind and refines our awareness so we can directly experience the truth of our lives with a minimum of distraction and obscuration. Simplicity, stillness and attention are its qualities.”

Every Day

Try each day to simply stop, bring your mind to the present, and take a deep breath and experience the peace that is naturally a part of us.  Most of us are mind-occupied in two other dimensions – the past, which has already happened and irretrievable, and the future, which has not yet manifested.  Being in the present means you are fully in your life right now, right here.  You’ll find peace, and not stress, if you are truly in the present moment.

7. Being Appreciative (in every situation)

No matter what is happening, bless it.  The surest way out of anger, disappointment, resentment, and any other negative emotion, is to accept the situation for exactly as it is.  My patients always ask me, “Why?  Why did I get cancer?  I don’t understand.”  I tell them, we would use our time better to treat their reality and ensure a healthy and long future by, first, accepting what the truth is.  “You may have cancer, but that does not mean a death sentence – or – that you caused it,” I tell them. Ancient masters of every faith have told us that once we can accept and let go of what we think the reality should be, the closer, in fact, we come to our true nature.

Our true nature is naturally one of harmony.  The spirit within, I believe, is stronger than material events – in our lives or in our bodies. When we tap acceptance, we let go of resentment. When we let go of resentment, we find our true nature.  And when we find our true nature, we find beauty, peace and harmony.

The next thing we find is gratitude.


Patients frequently report to me, that over time when they have meditated, changed their lifestyle and been willing to accept their disease as simply that – a chronic disease that needs their attention and care – they wind up being more peaceful, more vibrant.  In fact, they wind up, usually within months, being able to accept their disease.  Some say they are even grateful that cancer came into their lives: They, themselves, are stronger, more peaceful, which means that their family members, friends, and business associates are also more peaceful around them.

“I would never have discovered who I really am without the cancer,” one patient told me. “I am much more engaged in my life these days,” another said.

What does gratitude have to do with your genes?  Quite simply, a peaceful nature, a thankful nature, corresponds to less stress and less inflammation in the body. Behavioral epigenetics looks at how behaviors affect our genes, and the evidence is in: A calm body and a grateful mind let our body do what it was designed to do – function at optimum capacity.

Write About It

In one study, people were asked to deliver a gratitude letter to someone who had helped them, and, on average, their happiness scores rose 10 percent and depression scores fell.  Other research has pinpointed health benefits such as lower blood pressure and calmer brain activity during or after practicing gratitude.  A notable study in 2008 connected the dots between gratitude and better sleep: “The study is also the first to show that trait gratitude is related to sleep and to explain why this occurs, suggesting future directions for research, and novel clinical implications.”

As the new year unfolds, I hope you feel the peace that “passes all understanding.” We may not be able to explain it, but we do know that it exists and that each of us can take steps that lead to a life of heath, peace, and love.  And for that I am very, very grateful.

Dr. Mitchell Gaynor’s latest book, ‘The Gene Therapy Plan: Taking Control of Your Genetic Destiny Through Diet and Lifestyle” will be released in April from Viking and is already listed in Amazon’s Top Sellers.

Preorder Dr Gaynor’s The Gene Therapy Plan: Taking Control of Your Genetic Destiny with Diet and Lifestyle (Available April 2015-Preorder Now)

Replay my interview with Dr Gaynor on Survive and Live WellGetting to the Root Cause of Cancer

Elyn~~If you don’t know your options, you don’t have any~~

Mitchell Gaynor, M.D. is founder and president of Gaynor Integrative Oncology and Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine at Weill College, affiliated with Cornell University and New York Hospital. He has served on the Executive Review Panel at the Department of Defense – Alternative Medicine for Breast Cancer Sector and the Smithsonian Institute’s Symposium on New Frontier in Breast Cancer and the Environment. He is a frequent speaker and lecturer at hospitals, conferences, and universities throughout America and abroad. Learn more:http://www.gaynoroncology.com/about.html
Elyn Jacobs is a breast cancer survivor, professional cancer strategist, speaker, and the Executive Director for the Emerald Heart Cancer Foundation. Elyn empowers women to choose the path for treatment that best fits their own individual needs. She is passionate about helping others move forward into a life of health and well-being. Elyn has been featured on CNN Money, Talk About Health, and Breast Cancer Answers and has written for the Pink Paper, Breast Cancer Wellness, Integrative Oncology Essentials, Surviving Beautifully, Body Local and more, and writes the Options for Life column for the Natural Healing-Natural Wellness Magazine. Elyn hosts the Survive and Live Well Radio Show on the Cancer Support Network. She is on the Medical Advisory Board for BeatCancer.Org and is on the Advisory Board to the Radical Remission Project. Elyn lives in New York with her husband and two young boys. https://elynjacobs.com/about/Tune in to the Survive and Live Well ShowReplay the Survive and Live Well Radio Show ArchivesRead Elyn’s BlogFollow Elyn on FacebookFollow Survive and Live Well on Twitter

Follow Elyn on Linkedin


Ending Breast Cancer; One Woman’s Dream

In Uncategorized on October 1, 2012 at 1:54 pm

This post is written for my dear friend, Toni Turchi, and her dear friend, Christi; may somehow, by the grace of god, a cure be found now, before it is too late.

On December 23, 1971, President Richard Nixon officially declared war on cancer. Since then, more than 12 million Americans have died from cancer–Approximately 1500 people each day.  That’s 45,000 each month.  Despite all, despite upwards of $45 billion spent since the war on cancer began, cancer still exists and kills. The problem is that each form can require a different approach to treatment, and it takes more than just treatment to beat the disease. Even when one therapy works, cancer has a habit of returning in a new and more virulent form.  Apparently cancer is a far more formidable foe than the Nixon administration realized.

That some progress has been made is great; targeted therapies as well as the delivery methods of these treatments have reduced the damage they inflict and improved survival. However, the solution is not to have to treat cancer…it is to prevent it entirely. The drastic increases in cancer rates over the past century are not due to chance.  They are due most likely to the lifestyle that has become standard in the modern world; poor diet, exposure to industrial pollutants, tainted and modified food sources, pesticides, toxic plastic and personal care products and a host of other things.

Experts agree that many, if not most, forms of cancer are preventable. We can do this with integrative, complementary and alternative approaches.  Cancer prevention entails doing what one can to avoid the  triggers and by reinforcing the body’s innate ability to defend itself against cancer with the best possible combination of diet, exercise, supplements, and mind-body therapies—always keeping in mind that carcinogenesis and cancer promotion are a combination of nature (genetic and biological factors) and nurture (environmental factors).  A great book to read on this is Nurture Nature/Nurture Health, by Dr Mitch Gaynor.

Some people are more vulnerable to cancer than others because of biological predispositions or genetic factor; still, there is much that can be done to prevent cancer within those parameters.

But for many, this is not enough, or is too difficult or costly to implement; further, it is no guarantee that cancer will not develop or recur.

In many cases, cancer prevention just isn’t an option; it isn’t enough.  The disease may have already taken hold as is the case for millions of people….many individuals have genetic or biological predispositions to cancer that have little to do with their lifestyle choices.  We need treatments that work; treatments that do not cause side effects, or resulting effects, that jeopardize health and survival.  We need treatments that work with the body’s natural healing processes without harming the immune and lymphatic systems, two of the body’s most important natural defenses against cancer; treatments that do not harm our vital organs.  And we need these treatments right now.

Current cancer therapies focus on the use of highly toxic therapies to try to kill off as many cancerous cells as possible; they are designed to target rapidly dividing cells, and so often the cells of the body that divide the quickest—including those at the roots of the hair and teeth, in bone marrow, and in the lining of the gastrointestinal tract—may also be attacked; heart muscles are damaged. In addition to the extreme fatigue and anemia resulting from the harsh chemical destruction of the cells, the patient’s immunity suffers and the patient becomes vulnerable to life-threatening infections; the collateral damage from this approach is considerable. Radiation, while helpful in this war, is in itself, a carcinogen.

Alternative cancer medicine seeks less toxic ways to treat cancer.  It makes use of a holistic view of this disease, and tries to figure out what tools the body needs to reverse the growth of tumors while minimizing collateral damage.  However, these treatments vary in efficacy, are costly, and are not covered by most insurance companies.

The key to winning the war on cancer is to fight it intelligently, with the best tools available.  However, here we are forty-one years later, and we still lack that intelligence.  It’s not for lack of trying; it’s not for lack of funding. Perhaps it is time to change the paradigm.

                                      A vaccine may well be the answer

My vision, my hope, is to end cancer through the use of safe and effective vaccines.  This may take years, years many of us do not have, but for the sake of our children and our grandchildren, I implore you, keep an open mind to the idea—fund the vaccines that are in the works, put research dollars towards this effort. Yes, these vaccines must not come with baggage, and therefore must be tested extensively prior to mainstream usage–but we can’t wait any longer to begin these trials. We absoutlely need a cure for those with advanced cancer and mets; no doubt.  I just don’t think that new treatments, while critical now,  are the ultimate goal. Ultimately, we want to prevent cancer so that we don’t have to treat it. Fund vaccines to prevent recurrence, vaccines to halt the spread and yes, vaccines to prevent the disease entirely.  Throw down the gauntlets….let’s see one world without cancer.

In good health,


If history presents, roughly 230,000 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed in the US in 2012…Please donate to the Toni Turchi Fondation; help fund the first ever preventive breast cancer vaccine.

Same Guys, Different Room: Why we don’t have a Breast Cancer Vaccine

Revolutionary breast cancer vaccine 100% effective in mice: awaits human trials

Elyn Jacobs is a breast cancer survivor, professional cancer coach, radio talk show host, speaker, and the Executive Director for the Emerald Heart Cancer Foundation. Elyn empowers women to choose the path for treatment that best fits their own individual needs.  She is passionate about helping others move forward into a life of health and wellbeing. Elyn lives in New York with her husband and two young boys.  Find Elyn at www.elynjacobs.wordpress.com. To tune into the Survive and Live Well show, visit www.W4CS.com, Tuesdays at 1pm, EST.

 Follow Elyn on Twitter@elynjacobs, Facebook @Elyn Jacobs Consulting and LinkedIn @Elyn Jacobs


The Mind-Body Connection to Beating Breast Cancer

In Uncategorized on September 27, 2012 at 8:47 pm

Much has been written about the importance of the mind-body connection as it relates to a patient with cancer. Unfortunately, many physicians still don’t understand or appreciate the importance. And in fact, many of us patients struggle with it too.  We want to take care of ourselves, but often we focus most on the urgent task at hand, our cancer.

Tuesday, on Survive and Live Well, Dr Deanna Attai and I spoke about the mind-body connection to breast cancer.  We spoke about hope; “A physician is in a powerful position to influence the outcome of disease”, says Dr Attai. “Even in the face of the most advanced of cancers, there is usually room for some words of encouragement, which can make all the difference in the patient’s attitude towards their disease and its treatment”. If a patient is told, “there is no hope; there’s nothing I can do for you”, likely the patient will give up or certainly would not agree to a potentially life-saving, but grueling surgery or treatment, or for that matter, might not investigate alternative options and second opinions.

We spoke about healing the patient with the cancer instead of just the disease of the patient; that in addition to needing hope, “Disease does not happen in a vacuum, you need to understand the whole person before you can even begin to focus on the disease, a patient’s entire situation – diet, lifestyle, feelings about complementary/alternative versus traditional medicine all come into play.”

We shared some thoughts on how words such as the infamous “positive attitude” and ”you’re going to be fine”  mean different things to everyone and how they can often be painful to the breast cancer patient; small words, big impact.

Thank you Dr Attai for sharing your wisdom and experience to help us understand that treating cancer involves the whole person. Cancer is a complex situation….but it gets better when we connect the head bone to the neck bone… …all the way to the ankle bone.  To replay this conversation please visit:  http://hipcast.com/podcast/H1J8NTpQ.

Join us Tuesday, October 2nd, when I will chat with Dr Kathleen Ruddy as she clarifies the efficacy and potential of the first ever breast cancer vaccine and talks about the three different types of breast cancer, the genetic profiles that appear to distinguish them, and how this information can be used to tailor treatment for those currently battling breast cancer.

You can listen live, Tuesday, October 2nd at 1pm EST, on www.W4CS.com.  Have questions or want to join in the conversation?  Join us in the chat room!

For a show schedule and archives, please visit:  https://elynjacobs.wordpress.com/survive-and-live-well-schedule/.




Words are a hot topic these days. Rachel Pappas and I also had a great conversation about words, tone and social graces in Cancer Etiquette 101.  Check it out if you haven’t read it.


Elyn Jacobs is a breast cancer survivor, professional cancer coach, radio talk show host, speaker, and the Executive Director for the Emerald Heart Cancer Foundation. Elyn empowers women to choose the path for treatment that best fits their own individual needs.  She is passionate about helping others move forward into a life of health and wellbeing. Elyn lives in New York with her husband and two young boys. To learn about Elyn’s coaching services, please visit:  https://elynjacobs.wordpress.com.  To tune into the Survive and Live Well radio show, please visit http://www.W4CS.com, Tuesdays at 1pm (EST). To view info on upcoming topics and guests, please visit: https://elynjacobs.wordpress.com/elyns-blog/.


Facebook @Elyn Jacobs Consulting

LinkedIn @Elyn Jacobs


Breast Cancer Nutrition, Cancer Coach’s Tips–Video with Elyn Jacobs

In Uncategorized on April 13, 2012 at 1:25 pm


April 12, 2012 Youtube Video with www.BreastCancerAnswers.com

Elyn Jacobs is a breast cancer survivor and certified cancer coach.  During her cancer treatment she discovered how what she was putting into her body, helped or hindered her body in it’s fight against cancer. She gives three very easy to follow and helpful tips on how you can help your body fight cancer by altering your diet.

 To View the Video, please visit:


Below is the text…my appologies as the text is computer-driven, and not all the verbage came through correctly….

Elyn Jacobs: I have three tips for you on eating to beat cancer. First let me say that nutrition matters. Dietary habits play a significant role in the prevention of breast cancer, the prevention of recurrence and slowing the progression of the disease.

Good nutrition will also support your body during damaging cancer treatments and will help you heal. That said, I’d like to suggest the 80/20 rule. So before you tell me, “No, I am not giving up my dessert or my meat”, remember, you don’t have to be perfect. Just try to eat well 80% of the time.

I also know that during cancer treatments, some foods may be very unappealing to you. So just do your best and try to avoid things like Ensure, because your body really doesn’t need the chemicals. Look for real foods.

So here are my tips:

Tip #1, Eat at least 15 servings of fruits and vegetables a day and try to include at least 10 different varieties. You also want to look for colors of the rainbow as each provides different cancer-fighting components.

Adding fresh fruits and vegetables to your diet will also help you avoid the constipation that can come with many cancer treatments. If you find that you cannot or do not get enough produce, there are many whole food supplements out there that can help you bridge the gap between good intentions and reality.

Tip #2, Limit dairy products, meat and eggs as they can cause cancer-friendly inflammation in the body. They also add unnecessary hormones that you don’t need. You might want to consider limiting peanut butter too as that is also a pro-inflammatory food.

Tip #3, Cut out processed, fried, and fast foods, and eliminate as much sugar and refined grains as possible. You also want to try and stick to as much organic produce as you can, especially for those that are on the so-called ‘dirty dozen’, which by the way should now be the ‘dirty baker’s dozen’ because when they added blueberries they got up to number 13.

Hi, I am Elyn Jacobs, a breast cancer survivor and a certified cancer coach. I am also the Executive Director for the Emerald Heart Cancer Foundation. You can find me at http://www.wordpress.com. I am also on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn @ElynJacobs, or you can email me at Elyn@ElynJacobs.com.

This information should not be relied upon as a substitute for personal medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Use the information provided on this site solely at your own risk.  If you have any concerns about your health, please consult with a physician

Integrative Oncology Works!!!

In Uncategorized on March 5, 2012 at 8:23 pm

This past weekend I attended the Annie Appleseed Project CAM conference; so many excellent speakers. Over the next few weeks I will be sharing some of what I learned. What resonated throughout the conference was that conventional medicine alone is not the answer.Today I will talk about Dr Gwen Stritter and her roadmap to beat cancer.

Dr Stritter provided a humorous and excellent plan for someone just diagnosed with early stage breast cancer who wants to increase her chances of a cure.  I just loved the positive tone; note she did not say to prevent recurrence, but rather spoke of that lovely word cure. She said that if she were diagnosed at 12pm, what she could do at 12:01pm that could take her on the path to wellness.

Exercise:  Fast walking 3hours a week improves breast cancer survival by 40%.  5-6 hours increased survival even more.  So, she will go for a walk. Social support: Increased contact with friends and family post diagnosis was associated with lower risk of death by 70%.  So, on the way home, she will stop in and visit some friends and family.  Alcohol:  having one alcoholic beverage a day increases death by 36%.  So, she’d give up that glass of wine with dinner…well maybe indulge only twice a week as she really loves wine.  D3: Vitamin D3 decreases metastasis and increases survival by 55%. So, she’ll pop in a 2000mg supplement as soon as she gets in the car.  Omega 3: high intake of omega 3 fatty acids from fatty fish increases survival by 25%, so she’ll call her husband and ask him to toss the fried chicken, and will stop at the fish market to buy some salmon for dinner. Controlling inflammation:  having a high CRP, (which indicates increased inflammation), results in a 100% increase of death.  So, she will take some anti-inflammatory natural products such as curcumin, omega 3 (yes, perhaps a supplement too), boswellia and a few others.  Low toxicity pharmaceuticals:  a daily baby aspirin reduced breast cancer death by 70% (alternatively, one regular aspirin taken three times a week can reduce recurrence by 50%, according to my integrative onc).  So, she will stop at the drugstore and buy some aspirin.  She might also take some other pharms that look promising, so she’ll call her primary physician. In trials, Propranolol, a cheap and non-toxic drug commonly prescribed for high blood pressure, increased  breast cancer  survival by 80% (in a retrospective study).  Metformin, which is derived from the French lilac plant, increased survival in diabetic patients by 60%, and non-diabetics with breast cancer who did not take Metformin had 3 times the risk of distant metastasis….the risk went up 300%!.  Metformin is cheap and has very few side effects.  (My doc recommends that almost everyone take it to avoid cancer, and certainly to prevent recurrence).  There is another study expected to be released by 2014, but likely you will not want to wait until then.

And of course, she will switch to a mostly plant based diet, be conservative on oil and fat intake, and if she were a smoker…she would stop asap! 

In summary, if she does all this, cancer does not stand a chance; she has provided an extremely hostile environment for her cancer to grow.    She also commented that Dr Keith Block did an excellent study on these combined steps and found a substantial increase in survival for those with advanced metastatic cancer.  Her overall deduction?  Integrative Oncology works!!! 

A few things to add:

You will likely need to ask your primary doc, not your oncologist for prescriptions for Propranolol and Metformin as they are not yet approved for cancer despite the fact that they can be quite effective.    At this conference as well as at the Integrative Healthcare Symposium, several doctors commented that Metformin was the only cancer drug that actually worked. My doc started me on this a while back, handing me piles of research to support his recommendation.

Also, remember to address stress….more on this later, but I offer this post until then: https://elynjacobs.wordpress.com/2011/12/09/changing-the-cancer-environment/

Lately there has been much in the news about red wine and breast cancer.  Research shows that a small amount of red wine may actually reduce breast cancer risk.  http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/240065.php?utm_medium=twitter&utm_s

The trick is small.  Those who love wine (like me) might take this too far.  Your body converts alcohol into acetaldehyde, a carcinogen.  Acetaldehyde boosts cancer risk by inflicting oxidative stress that damages DNA, prevents DNA repair, and triggers a pro-inflammatory reaction.  You can help offset the damage by adding a few foods and plant-based compounds like silymarin, resveratrol, grape seed extract and barley grass, as well as adding some supps like selenium, NAC, vitamin B6, and folate, to prevent alcohol-related deficiencies of valuable cancer fighting nutrients and minerals.  The trick is to take the supps just before, with, or even immediately after accidental over- indulgence of wine. (Have a brazil nut with that wine!)So, I offer up this article, which effectively provides a good explanation of the dangers of alcohol as well as what we can do to offset the damage should we accidentally over-indulge.  http://www.lef.org/magazine/mag2011/dec2011_Link-Between-Alcohol-and-Cancer-Death_01.htm

Elyn Jacobs




Elyn Jacobs is President of Elyn Jacobs Consulting, Executive Director for the Emerald Heart Cancer Foundation, a certified cancer coach and a breast cancer survivor.  Elyn helps women diagnosed with cancer to navigate the process of treatment and care, and educates to prevent recurrence and new cancers.  She is passionate about helping others get past their cancer and into a cancer-free life. To learn more about Elyn’s coaching services, please visit:  https://elynjacobs.wordpress.com

Natural Alternatives to Tamoxifen

In Alternative Cancer Therapies, Alternatives Cancer Treatment, Alternatives to Tamoxifen, Breast Cancer, Healing Cancer Naturally, Hormone Balance, Tamoxifen, Uncategorized on January 15, 2012 at 7:39 pm

Over the past few months I have been asked many times if I know of a natural substitute for Tamoxifen.  I apologize that it has taken me so long to write this post, but it has required extensive research and obtaining the knowledge of many experts.  Many are not convinced that Tamoxifen is the wonder drug it is made out to be.  I am one of those people.  However, it is not my opinion that matters.  My job is to give you information and options, not opinions.  There are many others who believe that Tamoxifen is a beneficial drug. You and you alone can decide what is best for you, for your needs and concerns.

Tamoxifen is a synthetic drug that competes with estrogens for binding to the estrogen receptors in the body.  When estrogens bind the estrogen receptors in the cells of the breast or uterus, for example, this activates cell growth and division.  When Tamoxifen occupies the estrogen receptor in place of an estrogen, it paralyzes the receptor, preventing it from triggering the events that result in cell division.  It does not kill cancer cells, but in some respect, puts them to sleep or disables them.  Scientists call this a cytostatic drug; the word cytotoxic means toxic to cells, or cell-killing. However, Tam does not kill the cancer cells, but rather only stops them from growing; therefore there is no offer for a cure, only a band-aid.  When you remove the band-aid, the cells can then begin to divide again.  Tamoxifen also comes with a host of potential side effects so many doctors suggest a time limit of five years, after which the negatives may outweigh the positives.






Ok…so is there a natural substitute for Tamoxifen?  The short answer is no. Many women seek out a natural replacement for this drug, but the replacement is really an overall lifestyle approach – including diet, exercise, stress management, avoidance of toxins and adding the support of herbs and supplements. In other words, the best thing really is to follow an anti-cancer strategy.  In doing so, you will naturally incorporate an anti-estrogen strategy.  Your endocrine and immune systems will be in balance and you will be optimizing the other systems in your body to join you in your defense of cancer. However there are some things you can concentrate on.

The first thing you can do to reduce estrogen is to avoid unnecessary exposure to hormone- influencing toxins.  Be aware that most commercial home, garden and beauty products contain hormone-like compounds in them.  Purchase safer, chemical-free products, and please, do not use plastic containers or plastic wrap in the microwave (better yet, toss the micro, but that is a story for another day) and avoid BPA exposure as much as possible.

View my video on Natural Alternatives to Tamoxifen—Dr Kelly Turner, PhD interviews Elyn Jacobs for The Radical Remission Project. Update added 1/19/14

You may also want to read my updated version of Natural Alternatives to Aromatase Inhibitors 

Please view the following links for the how-to of reducing the toxins in your world:





Exercise and maintaining a healthy weight play a crucial role in cancer prevention.  Exercise helps to reduce excess estrogen from the body and being overweight boosts the body’s estrogen levels.  Obesity increases the body’s insulin levels and insulin-like growth factors (IGFs) that have a growth promoting effect on cells, especially on cancerous cells. Further, recent studies have proven that overweight and obese women have higher levels of inflammation, which provides a cancer promoting environment in the body. Try to exercise for at least 30-45 minutes a day. Any exercise is better than none, but a brisk walk or run will give you more protection.

“Let Food be thy Medicine, and Medicine be thy Food”    Hippocrates

Hippocrates was right, and in this case, specific food choices and supplements offer natural ways to inhibit cancer growth and balance hormones.

Flaxseed–The lignans in flax are phytoestrogens, but they actually bind to estrogen receptors in the body and work a bit like Tamoxifen, as they hop on the estrogen and bind up these hormones and carcinogens and remove them from the body.  Although lignans are found in most unrefined grains (barley, buckwheat, millet and oats), soybeans, and some vegetables (broccoli, carrots, cauliflower and spinach), flaxseed is the richest source.  I recommend eating 2 tablespoons freshly ground golden flaxseed daily. If you are unable to eat 2-3 Tbs daily, I recommend a supplement: Brevail Proactive Breast Health Capsules, 30-Count Box

More on the benefits of flaxseed:




Love your liver—No, not liver, your liver. Your body depends on a fully-functioning liver to break down and eliminate hormones and toxins in the body. Calcium d-glucurate, a natural ingredient found in certain vegetables and fruits that helps detoxify the liver and promote estrogen metabolism.  Vegetables rich in glucaric acid include those in the cruciferous family (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts, kale, etc. –please eat several servings of these every day), as well as in the gourd (think squash, watermelon and pumpkins).  For fruits, look for oranges and apples, and consider legumes such as peas, lentils and bean sprouts. Calcium d-glucurate can also be found in supplement form. Silymarin or milk thistle also prevents damage to the liver by acting as an antioxidant and enhancing the detoxification process.  NAC (N-Acetyl Cysteine) is also a liver fortifier and detoxification tool.  (NAC is also useful in the removal of the lead and mercury from dental fillings as well as the toxins in paint). Limit alcohol and avoid drugs that can damage the liver.

Adding bitter greens, such as arugula and chicory, to salads will also help the liver excrete excess hormones.  (Arugula is also a member of the cruciferous family)

Pomegranateare a potent source phytonutrients, and antioxidants like polyphenols, ellagitannins (ellagic acid), tannins and anthocyanins.  These compounds are strong free-radical fighters, providing added protection against cellular damage, and research has suggested that these phytochemicals may suppress estrogen.  Researchers now believe that it is specifically the ellagic acid in pomegranates that inhibits aromatase, the key enzyme used by the body to make estrogen.  Thus, as breast and ovarian cancers require estrogen to grow, AIs are offered to either block the production of estrogen or block the action of estrogen on receptors; pomegranates and their bioactive metabolites may act as a natural aromatase inhibitor. Other sources of Ellagic acid are raspberries and Marion berries.

Please note: I do not suggest that you take ellagic acid supplements, but rather whole food sources of Ellagitannin.  When you eat foods that contain ellagitannins, your body converts these ellagitannins into ellagic acid much in the same way your body converts Beta-carotene into vitamin A.  When you eat beta-carotene rich foods, you get the full benefit of Vitamin A without the potential health risks of the synthetic form of vitamin A.  The same is true for Ellagic Acid which is not as available to the body and comes with potential side effects, such as high blood pressure.

Limit Caffeine– Those who consumed at least 500 mg of caffeine daily, the equivalent of four or five cups of coffee had nearly 70% more estrogen than women who consumed less than 100 mg of caffeine daily.

Choose only organic animal products from grass-fed livestock that has not been fed estrogen, progesterone or testosterone.  Fats from milk and meat are loaded with estrogen, but at least try to avoid products with added hormones.

Eat apples, every day.  Quercetin, found in apples, red wine, onions, and green tea, has anti-estrogenic effects and may reduce the metastatic potential of cancer cells.  Red wine you say?  Yes, red wine may lower estrogen levels. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/240065.php?utm_medium=twitter&utm_s

Diindolylmethane (DIM) is a phytonutrient and plant indole found in cruciferous vegetables including broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower and kale, with many powerful anticancer properties. Dim also promotes estrogen metabolism.  Estrogen can be metabolized in two different pathways in the liver, which results in two different kinds of estrogen, “good” and “bad” estrogen. “Good” estrogen metabolites are released into the bloodstream there they cause many of the benefits estrogen provides, such as prevention of heart disease, and strong, healthy bones. “Bad” estrogen, in large quantities, can result in many health problems including autoimmune disorders, breast cancer, cervical dysplasia, fibroid tumors, magnesium deficiency, osteoporosis, ovarian cancer, uterine cancer, and zinc deficiency. ***Please read the following articles for updates on DIM, posted April 8th 2013 —DIM-New Thoughts on an Old Story. and  posted October 31, 2013 DIM: A Bright New View on Cancer Management .  Nature’s Way – Dim-Plus, 120 capsules

Manage Stress—the adrenal gland is where stress is expressed.  Chronic stress leading to adrenal fatigue is a leading cause of progesterone depletion and thus estrogen dominance.  Stress, per se, is not the true enemy, but rather how we respond to it.  For more on stress and cancer, please visit: https://elynjacobs.wordpress.com/2011/12/09/changing-the-cancer-environment/

My post on Chinese Herbal Medicine highlighted the point that CHM looks to individually assess each person’s condition, identifying excesses, deficiencies, and imbalances – as understood within the TCM diagnostic framework – and to prescribe a combination of herbs to bring the system as a whole back into balance. With that said, a lot of research has been done on the physiological effects of various herbs, particularly on estrogen and other hormones, so a visit with an herbalist might be a good part of an anti-estrogen strategy.

Simply put, estrogen can be reduced or managed using exercise, diet and relaxation modalities, but there is not one magic bullet.  That said, I know I have mentioned embracing  the cruciferous family, but I cannot stress this enough….raw or lightly cooked is best, juicing fantastic, and freeze-dried fine if that is the only way to get them.  I strongly recommend the use of super-food powders such as Completely GreenDesigns for Health PaleoredsPaleogreens  and similar formulas….these supplements are a great way to bridge the gap between great intentions and actually getting the nutrients and enzymes we need (just remember, supplements are intended to accompany a good diet, not replace one.)  Take time for yourself everyday for exercise, laughter, relaxation and love, and benefit from a monthly massage.  Embrace every day and remind yourself everyday that you matter, that you deserve to be loved and cared for.

Please understand that nothing in this post represents medical advice, and I encourage you to discuss this information with your integrative oncologist or naturopathic doctor. I have compiled this information solely for those seeking an alternative to Tamoxifen and cannot endorse either protocol.

You may find the following article helpful, but please discuss any and all of the suggestions here with your doctor before utilizing them. http://www.drlam.com/articles/estrogen_dominance.asp?page=1

Herbal Medicine, and Healing Cancer , by Dr Donald Yance, is an excellent resource for balancing hormones and healing cancer naturally, as well as for support during conventional cancer treatments.

You may also be interested in Natural Alternatives to Aromatase Inhibitors: https://elynjacobs.wordpress.com/2012/09/20/natural-alternatives-to-aromatase-inhibitors/

Elyn Jacobs

Elyn Jacobs is a certified cancer coach, a breast cancer survivor and the Executive Director for the Emerald Heart Cancer Foundation.  She empowers women to choose the path for treatment that best fits their own individual needs.  Elyn helps women to uncover the nutritional deficiencies and emotional stress patterns that may have contributed to their cancer and to support their body as it activates it own natural ability to fight the disease. She is passionate about helping others move forward into a life of health and wellbeing. To learn more about Elyn’s coaching services or to learn more about eating for life, please visit:  https://elynjacobs.wordpress.com.

Changing the Cancer Environment

In Uncategorized on December 9, 2011 at 11:58 pm

In The Redwood Forest, I talk about changing the cancer environment.  I decided this topic deserves more depth, so today’s post goes a bit further into the emotional and nutritional sides of cancer.  In good health, Elyn

           Changing the Cancer Environment

Disease (is) not an entity but a fluctuating condition of the patient’s body, a battle between the substance of disease and the natural self-healing tendency of the body.        Hippocrates 

Cancer is not as complicated as many claim it to be.  Genetic, environmental, nutritional and psychological factors all play a role in the development of cancer.  However, the development of cancer is an indication that the body lacks the support necessary to destroy cancer cells. We all generate errant or mutated cancer cells in our bodies every day, yet only some individuals will go on to develop the disease.  Normally our immune systems destroy these errant cells, yet in individuals whose immune systems are severely compromised, this mechanism fails.  Quite simply, the key is to discover and repair what is not functioning by empowering yourself to make changes that support your body’s ability to resist the cancer process.

  You can’t alter your genetic factors. To some extent you can modify your environmental factors, but unavoidable perils lurk everywhere. However, you can change the psychological and nutritional factors that weaken the body’s natural defenses against cancer, and often times these changes can affect the way your body responds to genetic and environmental factors. For example, diet often trumps toxins by helping to remove toxins from the body, and diet can also influence the expression of genes.  Therefore, what is of far more interest than the risk factors or causes is what we can do about them. The key to survival is often changing the environment in which cancer was able to develop.  If we focus on the underlying conditions that may have contributed to the disease, we can likely prevent recurrence or reverse the course of the disease.  After all, it is not the primary tumor that kills us, but rather the progression of the disease.  Emotional patterns and dietary choices may neither be the cause or cure for every cancer, but any path taken, be it allopathic, integrative or alternative, will be more successful long-term if the mind and body are addressed.

 “Cancer does not begin in the body; cancer begins in the brain   R.G.Hamer

 There is a strong correlation between emotional patterns and the development and progression of cancer. The power of repressed emotions, anger, and resentment as well as a lack of self love is not to be overlooked in the creating and healing of our cancers. Emotional challenges can develop into physical ones; that is, emotions not expressed in words or actions find expression in physical ailments; physical symptoms are often related to past repressed traumatic experiences.  Toxic defense mechanisms are often developed in childhood to survive life’s inevitable traumas.

 I remember my first visit to my integrative oncologist, Mitch Gaynor.  The interview lasted several hours, and at one point he mentioned that he thought my cancer likely had much to do with something that happened to me when I was five years old; something that caused me to repress emotions that would later have contributed to my cancer.  He said that many people suppress their feelings in order to keep peace with others or to spare themselves or others from pain.  We talked about my life-long desire to be the peace-keeper, to the point where my family dubbed me “Julie the cruise director”.  For those of you who remember The Love Boat, it was Julie’s job to accommodate others, to be perky, and to ensure that everyone on the boat was happy…a tall order. Our physical health is compromised when we chronically repress our needs and feelings to accommodate others.  This coping style weakens our immune defenses and leaves us more vulnerable to cancer progression. I have worked with him to make a more peaceful, but expressive life, and in doing so, have found appropriate ways to express my emotions; I have learned to put myself first at times.

 Stress per se is not a critical factor in illness; it’s how we respond to it that matters. The key is to express it appropriately and then let it go, so that it doesn’t fester or build, or escalate out of control. Healthy is not just a matter of thinking happy thoughts, but rather to learn how to express our emotions. Take a walk, run, have a massage, listen to music, take a bath, yell (or at least make your distress known) –anything that can release stress and stored or blocked emotions. We cannot control the reactions of others. However, although people may initially react when you begin to express your emotions and speak honestly, in the end it raises the relationship to a whole new and healthier level. Either that or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life. Either way, you win.

 The immune system is often suppressed in people who feel they are not able to change the negative conditions of their lives, and are involved in toxic relationships.  Situations in which a woman has a physically or emotionally abusive man in her life or is stuck in a non-nurturing marriage or even in one where a husband is unable or unwilling to support his wife’s emotional needs can trigger a cascade of biochemical changes that help create a fertile field for breast cancer to grow.

 This is not to say that everyone involved in a toxic relationship or who has relentless, unaddressed stress will develop cancer.  However, to help avoid a recurrence of cancer or to reverse the disease, you need to change the environment in which cancer was permitted to grow.  Identifying and releasing deep-seated negative emotions and thought patterns, while maintaining an attitude of hope and positive beliefs, can make the all-important difference in the pursuit of wellness. If you suspect negative relationships to be part of the cause, it’s time to make some changes. Make a commitment to yourself and eliminate the toxic relationships in your life, celebrate you and make sure you are a priority in life, not an afterthought. Consider stress reducing therapies such as Reiki, yoga, meditation, or kinesiology.  Join a support group to talk through your frustrations and to connect with others.


“Let Food be thy Medicine, and Medicine be thy Food”        Hippocrates

 Diet should be an important part of your anticancer strategy.  The cellular level is where cancer begins and where nutrition exerts its greatest effect. Our nutritional status either weakens us, making us susceptible to the development of cancer, or strengthens our bodies’ defense mechanisms, enhancing our ability to prevent renegade cells from becoming tumors, to avoid recurrence and often to reverse the disease.  Cancer loves inflammation, and inflammation plays a role at all three stages of cancer: initiation, progression and metastasis. Most foods either encourage or discourage inflammation.  A diet high in trans-fatty acids, carbohydrates and sugar helps the body to create inflammation, whereas a diet heavy in vegetables, whole grains and omega-3 fatty acids puts the brakes on the process. For an in-depth discussion on inflammation and its role in cancer, please visit: http://www.embodiworks.org/cancertreatments/bodymindspirit/inflammation/

 In general, a high fiber, low fat, low protein diet rich in fruits and vegetables is recommended (as well as exercise and maintaining a healthy weight).  Avoid red meat (occasional organic, grass-fed meats are fine). Dairy consumption is somewhat controversial, but most would argue that avoiding or limiting dairy is best.  Remember, we want to enjoy life; deprivation can lead to depression and reduced enjoyment of life.  If eating cheese is of great pleasure to you, then by all means, have some, but try to find raw, organic cheeses made on small farms to avoid pesticides and unnecessary hormones.  For more information on dairy, please visit:  http://elynjacobs.blogspot.com/2011/10/shedding-some-light-on-dairy-var.html

 Antioxidants and the immune system play critical role cancer prevention and in their ability to destroy cancers already present. Antioxidants protect cells and tissues, and remove the free radicals created by exposure to radiation, chemicals and inflammation.  Foods such as flaxseed, rosemary, apples, red wine, leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables help remove and disable troublesome estrogen from the body. The immune system, and specifically NK cells (natural killer cells), are able to attack and kill a wide variety of cells and patrol the circulatory system and organs of the body on an antigen seek-and-destroy mission, so keeping these super-soldiers in optimal fighting condition is necessary to beat cancer.  A lack of minerals and nutrients will decrease the activity of these soldiers and compromise the immune system. Please include a wide variety of anti-cancer foods as each nutrient plays its own role in the prevention of cancer. To learn more about cancer-fighting foods, please visit: http://elynjacobs.blogspot.com/2010/12/eating-to-cheat-cancer.html

 Remember, the goal is to empower yourself to take responsibility for your own healing and to encourage you to take action, without creating a sense of guilt.  If you have cancer, think long and hard about how you got to this place in life, and what kind of joyful and fulfilling future you want to create as a survivor.  You can’t change the past, but you can take control of your future. Understanding which behaviors, ingrained patterns and dietary deficiencies we can begin to change in order to strengthen our immune systems and to allow our bodies to heal is the first step in the pursuit of wellness. Resolving these issues and moving towards a happier, healthier life is why many survivors say that getting cancer was the best thing that ever happened to them.

 To read more about Dr Hamer’s theory, please visit: www.newmedicine.ca; http://www.learninggnm.com/home.html

 To learn more about how psychological change can repair and empower a compromised immune system, please visit:  

www.cancerasaturningpoint.org/  Cancer as a Turning Point, by  Lawrence Leshan, PhD

www.cancer-report.com The Cancer Report, by John Voell and Cynthia Chatfield 

www.gaynoroncology.com/ Dr Mitch Gaynor, Gaynor Integrative Oncology

www.breastcancer.org  Breast Cancer: Is it what You’re Eating or What’s Eating You?  Susan Silberstein, PhD

 Elyn Jacobs





Elyn Jacobs is President of Elyn Jacobs Consulting, Executive Director for the Emerald Heart Cancer Foundation, a certified cancer coach and a breast cancer survivor.  Elyn helps women diagnosed with cancer to navigate the process of treatment and care, and educates to prevent recurrence and new cancers.

The Redwood Forest

In Uncategorized on November 20, 2011 at 4:15 pm

 I titled my blog “It’s a Strong Tree that Withstands a Hurricane” as I believe that a strong, healthy body is a formidable defense against cancer, similar to how a strong tree can withstand the fierce winds of a hurricane.  A body that lacks nutrients or that suffers relentless stress is at a disadvantage.  Stress, particularly when perceived as inevitable and uncontrollable, is a key factor in vulnerability to cancer. I will discuss nutrients later, but for now, I want to talk more about stress and trees, specifically the redwood trees in Northern California.   These trees are the tallest trees on earth, yet the roots are actually quite shallow.  The tallest trees on the earth have a shallow root system.  They stand tall because they stay close and intertwine their roots with the trees around them.  This strong support system allows them to stand tall whilst otherwise they would fall.  In order to avoid the beast called cancer and in order to beat this beast, we need to intertwine ourselves with a solid support system of friends and loved ones.

 Some women are lucky enough to have a built in support system of family and friends.  Others find that their current circle just doesn’t understand or are even involved in toxic, draining relationships. The immune system is often suppressed in people who feel they are not able to change the negative conditions of their lives.  Situations in which a woman has a physically or emotionally abusive man in her life or is stuck in a non-nurturing marriage or even in one where a husband is unable or unwilling to support his wife’s emotional needs can trigger a cascade of biochemical changes that help create a fertile field for breast cancer to grow.

 This is not to say that everyone involved in a toxic relationship or who has relentless, unaddressed stress will develop cancer.  However, to avoid a recurrence of breast cancer, you need to change the environment in which cancer was permitted to grow.  If you suspect negative relationships to be part of the cause, it’s time to make some changes. Make a commitment to yourself and eliminate the toxic relationships in your life, celebrate you and make sure you are a priority in life, not an afterthought. Consider stress reducing therapies such as Reiki, yoga, meditation, or kinesiology. Join a support group to talk through your frustrations and to connect with others.

    Support groups and online support groups and chat rooms give cancer patients a new place to belong.  Many of us have joked “once you have breast cancer, you become a member of the club…the initiation is rough, but the women are amazing.”  Since my diagnosis, I have met the most amazing people, met so many wonderful new friends.  Friends who understand what is like to live with cancer, to be declared NED but who still look over their shoulder every day, and who understandably fret over every scan, odd symptom and toxin that might cross their path.  If your husband says he doesn’t know you anymore, that cancer has changed you, take him along; let him see that your cancer fears and insecurities are not unique to you.  If he still doesn’t get it and is unable to support you, divorce him (ouch, did I say that?).  Embrace life, live life and love life….it’s yours and it can be gone with a blink.

 May your tree stand tall.

Elyn Jacobs





Elyn Jacobs is President of Elyn Jacobs Consulting, Executive Director for the Emerald Heart Cancer Foundation, a certified cancer coach and a breast cancer survivor.  Elyn helps women diagnosed with cancer to navigate the process of treatment and care, and educates to prevent recurrence and new cancers.  She is passionate about helping others get past their cancer and into a cancer-free life. To learn more about Elyn’s coaching services, please visit:  https://elynjacobs.wordpress.com