The Development of Breast Cancer – A Childhood Event
Carcinogenesis, the process that leads to cancer, is believed to occur in a series of steps. It is a multistage process that begins with pre-cancerous cellular damage that gradually proceeds to more malignant changes. The first step is the development of cellular abnormalities, which eventually leads to cancer. This usually occurs during adolescence or soon after puberty. Remember that unhealthful childhood nutritional practices cause excessive sex hormone production and early pathologic changes in the breast tissue that set the stage for cancer many years later.
Studies have shown that the arrival of puberty at an earlier age is a significant marker of increased risk. Furthermore, there is overwhelming evidence that ovarian hormones play a crucial role, in all stages, in the development of breast cancer. It is common knowledge among physicians that the earlier a woman matures, as measured by the age of her first menstrual period, the higher her risk for breast cancer. Both early menarche and greater body weight are markers of increased risk of breast cancer.
Ominously, the onset of menstruation has been occurring at a younger and younger age in Western societies during this century. For example, the average age in the United States is now about twelve years; however, according to the World Health Organization, the average age at which puberty began in 1840 was seventeen. In addition, during the same time period, there has been an increased consumption of fat, refined carbohydrates, cheese and meat, and there has been a huge decrease in the consumption of starchy plants, beans, fruit and nuts. A greater consumption of animal foods leads to a higher level of hormones related to early reproductive function and growth. These hormonal abnormalities persist into adulthood. Uterine fibroids (or tumors) also develop from a diet deficient in fruits and vegetables and heavy in cheese and meat. As the consumption of meat increases and vegetation decreases, one’s risk of fibroids increases proportionately.
Women are not the only sex affected. The same increased risk, as a result of early maturation, is seen with both prostate cancer and testicular cancer. If we grow and mature more rapidly, we increase our cancer risk and age faster. We see the same pattern in lab animals; if we feed them so they grow faster, they age rapidly, develop cancer and die younger.
In other words, the stage is set by our poor dietary habits early in life. Breast and prostate cancer are strongly affected by our dietary practices when we are young.