We were talking about breast cancer prevention and what I tried to do, in speaking to these young doctors, was to give them a framework within which they can begin to operate and look at prevention and lifestyle interventions, particularly in a certain context.
That is to have them understand about the microenvironment, the interstitial fluid and the interstitial environment within which cells that are normal can become cancerous cells.
So when people understand that the microenvironment is important, then the question becomes what influences the microenvironment.
The things that influence the microenvironment are the things that are either endogenous to us - things that we make, chemicals that we make, or exogenous - the chemicals that we take in.
Of the chemicals that we take in, the most important one that we do all the time is, of course, taking in food.
So foods affect our microenvironment and the other things that we take in too such as drink, things that we breathe, things that we put on our skin, all of these can affect the quality of our microenvironment or our interstitial soup.
Then, of course, the things that are endogenous, which is the chemicals that our body naturally makes as part of the metabolic processes.
It also includes how we respond to things and the chemicals and hormones and other factors that we make in response to what’s going on in our lives, which includes our emotions.
So we have hormonal and enzymatic and immune factors, all of these affect that microenvironment that then influences the cells that are normal to either become cells that are mutants, and therefore potentially cancerous cells, or that will facilitate the cells maintaining a normal life and not mutating.
In other words, these things inhibit the mutation rate of cells to become cancer.
Is there a certain group that could be more susceptible than others?
Everybody, we all have an internal environment.
Because of genetics some people have an inherent abnormality, let’s put it that way, within their cells and therefore within the environment in which the cells will live.
But for the most part we can say that we all have the ability to influence what goes on with our own cellular microenvironment and that is through the things that we do, the way we live etc.
What other factors should be taken into consideration?
It’s true everywhere but, of course, one of the large studies that was done by the EACR was actually looking at over 460,000 people followed for eleven years with ten basic recommendations of things that they can do with their lifestyle that would impact the presence or absence of cancer.
The latest research shows that for the women who did five out of the ten, compared to those who did zero out of the ten, they had about a 60% reduction in breast cancer incidence.
So that should tell us there is something about basic things that we can do.
Some of those things include the things that we do every day – how we eat; whether we exercise or not; whether we smoke or not; whether we drink alcohol, in this case any amount of alcohol seemed to increase the risk of breast cancer in women.