By Sarah A LoBisco, ND

Pink Breast Cancer Ribbon Royalty Free Stock Photo - Image: 17201525

Before I head off to Dallas for the Institute for Functional Medicine’s 2013 Annual Symposium, Illuminating the Energy Spectrum, I couldn’t help but leave you with the top story headliner for next week’s May 2013 Holistic Health Top Reads!

That’s right. Next week, while flying back from my training, I’ll be compiling my condensed overview of all the valuable data and information I gathered this month. It will once again be in one convenient landing place! My goal for my Top Reads has always been to provide a reference with scientific validations on the power of how lifestyle and food affects health.

The major story of health in May, especially in the aspect of nature vs. nurture has to go to Angelina Jolie’s decision about her breast health. Angelina followed through with a prophylactic mastectomy due to a positive genetic marker for breast cancer, indicating she had an increased risk of contracting the disease

It was enough to make all conventional, integrative, alternative, and health care practitioners pause. Dr. Miller, from Medscape reports on the power of diagnostics for decision making and its implications. She also is very wise in urging everyone to be respectful of the patient’s decision to do what’s in their best interest vs. judge, condemn, or condone (emphasis mine):

Hi. It’s Dr. Kathy Miller from Indiana University, coming to you on May 14 to make certain that you did not miss the day’s biggest news. I’m not referring to the IRS scandal or whether Congress will hold hearings about what really happened in Benghazi.

I want to make sure you saw the New York Times report by Angelina Jolie[1] herself, disclosing that she inherited a deleterious mutation of BRCA1 and thus has an increased risk for breast and ovary cancer. She made the choice in February to undergo bilateral prophylactic mastectomy.

Now, make no mistake here: This is a report in the New York Times only because it is Angelina Jolie. Her genetic inheritance, the risks that it brings, and the choices that she faced — increased surveillance, prevention, lifestyle changes that might decrease her risk, or prophylactic surgery — were not at all different from the choices that all of our patients with BRCA abnormalities face. And her choice is her choice. It is the right choice for her, and we wish her well and good recovery and good health. But it doesn’t inform the choices that our other patients should make.

Source: Miller, K. Angelina Jolie and the Power of the Informed Decision. Medscape Oncology > Miller on Oncology. May 17, 2013.

The only problem with making an informed decision is not everyone has all the information to make it. The new science of nutrigenomics is just becoming main stream. The mass public still doesn’t have easy access to other options of support or on how lifestyle factors can significantly decrease the likelihood of cancer diagnosis, even with genetic factors at play.

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We can honor Angelina’s decision. Maybe she does eat organic foods and loves her broccoli, but for those who haven’t broken free from fear of diagnosis and the power of lifestyle choices, this is scary headlines.

As I was writing this story last night, serendipity would have it that Dr. Mercola came out with his feedback this Memorial Day Morning. He provides a great summary on positive lifestyle factors modulate epigenetics. Although he does provide a viewpoint which is more extreme than mine, it can be encouraging if we use the information available for all and that is less expensive than a $4000 gene test (for those not covered by insurance):

The paradigm-shattering research now referred to as epigenetics proves your genetic code is not nearly as predeterministic as previously thought. You actually have a tremendous amount of control over how your genetic traits are expressed. As it turns out, your genes will express or suppress genetic data depending on the environment in which it finds itself, meaning the presence or absence of appropriate nutrients, toxins, and even your thoughts and feelings, which unleash hormones and other chemicals in your body (emphasis mine).

Dr. Susan Love, a breast cancer surgeon and president of the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation commented on such research back in 2009, saying:28

“It’s exciting. What it means, if all this environmental stuff is right, is that we should be able to reverse cancer without having to kill cells. This could open up a whole new way of thinking about cancer that would be much less assaultive.”

Source: Mercola, J. Genetic Testing for Breast Cancer and Radical Mastectomy—Are Women Being Misled into a False Sense of Security? May 27, 2013.

The Full Picture for All Health Decisions

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I know I am blessed with a full and integrative viewpoint in medicine that many don’t have. I was graced to have functional and naturopathic medicine enter my life, providing me with a calm and rational approach to any disease. I believe strongly in the body’s innate healing potential that needs supporting vs. suppressing its symptoms of communication.

I’m psyched to soon be boarding a plane to Dallas to learn more about integrative strategies within the systems based model of functional medicine. It supports and incorporates the best of conventional diagnostics and treatments with lifestyle and nutritional medicine. This is based on scientifically sound and rational approaches, while honoring the whole person’s body, mind, and spirit.

My hope with this blog is to once again provide resources covering the whole picture of available options to decrease the risk of breast cancer and to provide strategies for prevention.

I want to thank my readers, who by reading this blog and many others’ viewpoints are staying open to all factors regarding breast health.


Once again, you’ll soon be filling those smart heads of yours on the power of integrative medicine, health, and important drug updates in next week’s Holistic Health Top Reads.

But…you’re going to have to wait until I’m back from Texas!

The good news is…there will be more information to feed your brain this week at my blog. The topic is on Getting Z’s, an important factor in all energy issues.

So, I’m off to Dallas, in the meantime, feel free to share your thoughts on nature vs. nurture, the impact of lifestyle, or on sleep. 🙂

(No, it’s not Houston, TX. If it was Houston, I wonder how many times I could have referenced health to “Houston, we have a problem!” Bummer!)