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14 May 2013

Angelina Jolie's Choice

Angelina Jolie just published an op-ed in the NY Times regarding her decision to undergo a preventative double mastectomy based on the advice of her health care providers after she tested for a gene associated with increased breast cancer risk. Increasingly, celebrities and those in upper income brackets with access to high-tech health care are opting for this choice. 

The process of removing otherwise healthy tissue is deeply troubling to me. 

I also find the studies and the statistics on which physicians may be basing their advocacy of these procedures incomplete, especially in the light of new information in the field of epigenetics. 

Epigenetics proposes that genes only express themselves when given the right environmental conditions; additionally, much of what we think we know about genetics is changing and will be changing in the coming years, but the short version is genes are far more mutable and dependent upon the environment than ever before imagined.  The notion that I have this gene therefore I will get this condition sometime in the future is inherently flawed. 

Ms. Jolie states based on her information, she has a "65% risk of getting it [breast cancer], on average." Later she writes after having the medical procedures, "My chances of developing breast cancer have dropped from 87 percent to under 5 percent." I'm sorry, but there is no way in the world she can state those numbers with any certainty. She's relying on a Procrustean Bed of statistics that are very limited in their application, quite simply because they cannot take into consideration a myriad number of factors that go into anyone's development of cancer.

I just wonder if Ms. Jolie's physicians are aware of natural substances in foods and herbs that fix DNA, changing otherwise mutated DNA back to healthy DNA? I suppose her doctors never mentioned  chemical compounds called lignans found in common weeds like Red Clover and inexpensive foods like lentils. Did they just neglect to tell her that lignans can repair mutated genes?

What bothers me so much is the publicity Ms. Jolie is bound to receive and that other women will follow in her footsteps, much like red carpet fashion trends and anorexia, certain people are liable to copycat her actions as they would any celebrity in the media.

Jolie writes:

". . .I have been able to keep this private and to carry on with my work. But I am writing about it now because I hope that other women can benefit from my experience. Cancer is still a word that strikes fear into people’s hearts, producing a deep sense of powerlessness. But today it is possible to find out through a blood test whether you are highly susceptible to breast and ovarian cancer, and then take action."

I suggest action, but not necessarily preventative surgeries. Here are just a few easy, inexpensive, and common strategies for preventing breast cancer or any other kind of cancer for that matter.

Drink Red Clover Infusions--Red Clover is loaded with lignans, vitamins and other anti-oxidents. It is the number one anti-cancer herb!

Get More Lignans in Your Diet, like those found in lentils and flax seeds, for example.

Sleep in Total Darkness; avoid any lights in your bedroom at night. The body needs total darkness to produce melatonin, an important anti-cancer hormone.

Get Plenty of Exercise; doesn't need to be strenuous, just steady on a regular basis.

Avoid Chlorinated Water; use a filter for your shower or bath, and, of course, don't drink chlorinated or fluoridated water for that matter.

Limit Radiation Exposure; all radiation exposure is cumulative, so be aware of all x-rays, MRI's, long airline flights, and even mammography! Thermography is an alternative to mammography worth exploring.

Re: Breast Cancer--Limit Wearing Bras--there have long been anecdotal links about the connection between bras, or any tight fitting clothing, that restrict lymph flow and breast cancer development.

Get More Sunshine (without sunscreen!) thereby increasing the level of vitamin D, a powerful cancer fighter.

Check the Quality of the Fats You Consume; any fats from animal sources, especially diary and meat, should be organic, from animals raised in a healthy environment without hormones and pesticides.

Avoid Vegetable Oils; vegetable oils are one of the major contributors to inflammation and degenerative disease and very likely a major cause of cancer. They are found in so many foods and many people cook with them when they could use safer, health-promoting oils like olive and coconut.

Stop Using Pesticides Around the House and Garden.

Increase Anti-Oxidents and other powerful cancer fighters like those found in fruits such as berries and red wine.

This is simple stuff.  Cancer is not simple. 

There may well be hundreds or even thousands of factors related to whether one person or another gets one type of cancer or another, but to imply that the cause and effect relationship is as simple as a) I have a gene b) my chances of cancer are dramatically increased, c) I should remove healthy tissue before it causes me trouble is too much a stretch for me. How about all the women who will develop complications from these surgeries? Infections, even deaths can result even from routine surgeries. Is that not factored in to her equation? 

This trend reminds me of one at the turn of the last century when wealthy people had their colons removed, presumably to decrease their risk of colon cancer and also because it was quite fashionable not to have the unpleasant task of moving one's bowels when a colostomy bag would be so much neater and cleaner. They actually had servants handle the dirty business of emptying the bags, freeing them up to go about their robber baron businesses unencumbered by the common functions the rest of us mere mortals had to deal with.

In the final analysis, I trust Mother Nature more than science. And human beings are notoriously flawed when it comes to discerning cause and effect.

I believe, especially in complex matters, that what we don't know greatly eclipses what we do know; therefore I cannot trust in the limited knowledge of (mostly) men in white coats. I can trust in the unlimited, infinite wisdom and power of Mother Nature. Why would I  do drastic things like surgery, while all the while I have the option to do simple, harmless, proven preventative measures--only fear can be the answer.

The notion to which I object so strongly is the idea that these easy, inexpensive, preventative measures don't hold power. Why does Ms. Jolie infer that power only means powerful science, very invasive and dramatic procedures, while, by default, ignoring simple ones? The truth is our daily choices hold tremendous opportunities to enhance wellness and protect us from diseases like cancer. Is any prevention 100% effective? Of course not, but again, Mother Nature has a longer proven track record than what we call modern medicine.

I'm thankful that most people on the planet are not as wealthy and privileged as Ms. Jolie. They simply can't afford or don't have access to the kind of health care Jolie espouses, but I worry for the exposure and popularity this procedure may now gain simply because she may become the spokesperson.

NOTE: Following is a link to the May 16, 2013 edition of The Gary Null Show in which he discusses the issue in some depth with Dr. Christiane Northrup.


  1. Traci Spencer RocheMay 14, 2013 at 10:10 AM

    I agree, Marc. Christina Applegate had both her breasts removed but, as I recall, she actually had cancer that required a mastectomy.

    It's none of my business what Angelina Jolie, or anyone, wants to do with their body. I prefer the approach of prevention first. Sometimes, we are unable to overcome our genetics and then we have to consider what action to take.

    We are mortal beings. Many people are in denial of that; but eventually, we all die. Of course, the goal is to be as healthy as long as possible and I prefer to try something less radical as my first line of defense!

  2. This whole thing is coming about as I have been diagnosed with thyroid cancer. I have learned as I have embarked upon this journey that removing organs as a preemptive "prophylaxis" is quite common. I have a "large" nodule on the left side of the thyroid (over 4.5 cm), and a smaller one on the right. Before the biopsy, I was told by my ENT specialist that I would be having surgery, regardless of my diagnosis. I was told it would be too hard to biopsy a nodule of that size correctly because as the thyroid nodule grows, the cells within, good or bad, grow large as well. That makes it very difficult to get a proper diagnosis. I was told I could get a second opinion, but he WAS my second opinion. I didn't hesitate; I readied myself for this surgery before I ever knew I have cancer. I did it for my kids and my man; I also did it because I have a lingering and unabiding fear of death. At thirty-one years old, one will do anything they can to hold onto their mortality. Yes,I agree doing the things you list above will help decrease the risk of developing ANY kind of cancer, but faced with a similar decision, I would do, and basically did, the same thing. I only wish I had been given the option of thyroidectomy years ago, before I developed cancer. I hope that, when I am on the road to recovery after my thyroidectomy, I can implement more "all-natural" elements into my current lifestyle to keep me cancer free for good.

  3. This story makes me sick; and now that have a celeb spokesperson to sell more woman on self mutilation!!

    I had broke my neck and became a quadriplegic; my doctor's tried to scare me and told me I'd never walk again to which i finally fired them all and set off on my own. Now the most successful walking quadriplegic alive (that i know of); I did it without western medicine and with the BS big pharma poisons. If I was fearful enough to put my faith in them, I'd still be in a wheelchair. Thru my own self studies, I have simplified some survival logic and will share it here; enjoy and take a minute to think about it.
    If your favorite sports teamended up in last place for the last 20 years (with same coach), would you bet your life on the coach to be a winner next season?
    Seems like a stupid bet, no?
    Some of the leading causes of death are heart disease, diabetes and cancer;
    Why would you every trust your life to an oncologist, diabetic doctor or heart doctors with your life;
    Why trust the heavily government regulated FDA who approves all their failed remedies;
    Why trust the heavily government regulated health insurance approved treatments;
    Why trust any government regulated industry or agency?

    If the industry was successful at making people healthy, they would be losing customers and getting smaller. Survival is up to you and always remember, there are options to be found.


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