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What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Breast Cancer: How Hormone Balance Can Help Save Your Life    by John R. Lee, David Zava & Virginia Hopkins order for
What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Breast Cancer
by John R. Lee
Order:  USA  Can
Warner, 2003 (2002)
Hardcover, Paperback, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

I was intrigued by this title for two reasons. The first was my confusion about conflicting reports on the value of mammograms, which seem to tell us that they either give a false alarm and create unnecessary anxiety, or identify a real problem too late to do anything about it. The second reason was a recent mammogram result (fortunately a false alarm) that made me question my HRT (hormone replacement therapy) approach. This book made me question it even more.

I liked the style - arguments are developed logically and related to research. Of course no-one trusts research results any more, given the conflicting advice they generate, with respect to what we should and should not eat, drink or live near; at times starvation on a mountain top seems to be the safest option. A few years ago, assuming no family history of breast cancer, the trade-off on the HRT decision appeared to be between a small increased cancer risk and a probability of osteoporosis, heart disease and diminishing intellectual capacity ... seemed like an easy call to make if the information was correct.

According to this book, it was not. The authors' explain why 'estrogen is the smoking gun when it comes to breast cancer', detail sources of estrogen exposure including xenoestrogens released into the environment, and state that the incidence of breast cancer is rising steadily. They discuss the 'History and Politics of the Breast Cancer Industry'; the development of the disease; factors which affect our susceptibility to it; the nature of the various hormones and their effects on breast tissue; and prevention strategies. In particular, they recommend avoiding estrogen dominance by balancing its effects with natural progesterone.

Most of the pitfalls appear to arise because we 'tend to believe that if a little of something is good, then a whole lot more is better' from taking estrogen to vitamin supplements and, one of the recent rages, soy. Scientific reasons are given for sticking to smaller quantities, backed of course by common sense. Nutrition gets a lengthy treatment, with phytochemicals, fiber and garlic as good guys, while sugar, certain fats and bovine growth hormone get the thumbs down. Immediately after reading, I resolved to change my eating habits, stop using plastic wrap in the microwave and to distance myself from my computer's hard drive.

Knowledge is empowering, and, whether or not you accept all its arguments, this book will add to your information base on hormone balance and breast cancer. It left me anxious to revise my current HRT approach, and armed me with information needed to ask in-depth questions about alternatives. All in all, the authors of What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Breast Cancer make a great deal of sense.

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