The way I imagined this article, was to keep it short, to the point, with 3 main paragraphs. I was thinking it would be written-edited-published in about a week. Joke! A month later, I still have two books I that I’d like to read on the subject, about a dozen studies I’d like to check out, and a few more podcasts I’d like to listen to. As you can see : I got into it. A week turned into a month, three paragraphs turned into three articles, and if I didn’t have the urge to publish it, I think it could actually be my first book.
I’m not ready for a book, so let’s go!
I Don’t Like The Pink Ribbon – PART 1
Actually, I hate the Pink Ribbon.
You read this right. The Pink Ribbon is a way for big pharmaceutical companies to get more money out of our pocket, by spreading fear among women.
If the Pink Ribbon taught you ANY of the things I am about to write, I would love to know – because as far as I’m concerned, every time we slam a Pink Ribbon somewhere, we don’t even know what we are really supporting. And I’ve done it all; donating, participating in sport events and sweat my body weight to raise money. I have done all of these things that make you believe that you are a good person and that you are making a difference.
In a perfect world, the Pink Ribbon would be about prevention, it would teach us all the things we need to know about cancer: what it is, how to prevent it, and what are the things we can do if we are affected by it. But until money stops running the world, that won’t happen. Breast Cancer alone is 2 billion dollar industry: getting people well doesn’t make any sense from a business standpoint. Which is sick and seriously backward.
What is cancer anyways?
First and foremost, let’s understand what cancer is, and how it works. I remember when I was a kid, the word “cancer” scared the hell out of me. I would scratch a mole by accident and cry my eyes out screaming I have cancer (I’m wondering how my mom could put up with me). But, what mini-me needed to understand, and what many of us need to understand, is that cancer cells are just cells. Our healthy normal cells divide about 60 times before stopping (process called apoptosis). Sometimes though, depending on many different factors, the process does not stop and starts to get out of whack: it multiplies without stopping and these are cancer cells. When that happens, our immune system sends out all our little soldiers with their brand new M16 to start a bloodbath and reinvent the guillotine. Once they are done, they go back to camp, mission accomplished.
Our immune system is a super killing army with all the guns your Grand-Pa ever dreamed about. But sometimes, our little army is understaffed, undertrained, and/or underprepared. Maybe, they are simply exhausted because they spent too much time running left and right putting off fires everywhere (due to our poor lifestyle and nutrition). Therefore, when cancer cells start multiplying somewhere, our little soldiers can’t run, they stumble, and they bring a spoon to a fight. At that point, that kind of sucks!
What causes cancer?
Don’t blame your genes, lazy butt!
That’s the most common excuse, isn’t it? And yet, according to a study conducted by the Columbia University Irving Center, only 5-10% of cancers actually occur due to genetics! Which leaves a solid 90-95% to our lifestyle, our environment, our nutrition, and our thoughts. We might not be able to control our genetics, might not always be able to control our environment, but we are able to control our lifestyle, our sleep, our nutrition and our thoughts!
Believe me I know how much easier it is to think that we can’t control it, it gives us a good excuse to order McDonald on UberEats while watching TV.
This right here is THE most important part: our immune system, aka our little soldiers. 80% of our immune system is in our guts (if you didn’t know this, you are welcome). Our guts play such an important role in our physical and mental health. It’s so important it actually got awarded the fancy name of our “Second Brain”. Gut and brain are interconnected with the “Vagus Nerve”, and the communication between both is fascinating. But that’s a subject for another day. The bottom line is : our guts are kind of a big deal! With 80% of our immune system, our nutrition is crucial to create the latest version of a badass 2.0 Israeli Army that would Krav Maga the sh*t out of anyone in their way (stress, sleep, exercise, are in the picture as well).
Having a weak immune system is like having an unfit cop trying to run after bad guys. The bad guys will most likely win.
Drop the VS BS!
Another factor that plays a big role in the development of cancer cells is our exposure to chemicals. Since the 1900’s, we have been introduced to more than 80,000 new chemicals and we have more than 2,000 more chemicals each year!
The body might be one of the most adaptive machines, but still, exposing our DNA to 80,000 new chemicals, we’re pushing it!
And… Sorry to tell you ladies, but that new lotion you bought at your favorite VS (not to say names), if it wasn’t for the smell, it’d be like taking a shower with gasoline. Our skin absorbs everything: lotion, makeup, deodorant, perfume, soap, cleaning products,… You name it, the list is endless. Flip the bottle over and look at the ingredients. Even Ikea furniture’s names are easier to pronounce. Does this inspire you trust?
I’m not suggesting that we should do a total make-over of our stinkier/hairier/uglier self (could be fun though, Halloween is coming up!), but there are ways to be more careful what we put on (and therefore in) our body. I usually go by this simple rule : if it is toxic to eat, I probably shouldn’t rub it. It’s not accurate every time, but it is a good start. There is also a really good app that will tell you whether or not your beauty products are actually killing you.
Other chemicals are present in our water supplies. Drinking tap water with chlorine and fluorine doesn’t do us any good. (Ugh… And we’re proud of ourselves for chunking the right amount of water per day!) The best is to have a good water filter that removes all the antibiotics present in the water. Those antibiotics kill bacteria in the water, but they don’t spare the ones in your guts (and we gotta keep our little soldiers healthy!). I’d be the one to tell you to drink wine instead, but according to the other health articles, that’s not the best alternative. Bummer!
There are countless of other chemicals exposure, but this is not a master class on the subject, let’s move on, you get the point.
Can’t Sweat This One Out
Everyone knows about the circulation and the nervous system (hopefully!), but maybe not a lot of us are familiar with the lymphatic system. This little guy is crucial for the good functionment of our body. On top of being part of the immune system, it’s also our Waste Management System. It gets rid of everything we don’t want laying around.
Here is the catch : it doesn’t have a pump like the blood has the heart. To get it moving, we have to move. The more we move, the more it circulates throughout the body and is able to do its job properly (you might want to pause reading, to do a few cartwheels now). However, sometimes, it gets stuck! The same way that a tree would fall on the road and accumulate traffic, we can accumulate the lymph wherever there is a blockage. The tree blocking the road, that would be our clothes. Especially for us girls, our bras! At the end of a long day, when we’re finally home and we can take it off (orgasmic feeling that guys will never understand) we can notice some red marks on our skin, that’s where our lymphatic system was blocked, and this has been linked to breast cancer. Has the Pink Ribbon ever told you this? The answer is most probably no! And yet, this has been linked to breast cancer in countless of studies. I really encourage you to read the book, “Dressed to Kill” by Sydney Ross Singer and Soma Grismaijer, or listen to this podcast.
Having said that, once again, in today’s society it’s kind of hard to implement. Especially in the US where we become sexual offenders if anyone can guess if we are cold (sorry America, I still love you, please don’t kick me out). I will always remember when I first moved here and bought a bikini; I was shocked how thick the material was, and then they put another pad in it (WTF?), just to ensure that no one can guess what’s underneath (spoiler alert: they all know). It did make me look like I was two sizes bigger, which was kind of cool though.
Wearing bras is part of the society, but girls, be careful of not tighten it too much, go without when you can and please, pretty please with cheese on top, don’t sleep with it. The best of the best would be to say “f*ck it” and to not care about what anybody is thinking. Because after all: our body, our decision! (bras were invented by men, just FYI).
Another thing that blocks elimination is deodorant. Breaking news: we were designed to sweat. If not, we’d be like dogs with our tongues out all the time (I do know a few guys that got both confused). Of course, we don’t want to stink so bad that we’re not even invited to our Grandma’s birthday anymore, but we want to choose wisely. If we go with the full blocker one, we might smell like roses, but we’ll be garbage inside, and that’s not sexy either!
We have to stay away from the deodorant with aluminium, and choose the one that allows us to sweat, just in a way that we won’t attract bugs and rats. For girls, I’ve tried a few, and the one that works best for me is this brand. It’s completely natural, they smell amazing, and let the body breath. You might want to try a few brands to see which one work best for you, we’re all different!
Long story short : anything that blocks our natural ways to get the toxins out will increase our chance of cancer.
Sweet Baby Is Not So Sweet
Beloved sugar… Turns out, just like most of us, cancer cells LOVE sweets! It goes beyond all the endorphins we get when we’re eating them. For cancer cells, it’s fuel to become bigger by creating new pathways and blood flows! This process is called angiogenesis. The more we eat sugar (in all its form, carbs is sugar as well), the more we’re allowing the cancer to grow and spread! In Breast Cancer particularly, refined sugar has been shown to make cancer cells grow 4x times faster than a sugar free diet!
Furthermore, the excess of refined sugar has also been linked to causing the gut to make an oncogene that allows damaged cells to become immortal cancer cells. If you want to read more on the subject, this link is for you!
Estrogen Stole The Show
One of the last ones I’d like to talk about is how too much estrogen (estrogen dominance) is increasing the risk of breast cancer and ovarian cancer. Estrogen is a female sex hormone (even though guys have it too, just less), and like all hormones, balance is KEY. Nowadays, we have more hormonal imbalances than ever before, for many different reasons.
To start, 99% of the gynecologists put young girls on the birth control pill as soon as they start having their periods. The excuse being to regulate it and fix “problems” – if only we were wondering why there is a problem in the first place and treat the root cause, not the symptom, that’d be a perfect world again. The birth control pill is the best way to get our hormones completely backwards in the early stages of life!
There is also a lot of “xeno-estrogen” in our environment. Xeno-estrogen act like estrogen in our body. Think as hormones as keys, and receptors as locks. The right key will open the right lock. Xeno-Estrogen have the key for the estrogen lock, it mimics estrogen in our body. Which obviously creates problems. They are present in BPA (Bisphenol A to be fancy), a component of plastic. And plastic is… everywhere! If you are drinking from plastic water bottles everyday, you might want to revisit that!
Guys, this concerns you as well! Little biology class for your information:
To make estrogen, you need a particular enzyme, which is called Aromataze. It converts testosterone into estradiol (estrogen). Aromataze is triggered when the body is in a state of inflammation (if you are eating a standard American Diet, you most likely are). On top of it, this enzyme is particularly present in fat cells : the fatter you are, the more you will convert your precious testosterone into estrogen. You’re most likely starting to get “men’s boobs” and getting fatter around the hips (Hello Love Handles!). On top of being able to fit in your girlfriend’s bra, you are more importantly creating an imbalance in your hormones. We’re all agree that you won’t get ovarian cancer, however having estrogen dominance increase inflammation in both sexes (vicious circle) and have been linked to many different disorders/diseases.
Stress is such an important one! It doesn’t cause cancer directly, but it totally weakens our immune system and prevent us from being our 100%. By now, it’s understood that it’s crucial to avoid anything that will weaken our immune system.
When we experience stress, our body undertake many different actions to get us out of a dangerous situation. That’s why you hear crazy stories where a mom could find the strengths to lift a car to get her children out, or someone being able to run faster than ever, trying to get out a scary situation. Our body switch to what is called “Fight or Flight” mode . A state of full awareness and optimum strength. It came in handy when we were cavemen and the chances of facing a bear were higher than today (just a tiny bit higher). That “Fight or Flight” state has one purpose : keeping us alive. Adrenaline and cortisol get released (among other chemical reactions), the heart starts pumping faster to get more oxygen in the blood, the blood flow leaves the organs and the extremities to go where it matters the most : the muscles. Consequences? Digestion slows down (between running for your life or digesting breakfast, there is no questions asked), the reproductive system is altered (not a good time to have a baby!), the libido drops (if you’re running for your life, having some fun with boo is the least of your concern), and the list goes on.
The Fight or Flight response is supposed to only last a period of time. Once you got away from the bear, everything should be back to normal. The problem is, nowadays, outrunning or beating the bear has other meanings : taxes, talking to our boss, forgetting to go to the bank, reply to an email, invoices, arguing over the dishes… But for our body, it is a life-or-death situation! It will create the same response. Some of us are constantly in Fight or Flight mode. What happens then? Since our digestion is slowed down and not as effective, we don’t digest food properly, this eventually leads to nutrients deficiency (and this doesn’t lead to a healthy happy life!). Constant elevated cortisol will affect your sleep and circadian rhythm, you’ll also store more fat, and inflammation will start to take place. Long story short, it would be a snowball effect resulting in a weaker immune system and inflammatory state. Other symptoms can include infertility and low sex drive – sweet!
There is a really good show now on Netflix called “The Mind Explains”, and Episode 3 illustrates this really well.
Part 2 around the corner :
I hope this was valuable to you! There is many other things that could have been covered here, and if you are interested on the subject, I highly encourage you to have a look at all the additional resources listed at the end of the third part of this article!
Keep reading and discover the second part of “I Don’t Like The Pink Ribbon”!