Breast treatment boosts heart risk

Out of the frying pan and into the fire.

That's how it must feel to get mainstream cancer care, as the very treatments that are supposed to save your life can ruin it in other ways or even end it.

The perfect example is the effects of radiation -- one of the most common cancer treatments, and one of the most toxic. Some of the risks are immediate, but others can take years to turn up.

In one new study of breast cancer patients, the effects of radiation were found to increase the risk of heart attack, heart disease, and other serious heart problems for up to two decades after treatment.

Radiation is measured with a unit called the gray, and the study of 2,168 women in Sweden and Denmark finds that each gray used in treatment increases overall heart risk by 7.4 percent in the years that follow.

With an average exposure of 4.9 gray, that adds up to a 36 percent jump in heart risk.

While some doctors are very good about minimizing the effects radiation during treatment, many are not -- and exposure can be two or even three times higher. Women with the highest exposure levels were hit with a whopping 15.8 gray on average -- increasing their heart risk by a stunning 116 percent.

Women with tumors on the left side averaged more than double the radiation of women with tumors on the right. And since the heart is a little left of center, the radiation aimed at left-side tumors is also aimed at the heart.

As a result, the heart risk is higher in women with tumors on the left side.

But the real question is whether radiation is even necessary in the first place -- because in some cases, natural treatments can be used in place of conventional medicine. In others, they can be used alongside it -- helping to make radiation more effective so you need less of it.

And less radiation means less risk.

There are also nutritional approaches that can help limit both the immediate side effects of radiation as well as the long-term risks, which is why it's essential to work with a holistic medical doctor even if you choose conventional treatments (and that's true for all cancers, not just breast cancer).

And if you happened to miss it last year, be sure to read my article on how to beat breast cancer with broccoli.

I've been helping patients fight cancer naturally for years -- and also fighting to make sure my patients who get mainstream care receive the safest and most effective treatments that do the least amount of damage.

If you're in the Southern California area, you can put that experience to work for you. Contact my clinic for more information or to make an appointment.

I've got more on breast cancer up next. Keep reading!