It's important to realize that many of the things put in our body are the real cancer causing agents.
Dr. Christine Horner began her career as a board certified general- and
plastic surgeon, performing breast reconstructive surgeries on women who'd had
full mastectomies due to breast cancer.
In this interview, she shares her extensive knowledge about breast cancer—its
causes and its cures, and the pro's and con's of various screening methods.
Her interest in breast cancer began while she was still in college, when her
mother developed the disease.
Thirteen years later, when her mother's cancer returned, Dr. Horner became
very active with the American Cancer Society.
For a time, she was a vice-president and the Kentucky state spokesperson for
the American Cancer Society on breast cancer issues.
"We were trained to say that we don't know what causes breast cancer and
we have no known cures; the best things that women can do are breast exams and
mammograms," she says.
"… In my practice, I was watching women get younger and younger when I
was doing breast reconstruction on them.
Finally, I was doing women in their 20s. I thought something is way wrong
with this picture." I thought why don't we just look through the medical
literature and see if there's anything that research shows that women can do,
that's within our control that will lower our risks. I had no idea what I was
going to find… But when I looked, I instantly found thousands of studies that
show exactly why we have a cancer epidemic…"
What's Causing the Cancer Epidemic?
What Dr. Horner discovered was that there are a number of habits we've
stopped doing in our modern culture that are highly protective. We've
dramatically altered our diets—shunning our native, whole-foods cuisine for
highly processed fare—and engage in very little physical activity, for
"We're telling women that all they can do is mammogram [screening], and
it's extremely disempowering," Dr. Horner says. "You feel like you have
no control over it. But if you look at epidemiological studies… we know that
people that live in Asia have a very low incidence of breast cancer or prostate
cancer… [W]e have the studies showing that if an Asian woman moves to the United
States and adopts our American diet and lifestyle, within one generation her
risk will match that of an American woman's. It's like "Hello? What are we
doing or not doing that they're doing or not doing that's making such a big
Dr. Horner was eventually introduced to the system of Ayurvedic medicine, and
the more she learned about it, the more she felt there were answers therein that
needed to be shared with people on a wider scale.
'[T]here are so many really simple things people can do that can have a
dramatic effect on their health," she says. "Basically, the more you
learn about natural medicine, the more you'll realize that we're just telling
our patients lies– not on purpose, but from what we have been taught from the
pharmaceutical companies and so forth."
She pitched the idea to television stations in Cincinnati to let her talk
about complementary and alternative medicine, and ended up being the first
syndicated segment on the news related to complementary and alternative
medicine, which ran from 1999 through 2002. At that point, she decided to quit
her surgery practice to focus on teaching people how to become and stay healthy
naturally, and wrote the book: Waking the Warrior Goddess: Dr.
Christine Horner's Program to Protect Against and Fight Breast Cancer, which
contains all-natural approaches for protecting against and treating breast
cancer. Dr. Horner's book won the IPPY award in 2006 for "Best book in health
medicine and nutrition."
"[W]e have the answers to the breast cancer epidemic," she says.
"We truly do– and it's very simple. If you have a terrible diet and lifestyle
and you do just one thing, you cut your risk in half. You do more than one thing
and they will multiply up together. They don't add up together. They multiply up
together, so it becomes extremely easy to dramatically lower your risk of breast
It's worth mentioning that the same strategies apply for other types of
cancer as well. Prostate and colon cancer tumors, for example, are similar to
breast cancer tumors, as certain hormones cause them all to grow. Hence,
protective strategies that are effective against breast cancer also work on
these other types of cancer. Cancer prevention strategies will also virtually
eliminate most other chronic disorders.
The Problem with Conventional Cancer Screenings
While diagnostic screenings have their place, some cancer screens are just
about worthless… The wisdom of using the PSA test, for example, which
checks for prostate cancer, has recently been questioned. Ditto for mammograms.
"Looking at the diagnostic tests that are currently available, none of
them are perfect," Dr. Horner says. "Everything has its pros and cons…
[M]ammography produces radiation, which has been shown to increase the risk of
breast cancer. It's like, "Why are you doing the test to look at a disease when
it's actually causing the disease, too?" … It does pick things up at earlier
stages, but the problem is that it's not very specific. So when it looks and it
sees something… that looks suspicious, it is wrong 80 percent of the time. In
the United States, there's roughly a million breast biopsies done per year, and
800,000 of them are unnecessary."
One of the best cancer screening methods is self-examination. But you need to
make sure you're doing it correctly. For more information about how to do a
breast self exam, please see this previous article.
MRI's, which do not use ionizing radiation, are not a practical tool as they
are very expensive, and, like mammograms, MRI scans are not very specific.
Ultrasound is another technique used in Western medicine. The traditional
ultrasound can see whether a mass is cystic or solid. But while a solid mass is
generally considered to be something that might be of concern, this is not 100
percent certain either, as cancer tumors can sometimes have cysts in them.
"Now there's a relatively new ultrasound that uses a color mode,"
Dr. Horner says. "It's called elastography. But there aren't very many
centers in the United States that use it. I go to the Center of the Hoxsey
Clinic, to Dr. Arturo Rodriguez at Tijuana. It has a color scale that measures
the elasticity of the cell membranes. Cancer cells are very stiff, whereas
normal cells have more fluidity to them. It'll show up as red if it has a lot of
stiffness to it, as a cancer cell, or blue if it has elasticity… It's a very
Another form of cancer screen, which is still considered controversial in
conventional medicine, is thermography, which gives you an infrared image of
your body. By looking at heat and blood vessel patterns you can determine
whether there are areas of concern.
"[B]efore you even get a tumor formation, the very first thing that
happens is new blood vessels start to grow into the area where the tumor may
form. Those blood vessels grow abnormally. They grow an abnormal amount of
patterns and they produce an abnormal amount of heat. That's what thermography
is checking for," Dr. Horner explains.
As with most new technologies, thermography hit some snags in its earlier
stages, and fell out of favor in the early 70s. However, the technology has
gotten a lot more sophisticated over the years, and is now computerized;
eliminating the need for highly trained technicians to evaluate the results.
"The problem we still have today with thermography is that we don't have
standardization," Dr. Horner explains. "We don't have a uniform way
that people are tested and trained with uniform equipment, and so forth… But
there's definitely a movement… to do standardization, and to get that technology
available for women, because this is a technology that has no health detriments
associated with it. It does not use radiation or anything harmful to your
Unfortunately, the advocates of mammography perceive thermography as a threat
to their business model. So there's tremendous pressure against it, including
from the federal regulatory agencies.
"It's unfortunate," Dr. Horner says, "but our country is run by
big business. It's just is, so anytime we want to shift anything culturally like
that, and we're going against established business, we have trouble because it's
all about money."
For example, many of the presidents of the American Cancer Society were
members of the Radiological Association, which is the industry supporting the
mammography component. The entire medical field is littered with massive
conflicts of interest.
'We can see that everywhere. You look in the
FDA—there are people from Monsanto that work in the FDA. Unfortunately, people
think, "the United States is not very corrupt." But actually, it's extremely
corrupt," she says.
Still, there are many good reasons for considering thermography. To ensure
you're getting the highest standard of care, Dr. Horner recommends using a
practitioner certified by the International Academy of Clinical
Thermography, an independent non-profit organization that provides
objective, third-party certifications. Their website lists qualified
thermography centers across the US, Canada, and some other countries, such as
France, Trinidad, and Zambia.
Most Natural Prevention Strategies Can Reduce Your Cancer Risk by
Through her research, Dr. Horner has gathered a large number of
cancer-prevention strategies—about 50 in all! Even more astounding is the rate
of effectiveness of many of these strategies.
"[I]f you look at the studies, virtually every single thing that has an
influence [causes] almost a 50 percent reduction in cancer risk… and if you
combine them, like I said, you'll get these synergistic results where they'll
multiply up as far as their effect is concerned.
I'd say the most important thing is what you do or do not put in your
mouth… because you can have huge influences by the foods you consume– the
spices, the herbs, and so forth. And, the things that you avoid, that's going to
give you the biggest results. … Vitamin D cuts your risks in
half. Turmeric and anti-inflammatories
cut your risk in half. I could go through each thing—and I'm telling you the
research shows that there's about 40 to 50 percent reduction [in risk]—so… to
say that one is necessarily better than anything else, that's a really hard
thing to claim."
The Top Four Cancer-Promoting Foods
Dr. Horner brings up an excellent point, and that is that in order to be
effective, you must first STOP doing that which is promoting cancer
growth (or poor health in general), and then all the other preventive
strategies have the chance to really have an impact. Addressing your diet should
be at the top of your list, and rather than adding certain foods, you'll want to
eliminate the most dangerous culprits first.
Naturally, processed foods and soft drinks do not belong in a
Dr. Horner, believes red meat from animals reared in confined animal feeding
operations (CAFO's) is also a MAJOR contributor to cancer. These animals are
given antibiotics, growth hormones and other veterinary drugs that get stored in
their tissues. Additionally, cooking the meat over high heat creates
heterocyclic amines, which further add to its carcinogenic effect.
While I do recommend eating meat, I agree that there is absolutely NO benefit
to eating CAFO beef. The ONLY type of meat I recommend is organically-raised,
grass-fed meats. It's hard for a lot of people to grasp the difference between
CAFO and organic meat, but truly, they are like two different species in terms
of their nutritional content. One is health harming while the other is
So when we're talking about the detrimental impact of red meat on your
health, especially in terms of feeding cancer, please understand that we're
talking specifically about CAFO beef, aka "factory farmed" meat. Next on the
list of cancer-promoters is sugar (this includes ALL forms of sugar, including
fructose and grains).
"To me, sugar has no redeeming value at all, because they found that the
more we consume it, the more we're fuelling every single chronic disease,"
Dr. Horner says. "In fact, there was a study done about a year ago… and
the conclusion was that sugar is a universal mechanism for chronic disease. It
kicks up inflammation. It kicks up oxygen free radicals. Those are the two main
processes we see that underlie any single chronic disorder, including cancers.
It fuels the growth of breast cancers, because glucose is cancer's favorite
food. The more you consume, the faster it grows."
Next is the type of fats that you consume. It's important to remember that
every cell membrane is made out of fat, as is your brain. According to Dr.
Horner, bad-fats in the diet are a major contributor to ill health and cancer.
On the list of fats to eliminate are:
- Animal fats from CAFO-raised animals
- Trans fats
- Partially hydrogenated or hydrogenated fats
Healthy fats of particular importance for cancer prevention are omega-3 and
omega-9. According to Dr. Horner, omega-3 in particular serve to effectively
slow down tumor growth in estrogen-sensitive cancers such as breast-, prostate-
and colon cancers. Fourth on the list of cancer promoters is ANY item that
contains xenoestrogens (chemicals that mimic estrogen). This can become a rather
long list once you start including any food contaminated with such
estrogen-mimicking chemicals, such as BPA, found in the linings of canned goods
and in plastics. The list gets truly unwieldy when you include personal care
products that contain such chemicals as well…
"There are case reports of five- and six-year-olds going through
secondary sex characteristics because of the shampoo that they were using...
There are all sorts of different sources where we're exposed to these chemicals
from our foods and from the products that we use.
What we're seeing is younger and younger puberty. Around the world, the
average age is about 16 years old. In the United States, it's 10 years old now,
and sometimes even younger. The problem is that with each menstrual period there
is a surge of estradiol, which is the strongest, most abundant form of estrogen,
and the one that's most associated with breast cancer. If you start your period
very young, you'll have more periods in your lifetime than what a person would
have, obviously, if they started at an older age.
In addition to that, when a girl goes through puberty, her breast cells
become really sensitive to environmental toxins, radiation, and so forth.
They're considered immature. They haven't differentiated– as a more scientific
term for it– so there's a longer period of time that they're exposed to these
toxins where they have a greater sensitivity."
Dr. Horner reviews a number of other important factors that influence your
cancer risk, so for more details, please listen to the interview in its
entirety, or read through the transcript.
Eating for Cancer Prevention
According to Dr. Horner, the research clearly shows that the one food that is
the most important for optimal health is plant foods.
"Plants are packed full of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that are
crucial for our health. They also have hundreds of phytochemicals in them. These
don't have any nutritional or caloric value, but they are like natural
medicines, and some of them behave exactly like chemotherapy," she says.
"Every plant has some anti-cancer properties to them. There are some that
are standouts. Cruciferous vegetables are something that I really recommend.
They're a family of vegetables that include broccoli, cauliflower, kale,
collards, and Brussels sprouts…
All of them have several different chemicals in common. They've got
indole-3-carbinol, Calcium D-glucarate, and sulforaphane. They have big
anti-cancer properties to them, and they inhibit the growth of breast, prostate,
colon cancer and a variety of other ones. Of all the families of vegetables to
consume, [cruciferous vegetables] are the ones to be aware of, so you can make
sure you're including that in your diet frequently."
Naturally, you'll want to make sure the vegetables are fresh, and ideally
locally grown and organic. Besides cruciferous veggies, another standout plant
for cancer-prevention is flax seed. The lignans in flax seed inhibit the growth
of cancer in about a dozen different ways, including the exact same mechanism as
the anti-cancer drug Tamoxifen and Arimidex, which shut down an enzyme in fat
cells called aromatase that converts androgens into estrogens.
"I hear from patients, "Oh! My oncologist told me not to take flaxseeds,
because they're estrogenic,"" Dr. Horner says."They don't understand
how plant estrogens or "phytoestrogens" work.
There are all sorts of different strengths to estrogens. Let's say
estradiol, which is the strongest, most abundant form– if it hooks on to the
estrogen receptor, it may cause a thousand cell divisions. But if a plant
estrogen hooks on, it may cause one. When you flood your system with these plant
estrogens, I'd say it's kind of like a game of musical chairs. There are only
certain numbers of receptors, and whoever gets their first, gets it. They're
blocking the strong estrogens from getting on, so that's why it has an