Friday, December 20, 2013

Early Rates of Puberty:  Obesity or Estrogen Dominance?

Heavier girls are hitting puberty at younger ages in the US.  Rising rates of obesity seems to be a contributing factor.  A small, long-term study of 1,200 girls ages six to eight years old have been followed annually or semi-annually and assessed for signs of breast development.  A summary of findings is noted below:

Breast development* (average age)
African American 8 years, 10 months
Hispanic 9 years, 4 months
Caucasian 9 years, 6 months
Asian 9 years, 8 months
* As measured by Tanner stages of breast development

We all are aware of the rising rate of childhood obesity and the correlative increased rate of type 2 diabetes.  But is this the primary cause?

Dr. Anders Juul, MD head of the Department of Growth and Reproduction, located at Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen, Denmark doesn’t necessarily agree that obesity is the primary factor in early breast development.  His research indicates that obesity among Danish girls is not a contributing factor to early breast development and suggests an environmental component known as xenoestrogens

Xenoestrogens are “foreign” estrogens that are consumed through environmental means and best defined as “hormone disruptors.”  They act at the same site as natural hormones and exert the same effects of estrogen:  cell growth and increased cell division.
Xenoestrogens can create an estrogen dominant scenario.  Estrogen dominance is the greatest risk factor for the development of breast, ovarian, and endometrial cancers. 

Estrogen Dominance, a term coined by John Lee, MD and is defined as any amount of estrogen NOT off-set by an adequate amount of progesterone. As a woman transitions into menopause, progesterone production declines nearly twice as fast as estrogen.  Xenoestrogens are found in foods treated with pesticides and insecticides as well as any products that are petroleum-based.  This list may include:  lotions, soaps, shampoos, hair spray, cosmetics, room deodorizers, solvents, cleaning products and plastics (water bottles, food storage containers, etc). 

Other causes that can lead to estrogen dominance include: 
  • Excess body fat (greater than 28%)
  • Excessive stress, leading to increased cortisol, insulin and norepinephrine (leading to adrenal exhaustion)
  • Excessive refined carbohydrates, devoid of fiber and beneficial nutrients
  • Excessive chemical exposure (xenoestrogens)
So, with decreasing progesterone production plus foreign estrogen consumption, we can therefore see how easily it can be to create an estrogen dominant picture. 

The good news is that estrogen dominance is modifiable.  Here are a few steps you can take to decrease estrogen dominance:
  • Increase nutrients in the diet through high-quality, food-based supplements
  • Consume fresh (organic) vegetables, adequate protein, and moderate amounts of healthy fat.
  • Talk to your health practitioner about adding bio-identical progesterone cream to your regimen
  • Lose excess body fat and get regular exercise—especially strength training
  • Detoxify your liver.  Healthy estrogen metabolism is dependent on healthy liver function
  • Decrease stress.  Learn your limits; take care of yourself by allowing time for what is important and necessary for your mental, physical, and spiritual health
As 2013 comes to a close, we want to thank you for allowing us to be part of this empowering journey to health and wellness.  We watch you make necessary lifestyle changes that dramatically (and positively) impact your health.  We hold you in gratitude and look forward to serving you in 2014. 

In appreciation,
Brenda and Lynda Witt

Monday, November 4, 2013

 Whole Body Health with DITI

In this newsletter, we’d like to focus on the value of adopting the mindset of whole body health and wellness.  Optimal breast health begins (and ends) with optimal overall health.  Today, we will show you one example of how one client, Sara, utilized thermography in a whole body scan to address overall wellness.  

Although Sara stated she was concerned about her health, she didn’t carry a sense of urgency regarding making long-term modifications until she saw the results of her full body and breast scan.  It was at that time that she realized she needed to make health a priority.  Here is a list of the changes she made to her health:

Diet:  Gluten-free diet; dramatically decreased carbohydrates; and increase in protein throughout the day.
Medications and supplements:  Stopped Synthroid (synthetic medication) and started using Iodizyme (natural replacement); increased B-vitamin supplements.

Spiritual and physical health:  Chiropractic treatments; energy practitioner to address emotional issues; a structural integration/myofascial release therapist; and a deep tissue massage therapist.

Below are the before and after pictures showing the dramatic reduction in inflammation after starting her journey to health:  (medical interpretation is abbreviated for brevity)

March 2011 June 2011

Medical interpretation Mar. 2011:  The circumoral hyperthermia, along with the hyperthermia over the sinuses, may represent a neurogenic flare, which can be seen in fibromyalgia-like syndromes.

These patterns indicate a possible autonomic dysfunction, suggesting that this individual’s immune system is chronically activated. Contributing factors could include food allergies, pro-inflammatory diet, dental pathology, hormonal imbalances/deficiencies, hypoadrenia/chronic stress, heavy metal toxicity, low-grade chronic infection and systemic illness.

Medical interpretation June 2011:   Thyroid gland inflammation “is diminishing.”

March 2011 June 2011

Medical interpretation June 2011:   “There is decreased hyperthermia over the posterolateral cervical neck regions bilaterally, which suggests improvement in the myofascial dysfunction.”

March 2011 June 2011

Medical interpretation June 2011:   “Hyperthermia present in both axillary regions has decreased, indicating possible improvement in the lymphatic congestion.”

March 2011 June 2011

Medical interpretation June 2011:  “The previously-noted irregular areas of hyperthermia over the ascending, transverse and descending colons, which suggest inflammation and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), have decreased in intensity.”

March 2011 June 2011

Medical interpretation Mar. 2011:  These patterns of inflammation demonstrate myofascial dysfunction and joint inflammation.

Medical interpretation June 2011:  “There is decreased hyperthermia over the trapezius and rhomboid musculature bilaterally, which suggest an improvement in the myofascial dysfunction.  There is decreased hyperthermia involving the thoracic and lumbar spines, and particularly over the paraspinal musculature. These findings suggest an improvement in the myofascial dysfunction.”

The patient is to be commended on making significant health changes and in getting a good response, particularly related to sleep. As you know, sleep is essential to the body restoring itself, particularly the adrenal gland.

Inflammation is ALWAYS the beginning of disease and can lead to future organ dysfunction, chronic disease or incessant pain.  Thermography sees inflammation and affords you the opportunity to make changes to reduce or eliminate inflammation.  Like Sara, it can be used to monitor success of modifications that ultimately improve health.

After only three months on her new lifestyle regime, she reported the following:
  • Restful sleep
  • Weight loss
  • Increased energy
  • Improved digestion
  • Reduced neck and back pain
  • Detoxification as a response to her new diet
Sara understood that wellness can be attained on many levels; physical, mental, emotional, energetic, spiritual, etc. and she was not willing to choose only one path.  She chose many, all leading her toward wellness.

Thank you all for being a part of our lives.  Each and every one of you has enriched our personal tapestry of life.  We will forever be grateful for your presence in our world.

Yours in prevention,

Lynda and Brenda

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Four Benefits of Breast DITI

As we move towards fall, we would like to review for all our new, and maybe some of our established clients, the four benefits of thermal imaging.

There are four main benefits to utilizing digital infrared thermal imaging (DITI) for breast imaging:
  • Risk Assessment / Risk Reduction
  • Detection (not as a stand-alone technology)
  • Prevention / Early Intervention
  • Monitoring the Effects of Therapy

Risk Assessment

How healthy are your breasts?

2 Case Study #1
This client maintains good symmetry with no significant thermal findings. 
Embedded temperatures allow reading MDs to determine stable physiology and low risk for developing disease.

3 Case Study #2
This client had significant vascular activity in the left breast, not seen in the right breast which clinically correlates with fibrocystic changes. 
Thermal asymmetry is a risk factor for future disease.  This client is a good candidate for early intervention.

Risk Reduction

Case study #3:  A woman positively influences her breast health by making lifestyle choices to aid in decreasing risk factors. 
4 Initial scan:  Medical interpretation indicated client to be at “some risk for breast disease.” 
This T BI-RADS score would correlate with a letter grade of a “C” in the educational grading system.
This client began lifestyle modifications.
5 Follow up scan: Client initiated an anti-inflammatory diet, increased exercise and hydration and met with a professional to help manage stress and improve sleep cycle. 
Medical interpretation “at low risk for breast disease”which would correlate with a letter grade of a “B.”
6 Annual scan: Maintaining lifestyle changes reflected improvement and a lowered risk of breast disease.
Medical interpretation of “within normal limits and at low risk for breast disease.”
Letter grade would correlate to an “A/B” rating.
Traditional allopathic medicine reminds women to have their annual mammogram and hope that nothing is found.  This mindset is a reactive approach to disease.

However, every woman can utilize breast thermography to determine risk factors and make changes to diminish them.  This is a proactive approach to managing health.  Too many women aren’t aware that this technology is available and affordable or they are told by their doctor that “thermography doesn’t work.”  Unfortunately, many women stop their research when they hear those words. 

Disease Detection (but not as a stand-alone technology)

In the case of certain types of breast disease not seen with mainstream screening, DITI provides a valuable asset to women.
7 Case Study #4
Client, age 38 presented with no family history and no clinical symptoms.   Thermal findings were highly suspicious and follow up testing revealed Inflammatory Breast Cancer ~ a highly aggressive form of breast cancer not detected by mammography.
Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC) is rare, but has a poor prognosis.  The clinical symptoms are:
  • Rash or “bug bite” that won’t heal
  • Inflamed or reddened area on the breast
  • Feels “hot” to the touch
  • Found in younger women
  • No tumor or lump accompanies this type of breast cancer
This subject presented with NO clinical symptoms (listed above) and was having a routine breast thermogram when this pattern was seen.  Immediate clinical correlation revealed IBC and warranted aggressive actions be taken.  If you or anyone you know has any of these symptoms, please take action to have a thermal scan (or encourage someone to have a scan) as soon as possible to help rule in/out this very aggressive breast disease.


9 Case Study #5
Client, age 32 established stable baseline breast thermogram. 
This pattern and all temperatures were deemed stable after her initial scan and the required 3 month follow up scan.
10 Annual visit:  A new vascular pattern in right breast was noted. 
Reported lifestyle:  poor diet, increased alcohol intake, decreased exercise and disturbed sleep all due to extreme stress associated with her career.
Consult with her health practitioner was arranged.
11 Follow up thermogram:   Negative for developing pathology. 
Client was motivated to make lasting lifestyle changes.  After leaving her profession and making other significant changes, follow up scans showed thermal patterns had returned to the previously established stable state.
Awareness of how the body is reacting to how you manage your stress, what food you choose to put in your body, what quality and amount of sleep you get and many other lifestyle choices is priceless.  Using breast DITI helps with “seeing” how your choices are affecting your physiology. 

Treatment Plan ~ How Well is My Treatment Working?

12 Case Study #6
A palpable mass in the upper left breast was accompanied by a faint bruise. Mammogram and sonogram of the mass were performed with negative results.  Client continued to seek answers using DITI. Thermal asymmetry of ~ 2.2ºC (ΔT = 2.2ºC) showing a significant thermal asymmetry and more testing was encouraged by the reading thermologist.
13 Diagnostic mammogram with ultrasound and then biopsy confirmed a large carcinoma involving the upper half of the left breast. Client started on chemotherapy to reduce size and consolidate tumor prior to surgery. Two months post-chemotherapy showed decrease in thermal asymmetry now at ~1.2ºC (ΔT = 1.2ºC).
14 Surgeon was encouraged by the response to chemotherapy based on thermographic findings as thermal asymmetry had now fallen to ~ 0.4ºC (ΔT = 0.4ºC) and determined a lumpectomy would be the next step.
As you can see in this series of images, DITI can and does cross the boundaries of allopathic and naturopathic medical procedures.  While most of our clients utilize the benefits of naturopathic medical procedures, at times, clients will need to act quickly and more conventional measures are needed.  Using DITI to “visualize” how well you are responding to treatments can be of benefit to you and your medical doctors.

Again, we offer imaging of all different regions, but breast DITI is especially fulfilling and you can see why with these case reports.  It feeds our souls and helps us to realize our life purposes to help the many women we have throughout these past 9 years.

We want to thank those of you who have shared your experiences with those you know and love to help them see the benefits of this preventative technology.  Please continue to pass along to others these newsletters.  Several of the clients in these images were encouraged to use DITI for no particular reason, but turned out to be of such significance to the lives’ of each individual shown here.

Also, if you have a desire to share your images with others via our newsletters, please let us know.  We disclose no names or other identifying information and a consent form is on file before any use of images is done.  If your story or situation was especially unique, please reply to this email letting us know of your interest in sharing your journey.

Yours in prevention / early detection / early intervention and risk reduction,

Lynda and Brenda Witt

Thursday, August 22, 2013

DITI Uses in Atypical Imaging

We are often asked what inspired us to start a thermal imaging business.  Truthfully, it has been our own personal desire for prevention and wellness that piqued our interest in providing this technology to our clients.
Although we have been doing thermal imaging for many years, we sometimes receive a phone call from either an existing client or a potential new client asking if thermal imaging would be indicated for an unusual or unfamiliar specific condition.

In an effort to represent thermography accurately, we rely on our doctors to guide us when we are unsure.
Below are several examples (some with images) of some unfamiliar situations that required us to contact our interpreting physicians to ask if thermal imaging would offer additional information for these situations:

My husband doesn't want to have a prostate exam and would like to know if thermography would be a good tool for evaluating prostate health? Would a thermographic scan help us evaluate prostate health?

Sorry gentlemen, thermography would NOT be indicated to evaluate prostate health. By the time we would be able to detect a significant finding thermographically, it would have been picked up years prior in an annual PSA test and/or by rectal digit exam. Our medical thermologists will not evaluate any requests for evaluation of prostate health.

My 32 year-old son was recently diagnosed with testicular cancer. We are devastated regarding this diagnosis as he is facing an impending orchiectomy. We are wondering if this diagnosis is accurate and perhaps this is just an infection. Would a testicular scan help us determine if this is an infection versus a developing cancer?

We cannot evaluate testicular health. Although the testicles lie outside the body, they are surrounded and protected by the scrotum and thus any scans of the testicles would really be an evaluation of scrotal health, not testicular health. Talk to your health practitioner to try to alleviate your concerns. If you are uncomfortable with his current diagnosis, request a second opinion if this won't delay his surgery or potentially compromise his prognosis. Ask about any blood tests that could help distinguish between an infection versus a more serious pathology.

I had a root canal two weeks ago and still am having lots of pain. If we did a thermogram, could we look to see if there's an infection? Will it be able to tell the difference between an infection and the normal healing process after a root canal?

Thermal studies are useful to monitor the healing process or identify ongoing infection.  Thermography will correlate symptoms of pain with the thermal findings and give an opinion that can help with clinical decision-making.

Above: Client wanted to use DITI to monitor healing from dental procedures and images provided her with visual representations of her healing progress.

I had cancer several years ago and I want to do a full-body scan to see if there is evidence of cancer anywhere in my body. Can we do a full-body scan to look for recurrence of cancer?

Thermography has a high sensitivity and low specificity.  Using thermal imaging as a tool for looking for cancer throughout the body is not indicated.  Diagnostic tools that can help you determine reoccurrence of cancer may be a PET scan, MRI and cancer markers seen in the blood (CA 125, CA 19-9, etc).
Remember, DITI is used to watch for changes over time and not so much as a detection device.  Once a full body scan is on file, annual imaging to monitor for new findings, increase/decrease in inflammation and determine trends is how to use this technology.  Attempting to use DITI as a detection tool puts this technology in a different category and that leads to misuse and misunderstanding of this preventive screening technology.

In 2010 I was diagnosed with HPV. I want to do a thermogram to look for activity of the virus and/or progression of the infection. Can we look to see if this is leading to other urogenital (cervical, vaginal, etc) cancers?

Thermography can help provide objective findings relating to the activity and inflammation relating to an outbreak but would not be specific enough to contribute useful information about other associated or developing pathologies.

Can we do an abdominal scan to look at cervical, uterine and ovarian health?

Regional studies that include the lower abdomen can be helpful in identifying inflammation and infection and other causes of dysfunction relating to the cervix, uterus and ovaries. In most cases clinical correlation will be necessary to reach a diagnosis and again, watching for changes over time offers the best chance of early warning signs allowing for early intervention.

I hurt my shoulder about two months ago. It's not painful when I perform my daily living activities (dressing, showering, etc) but do find it painful to reach upward.  I can tolerate this but now I'm wondering if I am causing more damage. Can a thermal scan tell me if there's a tear (rotator cuff, tendon, ligament, etc) in my shoulder?

Yes, thermography can tell if there are any positive findings to indicate joint related, ligament, muscular or other types of dysfunction which require clinical evaluation, diagnosis or treatment.

I have a nodule on my thyroid. Can this test tell me if I have thyroid cancer?

Thermography is not diagnostic, however it can show useful thermal findings that correlate with a nodule and provide information relating to the activity of the nodule which is useful in the decision-making of diagnosis and treatment.

My daughter has a brain tumor and had surgery and has undergone radiation therapy.  Can a thermal scan tell us if there is a recurrence of the tumor before she is symptomatic?

No, thermal imaging does not provide any useful information in the case of brain tumors or the monitoring for recurrence.

Heart disease and peripheral vascular disease seems to be prevalent in my family.  I am a 35 year-old male and I have high blood pressure. My twin sister and I would like to come for thermographic evaluation of cardiopulmonary health or evidence of early heart disease. Would this be beneficial? Would it be helpful to do whole-body imaging? Would it be most-beneficial to do this every year or could we come every other year?

Above:  Client with elevated Cardiac Reactive Protein (CRP), an early risk indication
for heart disease.

Above:  Patient with asymmetrical finding in carotid artery detected with DITI.

There are useful thermal findings that can indicate developing cardiovascular disease.
Regular screening provides the best opportunity of detecting changes at an early stage. The region's best suited to evaluate cardiovascular disease include the chest, upper back and head and neck images. A full body study is always helpful in assessing peripheral circulatory conditions and other associated problems.  The decision regarding ongoing annual screening or waiting longer periods would be made after the first study and results combined with individual history and symptoms.

"Infrared thermography is a promising technique for the detection of Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) before and after revascularization."  (Am J Cardiol 1993; 72: 894-896)  Summary: Detection of thermal asymmetry showed 94% sensitivity for the presence of significant CAD.   

We will always do our best to represent thermography accurately, and never hesitate to admit to what we do not know or understand and ask for help and guidance from our reading thermologists (MDs) when needed.

Thermography does not take the place of any other technology, but it is the ONLY imaging that monitors the following:  trends relating to inflammation, new findings in areas that should be stable, increase/decrease of inflammation which helps monitor healing/treatment response and allows for early interventions in an attempt to stop disease progression.  All other technologies offer detection AFTER disease has been present for many years.  At Proactive Health Solutions, we encourage intervention BEFORE symptoms are present, thereby offering the patient the opportunity to optimize health.

Yours in prevention,

Lynda and Brenda

Friday, June 7, 2013

Inflammation: The Fire Inside

In this May issue we describe other ways to consider utilizing DITI as a preventative screening tool. Thermal imaging alerts you to inflammation in an area of the body so early interventions can be taken.  Ultimately, decreasing inflammation is better for achieving optimal health and potentially preventing illness.

Allopathic medicine has a reactive or “downstream” approach to healthcare.  Waiting for a symptom to present, getting a diagnosis and then a medication to suppress that symptom has little to do with prevention.  Thus, the label of “downstream” medicine is used based on a story often called “The Upstream Story.’  Here is a short synopsis:

Suppose you are standing next to a river, and you see someone drowning as she floats downstream. You jump into the river and pull her ashore. As soon as you've done that, you see another person in trouble, again floating downstream, and you rescue him as well. Every time you've saved one person, you see another, and another. After you've dragged another drowning body out of the river, you're thoroughly exhausted and you know you don't have the energy to save one more person, so instead you decide you must go upstream to find out what is causing these people to end up in the river. You want to address this problem at its source. You move upstream, and see a bridge. Upon careful inspection, you find that there is a well-concealed, yet sizeable hole in this bridge that is causing people to fall in. What do you do? You do what makes the most sense - you work to repair the bridge. Primary prevention means "going upstream" to repair the bridge. Too often we just focus on the tangible aftermath of a problem. We just keep pulling people out of the river...” (Read full article)

Thermal imaging is one example of practicing “upstream” care.  Thermography images heat related to inflammation.  It is one way to determine if the chronic inflammation you have been ignoring may be contributing to deleterious effects in your body. 

Inflammation: Good or Bad?

Inflammation is a necessary and protective response to injury, an allergen, or infection that poses a threat to immune health.  The inflammatory response is driven by the release of chemicals that signals the body to launch an attack on the threat.  And then, in perfect synchronicity, the tissues and organs signal the immune system to shut down the assault; the threat is managed and the body is no longer in harm’s way.

While we need “short-term” inflammation, if the immune system does not shut off and the system stays “primed” for attack this leads to chronic inflammation.  Chronic inflammation is the culprit behind all disease, including heart disease, hypertension, stroke, arthritis, gout and cancer, to name a few.  In a reactive medical system, or “downstream” medicine, the doctors are taught to treat the symptoms of the disease, usually with drugs.  But many of these diseases can be reversed WITHOUT drugs when you find the root cause for the inflammation and eliminate it.  Let’s explore different sources of chronic inflammation.

Hidden or Chronic Infections

Chronic bacterial, viral, or yeast infections or parasites contribute to inflammation.  Foreign bodies activate the immune system to fight the invader.

Root Causes of Inflammation:  You Are What You Eat

Food is probably the most common type of nefarious agent that contributes to inflammation.  Perhaps the one food that has received the most attention lately and contributes to inflammation is, of course, gluten.  Gluten is a protein found in wheat-related grains and is now a clear contributor to systemic inflammation.

Some clients have even removed ALL grains and sugars from their diet and bake using almond flour, coconut flour, coconut nectar and other grain-free/sugar-free options.  Below is one client who was having trouble with recurrent sinus infections, diminished kidney function, was heading toward diabetes and had no energy.  After making significant changes to her diet, her kidney function is now normal, her A1C is within a healthy range and she has more energy.  Clearly, her sinus infection had resolved.


Any food that launches an inflammatory attack is considered an allergenic food.  Some common allergenic foods include wheat, soy, dairy, corn and peanuts.  You may notice gut distension or a bloated feeling after eating a certain food and this is a sign that you are sensitive, if not allergic, to that food.  Coffee is considered pro-inflammatory because it triggers the release of excess stress hormone, increasing inflammation.  If decreasing inflammation is a personal goal for you, you may want to consider eliminating coffee from your diet and adding non-caffeinated teas.

In addition, the quality of the food we buy can contribute to inflammation.  Animals traditionally raised feed in open, grassy meadows that then provide us with meats high in omega-3 fats. Cattle that are fed a grain-rich diet (corn) provide us with meat that is laden with omega-6 fatty acids which increases inflammation.  Omega-3 fats are protective and anti-inflammatory in nature.

Other contaminants in our food supply that contribute to inflammation include insecticides, pesticides and Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).  These chemicals act as foreign invaders to our immune system which activates all defenses to protect itself, thereby activating the immune system and keeping it stimulated causing chronic inflammation.

Other Contributors to Inflammation:  Stress

Overwhelming life stressors or a combination of multiple major stressors and how you manage these certainly can contribute to inflammation.  Pressure from your boss, difficult times with your spouse and children, illness/death of a loved one, financial struggles or facing a life-threatening health challenge will certainly tax the “Zen” in any of us.  All these stressors, left unchecked, can contribute to inflammation, leading to disease.

Again, inflammation is always the beginning of disease and thermal imaging gives you an opportunity to assess where you may experience high levels of inflammation.  You can then work to address those areas, decrease inflammation and potentially experience better health.  Health is a journey and requires constant attention.  There are no guarantees to good health, but as for us, we like living “upstream.”

Yours in prevention,

Brenda and Lynda

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Are You Dense?

In our March newsletter we explored the questionable use of screening mammography due to its limitations when imaging women younger than age 50.  The data continues to show that utilizing mammography for women age 40-49 is NOT effective at saving lives and the previous recommendation to begin annual mammographic imaging starting at age 40 is challenged in the medical community.

Breast density limits the effectiveness of a mammogram.  Women have dense breast tissue for various reasons.  Young women, almost by definition, have dense breast tissue as well as women on Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) or Bio-identical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT).  Some women have high breast density due to a genetic component.  Other factors that influence breast density are environmental influences.  Our world is becoming more estrogenic (fracking, GMO’s, pollutants, insecticides, etc) and this is (or will) contribute to the increased incidence of high breast density, thereby leading to increased risk for breast cancer.

In California, Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill to improve breast cancer detection in women with dense breast tissue. Senate Bill 1538, authored by State Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto), will require that following a mammogram, women with dense breast tissue be informed of the following:
  • They have dense breast tissue
  • That dense breast tissue can make it harder to evaluate the results of a mammogram
  • That it is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer
  • That information about breast density is given to discuss with their doctor
  • That a range of screening options are available
California is now the 5th state to have a “Breast Density Notification” law. 

Roughly 40% of the women who have mammograms have dense breast tissue. Because dense breast tissue appears white on a mammogram, and cancer also appears white, it can be difficult to see the cancer. A January 2011 study by the Mayo Clinic found that in women with dense breast tissue, 75 percent of cancer is missed by mammography alone. The risk for women with extremely dense breast tissue is five times greater than the risk for women with low breast density.

Above: Example of before HRT (left) and after taking HRT.

Lastly, a study published in JAMA in February 2013 reports that advanced breast cancer in young US women is increasing.
Summarize what we know so far:
  • Our “screening” tool we use to detect breast cancer is limited by breast density
  • Women with dense breasts have a five-fold increased risk for developing breast cancer
  • Environmental contributors that influence breast density is increasing
  • Breast cancer in younger women is on the rise  (Incidentally, male breast cancer is also increasing)
Is DITI the answer?  Can DITI fill the gap for the 40-49 year old women where mammography has shown to NOT be effective?  Can DITI add value to a mammogram for a woman with known dense breasts?  Yes…and No.

Breast Density

DITI does not image deep into the body looking for a tumor.  DITI is NOT a test of structure, but of physiology (function).  Physiologic changes occur within the body on average 6 to 8 years before the formation of a breast tumor.  These are the changes DITI identifies which give proactive women an opportunity to intervene quickly.

Many individuals, including allopathic doctors, do not understand thermography and compare it to mammography. The two technologies are not comparable, because mammograms only evaluate anatomy (structure) and cannot determine the physiologic nature (function) of what is seen. Evaluating physiology is the strength of digital infrared thermal imaging (DITI).

DITI cannot replace mammography simply because it is NOT designed to detect what mammography detects: structure.

Thermography watches for changes away from a previously established stable baseline.  This is known as a “thermal fingerprint” and it is the foundation of these clinically useful images.

One’s thermal fingerprint is remarkably stable over a lifetime. Only when pathology develops does the pattern change due to the abundance of neural pathways through which temperature regulation occurs. DITI detects physiologic changes (NOT inactive tumors) deep in the breast tissue, even though it only images the skin as the developing pathology affects the surrounding sympathetic neural fibers, which relay the message to the skin surface where the local temperature is measured.

It is the shift away from one’s stable baseline that is the telltale sign of developing disease. If a woman is alerted to these physiologic changes, she can intervene much earlier and work with her practitioner to address diet, stress management, hormone status, vitamin deficiencies and other aspects of healthy living in an attempt to reverse/prevent the progression of disease. These physiologic changes offer women 6 to 8 years prior notice that disease may be developing before a tumor is found on a breast exam or mammogram.

The effectiveness of thermography is NOT limited by breast density and therefore, is a phenomenal option for a young woman or any woman with a mindset of prevention. 

In an ideal world, where prevention is the goal, the best option would be for women to begin thermographic screening beginning at age 25 or 26 to establish a stable baseline.  Annual visits will confirm stability and no new active, developing disease.

Environmental influences on breast health (and overall health) are not diminishing.  We believe it’s time to stop doing the same thing and expecting different (better?) outcomes.  Prevention is the best option.  This is where DITI can fill the gap.

Yours in prevention,

Brenda and Lynda

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A Closer Examination of Screening Mammography

Recently, mammography, specifically screening mammography, is falling under scrutiny in the scientific and medical community.  As we are aware, mammography is utilized as a screening tool on an annual basis for otherwise healthy women to monitor for any evidence of cancer. 

A second way mammography is used is in a diagnostic mode.  If a woman has a detectable lump, mammography has proven to be effective in detection and ruling-out or ruling-in evidence for exiting disease. 

It is the debate of the effectiveness of mammography as a screening device that is causing controversy.  In this month’s newsletter, we explore this controversial subject.

We begin screening mammography usually around the age of 40 with the belief that “early detection” is the key to the best prognosis for survival.  So let’s ask a few questions:

1.  If screening mammography is recommended at age 40, what is the real benefit for this young population of women?

The benefit for the younger women, aged 40-49 is actually less than 1% reduction in absolute risk.  The data show that the real benefit for number of lives saved by annual mammographic breast screening actually is in women aged 50-74.  This data was first reported in 2009 when the US Preventive Services Task Force performed a meta-analysis.  The results led them to recommend mammography beginning at age 50 and then alternating years up till age 74.  Mammography was not recommended after age 74.

Some medical doctors still recommend annual screening mammography beginning at age 40.

2.  If “early detection” increases survival, does screening mammography find cancers at “early” stages of development?

All breast cancers are NOT the same in how fast they grow and what stimulates them to grow.  According Donald Berry, PhD and chairman of the Department of Biostatistics and Applied Mathematics at M. D. Anderson Cancer Center (Houston, TX), technology has brought a new understanding to the different types of breast cancers and can be best-described in the following manner:

a. Turtles
Some breast cancers are non-progressive, very slow-growing tumors and sometimes characterized as “stationary” tumors.  Breast cancers that are described as “turtles” could be found by either breast self exam or clinical breast exam and because of their slow-growing nature could be treated successfully without annual mammograms.  Women with this type would not necessarily benefit from annual mammographic screenings.

b. Bears
These types of breast cancers are sometimes hibernating or slow-moving tumors. At times they may show no aggression or advancement.  However, if awakened, this type can become aggressive, spread and potentially lead to metastatic disease and death.  There is a possibility that women with this type could be helped by screenings.

Of course, breast density needs to be part of the equation to determine if a woman would benefit from annual mammograms since mammograms are limited by the density of breast tissue.  The denser the tissue, the more difficult it would be for a tumor to be seen.

c. Birds
Characterized as fast-growing, aggressive tumors these types of breast cancers do not respond to treatment, no matter how small the tumor is when found.  Early detection would not play a role in survival as these aggressive tumors develop quickly and no current medical intervention leads to survival.  Sadly, women with this type would also not be helped by screening mammography because the end result would be the same.

Although we now know about the different types of breast cancers, researchers still cannot distinguish between the different types of breast cancers in how they behave.

Statistics show that mammography most effectively detects the slow growing tumors that would be treated successfully regardless of when and how they are found. 

Additionally, pathologists grade cancer cell aggression according to the “mitotic count”— the rate at which the cells are dividing, not the size of the tumor when detected.  Below is a simple study that clearly defines these facts:

Pathologist Peggy Porter analyzed four hundred and twenty-nine (429) breast cancers that had been diagnosed over five years at the Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound:
  • 279 breast cancers were detected by mammography
  • Majority detected at Stage 1
  • 18% with lymph node involvement
  • 70% of the 279 tumors had “low” mitotic counts
Further analysis of the findings indicated the following:
  • 150 cancers were missed by mammography
  • Majority were in Stage 3
  • 28% with lymph node involvement
  • Three-times more likely to have “high” mitotic counts
The majority of the undetected breast cancers didn’t exist at the time of the mammogram. These cancers were found in women who had had regular mammograms, and who were legitimately told that they showed no sign of cancer on their last visit. In the interval between X-rays, however, either they or their doctor had manually discovered a lump in their breast.  These tumors were so aggressive that they had gone from undetectable to detectable in the interval between two mammograms.

Although the above study is small, the findings with mammography continue to be the same and this is the reason it is now questioned as an effective screening tool for breast cancer.

Also, screening mammography has not changed the rate women are diagnosed with late stage cancer or metastatic breast cancer.  The decreased rate of death from breast cancer is not due to the screening method but rather, the treatments available. 

Screening mammography is finding tumors that may not be lethal and creating “over diagnosis” leading to over treatment.  Because doctors cannot distinguish between the different types of breast tumors most cases will lead to surgery and possibly radiation and chemotherapy or hormone therapy.  Thus, some women are receiving unnecessary treatment that is not beneficial yet carries toxic and significant side effects.

The “war on cancer” began back in the 1970’s when it was believed that tumor size was directly related to survivability.  It was this understanding that may have fed the idea that annual mammographic screening could lead to early detection and the familiar mantra, “early detection saves lives.”

Science and technology has a greater understanding that it is the behavior of cancer (Turtle, Bear or Bird) that plays a role in survival, not the size of the tumor.  And therefore, for all these reasons above, the use of mammography as a screening tool is questioned. 

As Level III Clinical Thermographers, we ask ourselves what role thermography may play in these findings.  Please look for your April newsletter to discuss this next topic. 

Yours in prevention,
Brenda and Lynda

Sources:  The Picture Problem: mammography, air power and the limits of looking - Malcolm Gladwell

The Oversimplification of Early Detection: Screening Mammography and Breast Cancer Overdiagnosis – Breast Cancer Action (online presentation – March 12, 2013)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Breast Health Grading System: What It Means to You

As we begin 2013, we want to call your attention to a new grading system available to American College of Clinical Thermology (ACCT) thermographers for evaluating breast health that was introduced in the summer of 2012.  It is called the Thermography Breast Imaging-Reporting and Data System, also known as T BI-RADS and utilized only by our interpreting physicians at Electronic Medical Interpretation (EMI).  In addition, we want to be sure you know what elements comprise your breast health score, what your T BI RADS score means and how to use this grading system to your advantage in monitoring breast health. 

Historically, the Breast Imaging Reporting and Data System (BI-RADS) was developed by the American College of Radiology in 1993. This system provides a standardized classification for mammographic studies and demonstrates the likelihood of breast malignancy. The BI-RADS system can inform family physicians about key findings, identify appropriate follow-up and management and encourage educational and emotional support to patients. The BI RADS system was developed to standardize mammographic reporting, to improve communication, to reduce confusion, to aid research, and to facilitate outcomes monitoring. 

Similarly, the T BI-RADS system was designed to help the referring doctor integrate the thermography results into a familiar reporting system. 

Considerations Made in Your Breast Score

Your T BI RADS score is assigned from all available information including:  history and symptoms, the interpreting physician’s clinical impressions from your thermograms and the proprietary software utilized by the EMI doctor.

The TBIRADS Scoring System: What Your Breast Health Score Means

To help you understand your breast health score, we can liken the T BI RADS system to the standard grading system that we use in education:  A, B, C, D, and F. 

Within normal Limits/Normal:  Grade A
This indicates a normal thermal profile with no thermal findings consistent with risk for disease or other developing pathology. 

At Low Risk/Non Suspicious:  Grade B
This indicates thermal activity which may be associated with benign changes such as glandular hyperplasia, fibrocystic tissue and the development of cysts and fibroadenomas. This does not rule out existing non-active or encapsulated tumors.  (This point will be discussed further in the February Newsletter).

At Some risk/Equivocal:  Grade C
These findings indicate thermal activity likely to represent benign changes such as inflammation, acute cysts or fibroadenoma, or infection. 

At Increased Risk/Abnormal:  Grade D
This represents a significant risk for existing or developing malignant breast disease. Clinical correlation is justified and additional testing is indicated, including a 3-month follow-up thermogram.

At High Risk/Suspicious:  Grade F
This represents a high risk of malignant breast disease; urgent clinical correlation is indicated with a comprehensive panel of testing and evaluation, including a 3-month follow-up thermogram.

How to Use the Scoring System to Your Advantage

For the clients who have achieved an "A " on their breast health score, fantastic!  Your lifestyle choices that you’ve implemented are contributing to optimal breast health.  Keep up the good work!

If a client has a known history of fibrocystic changes and/or breast cysts and receives a breast health score of a "B, " we would first encourage you to work with your health practitioner to reverse glandular hyperplasia, fibrocystic changes and the development of cysts and/or fibroadenomas through diet and address any hormonal imbalances.  You may also want to rule out estrogen dominance and measure estrogen metabolites.  Ultimately, it is possible and advisable to work with your practitioner to optimize your score.

If you have a grade of a "C " as your breast health score, it is time to take more proactive measures at reversing the inflammation associated with this process.  Estrogen dominance and estrogen metabolism needs to be evaluated as soon as possible.  Other contributing factors to this breast health score may include:  hormonal imbalances, lymph congestion, inadequate thyroid support, inflammatory diet, overwhelming or poorly-managed stress just to name a few.  Ultimately, it gives you an opportunity to discover what pieces of your health you’ve been neglecting or denying. 

Thermography does not diagnose cancer.  This can only be achieved through breast biopsy.  If you receive a score of a "D " or an "F, " certainly additional imaging (mammography, MRI and ultrasound) is mandatory.  If a positive diagnosis is made, you may want to continue to utilize thermography to monitor for healing after surgery as well as recurrence of cancer.  Understand, a grade of "D " or "F " is NOT a positive diagnosis and requires additional information to rule-out or rule-in developing pathology.

In summary, thermal imaging is utilized as a tool to watch for changes over time.  With continued breast health, the thermograms remain identical to the initial study. Changes may be identified that may represent physiological differences that warrant further investigation.  

The T BI-RADS gives women an opportunity to improve breast health or maintain their optimal breast health.  The T BI RADS System for scoring breast health is only utilized by ACCT thermographers like us at Proactive Health Solutions.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Estrogen Dominance, Estronex and Other Information

By Brenda Witt, Certified Clinical Thermographer | Tucson, AZ


Estrogen Dominance:  Definition
The subject of Estrogen Dominance, a phrase coined by John Lee, MD, is so important because of the powerful, yet detrimental, role it plays in the development of cancers found in women (breast, ovarian and endometrial). 

Estrogen dominance is defined as any amount of estrogen not offset by an adequate amount of progesterone. It's not an exact amount of estrogen that creates an estrogen dominant scenario, but rather, the amount of estrogen relative to the amount of progesterone. For example, a menopausal (or peri-menopausal) woman may have very little estrogen. However, if she is not producing an adequate level of progesterone to offset the estrogen, she may be (or may become) estrogen dominant.

As a woman transitions into menopause, progesterone production declines nearly twice as fast as estrogen. This unstoppable, natural process of our biology only partly contributes to an estrogen dominant scenario.  

Not All Estrogens are Created Equal

Other common contributing factors to creating estrogen dominance are those "consumed" through environmental means called xenoestrogens. "Xeno-"is the Greek word for foreign. Thus, xenoestrogens can be thought of as foreign estrogens.
Xenoestrogens are best defined as "hormone disruptors" in that they act at the same site as natural hormones and exert the same effects as any estrogen; cell growth and increased cell division. Therefore, estrogen receptors in breast tissue that are occupied by xenoestrogens and not offset by progesterone can lead to several breast conditions including breast cancer.
Thus, estrogen dominance puts us at risk for future disease like breast, ovarian and endometrial cancers.

Xenoestrogens are found in foods treated with pesticides and insecticides as well as any products that are petroleum-based (called petrochemicals). This list may include: lotions, soaps, shampoos, hair spray, cosmetics, room deodorizers, solvents cleaning products and plastics (water bottles, food-storage containers, etc) are all examples of petrochemicals and therefore foreign estrogens. Of course, not all products are petroleum-based. It is imperative that we read the labels of what we consume, choose non-petroleum based products and limit (ideally, entirely remove) the use of plastics. 

Other Contributing Factors to Estrogen Dominance
Stress taxes our adrenal glands which then contribute to decreased progesterone production.
Healthy estrogen metabolism - "Estrogen" is actually a combination of three hormones working together to exert their effects. These hormones include Estrone (E1), Estradiol (E2) and Estriol (E3). Estrogens are metabolized through the liver and when hydroxylated, are considered protective (or healthy) and sometimes called our "good" estrogens. End products of this "healthy" arm of estrogen metabolism includes hydroxylated estrone (2-(OH)-estrone) and hydroxylated estradiol (2-(OH)-estradiol).

Healthy estrogen metabolism is favored by adequate Vitamin D levels, adequate Vitamin B6 and Magnesium levels as well as consuming foods high in indol-3-carbinol such as cabbage, broccoli, collard greens, kale, turnip root and rutabaga as well as other cruciferous vegetables.

Some practitioners may request that you add Di-indolylmethane or DIM as this is the beneficial ingredient found in cruciferous vegetables that supports healthy estrogen metabolism.

Another end-product of estrone metabolism is 16-alpha-hydroxylated estrone (16α-(OH)-estrone) or "bad" estrogen. The ideal situation is to have a higher ratio of healthy metabolites to unhealthy metabolites. This ratio can be measured through blood or urine. Recommendations are then made to alter the ratio if necessary via diet, supplements and/or adding natural hormone support. Other beneficial modalities may be considered (yoga, meditation, acupuncture, etc) too.
Estrogen dominance and thermal imaging - Thermal imaging cannot "diagnose" estrogen dominance. However, as a powerful tool for preventing the development of disease, thermal imaging can be your best ally in monitoring for any changes related to your breast health. For example, let's say you've maintained stable thermal patterns for several years. At your annual appointment, the thermogram indicates a change from your previous stable thermal patterns. The risk for developing breast cancer is increased with estrogen dominance. Thus, it is prudent to make an appointment with your physician to rule out estrogen dominance. Talk to your nutritionist or physician about dietary changes that can benefit the healthy arm of estrogen metabolism. If stress may be a contributing factor, consider what changes can be made to manage the situation better. 

If you plan to make lifestyle modifications for the New Year I hope you will become more aware of environmental estrogens that may be feeding an unhealthy process and resolve to live healthfully in 2013 and beyond! 

Estronex Urine Test

A urine sample can measure your estrogen metabolites and determine the ratio of "good estrogen" to "bad estrogen" in your body.

Studies have shown this ratio provides an important indication of risk for future development of breast cancer. A low 2:16 ratio can indicate increased long-term risk for breast cancer as well as other estrogen-sensitive cancers including uterine, ovarian, cervical, prostate, and even head and neck cancers.

One of the best features of this test is that the metabolites can be measured and lifestyle changes can be modified to favor a healthier ratio.  To find out more information about this test please click here.

Consider asking your health practitioner for more information about his test and if there are any drawbacks to requesting this test.