Breast health and reducing breast cancer risk: a functional medicine approach

J Altern Complement Med. 2015 Jun;21(6):321-6. doi: 10.1089/acm.2014.0365. Epub 2015 May 14.


Background/objective: A functional medicine approach to reduce breast cancer risk is preferable to early detection and treatment in maintaining breast health. Estrogens are implicated in breast cancer initiation through conversion to metabolites that react with DNA to form specific adducts associated with the development of breast cancer. The purpose of this study was to determine the ability of a defined clinical intervention, the AVERTi-Healthy Breast Program (AHBP), to reduce breast cancer risk conditions likely to develop into breast disease.

Methods: To obtain evidence that risk conditions in breast tissue can be reduced with a defined, multifaceted approach, this small clinical trial of 21 women measured indicators of breast health. A detailed clinical evaluation was conducted with all participants, including identification of physical symptoms, such as areas of tenderness upon palpation. Two laboratory assessments were conducted to determine the efficacy of the AHBP. First, 31 estrogen metabolites, estrogen conjugates, and depurinating estrogen-DNA adducts in urine samples taken before intervention were analyzed. The ratio of DNA adducts to metabolites and conjugates was calculated for each sample. Second, oxidative stress was analyzed by measuring the redox potential of glutathione and cysteine in blood plasma. All assessments were conducted before and after participation.

Results: The estrogen adduct ratio and redox potential were improved after 90 days on the AHBP. A significant mean reduction of 3.31 (p=0.03) was observed in the adduct ratio, along with a significant improvement in the redox potential of 3.80 (p=0.05). The significant change in the adduct ratio occurred in women whose oxidative stress profile also improved.

Conclusion: These significant within-individual decreases suggest that the AHBP can reduce the risk for breast cancer in a relatively short time.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Biomarkers / urine
  • Breast / physiology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Female
  • Health Promotion*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Oxidative Stress / physiology
  • Pilot Projects
  • Women's Health Services*


  • Biomarkers