You may already know that consuming seaweed and kelp has many health benefits, not the least of which is protection from radiation, oxidative stress and cancer prevention. Several exciting studies over the last few years have also confirmed the power of certain seaweed strains for stopping breast cancer in its tracks, out-performing Tamoxifen in Breast Cancer cell death.
And, unlike the chemo drug, the only side effects of the seaweed were improved immune function and antioxidant protection.
What the Research Says About Seaweed and Breast Cancer
One of the latest studies to verify the power of seaweed in fighting cancer occurred at the University Putra Malaysia. Researchers there administered laboratory rats with Breast Cancer cells (LA-7) and divided them into three groups. The first group was not treated with anything. The second group was treated with Tamoxifen, the most common Breast Cancer chemo drug. The third group was given Eucheuma cottonii L. (a.k.a. Guso) seaweed extract. This thread-like, red-colored seaweed was harvested from the winter waters off the coast of North Borneo and was administered in powdered form in a dosage that would be equivalent to 800 mg for a 110 pound adult woman.
The results were astounding. The seaweed extract proved to be 27 percent more effective than Tamoxifen overall, with a 97 percent decrease in tumor size after four weeks (compared to 71 percent for the chemo drug). Just as important, Guso demonstrated zero toxicity to the kidneys and liver while improving antioxidant status (measured by MDA markers). The Tamoxifen, on the other hand, created visible lesions on the rats’ livers and kidneys and decreased MDA levels by 46 percent. Glutathione levels for the chemo-treated rats also decreased by close to 60 percent while these levels increased by 78 percent in the rats treated by the seaweed. Glutathione is vital for immune system function and overall health.
Other studies have verified the effects of seaweed on Breast Cancer cells:
- A 2013 study at Brazil’s Federal University Rio Grande do Norte found polysaccharides in the Sargassum vulgare seaweed that inhibited Breast Cancer tumor growth;
- Researchers from Kyushu University in Japan discovered that when Breast Cancer cells were treated with fucoidan,found in all brown seaweeds, it had an effect on caspase activity. Caspase is a special enzyme that lies dormant until triggered to cause cancer cell death;
- A 2001 study conducted at the Nagoya University School of Medicine in Japan found that wakame seaweed suppressed Breast Cancer mammary tumors and that the dried flowering sprout of wakame called mekabu had a strong effect on Breast Cancer carcinogenesis
Why Consuming Seaweed Regularly Can Help Prevent Breast Cancer
Regular seaweed consumption is one of the best breast cancer preventatives. Besides its antioxidant benefits mentioned above, most species contain high levels of iodine. In fact, women in Japan have been reported to have low rates of Breast Cancer in general, owing in large part to their consumption of seaweed.
Remember that iodine deficiency is one of the first indications that you are at risk of Breast Cancer. Lack of proper iodine in the body means that both the thyroid and the mammary glands have to compete for a shortened supply. Iodine deficiency can also lead to cell damage because iodine-deficient mammary glands are a target for unhealthy estrogens.
What are the best kinds of seaweed to consume if you want to prevent breast cancer? Research shows that the best sources of iodine are brown and red seaweeds such as kelp, hijiki, sagassum, dulse, gracillaia, and Irish moss. Nori is probably the most well-known of all the seaweeds, but it may not be your best choice for Breast Health since it is not that high in iodine content.
In this post-Fukushima world, finding a safe source for seaweed is really important. Even though the highest concentration of radiation can be found higher up the food chain in fish and especially in seafood, trace amounts of polonium and other radioactive elements have been found in Pacific water kelps as well. One of the best companies I have found out there is called GIMME Health. They offer USDA Certified organic products that are harvested in the oceans off of South Korea.
Consider seaweed therapy if you are on a healing or preventive journey. Most importantly, consider adding a little bit of this superfood to your meals every day. Eat it toasted, add it to soups and stews, mix it in with other vegetables, eat it as a tasty stand-alone salad or ingest it in capsule form. You can eat as much as you want and your body will thank you for it with vibrant health!
Dr V., You also mentioned seaweed in capsule form. Would an recommend an organic version? I do own your book but I can’t find that info there. I eat wakame most days, but I’m thinking caps for travel.
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Would nascent iodine drops work as well as seaweed? I purchased a small bottle and started doing 3 drops per day until my doctor told me to stay away from it. He said it can cause thyroid cancer. I’ve never heard of this before….and just the opposite. I’m having to take armidex (anastrozole) after breast cancer surgery, but the side effects are horrible. My cancer was extremely small, no cancer found in the lymph nodes and my oncotype results shows I’m a low risk for recurrence. I do like eating seaweed, but will make sure I purchase the right kind after reading this article. Any advice or tips? I have an appointment with my oncologist this month and want to ask if I can just stop taking the drugs and just change my diet. I’ve been taking armidex for 8 months now. I’m getting one side effect after another constantly….and none are good.
Hi Wendy! Some women do decide to use Iodine supplements, but it is very important that you monitor your Iodine levels to ensure that you take the right amount to balance your levels rather than overshoot them. Here is a great test option to consider:
Would you recommend taking Irish moss with tamoxifen? My breast cancer was hormone positive with a micromet in one node only. I’ve been consuming Irish moss from the start of my finding my lump. I’ve healed remarkably with my double mass and have been in great health. I would hate to have to stop taking it with the preventative medication.
Hello Porscha! We cannot make generalized recommendations without knowing more about you personally, with that being said, generally speaking nutritional support is usually beneficial. It is always a great idea to double check with your doctor before adding any new supplementation.