In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month, I had the opportunity to interview Dr. Kristi Funk, founder of the Pink Lotus Breast Center and breast cancer surgeon to well known celebrities like Angelina Jolie and Sheryl Crow. Dr. Funk is a board certified surgical breast specialist and has helped thousands of women through breast cancer treatment.
This past May Dr. Funk came out with her first book titled, Breasts: The Owner’s Manual: Every Woman’s Guide to Reducing Cancer Risk, Making Treatment Choices, and Optimizing Outcomes. Dr. Funk is a frequent cohost on The Doctors and breast expert on Good Morning America, and has appeared on The View, Today, The Dr. Oz Show, CNN, and numerous other national and local television and news shows.
So without further adieu let’s get down to the interview!
Q: Is the incidence of breast cancer (particularly in the younger population) on the rise?
Dr. Funk: The incidence of breast cancer has been relatively stable since 2007. What is happening, due to the effects of social media, you’re hearing/reading about a 20 something year old that happens to be your cousin’s friend being diagnosed with breast cancer. 10 years ago you would’ve never heard about it. The stories are more ubiquitous but statistically, the incidence has not changed. The positive result of this social media presence, has made younger women more aware that breast cancer can affect them.
Q: What can young women/men do to decrease their chances of developing breast cancer?
Dr. Funk: Of all the things you can do the most effective thing is eliminating animal fat and animal protein from your diet. The consumption of animal protein/fats creates a playground that feeds and fuels all of our illnesses. That playground looks like skyrocketing growth hormone levels, estrogen levels, free radicals, angiogenesis occurs (requirement for tumors to proliferate). The bottom line is animal products create a cascade of inflammation and cellular dysfunction that the cancer cells need to grow.
When consuming animal protein a hormone called Insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) increases in your body. These hormones help turn over cells but once they’re done turning over our native cells like muscles after exercising, the excess still wants to help other cells (like cancer cells) grow. Then grow they will-into cancer, into metastases to the lung and liver, into the brain and bone.
Q: Doesn’t the keto diet praise itself for lowering the risk of cancer?
Dr. Funk: There has not been one study that has proven that is true. The keto diet is sexy because it rewards bad habits like eating butter and bacon to lose weight and live longer. That goes against natural physiology. It is true people lose weight from the keto diet but long term it is not sustainable.
Q: Does eating organic and nonGMO make any difference to reducing your risk?
Dr. Funk: It makes NO difference. Studies have shown there’s no difference between eating organic and nonGMO as opposed to the opposite.
Q: What does Dr. Funk’s meal plan look like throughout the day?
Dr. Funk: I became vegan after doing the research for my book. I did not eat this way 18 months ago. In medical school or residency we are not taught nutrition as it relates to disease and illness. And it is the root source of several diseases.
While doing research for my book, I remember one day coming downstairs and emptying my refrigerator of all animal products which amounted to 4 trash bags full of products like manchego cheese, eggs, aged gouda, etc. I never realized who ubiquitous animal products were in my life.
Q: Is there a connection between deodorant and breast cancer?
Dr. Funk: It has absolutely no basis in physiology and there’s zero scientific evidence.People think that plugging your pores with aluminum might be toxic or cause toxins to build up in the body and get into lymph nodes. However, not so.
Q:What other signs (besides lumps) can/should we be looking for on a regular basis that may signal cancer early on?
Dr. Funk: Here are critical signs that should send you to your doctor STAT for a breast evaluation: your nipple retracts inward (and it used to be pointing out); you notice a change in the color or texture of the skin over most of the breast (specifically if it looks like the peel of an orange: thickened, ruddy orange color, tiny pits); your nipple and/or areola is cracked, bleeding, flaking, or painful; there is discharge of any color coming spontaneously through your nipple (often noticed by staining on a bra or nightgown – it appears without you pushing it out); one breast is noticeably enlarging; there is a lump in your armpit.
Q: If you can tell the general public what is the one thing they can do to everyday to prevent their chances of breast cancer what would it be?
Dr. Funk: Leading a healthy lifestyle is important. Eat a high fiber, diet rich in fruits, vegetables and minimal to no animal products. Exercise regularly . Maintaining a healthy weight reduces your risk for breast cancer. Find a BMI calculator online, and compute your body mass index – make sure it is between 18.5-25. Many cancers are fueled by estrogen, and body fat, increase the total estrogen level in your body.
Thank you Dr. Funk for sharing with us your knowledge.
Stay tuned for our second portion of our interview with Dr. Funk!