Breast Cancer Prevention and the Healing Power of Holistic Medicine
Dr. Teresa Fuller is double board-certified in pediatrics and integrative holistic medicine. She also holds a Ph.D. in physiology. She received her M.D. and Ph.D. at Howard University and has been a practicing pediatrician in the Maryland area for the past decade. Dr. Fuller is the executive director of A Healthy Tomorrow, PA, an organization that empowers families with health education and resources to achieve optimal wellness. Share with Hope the pivotal experience that prompted your shift from practicing traditional medicine to focusing primarily on holistic medicine.
A few years ago, as I was approaching the age of 40, I noticed some problems with my health; my weight had steadily increased over the preceding years to 170 pounds, and I developed a painful, inflammatory foot condition called plantar fasciitis, also known as heel spurs. Despite following the instruction of my podiatrist to wear supportive heel inserts, take Motrin, and apply ice, the problem did not improve, even after two years. The next step was a cortisone injection. As the months turned into two years, I started to believe that I would always have this painful condition. I attended a wellness talk, and I heard some things I had never heard before. I heard that nutrition, exercise, and detoxification could not only prevent disease, but reverse it. It was a true, eye-opening, life-changing moment. I immediately decided two things: that I was going to start living a healthy lifestyle and that, once I had truly learned what a healthy lifestyle looked like, I would teach others the same.
You have openly shared a past experience with a breast cancer scare. As October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, what are some lesser-known cancer prevention strategies that we should incorporate into our daily lives?
I would love for more women to be empowered with information about how to significantly reduce their risk of breast cancer. The earlier you start, the better. Two years ago, I felt a mass in my breast that I was sure was a cyst, but my doctor insisted that I have it checked out. It led to a biopsy, which thankfully was negative. However, for a few days while I awaited the results, I had to consider the very real possibility of a cancer diagnosis. Unfortunately, we hear a very limited message about breast cancer. Everybody hears about mammograms, but not many women hear about the importance of nutrition for reducing their risk. For example, women need to know that they can flood their bodies with cancer-fighting foods. Foods like cruciferous vegetables—which include cabbage, broccoli, kale, and cauliflower—contain powerful cancer-fighting nutrients. Women should also indulge in mushrooms, onions, beans, and green tea. Some of these foods, in combination, help reduce your breast cancer risk by as much as 90 percent!
Your book, Change 1 Thing: A Doctor's 12 Step Guide to Permanent Weight Loss, Disease Prevention and a Lifetime of Incredible Health, takes a step-by-step approach to changing habits to gain sustainable results. Could you elaborate on this 12-step approach?
It turns out that 75 percent to 85 percent of our most common chronic diseases are directly related to our diet and lifestyle. The secret to preventing and reversing disease involves the simple strategies of giving our bodies what they need to properly function and to heal. My book lays out those research-proven strategies. Some are obvious, like drinking a lot of water. But some of the strategies are not so obvious, like the importance of sleep for weight loss and disease prevention. So in the book, I walk you through 12 strategies, one by one, that will take you on a journey to a lifetime of health. The reason I set up the book this way is because scientific research shows us that most people need to gradually adopt change. There are some who can completely change immediately, but the vast majority of people need to take it one step at a time. So this book is designed to take you through one healthy habit at a time, and give you a month to fully adopt that habit before moving on to the next one. One unique aspect of this book is that nutrition is only part of the healthy lifestyle makeover. I also talk about when to eat, how media impacts your health, the impact of stress, and other lifestyle habits. So, I leave no stone unturned. Every chapter contains a section called Tips for Children, which gives you ideas for getting your children on board with these changes. All of the changes are rated G—healthy for people of all ages.