Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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August 1, 2012

Debunking a cancer prevention myth

I eat a minimum of processed meats that contain nitrites.

I drink from a stainless steel water bottle instead of my old plastic one to avoid BPA leeching into my water.

I wash my pesticide-covered produce in vegetable soap.

I gave up saccharin soon after my high school girlfriends stopped having Tab belching contests.

I buy milk that doesn’t come from cows given growth hormones.

I pick out the bluest, reddest, orangest, greenest fruits and vegetables I can find.

I gave birth, and I breastfed a relatively long time — not so long that my son asked in coherent paragraphs to be fed, but long enough for me to know he had a mouthful of teeth.

Despite all of that, apparently all I needed to know about breast cancer prevention was that I should have dug my bikini out of the museum and hit the tanning bed awhile ago. I could have avoided breast cancer surgery, radiation and gotten a bonus Malibu Barbie look.

To illustrate the tanning-cancer prevention theory, the Paddlefish Days parade today in Madison Lake, Minn., is to feature bikini-clad women who are marching to raise money for the Breast Cancer Natural Prevention Foundation, which advocates cancer prevention through ultraviolet light exposure. (I’m not sure how to break this to my friend who has melanoma.)

The parade whipped up lots of publicity as more than 450 women in bikinis were supposed to descend to break a world record and because the cancer-prevention premise seems wacky. Call it The Race for the Cocoa Butter.

My Mayo Clinic oncologist and all of the other medical experts I’ve seen in the last couple of years never mentioned ultraviolet light exposure as a good way to prevent cancer. After my breast cancer diagnosis, they surveyed me about my physical development, lifestyle, analyzed my blood, sent me to a genetic counselor, and talked about family history.

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