Did you know that every three minutes a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer? Do you think breast cancer affects women only? Think again. Men are not exempt from breast cancer. Many breast cancers are fueled by estrogen, a hormone produced in fat tissue. Although there are numerous reasons why women predominantly experience estrogen dominance (use of birth control, menopause and pregnancy), both men and women are increasingly affected by estrogen dominance.
Different types of breast cancer:
• Hormone receptor (estrogen or progesterone receptor) positive. Approximately 75 percent of breast cancer are ER positive and grow in response to the hormone, estrogen. About 65 percent of these are also PR positive and grow in response to the hormone, progesterone.
• HER2 positive cancer — 20-25 percent of breast cancers are HER2 positive. The cancer cells make too much of a protein known as HER2/neu. HER2 breast cancer tends to be much more aggressive and fast-growing.
• Triple negative is an extremely aggressive form of breast cancer. It is not positive to receptors for estrogen, progesterone, or HER2. Approximately 10-12 percent are known as “triple negative” because they lack estrogen and progesterone receptors, and do not overexpress the HER2 protein.
This article focuses on estrogen dominance and estrogen-sensitive cancers.
I recall a statement Dr. Harry Eidenier, Jr., Ph.D. made in a recent seminar I attended: “We are swimming in a sea of environmental xenoestrogens.” Xenoestrogens are environmental, man-made chemicals that have a chemical structure similar to estrogen that accumulate in fatty human tissue. The longer these foreign substances stay in your body, the more opportunity they have to do damage. Your body has to detoxify these xenoestrogen chemicals every day, and over time this can become a burden.
Estrogen in general tends to promote cell division, particularly in hormone-sensitive tissue (breast and uterine lining). Excess estrogens in your body increase aromatase (an enzyme found in estrogen producing cells in the adrenal glands, ovaries, placenta, testicles, adipose or fat tissue and the brain).
Sources of Xenoestrogens: artificial scents/air fresheners, food additives/preservatives, household cleaners/detergents, car exhaust and indoor toxins, non-organic foods (particularly animal fats from dairy and meat), personal care products (shampoos, lotions, perfumes, make up, deodorants), oral contraceptives and prescription drugs, pains, lacquers and solvents, pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, Styrofoam products, plant estrogens (soy, flaxseed), plastics, canned foods, and plastic food wrap.
Aromatization and excess estrogen (symptoms and causes):
• Age increases aromatase activity.
• Carbohydrate intolerance and insulin resistance.
• Consuming a diet of processed soy, corn and non-organic foods loaded with xenohormones, pesticides, antibiotics, etc.
• Early menstruation cycles for young girls; endometriosis; fibroids; ovarian dysts, hormone dominant cancers (breast, prostate).
• Food sensitivities and food allergies.
• Heavy metal body burdens (arsenic, barium, cadmium, lead, cobalt, aluminum and mercury).
• Prescription drugs especially diuretics, anti-depressants, steroid and liver activity drugs.
• Excess alcohol consumption and marijuana increase blood sugar, triglycerides and estrogens.
• Excess inflammation.
• Infertility and/or miscarriage.
• Those who have had their gallbladders removed.
• Liver congestion caused by the foods we eat, the air we breathe and the beverages we drink.
• Low protein intake and excessive carbohydrate intake.
• Man boobs, aka moobs, — excess fat breast growth in men is a definitive indication of high estrogen in relation to their testosterone. This is often combined with insulin resistance.
• Estrogen dominance in men contributes to hair loss, atherosclerosis, moobs, prostate problems, reduced sperm counts, lowered libido and impotency.
• Obesity — high estrogen is present in most obese people of all ages. Obesity in males equals 22 percent body fat or greater. Obesity in females equals 30 percent body fat or greater.
• Plastics, PCBs, pesticides, soaps, emulsifiers, skin care products, lotions, cosmetics and household cleaning products contain xenoestrogens, pesticides and other chemicals.
• Stress (physical, emotional, spiritual, electromagnetic, environmental).
• Zinc deficiency. Low levels of zinc have been linked to enlarged prostates and less than desirable levels of testosterone.
Reduce risk of estrogen dominant cancers, decrease estrogen dominance:
• Alkalize your blood by eating approximately 80 percent of your diet from alkaline foods. Cancer thrives in an acidic environment.
• Consume organic foods versus conventional due to their abundance of synthetic pesticides, xenohormones, antibiotics, etc.
• Eat more broccoli, watercress, cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprouts and cabbage. A study at the University of Michigan found that sulforaphane, an active compound found in broccoli sprouts, eliminated breast cancer stem cells.
• Increase fiber because it helps reduce the amount of circulating estrogen in your body.
• Drink only purified water and more green tea (at least 3 cups daily). The EGCG in green tea helps suppress the gene that triggers the breast cancer.
• Keep insulin levels low and increase insulin-sensitivity.
• A study published in the International Journal of Cancer discovered that those who ate 10 grams of button mushrooms a day were 64 percent less likely to develop breast cancer.
• A Northwestern University study, published in the journal Annals of Oncology, found that oleic acid found in avocados, oils such as almond, pecan, macadamia, cashew and extra virgin olive oil (10 tsp/day) inhibit activity levels of the Her-2/neu gene.
• Read the entire list of ingredients on all products. You’ll be surprised at the number of chemicals, colorings and artificial ingredients.
• Phytosterols found in walnuts bind to estrogen receptors and may help prevent or slow the growth of breast cancer tumors fueled by estrogen.
• Caffeinated products in excess (coffee, tea, chocolate).
• Deli/luncheon meats, and anything else that contains sodium nitrates.
• Non-organic meats and dairy products.
• Excess iron (foods, cookware, vitamins) especially after age 50.
• Overcooked foods.
• Trans fats, sugar, processed carbohydrates, corn, HFCS, excessive alcohol, artificial sweeteners, processed soy, and hydrogenated vegetable oils.
• Sugar is a food source for cancer. A study in the Journal Cancer Epidemiology, Mile Markers, and Prevention found that refined carbs (white flour, sugar, corn and HFCS) are linked to cancer. The study of more than 1,800 women in Mexico found that those who got 57 percent or more of their total energy intake from refined carbohydrates had a 220 percent higher risk of breast cancer than women who ate more balanced diets.
• Storing your food and beverages in plastic containers; the estrogen-like compounds in the plastic can make their way into the foods and liquids. Instead use Pyrex glass containers.
• Breastfeeding versus formula feeding. According to a study in the Archives of Internal Medicine, “women who breast-fed had a 59 percent lower risk of premenopausal breast cancer.”
• Reduce your body fat.
• Determine your hormone levels with current labs.
• Suggested urine test: 2/16 OH estrogen (this inexpensive test measures estrogen metabolites. A low 2/16 indicates a high risk of estrogen sensitive cancers.
• Test iron and ferritin levels — extra iron is toxic as we age, a potent oxidant, increasing free radicals and increase risk of cancer.
• Go braless occasionally. Bras restrict the flow of lymph
• Improve your mood naturally. Get off antidepressants, which raise aromatase.
• Campaign against pesticide use in schools and workplaces. Children are especially susceptible to the effects of xenoestrogens.
• Monthly breast self-exams. Consider thermograms and/or mammograms.
• Get plenty of restful sleep in complete darkness. Most liver healing occurs during restful sleep. A healthy liver is responsible for hormone balance and is essential for correcting estrogen dominance.
• Spend time in a sauna at least once a week
• Vitamin D — spend time outdoors in sunlight without sunscreen 10-30 minutes daily.
• Work a first shift.
• Test for heavy metal toxicity and address Candida overgrowth.
• Use natural pest control in your home and garden.
• Use organic soaps and toothpastes (fluoride-free).
• Use only naturally-based perfumes and colognes. Most perfumes and colognes are petrochemically based.
Avoid exposure to:
• Smoking and smoky environments.
• Fabric softeners — they put petrochemicals directly on your skin.
• Synthetic flea shampoos, flea collars and flea pesticides for your pets and homes.
• Chemical exposure and carcinogenic toxins. There are at least 200 known chemicals that studies have shown are linked to breast cancer.
• Pesticide exposure — the molecular structure of some pesticides closely resembles that of estrogen. This means they may attach to receptor sites in your body. It’s a known fact that those with elevated levels of pesticides in their breast tissue have a greater breast cancer risk.
• Nail polish (and removers), creams, lotions and cosmetics that have toxic chemicals and estrogenic ingredients such as parabens.
• Bisphenol-A (BPA) (plastic bottles, canned foods, etc) is a widely used industrial chemical that has been directly “linked” to reproductive abnormalities and an increased risk of breast and prostate cancers, diabetes and heart disease.
Exercise, fitness, movement
Cancer cells cannot thrive in an oxygenated environment. Smart exercise and deep breathing provide oxygen down to the cellular level. Exercise balances your insulin levels and controlling insulin levels is one of the most powerful ways to reduce your cancer risks.
• Rebounding on a mini trampoline boosts your immune system and increases lymphatic circulation.
• Bouncing on a rebounder for two minutes every hour is good therapy for preventing or treating cancer. One hour after rebounding, white blood cell counts normalize.
• Lift weights 3-4 times per week. Higher levels of strength are associated with a decreased risk of cancer.
Omega-3 fish oils — make sure you supplement with a quality brand that is free of toxic heavy metals, PCBs and other chemicals. Research published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention showed that postmenopausal women who take fish oil supplements may lower their risk of breast cancer by 32 percent.
Vitamin D prevents and reduces 78 percent of all cancers. Vitamin D suppresses growth of breast cancer by blocking and enhancing signals that inhibit cancer cell growth and by altering gene regulators of the cell cycle. A University of Birmingham study also found that Vitamin D3 encourages healthy breast cell growth while making cells more resistant to toxins.
Aromatase Inhibitors are: Calcium d-glucarate, DIM and Sulforaphane.
• Prescription drugs and poor quality supplements. Get in the habit of reading the list of ingredients on your supplement labels. Avoid supplements that contain soy oil, corn, fillers, binders, etc.
• Excessive iron through supplements, diet and cast iron cookware.
• If you’re using birth control pills or synthetic estrogens such as Premarin, educate yourself on what these drugs do to your body, particularly your hormonal system, your gut and your immune system.
• Ahwatukee Foothills resident Paula Owens, M.S., is the author of two books, “The Power of 4” and “Fat Loss Revolution.” She is a nutritionist and fitness expert with more than 25 years of experience, and creator of “21 Days to a Leaner, Healthier You,” an online exercise and fat-loss program. Visit Paula at www.PaulaOwens.com.