“We are swimming in a sea of estrogen.” ~Harry Eidenier, Jr., Ph.D.
Estrogen dominant cancers such as breast and prostate cancer 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), millions of men, children and teenagers are increasingly affected by estrogen dominance.
High levels of estrogen can cause a wide range of symptoms including early puberty, man boobs, infertility, fibroids, endometriosis, hypothyroidism and estrogen dominant cancers such as breast and prostate cancer. It is estimated that every three minutes a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer. While the overwhelming majority of cases occur in women, male breast cancer can also occur.
Different Types of Breast Cancer
- Hormone receptor (estrogen or progesterone receptor) positive – Approximately 75 percent of breast cancers are ER positive and grow in response to the hormone, estrogen. About 65% 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. These breast cancers tend 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. In loving memory, Julie Wright.
This article focuses on estrogen dominance and estrogen-sensitive cancers.
Endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are known as obesogens. Obesogens mimic or alter the effects of hormones in the body and often target the estrogen receptors.
According to Wikipedia, obesogens inappropriately alter lipid homeostasis and fat storage, change metabolic setpoints, disrupt energy balance or modify the regulation of appetite and satiety to promote fat accumulation and obesity.
Xenoestrogens, a type of obesogen, 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.
These chemicals cause damage to tissue that disrupts insulin sensitivity and glucose balance, accelerates aging, causes infertility, creates brain dysfunction and disturbs the weight regulating hormone, leptin. Besides disrupting body balance, these substances cause our bodies to store fat. Our bodies store toxins in the fat cells. Research shows that obesogens can even alter your genes.
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) and estrogen dominant health issues.
Sources of Obesogens (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, cosmetics, deodorants & antiperspirants)|
|Oral contraceptives and Rx drugs||Paints, lacquers, perchloate, and solvents|
|Pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, PCBs||Styrofoam products|
|Plant estrogens (processed soy)||Plastics, canned foods, plastic food wrap|
Aromatization and Increased Estrogen – Symptoms and Causes
- Age increases aromatase activity
- Carbohydrate intolerance and insulin resistance
- Consuming a diet of processed soy, dairy, corn, conventional animal protein and non-organic foods loaded with xenoestrogens, pesticides, antibiotics, etc.
- Early menstruation cycles for young girls. Accelerated puberty. Endometriosis; Fibroids, Hormone-sensitive cancers (breast, prostate)
- Heavy metal toxicity (arsenic, barium, cadmium, lead, cobalt, aluminum and mercury).
- Deficiency in iodine, selenomethionine, and other nutrients
- Prescription drug side effects, especially diuretics, anti-depressants, steroid and liver activity drugs. Excess alcohol consumption and marijuana increase blood sugar, triglycerides and estrogens.
- Excess inflammation; poor methylators; poor detoxification pathways
- Hormone imbalances
- Infertility and/or miscarriage
- Liver congestion caused by the foods we eat, the air we breathe, the products we put on our skin and the beverages we drink. Excess estrogen is generally removed by the liver. According to Harvard physician, John R. Lee., M.D., “anything that impairs liver function or ties up the detoxifying function will result in excess estrogen levels.”
- Low protein intake and excessive carbohydrate intake
- Aromatization (Man Boobs aka Moobs) – Excess fat and 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 = 25% body fat or greater. Obesity in females = 30% body fat of greater
- Plastics, PCBs, pesticides, soaps, emulsifiers, phthalates and artificial fragrances found in skin care products, lotions, cosmetics and household cleaning products.
- Parabens. New research has detected the presence of parabens in 99% percent of breast cancer tissues sampled. Parabens affect your body much like the estrogens, which can lead to decreased muscle mass, extra body fat, and man boobs.
- Higher caliper skinfolds at the quadricep and hamstring which indicate long term exposure to estrogens
- Zinc deficiency. Low levels of zinc have been linked to enlarged prostates and less than desirable levels of testosterone.
- Those who have had their gallbladder removed
Reduce Risk of Estrogen Dominant Cancers & Decrease Estrogen Dominance:
- Consume grass-fed and organic foods versus conventional due to their abundance of synthetic hormones, pesticides, 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 (best through increase vegetables and leafy greens) – 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.
- Bring on the Mushrooms. A study published in the International Journal of Cancer discovered that those who ate 10g of button mushrooms/day were 64% 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. .
- Periodic detoxing. My recommendation is the 10 Day Detox Program, a healthy detox.
- Read the entire list of ingredients on all food items and personal care products. You’ll be surprised at the number of chemicals, colorings and artificial ingredients.
- Foods rich in zinc: wild shellfish, organic whole eggs, grass-fed red meat, pumpkin seeds
- Phytosterols found in walnuts bind to estrogen receptors, and phytoestrogens found in red clover, leafy greens, flax and sesame seeds may prevent or slow the growth of breast cancer tumors fueled by estrogen.
- Excessive alcohol consumption; Processed and genetically-engineered soy products; Artificial sweeteners; processed salt; food additives and preservatives
- Caffeinated products in excess (coffee, tea, chocolate)
- Foods rich in copper (i.e. soy milk, tofu, soy-based protein powders, tempeh, certain nuts and grains)
- Excess iron, especially after age 50
- Overcooked foods
- Refined, trans fats, sugars, processed carbohydrates, corn, HFCS and hydrogenated vegetable oils = increase blood glucose and insulin = visceral fat = increased estrogen.
- 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% or more of their total energy intake from refined carbohydrates had a 220% higher risk of breast cancer than women who ate more balanced diets.
- Using teflon cookware.
- 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 glass containers.
- Breastfeeding versus formula feeding. According to a study in the Archives of Internal Medicine, “women who breast-fed had a 59% lower risk of premenopausal breast cancer.”
- Reduce your body fat
- Determine your lab values and hormone levels. Blood Chemistry Analysis
- 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 – elevated iron is toxic as we age, a potent oxidant, increasing free radicals and increased risk of cancer.
- Go braless occasionally. Bras restrict the flow of lymph. Monthly breast self-exams and breast massage
- 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.
- Spend time in a sauna at least once a week
- Work a first shift
- Test and rule out heavy metal body burdens. Address Candida overgrowth.
- Use natural cleaning products and natural pest control in your home and garden
- Thermography uses an infrared camera, and is risk-free (no radiation) and painless. Thermograms can detect the possibility of breast cancer earlier, whereas mammograms cannot detect a tumor until it’s been growing for years.
- Use organic soaps and toothpastes (fluoride-free)
- The average woman puts 200-500 chemicals on her body every day. Use only naturally-based lotions, cosmetics, perfumes and personal care products. Whatever you spread on your skin is absorbed into your body, with the possibility of causing serious damage. Become an avid label reader.
- Be aware of noxious gases from copiers and printers, carpets, etc. Computer monitors can emit high levels of electromagnetic force (EMF).
Avoid exposure to:
- Smoking and smoky environments
- Fabric softeners, which put petrochemicals directly onto your skin
- Exposure to chlorine, fluoride, and bromine, which displace iodine in the body.
- 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.
- Nail polish (and removers), creams, lotions and cosmetics that have toxic chemicals and estrogenic ingredients such as parabens. Cheaper brands usually have more toxic ingredients.
- 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.
Cancer cells cannot thrive in an oxygenated environment. Movement and deep breathing provide oxygen down to the cellular level. Exercise, specifically strength training, balances your insulin levels, and controlling insulin levels is one of the most powerful ways to reduce your cancer risks.
- Lift weights 3-4x per week. Higher levels of strength and muscle are associated with a decreased risk of cancer.
Omega-3 fish oils Be sure to 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 the most common type of breast cancer (invasive ductal breast cancer) by 32 percent.
Vitamin D prevents and reduces 78% 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.
Zinc is a precursor to the hormone, progesterone, which counters estrogen. When you’re deficient in zinc, you can’t make hormones.
Resveratrol. The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry demonstrated high antitumor and estrogenic activity of resveratrol. Researchers compared resveratrol to other phytoestrogens and found that it increased cancer-cell death more than any of the others.
Iodine/Iodide. Women with fibrocystic breast disease and other estrogen dominant conditions are often deficient in iodine and often require more iodine than others do. Both the thyroid and breast have high concentrations of iodine.
- 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, artificial sweeteners, 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. Provera has been linked to blood clots, fluid retention, acne, rashes, weight gain, depression, certain cancers and other disorders.
- Anti-estrogen drugs such as Tamoxifen, a selective estrogen receptive modulator comes with a laundry list of side effects including blood clots, strokes, dizziness, hot flashes, sexual problems, stroke, cataracts, leg swelling, mood swings and vision problems according to The National Cancer Institute. Tamoxifen has also been linked to endometrial and uterine cancer. Research shows tamoxifen increases the risk of developing a second and far more dangerous type of breast cancer by a stunning 440% published in the journal, Cancer Research.
Estrogen dominance is complex health condition. There are countless factors that contribute to estrogen overload and cancer (Alternative Medicine). Maintaining a strong immune system through diet, intelligent exercise, hormone balance, stress management, lifestyle modifications, dealing with emotions and nutritional support are preventative measures we all have control over to decrease our risk of health related diseases and decrease estrogen load.
Contact me for your personalized estrogen detox plan. The Blood Chemistry Analysis is a service I offer. This program was developed by one of my mentors, Harry Eidinier, Jr., Ph.D., a biochemist, scientist and researcher who does extensive research on nutrition, analyzing blood chemistry and correcting blood chemistry with nutrition. Be Smart – Know Your Numbers.
Copyright © Paula Owens
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