One of the most important health concerns for women today is breast cancer. Statistics show that approximately 1 in 7 women will get breast cancer. Those are scary odds. You don’t just wake up one day and find out you have breast cancer. Cancer growth is a process. It takes years before aberrant cells can accumulate to a point where we can feel or even detect a lump. Most women have no idea that they are exposed to something every day that can dramatically speed cancer growth: excess estrogen and estrogen impersonators (mimics).
Years ago, it was found that estrogen added to cancer cells caused the cancers to grow like wildfire. Later, researchers accidentally found that cancers cultured in plastic Petri dishes had dramatically accelerated growth even without adding estrogen. It turned out that the phthalates leeching out of the plastic containers were such potent estrogen mimics that they turned on the growth of cancer cells. It is obvious then that synthetic estrogens, whether they are from prescriptions or from estrogen mimics, can alter our chances for breast and other types of cancer. The bad news is that our society is swimming in a sea of estrogen. Estrogen mimics or xenoestrogens are used in plastic bottles that hold pop and bottled water. They are also used in plastic wraps that wrap supermarket meats and vegetables, etc.
Many of the pesticides and herbicides on our fruits and vegetables have estrogen-like activity. The meats we eat are also increasing our estrogen levels. Animals are fed estrogen to increase their water weight before slaughter. Cows are milked during pregnancy causing our dairy products to contain high levels of estrogen. One dramatic study which demonstrated the negative effects of xenoestrogens in our drinking water found that 80-100% of male Smallmouth Bass taken from taken from several drinking water source had eggs in their testes. EGGS IN THEIR TESTES! These fish were taken from Monocacy River and Conococheague Creek, both tributaries of Potomac River, which in turn provides drinking water for millions of people. This study demonstrated that estrogenic endocrine-disrupting chemicals were present at all study locations. This surely cannot be considered beneficial for human consumption.
Excess hormones can be particularly undesirable in breast or prostate cancer patients. Determining the total levels of hormones and how effectively a person metabolizes and eliminates hormones gives information about the risk of developing hormonally sensitive cancers. Also, the ratio between “good” (2-hydroxy) estrogen and “bad” (16- and 4-hydroxy) estrogen could be important in decreasing cancer risk. Therefore, I recommend that you find out how well your body is detoxifying and getting rid of excessive estrogen. Fortunately, a simple urine test can measuring the ratio of “good” to “bad” estrogen, thus predicting and prevent breast cancer in women or prostate cancer in men. This kind of urine test may predict years in advance whether you have the cellular conditions that encourage cancer growth.
The good news is that this good/bad estrogen ratio can be improved through specific lifestyle modifications. It is important to remember that cancers are caused by multiple genetic and environmental factors, as well as from other undiscovered factors. An integrated approach may be the best strategy to beat cancer. This would include conventional treatments such as surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation as well as diet and nutrition, detoxification, acupuncture, stress reduction techniques, botanical medicine, and other treatment modalities. Anyone concerned about breast or prostate cancer would benefit from taking the following measures:
- Reducing Exposure to plastics, pesticides, and commercially raised animal products.
- Improve Nutrition: Decrease coffee consumption; stop smoking; achieve a healthy body weight; increase cruciferous vegetable consumption (broccoli, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts); increase ground flax seed; increase intake of fish; increase fruit and vegetable intake; increase antioxidants in foods or supplements; prevent iodine deficiency to protect breast, ovarian, uterine and prostate tissue, and proper thyroid function. Inflammation: Cancer and inflammation go hand in hand. Therefore, it is helpful to create an anti-inflammatory environment in the body by eating fish and/or taking omega-3 fatty acids. A complete nutritional and metabolic test can provide information for balancing your whole body biochemistry, so that you become healthier for the fight against cancer or the prevention of cancer.
- Ensure Gastrointestinal Health: When a molecule of estrogen has fulfilled its duty in the body it is normally metabolized by the liver and excreted from the body in the feces or urine. However, if a woman has gastrointestinal dysbiosis (overgrowth of undesirable organisms), there can be problems clearing the used estrogen. There are even certain gut bugs that can change the estrogen so that it can reenter circulation. Also, food allergies must be identified and eliminated before healing can occur.
- Toxins and Liver Detoxification: Toxins can harm our DNA and can even make good cells go bad. The liver has to help the body get rid of many toxins; both the internal toxins (like estrogen after it has been used by the body) and external toxins (like pesticides or heavy metals). For this reason, in a woman with breast cancer, it is important to identify and reduce toxic exposures and to make sure her liver is in good working order.
- Genetic Testing: A family history of breast cancer can increase a woman’s risk factor for developing breast cancer. BRCA is the gene that has been most widely studied. Detoxification genes, such as cytochrome p450 1B1 (CYP1B1), can impact a woman's clearance of harmful chemicals and can increase her risk for developing breast cancer. In one study, women taking hormone therapy and having an abnormal CYP1B1 had twice the risk of developing breast cancer compared to other women on hormone replacement therapy.
It is important to identify the nutritional, metabolic, or toxic challenges, and help restore the balance and fortify your body. While this can be helpful in all people, it is an important option for preventing, treating, or surviving cancer. Promoting wellness has so many benefits!