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I’ll make a bold statement:  low functioning thyroid gland, or what is known as hypothyroid condition, usually precedes most breast conditions. By correcting this problem as early as your first symptoms develop, you will decrease your risk of developing breast cancer and improve your breast health. 

Women are more likely to develop thyroid disease than men. In fact, women are eight times more likely to suffer from a dysfunctional thyroid during their lifetime than men. Most thyroid dysfunctions start in the peri-menopausal and menopausal stages, when the endocrine system experiences many changes. Countless women will make the same complaint: "I'm gaining weight”; “I have no energy”, “I feel chilled all the time”. 

After seeing  a medical doctor, many women are assured that there is nothing wrong with their thyroid gland, because the blood test results were within a “normal” parameter. How could it be that the symptoms and complaints are irrelevant, while demanding attention, yet the blood results do not support the obvious? Could it be that the current tests are not complete or thorough? 

A common connection often overlooked is that proper thyroid function also depends on proper function of the adrenal glands. Adrenals become physically exhausted after prolonged stress or a prolonged illness. Therefore if adrenals are not functioning well,thyroid issues won’t get resolved either. 

Another contributing problem to an under-active thyroid is estrogen dominance. Estrogen dominance decreases the function of the thyroid gland. Since the organs of the endocrine system are interdependent, the hypo-function of one organ will have a cascading effect on the rest of the system. Estrogen and progesterone imbalance, which frequently starts in peri-menopause, is often overlooked as a contributing factor to thyroid dysfunction. 

How can YOU be sure?

You can use different methods to check your thyroid and adrenal function, including blood, saliva and urine tests. Your Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) may be in the ‘normal’ range and because of this you may not be getting proper treatment. Make sure, when  testing, to also check Free T-3,T-4 as well as Thyroid antibodies.  DHEA (Dehydroepiandrosterone) and Cortisol levels are also important indicators of adrenal function. If you have high cortisol output and low DHEA you most likely have other hormonal issues as well. 


Seek the help and work with a healthcare practitioner who can test properly and is able to support you with a holistic approach. It is very important that you are treated as a whole rather than just a part that is dysfunctional.


Take charge of your health today, be proactive and help others to prevent breast cancer NOW!

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Let’s get to the heart of the matter - stress and emotional trauma play a major role in most health conditions. Breast cancer, of course, is no exception. Keep in mind that stress, or even perceived stress, puts your body into a fight or flight response.  This state is under the control of our autonomic nervous system, which in turn has two branches, the sympathetic and para-sympathetic systems. As you will see, each one has a specific function. 


To simplify matters I’ll use the following analogy - Sympathetic System will be termed as a fight or flight state while Para-Sympathetic System we will call a wine and dine state. Each one has a specific function to regulate. For instance, if you walk down a street and someone is trying to mug you, your sympathetic nervous system will kick in. You’ll have a chance to fight or get out of this situation by running away. In either case your major muscle groups will get more blood supply. Your breathing is going to be shortened, your mouth will get dry, your digestive process is going to be shut down, your heart is going to palpate faster, you bladder and bowels will contract and your cortisone (adrenaline) levels will be released to their maximum. This is a very efficient way to make sure that you survive whatever challenge you’re facing at the moment. 


By contrast your Para-Sympathetic nervous system is the exact opposite in function. As you wine and dine your breathing slows down, your heart rhythm slows down, you start secreting saliva and you are ready to digest and eliminate as you are in a relaxed state. 


The reason why I’m illustrating the function of our Sympathetic and Para-Sympathetic systems is very important because most of us appear to be in a Sympathetic mode most of the day. We eat on the run, drink coffee during our commute, and deal with stressful or unpleasant situations at home or at work.  Obviously all this stress will affect us. In my opinion, this daily grind is slowly killing us, since we are not able to digest or eliminate properly, while our high cortisol levels create inflammation in our body and turn everything we eat into fat, as our hormonal levels are stressed and become imbalanced.


Furthermore, it is not only daily occurrences and actions that force us into a sympathetic mode but more so our anxious or negative thoughts can trigger the same response. It occurs to me that this is one of the major reasons why we get sick and age prematurely and it is all because we live in a Sympathetic or a fight or flight world. 


Let me state this unequivocally; your emotions and thoughts will directly influence your physical health. Thus to attain good health, your emotions and your thoughts need to support your-well being.  In all my years of clinical practice I have never seen a healthy individual whose emotions are in disarray or whose mental state is not at ease.  Thus we call it dis-ease


So, what can you do?

First and foremost, create a plan of action on how you’re going to de-stress in a healthy way. Perhaps going for a walk or spending time listening to music or reading a book or meditating, whatever it is that you find enjoyable and relaxing will work to de-stress. Make sure that you create that daily ritual for yourself; this would be a place of refuge and personal healing. 


Next, take account of past emotional traumas or conflicts that have not been resolved. Get help from a professional if required or talk to your trusted friend or a family member and ask them for direction.  Be open and willing to accept advice, after all - there is always room for improvement and personal change.  Change could be very challenging for most of us. However, it can also be the most rewarding aspect that can bring us to better health, happier life and self-fulfillment. 


Take charge of your health today, be proactive and help others to prevent breast cancer NOW!


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Stress, Adrenals and Breast Cancer

Posted by on in Breast Health


I often get this question from patients, “Can stress cause breast cancer?”


Nothing can affect your adrenal function more than stress. Under prolonged stress or duress your adrenals will produce high levels of cortisol and have a low DHEA output. It is a well known fact that increased levels of cortisone and decreased levels of DHEA are usually present in breast cancer patients. 


There are different types of stress that we all experience; emotional, mental, psycho-spiritual, physical, chemical, nutritional, and traumatic. 


This article will only deal with three types of stress – emotional, mental and psycho-spiritual.


The emotional type of stress that contributes to breast cancer is most likely related to traumatic events like death of a loved one, history of child abuse, and emotional suppression.


Mental stress usually can manifest as anxiety, anger, guilt, loneliness, sadness, fear, perfectionism, etc.


Psycho-Spiritual stress can be the result of spiritual misalignment and general state of unhappiness. 


Any type of stress and subsequent high levels of cortisol cause Estrogen Dominance, which is a hallmark of breast cancer. There are several ways in which stress causes Estrogen Dominance.


Insulin resistance - A high level of cortisol causes insulin resistance along with resistance to thyroid hormones. In turn this leads to weight gain and additional estrogen burden. 


Aromatase activity – A high level of cortisol increases aromatase activity in fatty tissue that converts androgens to estrogens.


Ovarian dysfunction - Stress causes ovarian dysfunction that leads to luteal insufficiency and subsequent estrogen dominance.


Low Melatonin levels - Stress and high levels of cortisol have an inverse affect on melatonin production at night. Low melatonin levels result in overproduction of estrogens and activates estrogen receptors in breast cells.


So, what can you do to get out of the vicious circle of prolonged stress?


Here are some suggestions that you may find helpful:  


Start practicing relaxation exercises such as deep breathing, meditation and visualization to help you let go of your mental worries.


Start a regular fitness program. Physical activity is one of the best ways to clear tension and build energy. Even regular walking can help you get rid of a lot of stress.


Change you perceptions and attitudes. Holding on to frustrations, grudges or being a victim are not in your own best interest. If your existing ideas and views are not serving you, perhaps it is time to examine them and change them.


Express your feelings. Let’s face it, unexpressed emotions can and often do lead to pain and illness. Emotions need regular and healthy venting.


Develop good relationships. Friends in whom you can confide and find support are indispensable. We all need support from time to time, yet it is just as rewarding to give as well as to receive support.


Eat nourishing food that supports your body’s natural immune system.  This in turn will help in the healing process and help you cope with other sources of stress.


Finally, Have More Fun. Schedule regular activity that you enjoy whatever it is. Some like listening to music or painting or reading poetry or walking in the park, anything that creates that place of refuge for you. I truly believe that this is the place of true healing for us.


I encourage you to pick one of these suggested practices, and try it on this week…


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Thyroid disease is one of the most common health problems women face today. Hypothyroidism or low-functioning thyroid affects more women than men. Especially susceptible are women going through a peri-menopausal or menopausal period of their lives. It is estimated that millions of people are suffering from this condition and can’t get proper treatment due to improper diagnostics. Physicians, usually only look at the value of the brain hormone TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) as an absolute indicator of thyroid dysfunction and ignore other hormone deficiencies.  In addition, many factors mentioned in this article that contribute to hypothyroidism are often overlooked and ignored by healthcare providers thus hindering proper treatment for millions of sufferers.


Typical symptoms of hypothyroidism include:

Fatigue, weakness, weight gain or difficulty losing weight, coarse or dry hair, hair loss, dry skin, eye and face swelling, infertility, cold intolerance, muscle aching and cramps, constipation, depression, irritability, memory loss, abnormal menstrual cycles, decreased or low libido.


These symptoms may vary between each individual. The level of severity may differ based on thyroid hormone deficiency and the length of time that the body has been deprived of the proper amount of this hormone. 


If you suffer from any or several of the above mentioned symptoms you may want to consider the following 9 very important factors that may be implicated in thyroid dysfunction and treatment.


1. Check Your Estrogen Levels

One of the most overlooked factors of hypothyroidism is estrogen and progesterone imbalance. Many women treated with synthetic estrogen replacement therapy along with women using oral birth control pills become estrogen dominant. Excess estrogen suppresses your thyroid function and as your thyroid slows down you gain more weight. Additional fatty tissue, and more importantly, fat around your waistline produces more estrogen that in turn suppresses your thyroid further leading to more weight gain. Invariably, weight gain or loss is not simply a matter of calories in and calories out. It is a complex process that has to be addressed by rebalancing one’s hormones.


2. Check Your Cortisol Levels

Cortisol is a stress hormone produced by your adrenal glands. High cortisol levels are both inflammatory and catabolic contributing to thyroid and metabolic disorders, cognitive decline, depression, anxiety, immune suppression, altered glucose metabolism, elevated blood pressure, altered sleep patterns and hormonal disruption. In addition high cortisol usually has an inverse relationship to (Dehydroepiandrosterone) DHEA (a precursor to sex hormones). Thus chronically elevated cortisol levels suppress DHEA resulting in weight gain and hormonal imbalance. Without proper adrenal support your thyroid treatment is not going to be effective.


3. T4 to T3 Conversion Problems

Most people taking thyroid medications are prescribed a synthetic thyroid hormone, usually T4 that is supposed to convert to the active form of thyroid hormone T3. The problem arises when there is interference with this T4 to T3 conversion process. Selenium is one of the key factors involved in converting inactive T4 to active T3, yet today it is common for selenium levels to be very low and many people even have selenium deficiency. Also common today is higher exposure to heavy metals such as mercury, cadmium and lead either through dental materials, vaccines or environmental pollutants. These highly toxic substances interfere with thyroid function and the conversion process. In addition, high or low cortisol levels, as well as autoimmune problems can interfere with T4 to T3 conversion. Many who are taking thyroid medications continue to have symptoms related to hypothyroid yet their blood results (mostly TSH) may be in the “normal” range. In cases like these it is often related to problems with T-4 to T-3 conversion process. T3 supplementation along with T4 may be required in such cases.


4. Check Your Temperature

People with hypothyroid often have low body temperature. If you have not been diagnosed with hypothyroid condition your low body temperature may point to a subclinical hypothyroid. If your body temperature is chronically low it may mean that your thyroid medication is not working well (assuming that you have a correct dose). If your blood tests are ‘normal’ and yet your body temperature is low and you are still struggle with fatigue, stress, weight and mood swings, ‘it is not in your head’, you might be suffering from Wilson’s Temperature Syndrome. Low body temperature undermines your immune function and will make you more susceptible to upper respiratory infections. You can simply check your temperature by taking your readings first thing in the morning on three consecutive days; get the average from your three readings. If your average temperature is below 36.2 C or 97.2 F, you may be dealing with Wilson’s Temperature Syndrome. Specialty treatment may be required to get your metabolism and temperature back into the normal range.


5. Iodine Deficiency 

Although the medical establishment continues to insist that there is no iodine deficiency in North America, just denying the problem does not make it go away. In fact, iodine deficiency is on the rise and has become one of the major causes of hypothyroidism. Iodine levels have been gradually declining in our food supply and in our bodies. Water fluoridation is a major contributor to iodine deficiency. It is also important to recognize that iodine is a halogen.  Just like bromine, fluoride, and chlorine they are being absorbed through your food, water, medications and environmental pollutants. These toxic halogens compete and occupy iodine receptors thus contributing to iodine deficiency. Iodine deficiency is compounded by the North American diet that is low in fish, kelp and other seaweeds, sea vegetables and shellfish. 


6. Check Your Gluten / Wheat Sensitivity

Gluten and other food sensitivities are common causes of hypothyroidism because they cause inflammation. People with gluten sensitivity are unable to digest their food properly. As these undigested food particles enter your blood stream your body produces an autoimmune reaction against these antigens thus attacking itself. These antigens are similar to molecules in your thyroid, and your immune system may attack your own thyroid. It is estimated that up to 30% of people with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis have an autoimmune reaction to gluten, yet this usually is not addressed. If you are dealing with hypothyroid condition, try going gluten free for at least one month and see if it makes a difference in how you feel.


7. Avoid Consumption of Soy Products

In the past several decades the consumption of soy based products has skyrocketed. Soy has been shown to inhibit thyroid function and raise estrogen levels in your body. The vast majority of soy grown today is GMO and used as cheap protein fillers in a myriad of food produced ranging from protein powders to cheese and even hamburgers. Soy used in fast food and processed food account for 20% of the total calorie intake in North America.


8. Check Your Ferritin Levels

Ferritin levels show the amount of iron stored in your body. People with hypothyroid condition may have difficulty absorbing iron. Low iron levels can have symptoms that are also common to hypothyroid such as fatigue, cold hands and feet, low sex drive, foggy mind, etc. Dealing with low ferritin levels may range from adding iron rich foods to your diet to iron supplementation, however do not take iron supplementation based on symptoms alone. Identifying the underlying cause will determine the most appropriate course of treatment. 


9. Your Emotional Issues

Proper thyroid function is much more than just producing the right amount of hormone – it is an intricate collaboration between the brain, the gland, different hormones as well as cellular communication between different tissues of the body. As much as we appreciate the bio-chemical component of thyroid dysfunction we also have to recognize the psycho-emotional influence as well. It is no surprise that thyroid dysfunction may produce anxiety, depression, insomnia, heart palpitations, hyper-mania and even postpartum depression. Our emotions and thoughts influence a biochemical cascade of reactions in our bodies that affect us on every physical level. The thyroid gland wraps around your throat and your voice box. Is there something that you’re unable to express? Or, is there a trust issue that has been broken and you’re unable to repair?


In Summary

Hypothyroidism is much more prevalent today than previously thought and affects millions. Millions more are also affected by suboptimal function if not by the full blown hypothyroid condition. Thyroid hormones are used by every cell in your body to regulate metabolism, body weight, energy, body heat and optimal brain function.  In our fast-paced, technology-driven, stress-filled, nutrient-depleted environment your thyroid gland may be the first to be affected. It could be very frustrating to have any of the above-mentioned symptoms and not being able to get proper help because ‘your test results are in the normal range’. 


I suggest you identify and treat the underlying cause, e.g., hormone imbalance, iodine deficiency, environmental toxicity, gluten sensitivity, stress, adrenals, etc.. Find someone competent to help you identify the root cause and guide you through your treatment.


Proper diagnostic lab tests are necessary to make the most accurate assessment that will lead to correct treatment.  As mentioned before in this article, relying on TSH as the only way to diagnose hypothyroid will result in only catching a minority of people that require treatment. Free T4 and T3 levels may also point out a mild or subclinical hypothyroid condition. In addition, thyroid antibodies should be checked to be certain that there is no autoimmune connection to hypothyroidism.


Next adjust your diet to aid in your recovery to include iodine rich foods as well as selenium, tyrosine, zinc and omega-3 fats, in addition to foods containing vitamins A, B, C and D. When necessary, appropriate supplementation should be considered.


Reduce your stress levels. Initiate a meditation practice to help heal your adrenals, start a moderate exercise program and use saunas or hot soaks with Epsom salt for detoxification.


The good news is that with all of this information you are empowered now and have more control than you think. Aim to take control of things that you can control; the way you think, the way you behave and the lifestyle choices you make.


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