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Progesterone and Cancer Prevention

Posted by on in Breast Health

 

Many articles and papers have been written that implicate estrogen in connection to breast cancer. While this is a well accepted factor now in treatment of breast cancer, less written about is the importance of progesterone for the prevention of breast cancer.  

 

Progesterone reduces estrogen’s stimulating of breast cancer growth with several well known biochemical events that lead to tumour growth: 

 

Progesterone increases the level of enzymes that convert cancer prolific estrogen (estradiol) to inactive cancer protective estrogen (estrone sulfate).

Progesterone inhibits estrogen activity in the breast tissue and decreases the probability of clotting. 

Progesterone prevents angiogenesis known to be a major contributor in early stage of breast cancer tumour formation and growth.

Progesterone prevents vasodilatation caused by excess estrogen and thus acts as an anti metastatic agent

Progesterone activates natural killer cells that function as in immune defence mechanism destroying cancer cells.

Progesterone has a calming effect, helps with perceived  stress, thus lowering cortisol production by the adrenals

Here’s the critical point about progesterone for breast cancer prevention: synthetic progestins promote breast cancer and heart disease, while natural progesterone beneficially lowers breast cancer and heart disease risk. Progestin (synthetic) is NOT Progesterone (natural). Unfortunately many physicians believe progestins to be equivalent to progesterone. This is a mistake.

 

The enzymes needed to metabolize progesterone are present in the human body, not so with progestin. Further, the biochemical structures of several synthetic progestins have carbon-carbon bonds, which are not present in the hormones that humans have. Thus synthetic progestin has well known detrimental effects on women’s health while progesterone has beneficial effects on breast health and cancer prevention.

  

Of course, your breast cancer prevention strategy has to include other contributing factors, such as healthy diet, physical activity, avoidance of pollutants, stress reduction and possibly natural progesterone therapy. Investigate and see if this will work for you.

 

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Avoid and limit your exposure to Xeno-Estrogens. 

 

What are Xeno-Estrogens? The word Xeno is derived from the Greek word – meaning foreign. These are chemicals and industrial pollutants that mimic the effects of estrogen on your body. Your body has many estrogen cell-receptor sites that operate like a lock and key mechanism. When your own estrogen comes in and binds to a receptor it creates an affect on your body by giving a certain signal (a chemical message). When xeno-estrogen, which mimics estrogen, occupies that cell-receptor site, it also creates an affect on your body by giving a signal. However, the signal given by the xeno-estrogen is not the same but, in fact, it is many times more powerful. Thus, the reaction in your body is going to be very different compared to your own estrogen chemical message.  

 

These xeno-estrogens are a major contributing factor leading to early puberty and many other disorders of the reproductive system.  Of course these foreign estrogens will have a huge deleterious effect on the breast tissue. It is no coincidence that the advent of use of xeno-estrogens in our environment about 70 years ago coincides with the sharp rise in breast cancer incidence. 

 

For your reference, I’m including a short list of environmental estrogens:

 

Atrazine is widely used as an herbicide to control broad-leaf weed species that grow in crops such as corn, sugarcane, hay and winter wheat. Atrazine is also applied to Christmas trees, residential lawns, golf courses, and other recreational areas.

 

BPA (Bisphenol A) is the monomer used to manufacture polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resins used as a lining in most food and beverage cans. 

 

DDT ( Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane) was used in pesticides for agriculture until it was banned in 1972 in the United States. Unfortunately, DDT continues to be used in many parts of the world for agricultural use, insect control and to fight the spread of malaria.

 

Dioxin, a group of highly toxic chemicals discharged into waterways from pulp and paper mills. Consumption of animal fat is the primary pathway for human exposure.

 

Endosulfan is an insecticide used on numerous vegetables, fruits, cereal grains and trees. Human exposure occurs through food consumption or ground and surface water contamination.

 

PBB (Polybrominated biphenyls) are chemicals added to plastics used in computer monitors, televisions, textiles and plastics foams to make them more difficult to burn.  Although manufacturing of PBBs in the United States stopped in 1976, since they do not degrade easily PBBs continue to be found in soil, water and air.

 

PCBs (Polychlorinated biphenyls) were manufactured primarily for use as insulating fluids and coolants given their chemical stability, low flammability and electrical insulating properties. PCBs were banned in 1979 but like DDT continue to persist in the environment.

 

Phthalates is used in flooring, wall coverings and medical device such as intravenous bags and tubing. Phthalates are found in perfumes, lotions, cosmetics, varnishes, lacquers and coatings including timed releases in pharmaceuticals.

 

Zeranol is currently used as a growth promoter for livestock in the USand Canada. It has since been banned in the EU since 1985, but is still present as a contaminant in food through meat products. 

 

As you can see, xeno-estrogents are prevalent in our environment as they are present in our water supply, food chain, cosmetics, cooking utensils, cleaning agents, and the list goes on. We no longer live in a pristine environment and thus not only humans but also animals are affected by this rapid change of thousands of dangerous chemicals entering our daily lives. So, protect yourself from these dangerous substances as much as possible. Educate yourself about xeno-estogens and try to avoid them when possible.

 

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

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Many people know that October is touted as “breast cancer awareness month.” However, if we really want to make a significant difference in breast cancer statistics we should be emphasizing breast cancer prevention and not just in October but every month of the year. Here is a simple and effective way to significantly reduce your risk.  And, you do not need to raise money to attain this.

 

Studies have shown repeatedly that three to four hours per week of regular exercise can decrease your risk of breast cancer by up to 50%. In other words, your lean body mass or your muscle does not generate estrogen like fatty tissue. If you’re physically active already, this is great. However, whether you have a few extra pounds to lose or not, I encourage you to simply start walking on daily basis. You do not need to join a health club or purchase special exercise equipment. Just start with a minimum of 20-30 minutes walk per day. You can do it alone or with a friend, you can do it outside or inside. 

 

The hardest thing in any journey is to start.  And even more challenging is consistency. But if you are aware of the benefits, you’ll see it is worth doing what it takes to start, and to be consistent. Human bodies are designed for movement and if you want to stay in shape you have to move. Just 30 minutes per day is not really asking for much but the benefit that you’ll gain from this is immeasurable. Add a few more minutes to your daily walk every other week, extend your walks to 40 minutes or more. The great thing about taking yourself for a long walk is that you always come back changed; try it and you’ll see what I mean.

 

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

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It’s all about food… and it happens to be one of my favourite subjects. 

 

Let’s face it, there is no other activity that we do more frequently in our life than eating. I don’t think that anyone has any doubts that we become what we eat. 

 

According to the World Health Organization and many other sources, 70% of all diseases are directly related to nutrition and diet.  If you want to prevent disease, and in particular breast cancer, I suggest the following simple way:

 

Eating low saturated fat with high fiber has been shown to be beneficial for breast health. 

 

As you know, I’m a big proponent of the Anti-Estrogenic diet, which simply means that you avoid estrogen-promoting foods. 

 

How to do this? Start eating foods lower on the food chain, foods like fruits, vegetables, legumes, roots, nuts, seeds, and eggs. Choose wild fish or fresh dairy, both are permissible.  (you can learn more about this in my book Breast Cancer is a Preventable Disease, Chapter 2 – Nutrition)

 

Now, what’s not permissible? Stay away from processed grains. In fact, stay away from processed foods, period. Processed grains, sugar, overfed farm animals, refined, processed or chemically-loaded foods, these are foods that you need to stay away from. Try to eat organic whenever possible. Further, home cooking is much preferred to eating out for obvious reasons. The energy that goes into food preparation is very important and it is just impossible to attain that with commercially prepared foods. 

 

Unfortunately, lately because of conflicting information our relationship with food has changed, where food has become the enemy. It is the exact opposite; food is the most powerful medicine you have at your disposal. Keep this in mind as you’re making your food choices. 

 

Lastly, consider this: the foods that that you eat are important but what’s even more important are the thoughts that you have while eating! Stay tuned for more on this tomorrow!

 

Meanwhile, 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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It is a well-known fact that certain type of estrogen (Estradiol) makes most breast cancers grow. The levels of estrogen have been found to be higher in many studies in women with breast cancer vs. women that do not have breast cancer.  Naturally it would stand to reason that if we can manage to reduce the levels of estrogen (estradiol) in women we can also reduce the risk of breast cancer significantly. 

 

So, how do we reduce the levels of estrogen?  It is not so easy since we are inundated with estrogen promoting commercial products, industrial pollutants, Xeno-Estrogents, along with processed foods loaded with estrogen mimicking chemicals.  Many women successfully use products like I3C, DIM, Calcium-D-Glucorate, etc., to help reduce their levels of estrogen, yet nothing can be as effective as the dietary measures that you practice. 

 

In my own clinical practice I’ve come across many women that have been appropriately prescribed bio-identical progesterone or testosterone yet they consume coffee and alcohol, which aromatizes (converts) these hormones to estradiol. For instance, just 2 cups of coffee per day will rob you of 60% of your testosterone and convert it to estradiol. In addition, coffee will promote dehydration, loss of calcium and raise the level of acidity. The same goes for wine consumption: it also converts testosterone to estradiol, which is a cancer promoting estrogen. 

 

A note of caution to women using bio-identical hormone therapy – if you’re consuming caffeine or alcohol, even in small amounts, you may not be getting the benefits of your bio-identical hormone therapy and, worse, you may be creating a big problem for yourself in the future and increasing your risk of breast cancer.

 

Now, how does one reduce estradiol in your body naturally? The most simple and effective way is through your diet.  Women that consume more animal based foods have higher levels of estradiol compared to the vegetarian population. 

 

There are several reasons for this: First, animal foods for the most part contain fat that retains toxic elements along with estrogenic hormones fed to animals. Same hormones are then transferred to humans via food consumption. Second, vegetarians consume way more fiber that prevents reabsorption of estrogen through the intestinal tract. Fiber binds to estrogen in the intestinal tract and helps with elimination, whereas low fiber diets cannot accomplish that.

 

This explains why there is lower incidence of breast cancer among vegetarians.  Plant based foods along with non-processed grains contain higher fiber content compared to animal based foods that are extremely low in fiber. In short, the more fiber you have in your diet, the lower your levels of estradiol, and the lower your risk of breast cancer. 

 

Next time you are making a choice of what ends up on your dinner plate, please keep in mind that there are many delicious foods that will support reducing estradiol and protect you from breast cancer.

 

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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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