Estrogen Dominance - A Link to Breast Cancer
October 5, 2016
Estrogen dominance refers to an excess of estrogen when progesterone levels are inadequate. This condition can occur in women during the reproductive years, but tends to be particularly symptomatic for women during perimenopause and in menopause. Estrogen dominance is worsened by women not ovulating, women being exposed to synthetic estrogens and/or women not metabolizing estrogens correctly. Estrogen dominance is a term coined by John Lee, M.D. in the book What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Menopause.
Scientific studies link high estrogen or estrogen imbalance with a wide range of symptoms and conditions, from hot flashes, night sweats, low libido, and foggy thinking to more serious conditions related to reproductive health (endometriosis and PCOS) as well as breast disease including cancer. Hormone imbalances triggered by medications like synthetic hormone combinations have also been found to contribute to estrogen dominance problems.
Symptoms of estrogen dominance include:
- Fibrocystic and tender breasts
- Heavy menstrual bleeding
- Irregular menstrual cycles
- Mood swings
- Vasomotor symptoms
- Weight gain
- Uterine fibroids
Premenopause: Lack of ovulation and/or reduction of ovarian production of progesterone.
Perimenopause (40s-mid-50s): Lack of ovulation or erratic cycles, when estrogen levels fluctuate rapidly from high to low in the absence of adequate progesterone.
Postmenopause: An imbalance of estrogen to progesterone ratio in waning reproductive years when ovarian production of estrogen can decline by as much as 60% and levels of progesterone can drop to nearly zero with the cessation of ovulation.
Women of all ages benefit from balanced hormones. With menstrual irregularities, PMS, endometriosis and infertility, testing can be helpful in understanding the underlying condition. Health care providers working with perimenopausal and menopausal women find hormone testing to be a key step in detecting and correcting imbalances. Testing hormone levels is also invaluable for monitoring women using hormone replacement therapy
Why Test Hormones
Saliva and/or blood spot testing is a simple, reliable means for determining estrogen dominance. The test measures bioavailable levels, those hormones actively working in the cells of the body. This “bioavailable” measurement can detect long-hidden hormone imbalances and more closely correlates with personal symptoms.
Because hormones work together to create a balanced internal milieu, it makes sense to test all of the following to help determine estrogen dominance:
- Estradiol (E2) the most potent of the estrogens
- Progesterone (Pg)
- Cortisol (stress hormones, for adrenal function)
- Thyroid Profile (TSH, T3, T4, TPO Antibodies for Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis)
Symptoms are compared with or without hormone usage and relate these back to tested hormone levels providing more information than is available with standard lab results. In this way, comprehensive hormone testing can assist detection of previously undiagnosed disorders, and serve as a rational basis for physician treatment to relieve symptoms and restore hormone balance.
Murray Avenue Apothecary offers testing and one-on-one consultations.
ESTROGEN DOMINANCE HELP
Hormone testing/balance is the best way to help correct Estrogen Dominance, but there are other ways for prevention as well.
Good Nutrition is Vital
The right diet can help to bring estrogen back into balance by reducing estrogen production by the ovaries and adrenal glands, and by interfering with estrogen’s ability to bind to tissue receptors. Also affected by diet are the breakdown and detoxification of estrogen by the liver, and its elimination from the body.
Avoid caffeinated drinks and foods (including chocolate), sugar, fried and fatty food, refined starches, and salt—a diet with a low glycemic index keeps insulin and estrogen down. The above foods decrease the metabolism/elimination of estrogen from the body. Several studies have found that caffeinated beverages actually increase breast lumpiness and tenderness. Caffeine creates a cortisol dominant, stressful environment. Salt increases bloating and fluid retention. Sugar depletes your body of B vitamins and minerals that are necessary for stress reduction, healing and normal hormone metabolism.
Sugar also plays an active role in reducing the immune response and energizes cancer, as tumors are primarily obligate glucose metabolizers.
With regard to depleting sugar from the diet, the following should be considered:
- Limit or avoid all white foods, including (but not limited to) sugar, flour, rice, pasta, breads, crackers, cookies, etc.
- Read labels. Sugar has many names (brown sugar, corn syrup, honey, molasses, maple syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, dextrin, raw sugar, fructose, polyols, dextrose, hydrogenated starch, galactose, glucose, sorbitol, fruit juice concentrate, lactose, brown rice syrup, xylitol, sucrose, mannitol, sorghum, maltose, and turbinado, to mention only a few).
- Limit all fruit juices; per glass they contain the juice of many pieces of fruit and a large amount of fructose (fruit sugar) but no fiber. Instead, infrequently eat low glycemic-rated fruit in small portions.
High-fat diets and associated increases in fat tissue can increase estrogen availability in a number of ways:
- Fat tissue is a major source of estrogen production in postmenopausal women. Therefore, there is an association between high body weight and decreased survival in breast cancer patients.
- Obesity and possibly insulin resistance can decrease the levels of sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) in both men and women and increase breast cancer risk or cancer progression. This is an important factor in estrogen-dependent breast cancer cells because it is adequate levels of SHBG that act as an anti-proliferative and provides an anti-estrogenic effect.
- Obesity can alter liver metabolism of estrogen, allowing the retention of high estrogen byproducts with high estrogenic activity within the body.
- High-fat diets may reduce the amount of estrogen excreted in the feces. In contrast, low-fat/high-fiber diets can reduce circulating estrogen.
Other dietary considerations are:
- Limit alcohol consumption - Alcohol hinders the liver’s ability to break down estrogen effectively, thereby leading to excess estrogen levels in the body.
- Avoid saturated fats, red meats, dairy products, and wheat products - All of these foods elevate estrogen levels and contain fats like aracadonic acid which stimulates production of the bad, inflammatory type of prostaglandins that can worsen inflammation of the endometrium.
- Organic when Possible—Pesticides mimic estrogen and hormones are given animals. Organic fruits and vegetables contain a wide range of nutrients and enzymes that strengthen blood vessels, balance hormones, dramatically reduce fibroid-induced bleeding, pain and cramps.
- High Fiber and whole grains –Both soluble insoluble - Helps remove excess estrogen through the gastrointestinal tract by binding to estrogen. Whole grains are an important source of B vitamins and essential minerals. (Organic when possible) Increases SHBG, which reduces levels of unbound, active estrogens. Absorbs bile toxins and eliminates steroids.
- Eat Non-GMO soy foods, whole grains (such as buckwheat, rice, millet, and oats), and fresh fruits and vegetables —Soy is a phytoestrogen, which can prevent the more aggressive estradiol from binding to receptors in the body. All of these foods are high fiber, which help to eliminate estrogen from your body. They also help reduce estrogen production.
- Ground FlaxSeeds or Ground Chia—Lots of lignans, vitamins, protein and fiber. Helps your body achieve hormonal balance. Maintain healthy cholesterol and blood sugar levels, supports healthy breast tissue, and even provide moisture to skin and joints. Murray Avenue Apothecary carries FiPro Flaxseed and Organic Flaxseed as well as White Chia Seed.
- Cruciferous Vegetables--Broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage; or DIM® —the active ingredient in the vegetables helps with excess estrogen.
- Increase consumption of cold water fish (salmon, mackerel, herring, and sardines) and omega-3-rich seeds and nuts, especially ground flaxseed (2-4 tablespoons ground, every other day)-Also effective are sesame, sunflower, almonds, pecans, and pumpkinseeds. According to a 2002 study from Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers, women who ate at least 2 servings of fatty fish such as salmon and herring a week had lower risk for endometrial cancer than women who consumed less than one serving a week, due to the omega-3 fatty acids found in the fish. Essential fatty acids help you produce the anti-inflammatory prostaglandins.
Adding supplements to your healthy diet also helps rid Estrogen Dominance. Here are our Top 3 supplements offered at Murray Avenue Apothecary:
- Calcium D-Glucarate - Helps to remove excess estrogens and xenoestrogens. Inhibits tumor formation caused by chemical cancer-causing agents and helps liver detox. Dose is 150-300mg/day.
- Green Duo Detox (Sulforaphane 120mg) - inhibits the development of Cancer by enhancing the function of endogenous enzymes to block carcinogens.
- DIM – Helps modulate estrogen metabolism and provides antioxidant protection.
Other supplements we recommend and offer are Magnesium Glycinate, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Alpha Lipoic Acid, Zinc, Liver Gallbladder Detox, Nascent Iodine, L-Theanine, and Evening Primrose Oil.
Simple lifestyle changes can also aid in breast cancer prevention:
- Exercise: Something fun! Brisk walking, trail walking (trees are very calming and reassuring), swimming, bicycling, dancing, playing tennis, rollerblading. Meditation—Yoga, Tai Chi, Prayer, etc.
- Sleep: Poor sleep can interfere with your melatonin production, which is associated with an increased risk of insulin resistance and weight gain, both of which contribute to cancer’s virility.
- Exposure to Toxins: Reduce your exposure to environmental toxins like pesticides, herbicides, household chemical cleaners, synthetic air fresheners and toxic cosmetics.
- Exposure to Radiation: Limit your exposure and protect yourself from radiation produced by cell phones, towers, base stations, and Wi-Fi stations, as well as minimizing your exposure from radiation-based medical scans, including dental x-rays, CT scans, and mammograms.
- Stress Management: Stress from all causes is a major contributor to disease. Even the CDC states that 85 percent of disease is driven by emotional factors. It is likely that stress and unresolved emotional issues may be more important than the physical ones, so make sure this is addressed.
Test your hormones for Estrogen Dominance and stop breast cancer before it starts! Education is key to prevention!
To Your Health,