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Progesterone and Breast Cancer

In Alternative Cancer Therapies, Alternatives Cancer Treatment, Alternatives to Anti-Hormone Therapy For Breast Cancer, Alternatives to Hormone Therapy for Breast Cancer, Alternatives to Tamoxifen, Anticancer diet, Anticancer foods, foods for colon cancer, foods for breast cancer, aromatase inhibitors, Bio-Identical Hormones, BPA and breast cancer, Breast Cancer, Cancer, Cancer Coach, Estrogen, Estrogen and Breast Cancer, Healing Cancer Naturally, Hormone Balance, infertility, insomnia, Integrative Oncology, Natural Alternatives to Aromatase Inhibitors, Natural Aromatase Inhibitors, Tamoxifen, Uncategorized on January 29, 2022 at 12:59 pm

Progesterone is vital to the female body, yet many women fear it. Progesterone is the key to many aspects of female health, and often thought of as one of the most important hormones. But most women have very low levels of progesterone which can result in estrogen dominance and can significantly increase one’s risk of breast cancer!

In short, estrogen and progesterone work in tandem. The former hormone helps cancerous cells flourish while the latter puts the brakes on cell growth and proliferation.

Why You NEED Progesterone

Progesterone is the precursor to other important hormones, including estrogen and testosterone. These hormones play a significant role in female health, influencing everything from cognitive function, menopause, fertility, helping the uterus to grow during pregnancy, normal breast development during puberty, and so much more, including breast cancer prevention. Importantly, the body depends on the right balance of these hormones in order to function properly.

“Estrogen can cause cells to grow or proliferate, but progesterone decreases proliferation/cell growth while encouraging cells to become more specialized or mature, so in effect, progesterone’s actions decrease cancer risk. When progesterone is present, its receptors make the estrogen receptor no longer able to cause breast cells to grow or proliferate.”[i] (The Centre for Menstrual Cycle and Ovulation Research). More on receptors below.

Natural progesterone is not to be feared. In fact, it is widely believed that estrogen can only fuel breast cancer in the absence of progesterone. In essence, progesterone puts the brakes on cell proliferation and growth. Estrogen should also not be feared and is actually essential for so many reasons (heart, bone, and eye health, etc.) The Important thing is to help your body metabolize estrogen properly so the body can use what it needs and excrete the excess ( a topic beyond the scope of this article).

The confusion about progesterone comes from studies using progestin (synthetic progesterone). Progestins are NOT the same thing as progesterone. But again, one of progesterone’s jobs is to decrease the risk for breast cancer. It does that by decreasing the proliferation often caused by excess estrogen.

Importantly, chemical estrogens (also known as xenoestrogens) such as BPA (bisphenol A) and other chemicals often found in home and personal care items are another story. They DO fuel breast cancer. For more information on the damages of BPA and BPS please read: BPA: The Bathroom Toxin that Fuels Breast Cancer.

Symptoms of Progesterone Deficiency Include:

  • Unexplained fatigue and low energy
  • Intense PMS symptoms such as cramps and moodiness
  • Dizziness
  • Difficultly sleeping
  • Irritability
  • Ovarian cysts
  • Fibrocystic breasts
  • Mood swings
  • Hot flashes
  • Low libido
  • Irregular menstrual cycles
  • Weight gain
  • Fibroids
  • Endometriosis
  • Thyroid dysfunction
  • Infertility and miscarriage
  • Uterine bleeding
  • Breast and other cancers

Some women have been progesterone-deficient most of their lives, whereas others find themselves in this predicament around age 45 or so, when the ovaries stop making the hormones estrogen and progesterone and turn the job over to the adrenals. Regardless, it is imperative that we increase progesterone if it is low and in turn, balance the hormones. Clearly the list above gives you enough reasons.

Raising Progesterone

Foods that can help raise progesterone include broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables, beans, and nuts. Supplements include magnesium, and vitamin E (mixed tocopherols). Chaste Tree (Vitex) can also stimulate progesterone. Activated B6 is necessary for the synthesis of progesterone and helps the liver to metabolize and break down estrogen (B6 can also available in food sources such as leafy greens, peppers, carrots, asparagus, broccoli, walnuts, eggs, sweet potatoes, and sunflower seeds. For the carnivores, you can find it in grass-fed beef and beef liver). Zinc supports the production and use of progesterone. A deficiency in zinc increases estrogen sensitivity and decreases the progesterone response.

Things that deplete progesterone are stress and excessive exercise (which cause the body to produce stress hormones instead of progesterone).

Importantly, too much zinc will deplete copper. While copper can promote cancer, the body does need just a bit. Cooper deficiency can cause extreme tiredness, elevated cholesterol, brittle bones, increase risk of infection, and more.

A Note About Bio-Identical Progesterone

It is important to understand the difference between progesterone that is made by the body or is molecularly similar to one’s own natural progesterone and synthetic progesterone, which has been molecularly altered. This is why many women opt for bio-identical progesterone.

However, as discussed in a previous article,  Could Aromatase Inhibitors Actually Increase One’s Risk for Breast Cancer prescription bio-identicals can be problematic. According to Dr Mache Seibel, M.D., author of The Estrogen Window, you must be careful with compounded bio-identicals. This is because sometimes the progesterone in compounded formulas can be 60-80% lower than ordered and estrogen 80-200% higher than ordered which can result in increased estrogen dominance. This could raise your risk of hormone-driven cancer.

Another option is bio-identical topical creams. There are a few good ones on the market, but one I use is Progesto-life. According to the instructions, you just rub a quarter teaspoon into your wrist or belly.

I strongly suggest you work with a qualified practitioner before beginning any type of bio-identical hormones. There is much we don’t know and some react differently than others. Please know that your oncologist might not be trained to discuss this with you.  

Importantly, please do not confuse hormone levels with receptor status!

Hormones are your body’s chemical messengers. They travel in your bloodstream to tissues or organs to help them do their work.

Estrogen and progesterone receptors are proteins in cells that bind hormones and switch genes on and off, changing the cell’s behavior. Hormone receptor-positive breast cancers have many receptors, and the tumor cells become overly sensitive to estrogen. When estrogen activates the estrogen receptor, it signals the genes that tell the cells to keep dividing, driving tumor growth. However, when breast cancer cells have working progesterone receptors, and there is sufficient progesterone available, progesterone will slow down estrogen fueled growth and division of these cells.

The late John Lee, MD, author of What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Breast Cancer maintained that when activated by progesterone, its receptors attach themselves to estrogen receptors. This tells the genes that promote growth to pivot and instead promote the death of cancer cells.

A study published in the Dec 2016 edition of the journal Nature, led by Cambridge-based Cancer Research U.K. researcher Dr. Jason Carroll of the University of Adelaide in Australia found that progesterone –via the progesterone receptor– reprograms the estrogen receptor, causing the cells to stop growing as quickly. For more information, please read my article, Progesterone and Breast Cancer.

So, if you are ER and or PR positive it simply means you have receptors for these hormones. It does not mean you have high levels of either hormone. In fact, most doctors recommend tamoxifen or aromatase inhibitors without even testing hormone levels, which could be a big mistake (particularly in the case of aromatase inhibitors).

For those who have or have had TNBC (triple negative breast cancer), progesterone has been found to inhibit this type of cancer as well.

This article is a re-write from a previous article of mine published in January 2020.

In your everlasting good health,

Elyn

~~If you don’t know your options, you don’t have any~~

Elyn Jacobs is a breast cancer survivor and holistic cancer strategist who helps people make healthier, less-toxic choices for their healing. She emphasizes the importance of not just surviving cancer but surviving well and reducing the risk of recurrence. She is a Contributing Editor for The Truth About Cancer and is on the Medical Advisory Board for BeatCancer.Org and the Advisory Board to the Radical Remission Project. Elyn has written for numerous journals and publications. She was the former Executive Director of the Emerald Heart Cancer Foundation and the creator and host of the Survive and Live Well Radio Show. To contact Elyn, visit www.elynjacobs.com. Elyn offers consults via Skype, phone, or in-person. Elyn does not provide online advice.

DISCLAIMER:
Elyn Jacobs does not provide medical advice. The information provided is for general information only. No online site should be used as a substitute for personal medical attention.

This information is for educational purposes only and is not a recommendation to forgo medical advice and treatment.  This post is not intended to treat, cure, prevent, or diagnose any disease or condition. This post does not represent medical advice nor should it be considered to be medical advice or a replacement for medical advice.  I encourage you to discuss this information with your integrative oncologist, naturopathic doctor, or conventional oncologist. The information provided is from my research and not to be taken as scientific evidence.

Important Disclaimer: Elyn Jacobs Consulting, Inc. does not provide endorsement for the content, claims, or products discussed in this article. This information is for educational purposes only and is not a recommendation to forgo medical advice and treatment.

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[i] https://www.cemcor.ca/resources/does-taking-progesterone-alone-or-estrogen-increase-women%E2%80%99s-risk-breast-cancer

  1. My dear Elyn – Please, please PLEASE do not simply regurgitate the words of Dr. Lee.  You could be setting women up to INCREASE their DCIS, I have stage IV-B lung cancer, and am five years into that battle.  I’m doing well. IN ADDITION but unrelated to the lung cancer, I have a severe patch of DCIS in my left breast. My DCIS tests out at 70% estrogen receptors and 30% progesterone receptors. Years ago, I suffered from severely debilitating endometriosis.  For a significant amount of time I tried a high quality progesterone cream, based on the advice from Dr. Lee’s books.  It did not help, and after about a year or so I stopped. Fast forward many years, to my diagnosis for lung cancer.  The overall checkups I got at the time that was diagnosed also exposed the large patch of DCIS – large enough that a mastectomy was considered the fix.  However, the docs didn’t want to put me through that while I was facing lung cancer treatments. While waiting for the lung cancer to be under control, I had mammograms once every six months.  The DCIS did not progress – it was stable. A couple of years into this adventure I tried a high quality progesterone cream once again, using it for about a month.  I was rewarded with an INCREASE of DCIS. I stopped the progesterone cream, and the DCIS is again stable. IF A WOMAN HAS PROGESTERONE RECEPTORS IN HER DCIS, TAKING PROGESTERONE CREAM COULD KILL HER. PLEASE STOP BLINDLY RECOMMENDING THIS PROTOCOL. Thank you -Marilyn

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