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Natural Alternatives to Hormone Therapy for Breast Cancer

In Alternative Cancer Therapies, Alternatives to Hormone Therapy for Breast Cancer, Alternatives to Tamoxifen, Anticancer foods, foods for colon cancer, foods for breast cancer, Breast Cancer, foods that target cancer stem cells, Healing Cancer Naturally, Hormone Balance, Natural Alternatives to Aromatase Inhibitors, Tamoxifen on April 14, 2017 at 9:29 am

Many women choose to skip hormone therapy for breast cancer in favor of natural alternatives. This is because many don’t believe that tamoxifen, for example, is actually the wonder drug it is claimed to be. Others are terrified about the harm that this drug  (and others) can do, and do not feel the purported benefits justify the risks. Importantly, many women have come to realize that the statistics provided just don’t add up.

Tamoxifen vs. Flaxseed

Tamoxifen vs. Nature, the Choice is Yours

The reality of the small absolute percentages is something to keep in mind when your oncologist is spewing statistics.  It’s frightening enough to be told you have breast cancer without having statistics thrown at us that are taken out of context. A statistic that is often quote to women advised to take tamoxifen is that it will cut their recurrence risk in half. In reality, that half may only represent a single digit decrease.  For some excellent articles on this please see the resource section below. It is also important to know that many women who take tamoxifen have recurrences anyway, and also that there are indeed significant risks to taking this drug.

 Progesterone and the Hormonal Dance

When estrogen is too high and progesterone is too low, we have a condition known as estrogen dominance.  When estrogen dominates, we have an increased risk of breast cancer. However, we need estrogen, so the goal should not be to block it (with aromatase inhibitors), but rather to reduce it (if necessary) while increasing progesterone. Importantly, very few doctors actually test hormone levels before ordering tamoxifen or aromatase inhibitors.

Unfortunately, most women are deficient in progesterone. Stress is the number one reason for reduced progesterone. When we are stressed, adrenaline and cortisol rise and progesterone levels fall. This is because under stress, the body will always utilize the available pregnenolone to produce cortisol instead of progesterone.  One of the other main reasons for progesterone deficiency is the blocking of ovulation, which is done with oral contraceptives. Oral birth control pills suppress a woman’s own production of progesterone, which could result in a lifetime of progesterone deficiency. This topic will be explained further in my next post.

Making Progesterone…

The body uses cholesterol to make progesterone. In short, cholesterol makes the hormone pregnenolone, which is then converted into progesterone. (Pregnenolone is also the precursor for other hormones such as estrogen, cortisol, and testosterone). However, the body only makes so much pregnenolone, and the other hormones compete for this.

Many natural substances will help reduce estrogen dominance by managing estrogen and boosting progesterone levels. While no foods contain progesterone, certain micro-nutrients in them can help boost levels. For a more complete list, see below, but consider foods rich in zinc, magnesium, vitamin C, B6, and sulfur.

Sulfur-rich cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, kale, cauliflower, etc.) are rich in glucosinolates, which activate phase 2 detoxifications in the liver. This helps to remove estrogen from the body and prevents it from circulating too long, keeping estrogen levels high. The sulfur helps boost progesterone levels.  For more information on the anti-cancer power of crucifers, please Click Here.

For information on reducing estrogen levels, please refer to your Estrogen and Detoxification Handouts.  If you are not currently a client of mine, you can request these tools via my Contact Page.

Many women are under the impression that progesterone supports the growth of breast cancer.  However, while synthetic progesterone does, in its natural form it is highly protective. For an in-depth discussion on this, please Click Here.

Recap of Natural Alternatives:

There are many things involved with ‘natural alternatives’. But again, one of the most important things with regards to estrogen is to raise progesterone (after all, we need estrogen for bone and heart health and over a hundred other necessary functions).  Below are some suggestions. Many of these things have already been recommended to you.  For more detail, please refer to your Estrogen and Detoxification Handouts as well as your overall protocol.

Try to include some of these items daily as well as throughout the day: (For supplement brand recommendations, please go to my Shop Page.  You should be able to find most items locally, but if not, there are links to Amazon.

  • Cruciferous vegetables and DIM—be sure you have adequate iodine in your diet as DIM and crucifers inhibit the uptake of iodine by the thyroid gland. For more detail on the importance of iodine, please refer to your Estrogen Handout.
  • Consume apples, onions, garlic, green tea, and other quercetin rich foods
  • Eat berries and pomegranate
  • Resveratrol –this is best gotten from red grapes and other foods, but fine to supplement if you prefer (do not take supplemental resveratrol with Salvestrols)
  • Herbs (fresh, dried, or essential oils) such as sage, rosemary, ginger, curcumin, thyme, basil, and ashwaganda
  • EFA’s from omega 3 fatty acids (please use caution with fish oil supplements as they can be toxic)
  • Licorice root –licorice root can lower estrogen while at the same time raising progesterone
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin E (mixed tocopherols or eat vitamin E-rich foods, such as nuts)
  • Selenium
  • Magnesium –reduces stress reactions and breaks down estrogen metabolites, reducing estrogen dominance
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin B6 (combats stress and helps the liver break down estrogen, reducing estrogen dominance)
  • Zeolites (for a discussion on this, please see my Shop Page)
  • Zinc
  • L-Arginine
  • Chinese Herbal Medicine
  • Healthy cholesterol (needed to make pregnenolone) from coconut oil, olive oil, eggs, avocado, and olives
  • Fiber-rich foods such as flax seed, quinoa, oats, and millet (see below for more on flax–just be sure to grind this fresh daily)

You will also want to make sure that your liver and gut are functionally efficiently as estrogen is metabolized in the liver and excreted out of the bowel. By enhancing liver function, more estrogen is broken down in the body, reducing the overall estrogen load. Nutrients derived from cruciferous vegetables help with the detoxification of estrogen trough the liver (see more below).

When the liver and colon have become sluggish due to low thyroid function, stress, and an overburden of toxins, the body cannot break down and remove excess estrogen adequately from the system. The excess unbalanced estrogen gets stored in the fat cells of breast tissues when it is not properly eliminated. Supporting the liver with detoxifying foods such as cruciferous vegetables (broccoli sprouts, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts), onions, whey powder, and supplements such as N-acetylcysteine (NAC), Milk Thistle, and SAMe can be very helpful.

Lifestyle Choices for Balancing Hormones and Inhibiting Cancer

Hormones become out of balance when we subject our bodies to a lifestyle that includes refined and processed foods, inadequate exercise, poor quality sleep, and exposure to xenoestrogens.  It is important to remember that contrary to what you may have been told, breast cancer (and other hormonal cancers) are not just about estrogen. Below are some suggestions to support hormone homeostasis as well as inhibit the development or progression of cancer.

  • Consume phytoestrogens -phytoestrogens act more like estrogen blockers than like estrogen; they modulate the production, availability, and action of hormones and slow down cell division. In fact, phytoestrogens are not really estrogens; they are anti-estrogens that reduce estrogen activity in the body. Plant estrogens protect us from the stronger estrogens our bodies produce as well as the xenoestrogens (chemical estrogen)  found in environmental chemicals, such as BPA and chemicals in personal care products. Phytoestrogens actually contain compounds that have been shown to reduce the growth and spread of cancer cells. Soy and flax are excellent sources of phytoestrogens.
  • Soy blocks cancer-promoting estrogens from attaching to the estrogen receptors on breast cells. It has also been shown to stop tumor growth, prevent metastasis, and shut off new blood vessels in growing tumors. Fermented soy, such as tempeh and miso are preferred over unfermented versions such as tofu as the fermentation process increases free radical scavenging activity and removes the nutrient blocking effect that soy can have—the phytic acid in unfermented soy can block absorption of key minerals such as magnesium and zinc. Soy in a highly-processed form (like soy protein isolate, soy protein concentrate, soy cheese) should be avoided. Due to the fact that most soy is genetically altered, it is highly recommended to consume only organic. (I do take issue with tempeh as it is commonly ‘shrink-wrapped’ in plastic.)
  •  Flaxseed modulates the production, availability, and action of hormones—and does so much more. The lignans in flax lower the production of estrogen by blocking the aromatase enzyme (similar to aromatase inhibitors) and block the estrogen receptors (similar to Tamoxifen). When lignans are consumed, intestinal bacteria convert them into enterolactone and enterodiol, weak estrogens. They attach to estrogen receptors, stimulate them weakly and block estrogen binding. This prevents estradiol or estrone from attaching to the estrogen receptors and strongly stimulating them, and includes not just the estrogen we produce, but also environmental toxins, thus making breast tissue more resistant to these environmental toxins. One long-term study reported that relatively high circulating enterolactone levels are associated with lower risk of death after an early-stage breast cancer diagnosis. A 2003 study conducted by Lilian Thompson PhD showed that daily consumption of ground flax seed significantly reduced breast cancer tumor size. Please read my articles — Flaxseed: Better Than Tamoxifen and Demystifying Flaxseed and Estrogen.
  • Eat good food—a diet rich in whole, primarily plant-based foods will support the adrenals and pretty much every function of the body.
  • Exercise—it reduces stress and positively effects gene expression; helps to balance hormones.
  • Clean out the closets—replace health, home and beauty products with non-toxic alternatives. A quick visit to the Environmental Working Group website will enable you to evaluate the products you use.
  • REDUCE STRESS—stress challenges adrenal function and makes direct physiological changes to DNA, not to mention that it significantly raises estrogen levels and depletes progesterone. Engage in yoga, meditation, and other mind-body therapies such as Psychotherapy, EFT, EMDR, the Emotion Code, and others that release negative emotions and past traumas.
  • Drink clean liquids. Choose filtered water (remove chlorine, fluoride, and other toxins in tap water).
  • Avoid alcohol, but if you do drink wine, make it organic–you wouldn’t eat conventional grapes, so don’t drink conventional wine. And, while red wine is somewhat protective against breast cancer as its resveratrol and other anti-cancer compounds help to metabolize estrogen and activate the P53 gene, don’t go overboard.  Your liver has to process that alcohol and if you drink too much, it won’t be able to metabolize estrogen efficiently. For more on the pros and cons of alcohol, please Click Here.
  • Get more sleep—lack of sleep disturbs hormone balance. Try to get to sleep by 10 pm as melatonin production peaks between 10 pm and 2 am. Melatonin stimulates tumor-suppressor genes and counteracts the effects of aggressive estrogens, including xenoestrogens. Cell phone EMF exposure can suppress the production of melatonin—limit use before bed (unplug 1-2 hours before going to bed) and do not keep them near your bed, and preferably out of your room.
  • Go with your gut, take a probiotic. Probiotics support gut bacteria and improve digestion, helping to prevent constipation. This is important because when stool remains in the bowel for extended periods of time, excess estrogen is re-absorbed and re-circulated into the bloodstream. Plus, immune function depends on healthy gut micro flora—and gut flora effects cancer genes too!
  • Consume GLA (gamma-linoleic acid), which is found in evening primrose oil and in hemp seeds. Research shows that this type of omega-6 may support healthy progesterone levels.
  • Eat turmeric or take supplements as turmeric effects estrogen receptor positive cancer cells.
  • Eat zinc-rich foods such as pastured eggs and meats and sprouted seeds. Shellfish such as oysters are abundant in zinc but should be eaten only in moderation.
  • Eat onions, garlic, chives, and scallions which are rich in sulfur-containing amino acids and the powerful anti-oxidant quercetin that help the liver detoxify at a higher level and reduce the production of estrogen.
  • avocado kale salad

    Avocado Kale Salad with Tomatoes and Spro

    Eat more vegetables. Aim for 10-15 servings a day (at least one pound daily). This will help excrete estrogen so it doesn’t keep circulating in the body. Also, aim for 35-45 grams of fiber per day, achieving this goal slowly to avoid gas or bloating. This will also help to keep weight in check—overweight or obese people tend to have higher circulating estrogen. Combining various vegetables in one meal can be especially helpful. For information on food synergy, please Click Here.

  • Eat raw carrots– When carrots are well chewed or grated, they help to stimulate the intestines and reduce the re-absorption of estrogen and the absorption of bacterial carrottoxins. The fiber in raw carrots binds to excess estrogen, helping to safely remove it from the body.
  • Essential oils can also be quite helpful in the management of estrogen-receptor positive breast cancer. Essential oils prevent angiogenesis, stop metastatic growth, increase apoptosis, and do so much more. Once you get started with essential oils, you will find that most, if not all, contain powerful anti-cancer properties, including the balancing of hormones.
    • Clove oil –Research has revealed that the eugenol in clove not only inhibits cancer growth and promotes apoptosis (cancer cell death), but it also acts as an antagonist to estrogen.
    • Lemon and other citrus oils can help reduce circulating estrogen. [On a side note, the D-Limonene in lemon oil has many other impressive anti-cancer abilities: it inhibits cellular proliferation and tumor growth, promotes apoptosis, supports immune function, and stimulates the liver’s detoxifying systems– and so much more].
    • Thyme oil supports progesterone levels. Evening primrose oil and thyme together are very beneficial to help balance levels of progesterone.
    • Clary Sage oil helps balance estrogen levels whether you have too much or too little estrogen. You can use it with a carrier oil on your skin or hair. It also initiates apoptosis (programmed cell death). Clary sage also contains phytoestrogens which, like flaxseed, can block estrogen receptors. I suggest you rub a few drops into the soles of your feet before bed. This will help to balance your hormones as well as promote healthy sleep.
    • Myrrh and fennel are strong phytoestrogens. Myrrh clears excess estrogen and detoxifies the liver.
    • Sandalwood stops DNA from repairing itself (cancer DNA). Note: Cedarwood can be just as effective and is cheaper.
    • Mint is effective against numerous types of cancer, such as acute T-cell leukemia, brain tumors, prostate, breast, cervical, bladder, colorectal and pancreatic cancers.

ej pink two

Lastly, and I cannot stress this enough — breast cancer is NOT just about estrogen.  Cancer is a symptom of a complex problem. It is a multi-factorial situation that presents to reveal dis-ease within the mind, body, and soul.  Therefore, in order to heal, one must correct the issues that caused the symptom we know as cancer.

Please also read:

https://elynjacobs.com/2016/10/26/natural-alternatives-to-aromatase-inhibitors-2/

https://elynjacobs.com/2012/01/15/natural-alternatives-to-tamoxifen/

Resources: Understanding Statistics

http://cancercompassalternateroute.com/breast-health/tamoxifen-and-the-manipulation-of-statistics/

http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/tamoxifen-praised-life-saving-still-causing-cancer

https://thetruthaboutcancer.com/truth-about-tamoxifen-part-1/

Tamoxifen: What Difference Does It Really Make? 

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 better, healthier, non-toxic choices. She emphasizes the critical nature of addressing the root cause of cancer and not just its presenting symptoms (such as the tumor). Elyn specializes in understanding the role of estrogen in breast cancer and debunks the myths associated. She is a Contributing Editor for The Truth About Cancer and was creator and host of the Survive and Live Well Radio Show on the Cancer Support Network. Elyn is on the Medical Advisory Board for BeatCancer.Org and is on the Advisory Board to the Radical Remission Project. Elyn was the Executive Director of the Emerald Heart Cancer Foundation. Contact Elyn via her website, www.elynjacobs.com. Elyn offers consults via Skype, phone or in person.

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Yes, You Can Give Up Gluten and Have Your Pizza Too!

In Alternatives to Hormone Therapy for Breast Cancer, Anticancer foods, foods for colon cancer, foods for breast cancer, Breast Cancer, Uncategorized on March 14, 2017 at 9:20 am

These days, it seems the vast majority of Americans have some sort of intolerance to gluten, whether or not they have any obvious symptoms.  But you have cancer, I strongly suggest you consider giving it up.

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, barley and other grains. While it has long been a mainstay in American diets, it could spell trouble for you if you have cancer or an otherwise compromised immune system.  In fact, it could be problematic even if you don’t, as it has been found to significantly hinder the availability of nutrients from food.

Plus, often it isn’t actually the gluten itself that is the problem. There are other compounds in wheat as well that provide fuel for pathogens such as viruses and bacteria, which in turn gives rise to all sorts of symptoms. For example, grains often bear the blame for chronic inflammation.  However, often it is not the grain itself that is the problem, but rather the mycotoxins (toxic substances produced by fungi that can infect grain crops) on the grains that is the problem, especially if you have an autoimmune disorder.  What is really happening is that people with autoimmune disorders have viruses and or other pathogens in their bodies, and those bugs feed on the mycotoxins, in the process creating neurotoxins that cause inflammation.

Of course, if you know that you’re free of pathogens, then it might be fine to eat wheat — but I would not take the chance if you have cancer or an autoimmune disorder.

Besides, most wheat is now GMO, and even when not, it is important to know that wheat fields in the United States are sprayed with Roundup a few days before harvesting in order to maximize the harvest.

You don’t have to give up good food….

pizza with mustard greens and arugulaAs a native New Yorker, I love pizza.  But having gone gluten-free a few years ago, I had to give it up, or so I thought. For months, I considered some of the gluten-free crusts I read about in cooking and health magazines.  None seems to replicate my beloved pizza, but then again, I was too stubborn to give them a try. If you read my article Food Fatigue, you will see that I finally took the plunge and actually found a recipe that worked for me.  (Note: Miss you lots Tami, so grateful we had that evening together).

There are a lot of gluten-free pizza recipes out there, but I am sharing some of my favorites. (For more recipes and healthy reasons to enjoy pizza, visit the link above).

Awesome Gluten-Free Pizza Crust

Ingredients:

1 generous cup riced or grated cauliflower

1 pastured organic egg

Generous pinch of Celtic sea salt (about ¼ tsp)

Flaxseed: freshly ground and up to 4 Tbsp

Dried oregano, basil, thyme, and rosemary*

pinch cayenne, if desired

1 cup tapioca or garbanzo bean flour

¼ cup olive oil

Reserved cooking water

Toppings of choice

Recipe:Pizza slice

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees

Cauliflower rice: you will need about one cup

In a small covered saucepan, steam the cauliflower over low heat in a very small amount of water (less than ¼ cup).

Drain, reserving about 1-2 Tbsp water. Spoon cauliflower onto a clean dishtowel and press out the remaining water. (While recommended, you can skip this step,  but be sure to drain completely)

Mix the egg with the cauliflower, salt, and ground flax. Add 1 Tbsp each dried basil, oregano, and thyme. Grind between fingers a tsp of dried rosemary. (While fresh is an option for the herbs, dried works best in order to keep the crust flaky and crisp). Add the tapioca flour, mixing it until thoroughly incorporated.  Add the olive oil and 1 Tbsp of the reserved water (save the rest in case you need it).  Mix just a bit with a spoon, then mix by hand to create a dough; shape into a ball.  The dough can be made ahead of time to be used in up to two days.

Place the dough directly onto a floured pizza stone or on a piece of parchment paper or in-between two pieces of parchment paper.  Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out either into a circle or rectangle, to the thickness of ¼”.  You can do this directly on the stone or on the paper—if directly on the stone, rub some extra flour onto the rolling pin to prevent sticking.  If using parchment on both sides, peel off one side and turn onto stone.  Peel off remaining piece of paper.

Bake 10 minutes; remove from oven and place on stove-top.

Top with your choice of sauce, cheese, vegetables, and fresh herbs. Bake until cheese is bubbling and the crust is lightly brown.

(If you wish, you can chop small kale leaves or baby greens such as micro mustard greens and toss them with a bit of olive oil or melted ghee (which can handle high heat). Add this on top of the sauce, as I did this time, before the cheese.)

Remove from the oven and let sit a few minutes.  Top with broccoli or watercress sprouts and/or baby arugula.  Cut into eights with a pizza cutter or knife.  Enjoy!

*I use 1 Tbsp each dried oregano and basil, and 1 tsp each dried thyme and rosemary, crumbled.

If you prefer a lighter crust, you can omit the flaxseed, but if you have breast cancer or are looking to avoid it, it might be best to include it. For more information on this, please click HERE and HERE. You may also prefer to swap the tapioca flour with garbanzo bean flour as while gluten-free, tapioca flour (starch) can still raise glucose levels.

You can also make pizza without any flour at all:

 Cauliflower Minis:

Mix together the following:

1 head cauliflower, riced

2 large eggs

¼ cup shredded or grated parmesan cheese

1/3 cup tapioca flour (or substitute grated mozzarella cheese)

3 Tbsp fine chopped basil or 1 Tbsp dried

1 Tbsp dried oregano

Dash cayenne pepper

Generous pinch coarse Celtic sea salt

¼ tsp freshly ground pepper

Top minis with:

Marinara sauce

Cheese (raw cow or goat cheese is fine; no commercial cheese or soy cheeses; soy cheese is a highly processed, toxic ‘non-food’ and should be avoided.)

Other toppings of choice, chopped small

Recipe:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Add egg, cheese, flour, spices, salt and peppers.

Drop by large spoonfuls onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Bake until golden, 20 min.

Top each ‘pizza’ with a thin layer of sauce, mozzarella or other cheese and bake until cheese melts, about 5 or 6 minutes.

Garnish with additional chopped basil, chopped broccoli or watercress sprouts, or crushed red pepper flakes

Enjoy!

For more Pizza recipes, please click HERE:

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 better, healthier, non-toxic choices. She emphasizes the critical nature of addressing the root cause of cancer and not just its presenting symptoms (such as the tumor). Elyn specializes in understanding the role of estrogen in breast cancer and debunks the myths associated. She is a Contributing Editor for The Truth About Cancer and was creator and host of the Survive and Live Well Radio Show on the Cancer Support Network. Elyn is on the Medical Advisory Board for BeatCancer.Org and is on the Advisory Board to the Radical Remission Project. Elyn was the former Executive Director of the Emerald Heart Cancer Foundation. Contact Elyn via her website. Elyn offers consults via Skype, phone or in person.

Follow Elyn on Facebook
Follow Elyn on LinkedIn

Natural Alternatives to Aromatase Inhibitors

In Alternative Cancer Therapies, Alternatives to Hormone Therapy for Breast Cancer, Alternatives to Tamoxifen, Natural Alternatives to Aromatase Inhibitors, Tamoxifen, Uncategorized on October 26, 2016 at 12:30 pm

Unfortunately, many oncologists are under the misbelief that estrogen is the enemy, and often misrepresent estrogen as the root cause of one’s cancer. Perhaps your doctor recommended an aromatase inhibitor to get rid of this ‘dangerous’ estrogen. And most likely if you are reading this post it is because you are concerned about the side effects or the resulting effects of these drugs. Or maybe you started on one, feel terrible and are seeking alternatives. Here is what you need to know before you get led down that ‘primrose path’.

The Role of Aromatase Inhibitors

Aromatase inhibitors drugs (AIs) such as Fermara, Aromasin and Arimidex, stop the production of estrogen in postmenopausal women. More specifically, they block the enzyme aromatase, the enzyme responsible for the biosynthesis and balance of estrogens.

However, while AIs have been found to prevent some breast cancer recurrences, they have not been found to actually prolong life (meaning you don’t die of the breast cancer, but rather from aromatase inhibitor use). This is due to the resulting effects—as I like to call them—particularly heart damage. They also reduce quality of life due to side effects such as the never ending flu symptoms, hair thinning and loss, vaginal bleeding, skin rashes, joint pain, stiffness and swelling (severe enough to require pain medication), hot flashes and night sweats, vaginal dryness, nausea, and headaches. Women may also feel tired and lethargic while on the drug, experience breathing difficulties, depression, and mood swings, tightness in the chest, and because of the loss of the estrogen, bone thinning (think broken bones). Not to mention that breast cancers eventually develop resistance to drug therapies.

Just because your doctor prescribed an AI, doesn’t mean that it is right for you. Making the right decision for you, for your body, is bigger than just accepting doctor’s orders. Masking a problem with an aromatase inhibitor is not the same thing as correcting the problem. And even if reducing aromatase might be helpful for you, yes, there is a better way.

Your doctor just might need to better understand the role of hormones in breast cancer. While oncologists know how estrogen receptors fuel the growth of cancer cells, they seem to know a lot less about what progesterone receptors do in those same cells.

The Scoop on Estrogen  

It is time to set things straight. We need estrogen for aiding in the prevention of heart disease and for strong, healthy bones–estrogen is essential to the health of all parts of your body, from your eyes to your heart to your brain to everywhere else. We can we live with our estrogen, we need it; in fact, we can’t live without it. However, estrogen must be balanced by progesterone, which will be discussed below.

Hormonal imbalances have reached epidemic proportions in most developed countries over the last several decades. Due to poor diets, lack of exercise, a rise in obesity levels, the widespread use of hormone-altering chemicals, and other factors, many women suffer from chronically higher than normal estrogen levels and much lower than normal progesterone levels. Age plays a role as well, as after the age of 45 or so, estrogen levels decline, but progesterone plummet even more so. In other words, many women are in chronic states of estrogen dominance. This is one of the key reasons why breast cancer rates are as high as they are.

You see, while certain estrogens can stimulate cancer cell proliferation, progesterone inhibits this from happening. Progesterone acts as an antagonist to estrogen. When there is unopposed estrogen because of a deficiency in progesterone, there is an increased risk of developing cancer. When progesterone is raised to healthy levels relative to estrogen, it turns on genes that can prevent breast cancer from occurring and reduces the size of existing tumors.

So here is what your doctor needs to know. When adequate progesterone is present, the progesterone receptors attach themselves to the estrogen receptors. Once this happens, the estrogen receptors stop turning on genes that promote the growth of the cancer cells. Instead, they turn on genes that promote the death of cancer cells (known as apoptosis) and the growth of healthy, normal cells. In other words, the progesterone receptors activate genes such as p53 that promote apoptosis. Apoptosis enables the body to “kill off” many cancer cells before they develop into tumors. On the other hand, the estrogen receptors directly bind and inactivate p53, which otherwise would restrain the replication of damaged cells. The P53 gene is the primary gene that protects men from prostate cancer and women from breast cancer. So naturally we want to support the p53 gene (which is really the P53 protein).  You can read more about how to support the P53 gene in my Estrogen Handout

It is important to note that progesterone also helps to offset xenoestrogens (chemical estrogens which are foreign to the body) which are difficult for the body to detoxify.

However, it is very important to understand that estrogen, in general DOES NOT CAUSE BREAST CANCER. Cancer is a multifactorial disease– genetics, lifestyle factors, infection, and especially environmental and emotional toxins all play a role. But since we cannot efficiently metabolize xenoestrogens and because of the overall estrogen dominance, inhibiting aromatase is often a good idea. It may not be that you have too much estrogen or that you need to block the estrogen receptors, it could just that you don’t have enough progesterone.

For a more in-depth discussion on how estrogen and progesterone affect the expression of tumor suppressor genes and what you can do to make the expression favorable, please request my Estrogen and Detoxification Handouts.

Is There a Natural Alternative to Aromatase Inhibitors?

Progesterone’s opposition to the effects of estrogen is so basic, that I fail to see how oncologists do not see progesterone as being the ultimate antiestrogen. Given that progesterone stops cell division by opposing the effects of estrogen, and given that it is not in our best interest to completely block estrogen, the real goal of the oncologist should be to reduce estrogen while increasing progesterone.

 While there is no one magic pill for this, a comprehensive strategy will help to support the tumor suppressor genes by supporting the production of progesterone and inhibiting the estrogen-fueled proliferation of cancer cells.  What you eat, do, and think all play a significant role.

  • Eat good food—a diet rich in whole, primarily plant-based foods will support the adrenals and pretty much every function of the body.
  • Consume button mushrooms, rosemary, celery, parsley, pumpkin seeds, raw whole carrots, citrus and other essential oils, oregano, thyme, rosemary, sage, turmeric, onions, garlic, chives, and scallions which inhibit estrogen and boost progesterone levels.
  • Consume phytoestrogens -phytoestrogens act more like estrogen blockers than like estrogen; they modulate the production, availability, and action of hormones and slow down cell division. Flaxseed is especially important. Flaxseed: Better Than Tamoxifen and Demystifying Flaxseed and Estrogen.
  • Consume cruciferous vegetables as nutrients derived from them help with the detoxification of estrogen trough the liver. Note that DIM and raw crucifers can inhibit iodine and the thyroid. Estrogen also inhibits the absorption of iodine and impacts thyroid levels. Have your iodine and thyroid levels checked and supplement with iodine if necessary.
  • Eat more vegetables. Aim for 15 servings a day (at least one pound daily). This will help excrete estrogen so it doesn’t keep circulating in the body.
  • Anti-inflammatory foods that are rich in saturated and omega-3 fatty acids such as 100% organic, grass-fed beef & dairy, organic poultry, wild-caught Salmon and wild game are anti-estrogenic. Plant based fats such as avocados, coconut oil and olive oil are all powerful anti-estrogenic superfoods.
  •  Take supplements such as DIM, zinc, Vitex Fruit (Chaste Tree), grape seed extract, magnesium, zinc, ginko biloba,vitamin E, and iodine.
  • Support liver function with milk thistle and other natural detoxifiers. Estrogen is metabolized in the liver. Fortifying the liver will help speed up estrogen clearance from the body. Estrogen that is not metabolized by the liver will continue to circulate, contributing to estrogen dominance.
  • If you are overweight, lose weight. Fat cells increase estrogen production. Increased weight often means insulin resistance and this is a common cause of high estrogen levels.
  • Exercise—it helps reduce stress and positively effects gene expression, and helps to balance hormones.
  • Clean out the closets—replace health, home and beauty products with non-toxic alternatives. A quick visit to the Environmental Working Group website will enable you to evaluate the products you use.
  • REDUCE STRESS—stress challenges adrenal function and makes direct physiological changes to DNA, not to mention that it significantly raises estrogen levels and depletes progesterone.
  • Avoid alcohol, but if you do drink wine, make it organic–you wouldn’t eat conventional grapes, so don’t drink conventional wine.
  • Get more sleep—lack of sleep disturbs hormone balance.
  • Go with your gut, take a probiotic. Probiotics support gut bacteria and improve digestion, helping to prevent constipation. This is important because when the stool remains in the bowel for extended periods of time, excess estrogen is re-absorbed and re-circulated into the bloodstream.

Estrogen is metabolized in the liver. Fortifying the liver will help speed up estrogen clearance from the body. Estrogen that is not metabolized by the liver will continue to circulate, contributing to estrogen dominance and raising the risk of hormonal cancers. Studies show that women with genetically impaired estrogen metabolism function may have a higher risk of breast cancer and may benefit from increased detoxification.

For more detailed information on aromatase inhibitors, natural alternatives to Tamoxifen, and detoxification strategies please request my Estrogen and Detoxification Handouts.

Read also Natural Alternatives to Tamoxifen 

Read 12 Things a Cancer Doctor Should Never Say, my most recent article on The Truth About Cancer website. Look for my upcoming article Emotional Trauma and Cancer: The Missing Link, in their October newsletter.

Read Mushrooms as well as the link in that post.

Note: This article is an updated version of my 2012 article.

This information is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to treat, cure, prevent or diagnose any diseases or conditions. The information in this post does not represent medical advice, and I encourage you to discuss this information with your integrative oncologist or naturopathic doctor. Always consult with a medical doctor before you consider any prescription or over the counter drug or herb.

Found this article helpful?  Please let me know.

 

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 better, healthier, non-toxic choices. She emphasizes the critical nature of addressing the root cause of cancer and not just its presenting symptoms (such as the tumor). Elyn specializes in understanding the role of estrogen in breast cancer and debunks the myths associated. She brings a plethora of knowledge to her practice and will help you think outside the box so you can incorporate every lifeline you may need for long term survival. Elyn is a Contributing Editor for The Truth About Cancer and was creator and host of the Survive and Live Well Radio Show on the Cancer Support Network. She is on the Medical Advisory Board for BeatCancer.Org and is on the Advisory Board to the Radical Remission Project. Elyn was the former Executive Director of the Emerald Heart Cancer Foundation. Contact Elyn via her website. Elyn offers consults via Skype, phone or in person.

 

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Natural Alternatives to Aromatase Inhibitors

In Alternative Cancer Therapies, Alternatives Cancer Treatment, Alternatives to Hormone Therapy for Breast Cancer, Uncategorized on September 20, 2012 at 5:49 pm

This Post was updated on October 26th, 2016. To read the new version please Click Here.

So, the doctor told you that you need an aromatase inhibitor. Are you concerned about the side effects or the resulting effects? Or have you started on one and feel terrible? It might be time to look at alternatives. Just because your doctor prescribed an AI, doesn’t mean that it is right for you. Making the right decision for you, for your body, is bigger than just accepting doctor’s orders.

Aromatase inhibitors, drugs such as Fermara, Aromasin and Arimidex, stop the production of estrogen in postmenopausal women; more specifically, they block the enzyme aromatase, the enzyme responsible for the biosynthesis and balance of estrogens. As we age, our hormones become out of balance, and often make us more vulnerable to cancer. Estrogen can be metabolized in two different pathways in the liver, which results in two different kinds of estrogen, “good” and “bad” estrogen. “Good” estrogen metabolites are released into the bloodstream there they cause many of the benefits estrogen provides, such as prevention of heart disease, and strong, healthy bones. “Bad” estrogen, in large quantities, causes trouble. By blocking estrogen, less “bad” estrogen is available to stimulate the growth of hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer cells. However, this also means that you have less of the protective “good”. So, the question is, do they increase survival and prevent the cell mutations that contribute to cancer? Or do they come with too many resulting effects?

I remember when I first read about Tamoxifen; I learned that Tamoxifen does not increase survival; it’s just that you don’t die of your cancer, but rather the toxicity of the drug. Hum….what a trade off. It may well be the case with AI’s as well….or worse. Although AIs were found to prevent breast cancer recurrence, they were not found to prolong life, due to the resulting effects—as I like to call them—particularly the heart problems (think less “good” estrogen), and reduce quality of life due to the side effects, such as the never ending flu symptoms, hair thinning and loss, vaginal bleeding, skin rashes, joint pain, stiffness and swelling (severe enough to require pain medication), hot flashes and night sweats, vaginal dryness, nausea and headaches. Women may also feel tired and lethargic while on the drug, experience breathing difficulties, depression and mood swings, tightness in the chest, and again, because of the loss of the “good” estrogen, bone thinning (think broken bones). Osteoporosis is a major concern, and women should have the health of their bones checked before they begin aromatase therapy. If the bones are already showing signs of deterioration, an osteoporosis drug will probably be prescribed (more drugs, and drug interactions; wonderful).

Geez, where can I get some of this stuff? Okay, so is there a natural alternative to aromatase inhibitors?

Again, as I said in my post about Tamoxifen, there is not an easy answer. However, there are many powerful natural aromatase inhibitors in your local grocery store. Look for button mushrooms, celery, parsley, mushrooms,  basil, artichokes, oranges, red grapes, onions, garlic, olives, olive leaves and extract and members of the cruciferous family. The key is to eat these foods every day, and several times a day—here’s where supplementation may be helpful if you can’t make this work with your schedule. Supplements can be in powered form or capsule, but as always, look for quality and choose organic when possible. Dindolylmethane (DIM) is a phytonutrient and plant indole found in cruciferous vegetables that has the ability to increase anti-cancer estrogen metabolites while decreasing cancer promoting estrogen metabolites; DIM can be taken in supplement form, and this is something I highly recommend. Juicing is also a great way to get these nutrients, as consuming more than one variety at a time, especially in the case of the crucifers, can increase the effectiveness of any one type. Keep in mind that the thousands of chemical compounds in plants, some known and some yet identified, work synergistically to provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and overall anti-cancer benefits, so eat a wide variety of fruits and veges each and every day, several times a day.

Feeling a bit dull? Spice up your food, herbs and spices contain powerful anticancer agents, and “hot” spices, such as cayenne pepper and mustard have been found to boost the cancer-fighting properties in foods like broccoli, so spice up your life!

Natural AI’s may well be the best choice for an AI for preventing breast cancer. Not only do they work as effectively as drugs, but have no side effects and carry a host of other benefits. Remember, estrogen is not the only factor with breast cancer…so an overall anti-cancer strategy along with the boost of natural aromatase inhibitors is your best bet. Think of fruits and vegetables as soldiers doing double duty, as nutrients and plant-based chemicals are capable of halting or slowing the spread of cancer. While no one is suggesting that the compounds in food will single-handedly eradicate cancer, each provides a powerful punch in addressing  the various mechanisms that drive cancer, and can synergistically interact to create an inhospitable microenvironment for cancer. For more on the ability of nutrients to fight cancer and block its pathways, please visit: https://elynjacobs.wordpress.com/2012/06/02/why-we-are-not-winning-the-war-on-cancer/.  For more information on specific foods to manage estrogen, please visit: https://elynjacobs.wordpress.com/2012/01/15/natural-alternatives-to-tamoxifen/. For more information about food as an anti-estrogen, anti-cancer protocol, please visit:http://elynjacobs.blogspot.com/2012/09/food-natural-alternative-for-tamoxifen.html

Seem like too much? Consider the alternative. That said, have two stalks and call me in the morning…doctor’s orders.

A few more tips:

Remember to limit alcohol–as while recent studies have found red wine to be mildly protective against breast cancer, this may not be so for post menopausal women, and other types of alcohol don’t share this benefit. If you drink, enjoy red wine conservatively.

Limit sugar; avoid junk food and hormone laced animal products such as meat and dairy.

Nothing in this post represents medical advice, and I encourage you to discuss this information with your integrative oncologist or naturopathic doctor. I have compiled this information solely for those seeking an alternative to aromatase inhibitors and cannot endorse either protocol.

Elyn
http://www.elynjacobs.wordpress.com

Elyn Jacobs is a breast cancer survivor, professional cancer coach, radio talk show host, speaker, and the Executive Director for the Emerald Heart Cancer Foundation. Elyn empowers women to choose the path for treatment that best fits their own individual needs. She is passionate about helping others move forward into a life of health and wellbeing. Elyn lives in New York with her husband and two young boys. To learn about Elyn’s coaching services, please visit: https://elynjacobs.wordpress.com. To tune into the Survive and Live Well radio show, please visit http://www.W4CS.com, Tuesdays at 1pm (EST). To view info on upcoming topics and guests, please visit: https://elynjacobs.wordpress.com/elyns-blog/.

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