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Archive for the ‘Alternatives to Tamoxifen’ Category

Pau d’arco for Breast, Prostate, Colon, and Other Cancers

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, antioxidants, Breast Cancer, Cancer, Cancer Coach, chemotherapy, CLA and Cancer, colon cancer, Epstein-Barr Virus, Estrogen, Estrogen and Breast Cancer, foods that target cancer stem cells, Healing Cancer Naturally, inflammation, prostate cancer, SERMS, supplements that target cancer stem cells, Tamoxifen, Uncategorized on November 1, 2019 at 8:56 am

Pau d’arco, also known as Taheebo, is extracted from the inner bark of several species of Tabebuia trees that grow in Central and South America. The medicinal uses of Pau d’arco (PDA) date back to 1873.  PDA has been used in South America to treat a wide range of conditions, including pain, ulcers, arthritis, fever, prostatitis, Candida, osteoarthritis, cough, influenza, herpes, diabetes, ulcers, warts, infections, allergies, and even cancer, particularly cancers of the breast, colon, lung, prostate, and malignant melanoma.

What the Docs Have to Say

Dr. James Duke of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Dr. Norman Fransworth of the University of Illinois have reported PDA contains active substances (such as β-lapachone and lapacho) found to be highly effective against various cancers. Dr Paulo Martin, a Brazilian medical researcher, reported that PDA has powerful antibiotic, virus and cancer-killing properties.[i] The late integrative oncologist Dr. Mitch Gaynor also used Pau d’arco with his cancer patients.

What the Studies Say

Scientists have discovered that compounds in PDA called naphthoquinones (mainly lapachol and beta-lapachone) are the reason for these impressive healing abilities. PDA also contains a significant amount of the antioxidant quercetin, which has been found to inhibit growth of cancer cells, including cancer stem cells. Some of the exciting cancer research on PDA:

  • Exhibits selective anti-proliferative effects in carcinoma cell lines, including ER+MCF-7 breast cancer cells[ii]
  • Inhibits the growth of estrogen receptor positive breast cancer cells and activates cancer-fighting genes[iii]
  • May block estrogen receptors [much like the SERM tamoxifen] as it is a powerful phytoestrogen [iv]
  • Effective against some bacteria, fungi, viruses (including Epstein Barr), and parasites that may be involved in cancerous processes
  • Induces cell death in prostate cancer lines[v]
  • Induces apoptosis independent of P53 expression; notably, over-expression of bcl2, a contributor for a number of cancers – including melanoma, breast, prostate, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, and lung cancer, does not appear to inhibit the  B-lapachone in PDA[vi]
  • Inhibits angiogenesis, the ability of tumors to make new blood vessels in prostate and other cancers[vii]
  • Suppresses the growth and angiogenesis of lung cancer[viii]
  • Inhibits the growth of cancer in a wide range of cancers, such as breast, prostate, cervical, liver, lung, and colon* (see Quercetin below)
  • Appears to increase the effectiveness of chemo and decreases side effects

Research also shows that the lapachol in PDA may have the ability to stimulate the production of red blood cells in bone marrow, which could be helpful for those with low red blood cell counts (RBC). Pau d’arco is also thought to eliminate toxins in the body and purify the blood.

Enjoy Pau d’arco tea, tincture or capsules. Another good tincture is Pau D’ Arco Plus, which also contains dandelion and red clover. Use of PDA during pregnancy is not advised. A potent herb, PDA should be cycled – meaning a few weeks on and then take a break for a few weeks – or swapped out for another cancer-fighting herb. This is especially important for those taking drugs or herbs that thin the blood or for Candida, as resistant strains of Candida can develop.

Please also read my related published articles:

*Potential Therapeutic Effects of Phytochemicals and Medicinal Herbs for Cancer Prevention and Treatment  Contains a discussion on the powerful anticancer effects of quercetin.

Etiology of Chronic Disease: A Discussion on Epstein-Barr Virus

Spotlight on CLA, a Cancer-Fighting Fatty Acid: CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid) is a fatty acid found in grass-fed meats and dairy products, but can also be taken in supplement form.  CLA suppresses the development of cancer at various levels. CLA has been shown to decrease skin, liver, and colon cancer. Activating protein-1 (AP-1) is one of the main promoters of colon and breast cancer, but it is blocked by CLA (licorice root and rosemary-fresh or essential oil also do this). Human abdominal, breast, and axillary fat have the ability to convert androgens into estrogens. Some studies show CLA helps rid the body of belly fat and may modulate immune and inflammatory responses.

To get an additional $30 off on the Online Course for Breast Cancer, Toxic Free Me, enroll now and use this LINK.

Additional Resources for this article:

In your good health,

Elyn

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

ej portrait 150res for PrueElyn 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.

Affiliate Links Disclosure:

Some product links on some posts are affiliate links. This website is monetized in part through the use of affiliate links. This means that if you were to click on a link that is an affiliate link and purchase an item after clicking on that link, I may receive a small percentage of the sales price. I only recommend products that I love and use often. Thank you for your support!

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[i] https://books.google.com/books?id=RIydBQAAQBAJ&pg=PA120&lpg=PA120&dq=dr+norman+farnsworth+pau+d%27arco&source=bl&ots=ZqFrjj9sQr&sig=

[ii] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19578798; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25891355

[iii] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19578798

[iv]  http://www.ndhealthfacts.org/wiki/Phytoestrogen

[v] https://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/content/55/17/3712.short; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27048660; http://www.ucdenver.edu/academics/colleges/pharmacy/currentstudents/OnCampusPharmDStudents/ExperientialProgram/Documents/nutr_monographs/Monograph-pau_darco.pdf

[vi] https://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/content/55/17/3712.short

[vii] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27048660

[viii] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27048660

New Online Course for Breast Cancer: Toxic Free Me

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 foods, foods for colon cancer, foods for breast cancer, antioxidants, aromatase inhibitors, BPA and breast cancer, Breast Cancer, Cancer, Cancer Coach, chemo and cancer stem cells, chemotherapy, colon cancer, Estrogen, Estrogen and Breast Cancer, foods that target cancer stem cells, Healing Cancer Naturally, High Dose Vitamin C, Hormone Balance, inflammation, Inflammatory Breast Cancer, Iodine, Mind Body Therapies for Cancer, Natural Alternatives to Aromatase Inhibitors, prostate cancer, Radiation, radiation and cancer stem cells, Tamoxifen, targeting cancer stem cells, trapped emotions and cancer stem cells, Uncategorized, what causes cancer to spread on October 28, 2019 at 9:22 am

As a holistic cancer coach (and survivor of stage 3 hormone-positive breast cancer), I work with people with many different types of cancer. However, the majority come to me looking to avoid the dreaded tamoxifen, aromatase inhibitors, Herceptin, Lupron, and other drugs and treatments, such as chemo and radiation. And of course, everyone is looking to get through cancer with the least amount of collateral damage and to do what they can to reduce the risk of recurrence or further cancers–to survive and live well. I coach one-on-one, but also offer a plethora of information on my website. However, some people are looking for options other than individual coaching or DIY (do-it-yourself) healing.

About a year ago I decided I would offer a webinar course to cover these topics and more. However, as life and work got very busy, I put that on hold. Meanwhile, my colleague and friend, Marnie Clark is now offering a fantastic ‘how-to-get-through-breast-cancer-course. Toxic Free Me is a comprehensive online-course with multiple learning modules.

The beauty of the course is that you can learn at your own pace. Plus, she will be adding to the course as new information comes out, and subscribers will have full access at no additional charge. The course is valued at $295 and offered for a limited time at $179, but if you enroll now and use this LINK, you get the entire course for only $149, with a 30-day money back guarantee.

Is this course for you? Are you determined to survive your cancer and live well? Are you looking for safe, non-toxic remedies for your cancer (alongside or without conventional treatments) that will support your body, build your immune system, and lower your risk of recurrence? Have a look at the full course description HERE.

Remember, when you enroll now and use this LINK, you get the entire course for only $149.

This information is for educational 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. The information provided is from my research and not to be taken as scientific evidence.

In your good health,

Elyn

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

Marnie_homepageMarnie Clark is a breast cancer coach, and also a 15-year breast cancer survivor. Marnie has studied natural medicine for over 25 years and knew that in order for her own body to heal from breast cancer, it would require a blend of both conventional and natural medicine. She now teaches others going through breast cancer about the things in nature that help to make the body hostile terrain for cancer cells, as well as empowering clients with knowledge about the lifestyle alterations that are crucial to the healing process. Marnie draws from several decades of experience in the disciplines of massage therapy, natural healing and nutrition, aromatherapy and energy healing. Her website is https://MarnieClark.com.

ej portrait 150res for PrueElyn Jacobs is a 12-year 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.

Affiliate Links Disclosure:

Some product links on some posts are affiliate links. This website is monetized in part through the use of affiliate links. This means that if you were to click on a link that is an affiliate link and purchase an item after clicking on that link, I may receive a small percentage of the sales price. I only recommend products that I love and use often. Thank you for your support!

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Could Aromatase Inhibitors Actually Increase One’s Risk for 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, aromatase inhibitors, Breast Cancer, Cancer, Estrogen, Estrogen and Breast Cancer, Hormone Balance, Hot Flashes and Night Sweats, Soy and Breast Cancer Risk, Uncategorized on October 21, 2019 at 4:05 pm

Most oncologists recommend estrogen blockers or aromatase inhibitors for those with hormone-sensitive cancers. However, new research shows that decreased estrogen levels can promote insulin resistance, which may actually increase the risk of cancer of the breast, endometrium, and ovaries. 

To recap from my previous post, What You Need to Know About Sugar and Breast Cancer, insulin resistance leads to increased insulin in the body. High insulin triggers breast cancer cells to divide and grow.

After menopause many women face a dramatic increase in insulin resistance (and start noticing belly fat that wasn’t there before). Declining estrogen is considered to be the reason.[i] If decreased estrogen promotes insulin resistance, could intentionally reducing estrogen increase one’s risk of breast cancer? Can aromatase inhibitors actually promote breast cancer? Research shows they just might.

Decreased Estrogen Levels Promote Insulin Resistance

Studies (both clinical and animal) have shown a strong correlation between circulating estrogen deficiency and insulin resistance. At Texas A&M, a team lead by Dr. Shaodong Guo identified that decreased serum estrogen levels promote insulin resistance and that even a slight decrease in circulatory estrogen levels is associated with resistance and may increase the risk of cancer of the breast, endometrium, and ovaries. The researchers found that “for premenopausal women, even a slight decrease in their circulatory estrogen levels associated with insulin resistance may increase the risk for cancers, particularly in the organs having high estrogen demand (breast, endometrium and ovary). On the other hand, postmenopausal state with profound estrogen deficiency confers high risk for cancers in different organs with either high or moderate estrogen demand.”[ii]

According to the Guo, the lead investigator for the Texas A&M study, estrogen deficiency or impaired estrogen signaling is associated with insulin resistance. “Studies have shown the reduction of estrogen in postmenopausal women accelerates the development of insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes.” He further explains that estrogen replacement therapy in postmenopausal women can reduce insulin resistance. “Clinical trials of estrogen replacement therapy in postmenopausal women have demonstrated a lowered insulin resistance as well as reductions in plasma glucose levels.”

2015 research published in the Journal or Diabetes Research also concluded that the loss of circulating estrogen E2 and impairment of its cellular activity can lead to an abrupt reduction in metabolic rate and that E2 replacement is preventive. “It is very clear that E2 has tremendous potential as a therapeutic against diabetes and its associated complications, but it has to be administered in a safer form and personalized to individual needs”. [iii]  While the link between synthetic HRT (hormone replacement therapy) and breast cancer has been established and therefore may not be an option, it  just doesn’t make sense to intentionally lower our own already-declining natural estrogen.

Many women choose bio-identical hormones, but to be clear, bios are not ‘natural’, they are chemically constructed in a lab. According to Dr Mache Seibel, M.D., author of The Estrogen Window, you have to be careful with compounded bio-identicals. He says that studies show that despite the fact that the prescription may be filled correctly, typically progesterone tends to be 60-80% lower than ordered and estrogen 80-200% higher than ordered which can result in increased estrogen dominance and could raise your risk of hormone-driven cancer. He also points out the serious risks of declining estrogen, which include increasing your risk of heart disease by 30% and dementia 70%. 

Why You Need Estrogen 

We need estrogen for aiding in the prevention of heart disease and for strong, healthy bones. In fact, estrogen is essential to the health of all parts of your body, from your eyes to your heart to your brain to everywhere else.  Estrogen also improves body fat distribution and B-cell function, and reduces inflammation. And of course, estrogen increases insulin sensitivity (and thus is protective against diabetes and metabolic syndrome predisposing one to obesity) and conversely, low estrogen levels can lead to increased insulin resistance or impaired insulin activity.

Given that studies show that the reduction of estrogen in postmenopausal women accelerates the development of insulin resistance and thus could promote breast cancer, it is hard to believe that aromatase inhibitors are always a good idea. Perhaps ‘prescribing’ phytoestrogens such as flax and sesame seeds, herbs, and even perhaps whole soy, would be a better tactic. Phytoestrogens are plant-based weak estrogens which bind to estrogen receptors in the body (just like tamoxifen) and through competitive inhibition, can prevent the receptor-binding of more potent estrogens (including xenoestrogen such as BPA). Phytoestrogens also promote hormone balance and homeostasis. One can also take steps to raise progesterone to balance natural estrogens by taking supplements such as zinc and vitamin E, lowering stress, and using an over-the-counter progesterone cream. I will further address the role of phytoestrogens and hormone-driven cancers in my next post.

Natural Aromatase Inhibitors

Some natural substances and formulas that reduce aromatase activity (should you need to reduce aromatase activity or improve estrogen metabolism or hormone balance) include Calcium d Glucarate, which helps clear excess estrogen and chemical estrogens from the body, and a product known as Aromastat, which contains a blend of herbal ingredients that work together to help keep your natural hormones balanced.  Aromastat contains chamomile (apigenin), chrystin, daidzein, genistein, indole-3-carbinol, and glycitein (it does contain soy isolates, so if avoiding, look for these ingredients individually, although in the case of genistein, I prefer you eat organic whole soy). For more information on natural alternatives to tamoxifen and aromatase inhibitors, please read my previous posts on the subject or visit my Shop page.

This information is for educational and thought-provoking 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. The information provided is from my research and not to be taken as scientific evidence.

In your good health,

Elyn

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

ej portrait 150resElyn Jacobs is a holistic cancer strategist and speaker specializing in the prevention and treatment of cancer. 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.

References:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5535874/#B135-ijms-18-01381

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5535874/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28396216

https://www.hindawi.com/journals/jdr/2015/916585/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30487265

https://diabetes.diabetesjournals.org/content/68/2/291

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.

Affiliate Links Disclosure:

Some product links on some posts are affiliate links. This website is monetized in part through the use of affiliate links. This means that if you were to click on a link that is an affiliate link and purchase an item after clicking on that link, I may receive a small percentage of the sales price. I only recommend products that I love and use often. Thank you for your support!

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What You Need to Know About Sugar and Breast Cancer—It’s NOT What You Think!

In Alternative Cancer Therapies, Alternatives Cancer Treatment, Alternatives to Anti-Hormone Therapy For Breast Cancer, Alternatives to Tamoxifen, Anticancer foods, foods for colon cancer, foods for breast cancer, aromatase inhibitors, Boosting Estrogen, Breast Cancer, Cancer, Estrogen and Breast Cancer, Hormone Balance, SERMS, Tamoxifen, Uncategorized on October 20, 2019 at 7:00 pm

Cancer loves sugar, we all know that – sugar feeds cancer and suppresses the immune system. The effects of each dose can last for 5-6 hours. The more sugar we eat, the faster cancer cells can grow. But do you know why sugar happens to love breast cancer?

Cells require sugar for energy, but it needs help to get into the cells. Insulin is the helper that attaches to and signals cells to absorb sugar from the bloodstream. Food sources that boost insulin production and regulate blood sugar levels include red cabbage, sweet potatoes, fenugreek seeds, curcumin, blueberries, vitamin D, and Ceylon cinnamon (so please continue to eat them). However, consuming sugar (sweets, pasta, and many bread, including whole wheat) raises blood sugar levels quickly. The pancreas responds to this by pumping out insulin to lower blood sugar levels. Over time, this can lead to decreased insulin sensitivity. When this happens, the body begins to ignore the signal to take glucose out of the bloodstream and put it into our cells. This triggers the body to start producing even more insulin. The more insulin, the more circulating estrogen there is to stimulate breast cancer cells.

     Sugar spikes insulin levels. Insulin regulates how much estrogen is available to stimulate breast cells. The more sugar you consume, the higher your circulating estrogen levels.

In the Fall 2019 issue of Breast Cancer Wellness there is an excellent article on sugar and its connection to estrogen, written by Dr Christine Horner, M.D. According to Horner, sugar “attacks a portion of the estrogen cycle, making more estrogen available to attach to the estrogen receptors in breast tissue. Insulin regulates how much of the estrogen in your blood is available to attach to estrogen receptors in your breast tissue. When estrogen travels in the blood, it either travels alone seeking a mate (an estrogen receptor), or it travels with a partner (a protein binder) that prevents it from attaching to an estrogen receptor. Insulin regulates the number of protein binders in the blood. So, the higher your insulin levels are, the fewer the number of protein binders there will be and therefore the more free estrogen that will be available to attach to estrogen receptors.  In other words, when your insulin levels are up, free-estrogen levels are up too. And both of them speed up cell division. That’s why high insulin levels increase your risk of breast cancer so much.” She further explains that “when insulin attaches to its receptor, it has the same effect as when estrogen attaches to its receptor; it causes cells to start dividing. The higher your insulin levels are, the faster your breast cells will divide; the faster they divide, the higher your risk of breast cancer is and the faster any existing cancer cells will grow.”

Addressing Estrogen Receptors with SERMS

To address estrogen receptor positive cancers, oncologists often recommend SERMS (selective receptor modulators) such as tamoxifen. However, tamoxifen is a carcinogenic drug that comes with significant side effects, including an increased risk of cancer.

Research shows that phytoestrogens,  plant-derived estrogens that can actually cause anti-estrogenic effects by binding to estrogen receptors (much like tamoxifen), might be worthy of consideration. The potential effects of dietary phytoestrogens have been studied to lower the risk of menopausal symptoms, cardiovascular disease, obesity, metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes, brain function disorders, and cancers of the breast, ovaries, endometrium, prostate, and other cancers

I will address the role of phytoestrogens as holistic selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMS vs Tamoxifen) in a subsequent post.  I will also address the question of ‘do aromatase inhibitors actually increase your risk of breast or other cancers?’. Meanwhile, you may wish to read my many articles on natural alternatives to anti-hormone therapies such as aromatase inhibitors and tamoxifen.

In your good health,

Elyn

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

ej portrait 150resElyn Jacobs is a holistic cancer strategist and speaker specializing in the prevention and treatment of cancer. 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.

Affiliate Links Disclosure:

Some product links on some posts are affiliate links. This website is monetized in part through the use of affiliate links. This means that if you were to click on a link that is an affiliate link and purchase an item after clicking on that link, I may receive a small percentage of the sales price. I only recommend products that I love and use often. Thank you for your support!

Follow Elyn on Facebook

Follow Elyn on LinkedIn

[i] https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/02/190212162216.htm

 

What to Do if You Have Low Estrogen Levels and Your Doctor Prescribes an Aromatase Inhibitor

In Alternative Cancer Therapies, Alternatives to Anti-Hormone Therapy For Breast Cancer, Alternatives to Hormone Therapy for Breast Cancer, Alternatives to Tamoxifen, Anticancer foods, foods for colon cancer, foods for breast cancer, Boosting Estrogen, BPA and breast cancer, Breast Cancer, Natural Aromatase Inhibitors, Uncategorized on May 17, 2018 at 9:00 am

Despite the fact that estrogen is essential for both quality and quantity of life, aromatase inhibitors (AIs) are regularly prescribed to most post-menopausal women with estrogen-sensitive breast cancer — even if they have low estrogen levels. AIs are associated with numerous life-challenging issues such as heart damage, osteoporosis, musculoskeletal symptoms, and increased risk of bone fracture. AI treatment reduces nearly all circulating estrogen which exacerbates post-menopausal symptoms and increases mortality.

Most of my post-menopause clients have VERY LOW ESTROGEN LEVELS. This is important to note as the last thing they need is even lower estrogen levels. Many, in fact, have low estrogen across the board (meaning the pro-cancer as well as protective estrogens). Often they have low progesterone as well, so their hormones are actually in balance, offering protection against breast cancer.  (While progesterone, in most cases, is protective, it is good to be balanced). However, low hormone levels leave these women with unpleasant symptoms and an increased risk of debilitating and life-threatening issues. Plus, when I look further at their labs they often even have favorable estrogen metabolism, which is also associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer. (More on estrogen metabolism in a pending post). It simply makes no sense to block the production of estrogen in most post-menopausal women even if they have breast cancer. (For more information on why aromatase inhibitors may not be right for you, please read: Why You May Want to Reconsider Estrogen-Blocking Aromatase Inhibitors and Tamoxifen).

So, what can you do if you have estrogen-receptor positive breast cancer? First of all, it is important to resolve the real reason for the cancer. Estrogen may feed it, but does not really cause it. Environmental toxins, emotional trauma, and viruses such as Epstein-Barr are some of the most common triggers. Lowering estrogen with a harmful drug will not resolve any of these issues and may be detrimental to your health. If you have high estrogen, there are natural alternatives to AIs; please read: Natural Alternatives to Hormone Therapy for Breast Cancer. If you have low estrogen or even if you don’t, read on:

Estrogen is Essential

We need estrogen for aiding in the prevention of heart disease and for strong, healthy bones. In fact, estrogen is essential to the health of all parts of your body, from your eyes to your heart to your brain to everywhere else.  Estrogen also increases insulin sensitivity and is protective against diabetes.

In general, estrogens are not always bad, and some are even protective, particularly Estriol (E3).  True, Estradiol (E2) can stimulate cancer cell proliferation, but not when opposed by sufficient progesterone. Keeping one’s progesterone levels up will offset your own more aggressive Estradiol. Sad that most doctors do not order hormone panels prior to subjecting patients to aromatase inhibitors.

Xenoestrogens (chemical estrogens), however,  should always be avoided. Xenoestrogens are chemicals that mimic natural estrogen compounds. They are close enough in molecular structure to estrogen that they can bind to estrogen receptor sites and stimulate proliferation of human breast cancer cells. Some examples of xenoestrogens are BPA (bisphenol A), found in plastics, paper products, cash register receipts, plant pesticides, and can linings, and parabens, which are found in many personal care products, cleaning products, and scented candles.

Boosting Estrogen

If you have low estrogen and would like to increase it, consider consuming more flaxseed, pumpkin seeds, and other phytoestrogens (plant estrogens). Phytoestrogens are plant derivatives that have a similar structure to estrogen and can bind to the estrogen receptor sites. They are weaker endogenous estrogens and, through competitive inhibition, can prevent the receptor binding of more potent estrogens. These will not raise your risk of breast cancer, and can actually lower it.

Importantly, research conducted by the Linus Pauling Institute of Oregon State University indicated that eating plant-based foods that contain phytoestrogens may  help women raise estrogen levels, relieving symptoms of low estrogen.[i]

herbs Estrogen

The increased cancer risk associated with anti-hormone therapies has encouraged many women to seek non-hormonal alternatives. Many foods, such as herbs, grains, vegetables and fruits provide compounds with estrogen-like effects.  Below is a list of some plant-estrogens you may wish to add to your diet:

  • Seeds such as flax, pumpkin, poppy, sunflower, and sesame
  • Apricots, oranges, strawberries, peaches, many dried fruits
  • Yams, carrots, alfalfa sprouts, kale, celery
  • Soy foods such as tempeh, tofu, miso soup, and soy yogurt (all soy should be organic and with no sugar added).
  • Dark rye bread
  • Lentils, peas, lima beans, pinto beans
  • Olives and olive oil
  • Chickpeas
  • Fresh herbs, such as parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme
  • Licorice root*

 

Here’s what you really need to know. Estrogenic cancers can be managed with a sensible diet and lifestyle changes. Drugs are not necessary to manage estrogen, and in fact will often fail for many reasons, as addressed in the links below. What women with breast cancer are rarely told is that in lieu of taking harmful medication (which creates its own set of problems and serious side effects), they can adapt diet and lifestyle strategies which can effectively reduce high levels of the antagonistic estrogen, estradiol.

If you still suffer from low-estrogen symptoms despite a change in diet or other lifestyle activities, then you may want to consider bio-identical hormones or an inexpensive paraben-free estriol cream.

*I want to highlight one phytoestrogen that seems to worry many women with breast cancer–licorice root. There is no cause for alarm. In fact, licorice root has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral, antiangiogenetic (meaning it inhibits cancer cells from generating their own blood vessels), and other anti-cancer properties. Licorice root is toxic to human cancer cells, but not to healthy cells. It also promotes an increase in progesterone by inhibiting the enzyme necessary for its breakdown, which helps to block the cancerous activity of estradiol, the most potent form of estrogen created within the body. Further, it is an adaptogenic herb, so if your estrogen is too low, it will increase it, and if it is too high, it will bring it down.  Licorice root tea is a delicious way to enjoy this herb. It is not advised to take licorice root during pregnancy or for those with high blood pressure, or for extended periods of time unless under the direction of a professional. Use of any medicinal herb should always be done under the direction of a knowledgeable physician or professional.

You may also wish to read:

Why You May Want to Reconsider Estrogen-Blocking Aromatase Inhibitors and Tamoxifen

Natural Alternatives to Hormone Therapy for Breast Cancer

Vitamin D Better than Aromatase Inhibitors

Natural Alternatives to Tamoxifen

Natural Alternative to Aromatase Inhibitors

Why Aromatase Inhibitors Fail Women

You may wish to read my articles on flaxseed:

Demystifying Flaxseed and Estrogen 

Flaxseed: Better Than Tamoxifen for Breast Cancer

Flaxseed: The Anti-Cancer Power Seed

To read about one of the major contributors to most cancers, please read this article on Epstein-Barr and Cancer.

This information is for educational purposes only and is not a recommendation to forgo anti-hormone therapy. It 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 and make your own decisions.  The information provided is from my research and not to be taken as scientific evidence.

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.

Affiliate Links Disclosure:

Some product links on some posts are affiliate links. This website is monetized in part through the use of affiliate links. This means that if you were to click on a link that is an affiliate link, and purchase an item after clicking on that link, I may receive a small percentage of the sales price. I only recommend products that I love and use often. Thank you for your support!

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[i] https://www.aao.org/eyenet/article/watch-ocular-effects-of-breast-cancer-drugs

[i] http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/dietary-factors/phytochemicals/lignans

Why Aromatase Inhibitors Fail Women

In Alternative Cancer Therapies, Alternatives to Anti-Hormone Therapy For Breast Cancer, Alternatives to Hormone Therapy for Breast Cancer, Alternatives to Tamoxifen, Breast Cancer, Tamoxifen, Uncategorized on November 13, 2017 at 5:27 am

Aromatase inhibitors fail when tumors outsmart them.  Researchers have long been studying how resistance to aromatase inhibitors (AIs) happens so that they can find a solution. The resistance effectively makes these drugs powerless, causing the cancer to return. One in every four or five women relapse within ten years of AI treatment and develop metastatic cancer. [i]

Estrogen plays an important role in the development of hormone-dependent breast carcinomas, or at least some estrogens do. While ovarian estrogen synthesis ceases at menopause, peripheral and local tissue’s aromatization of androgens to estrogens continues and becomes the main source of estradiol (the more cancer-promoting estrogen). What this means is that while your ovaries are no longer producing estrogen after menopause, and your adrenals are producing only a small amount, breast cancer cells may actually have a way to produce their own food supply.

Theoretically, the aromatase inhibitor could be reducing circulating estrogen to dangerously low levels, while estrogen in the breast, axillary, and belly could still be dangerously high. Hence, AIs fail the patient, who then suffers the ill-effects of the drugs with no benefit.

The Research

Until recently, scientists assumed the tumors developed resistance in some way, but didn’t know how. Scientists have now discovered why AIs may stop working in some patients. Research done at the Imperial College London and the European Institute of Oncology in Milan has found that some breast tumors evolve to make their own estrogen, rendering AIs ineffective. While the ovaries cease to produce estrogen after menopause, the hormone is still made in other tissues via the enzyme aromatase.[ii] The team, led by Dr Luca Magnani, found that in one in four patients taking AIs, the tumors had increased production of aromatase in the cancer cells. They found that the tumors were able to increase the number of aromatase genes via a process known as amplification.

So, while AIs work by cutting off the tumor’s fuel supply (estrogen), the cancer adapts by making its own –an efficient survival mechanism. The research points to a particular gene (CYP19A1).  When more copies of this gene are produced, it triggers the increased production of aromatase, the very enzyme the drugs are trying to block. This allows cancer cells to make their own estrogen and thus reproduce and spread.[iii] It seems to be a bit of a survival mechanism-the AI cuts off the food supply so the tumor outsmarts it by making its own.

We found that 21.5% of AI-treated, relapsed patients had acquired CYP19A1 (encoding aromatase) amplification (CYP19A1amp)…CYP19A1 amplification caused increased aromatase activity and estrogen-independent ERα binding to target genes, resulting in CYP19A1amp cells showing decreased sensitivity to AI treatment. These data suggest that AI treatment itself selects for acquired CYP19A1amp and promotes local autocrine estrogen signaling in AI-resistant metastatic patients.[iv]

When an aromatase inhibitor stops working, most oncologists will try another type of AI.  The problem is that if the cancer cells have started making their own aromatase, the second (or third) drug will be useless. Identifying the over-expression of the CYP19A1 may help doctors determine which women are not good candidates for AI therapy or who might be candidates for alternative therapies. The aforementioned researchers are now working on a test to identify whether a patient’s tumor has started to increase aromatase production, and make its own estrogen.

Dr. Magnani also suggested that when cancer returns, a biopsy should be done to see how the cancer has evolved, which may help guide treatment decisions. Often this can be helpful, but just as often, it fails to offer much information. This is a decision you need to make in consultation with your oncologist or other qualified professional.

Obesity Plays a Role

Excess body weight has been linked to an increased risk of postmenopausal breast cancer, and research also suggests that obesity is associated with poor prognosis in women diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer. Fat tissue contains the enzyme aromatase that converts hormones called androgens to estrogens. Human abdominal, breast, and axillary fat have the ability to convert androgens into estrogens.

So, heavier women end up with higher blood estrogen levels as well as enhanced local production of estrogen than leaner women. Elevated serum estrogen levels as well as enhanced local production of estrogen have been considered primary mediators of how increased body weight promotes breast cancer development in postmenopausal women.

On the Horizon

I have long been pointing out that most of have seriously declining levels of estrogen as we age –which has been found to compromise overall health. For this reason, AIs are quite dangerous as they block essential estrogen.

However, it has recently been reported that plasma estrogen levels do not necessarily reflect tissue estrogen concentrations. Several studies have found that tissue estrogen levels may be ten- to 20-fold higher compared to plasma levels in postmenopausal women. Furthermore, recent studies have demonstrated that a large proportion (close to 100%) of the biologically active estrogen is considered to be produced locally in the breast carcinoma after menopause.[v] Therefore, likely a more effective method would be to inhibit estrogen of breast tissue than that of systemic circulation. More studies need to be done on this.

At this point, studies are being conducted in China to see if a locally-applied aromatase-inhibiting patch using letrozole would be effective and offer a less toxic solution to the standard drug AIs.

As reported in AAPS PharmSCiTech (a Journal of the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists), a mouse study revealed that compared with oral administration, transdermal administration could produce high local drug concentrations and low circulating drug concentrations. This could reduce systemic side effects. Therefore, it might be a new option for breast cancer therapy to inhibit aromatase activity via transdermal patches for site-specific delivery of letrozole.

But again, more studies need to be done to determine if a local patch would be effective for cells outside the breast area, and independent studies should also be done (ones not paid for by a pharmaceutical company).

So, should women with estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer take inhibitors of estrogens? The decision of whether or not to use estrogen blockers is a complex one that each woman can only make if fully informed. The potential negative effects on the brain, heart, and overall quality and quantity of life, as well as treatment failure, should be weighed against the immediate risk of recurrence.

However, in making a treatment decision, it is most important to speak with an oncologist who is fully aware of the limitations and potential negative effects of these drugs and who is prepared to discuss alternative options. It is equally important to educate yourself on natural alternatives as typically these options are not discussed by medical doctors.

Important is to realize that in the presence of adequate progesterone, estrogen cannot easily fuel breast cancer tumors.[vi] Perhaps for now, a better solution is to make every effort to reduce aromatase activity and to increase production of progesterone.

Progesterone may also be the answer to why AIs seem to work for some.  I could postulate that the answer again might be progesterone, especially for those patients who are PR + as well as ER+, but that is just one possibility.

For more information regarding consideration of natural alternatives, please read:

Natural Alternatives to Hormone Therapy for Breast Cancer  

Why You May Want to Reconsider Estrogen-Blocking Aromatase Inhibitors and Tamoxifen 

* The CYP19A1 gene provides instructions for making an enzyme called aromatase. This enzyme converts a class of hormones called androgens, which are involved in male sexual development, to different forms of the female sex hormone estrogen. Mutations in this gene can result in either increased or decreased aromatase activity.

This information is for educational purposes only and is not a recommendation to forgo anti-hormone therapy. It 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 and make your own decisions.  The information provided is from my research and not to be taken as scientific evidence. 

ej portrait 150resElyn

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

Elyn Jacobs is a breast cancer survivor and certified 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.

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[i] https://www.nature.com/articles/ng.3773   https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5326683/

[ii]

http://www3.imperial.ac.uk/newsandeventspggrp/imperialcollege/newssummary/news_23-1-2017-16-57-16

[iii] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/behindtheheadlines/news/2017-01-24-new-insights-into-why-breast-cancer-drugs-fail-for-some-women/

[iv] https://www.nature.com/articles/ng.3773

[v] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2974128/

[vi]  http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/45/1/277.short

 

Why You May Want to Reconsider Estrogen-Blocking Aromatase Inhibitors and Tamoxifen

In Alternatives to Anti-Hormone Therapy For Breast Cancer, Alternatives to Tamoxifen, Breast Cancer, Natural Alternatives to Aromatase Inhibitors, Uncategorized on November 7, 2017 at 9:50 am

The current oncological recommendations for anti-hormone therapy (endocrine therapy) for postmenopausal women with early-stage breast cancer vary. Some oncologists recommend aromatase inhibitors for five years, with tamoxifen to follow and some the reverse, and some just one or the other. However, the recommendations rarely take into consideration risk of prior cardiovascular disease history, cardiovascular disease risk, or overall risk of death when choosing between the different therapeutic options. (For premenopausal women, the standard is usually tamoxifen, with little attention to risk factors for blood clots, stroke, and endometrial cancer.)  Importantly, while both therapies can prolong disease-free survival, they don’t necessarily increase overall survival.

In the discussion of adjuvant endocrine therapy, doctors downplay the fact that aromatase inhibitors (AIs) are associated with musculoskeletal symptoms, heart damage, osteoporosis, and increased risk of bone fracture. Estrogen protects against heart disease, and consistent research has suggested that the suppression of estrogen raises the risk of cardiovascular disease, among other life-challenging issues. AI treatment reduces nearly all circulating estrogen. Estrogen is essential to the health of all parts of your body, from your eyes to your heart to your brain to everywhere else.

Many doctors also fail to stress that tamoxifen is associated with an increased risk of uterine cancer, stroke, deep venous thrombosis (blood clots), and severe muscle pain. They also fail to inform their patients that while both therapies can prolong disease-free survival, they rarely increase overall survival—especially in the case of aromatase inhibitors. All this at a tremendous cost to quality of life.

Tamoxifen and aromatase inhibitors have distinct toxicity profiles. However, individual studies have not shown a significant difference in overall toxicity between patients treated with these therapies. The lack of association between disease-free survival and overall survival prompted a 2011 meta-analysis published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. The study evaluated the toxicities of the two endocrine therapy options.

The Research:

The meta-analysis confirmed that an aromatase inhibitor (AI) may not the best therapy for all postmenopausal women with hormone-receptor positive, early-stage, breast cancer. The authors conducted the study to clarify why AIs, when compared with tamoxifen, increased disease-free survival but not overall survival. AI toxicities were suspected to counteract decreased recurrence rates.[i] However, as presented in the analysis, tamoxifen wasn’t necessarily safer than AIs, so the authors concluded that switching from tamoxifen to AIs would  balance the efficacy and toxicity of these treatments. What this means to you is that they are recommending that you ‘switch’ from one drug to another after a few years to reduce toxicity–but that also means you suffer the consequences of both drugs.

The authors noted that although several large randomized trials have examined the benefit of the aromatase inhibitors anastrozole, letrozole, and exemestane — as compared with 5 years of tamoxifen — the trials have failed to demonstrate a statistically significant improvement in overall survival.

The Methods:

Relevant trials were identified through a search of the MEDLINE and EMBASE databases, a search of the American Society of Oncology Annual Meetings from 2000 through 2009, and a search of the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium Annual Meetings from 2000 through 2009. 377 relevant articles were identified, of which 7 randomized controlled phase-3 trials with 30,023 patients met inclusion criteria.

The analysis considered six adverse events: cardiovascular disease, cerebrovascular disease, venous thrombosis (DVT), bone fracture, endometrial cancer, and other secondary cancers.

The Highlights: (Noting that longer duration of one therapy implies a shorter duration of the other)

  • Longer duration of AI use was associated with higher odds of developing cardiovascular disease.
  • Longer duration of AIs was associated with a 66% reduction in the odds of developing endometrial cancer compared with tamoxifen use.
  • Both AIs and tamoxifen increase the risk of other second cancers, but switching from tamoxifen to aromatase inhibitors may decrease the odds of second cancers.
  • Longer durations of aromatase inhibitor use were associated with decreased odds of venous thrombosis compared with tamoxifen.
  • Longer durations of AIs were associated with increased odds of bone fractures compared with tamoxifen.
  • Longer durations of AI use was associated with a statistically significant increase in the risk of raised cholesterol (hypercholesterolemia. Shorter durations of AIs might reduce the odds of high cholesterol.
  • The relative harm of 2 to 3 years of tamoxifen was not reduced by switching to aromatase inhibitors.
  • Compared with those treated with 5 years of either tamoxifen or aromatase inhibitors, those treated with a switching strategy had a statistically lower risk of death without breast cancer recurrence.
  • A retrospective cohort study of women diagnosed with breast cancer at age 66 or older between 1992 and 2000 found that more patients died of cardiovascular disease than of breast cancer.[ii] The researchers recommended that the age of the patient be taken into consideration when choosing between endocrine therapies (or in this author’s opinion, instead offering holistic alternatives).

While the study was performed to compare the two conventional treatment options, sadly they did not simultaneously compare the effectiveness of natural alternatives. Again, use of aromatase inhibitors vs tamoxifen is associated with increased risk for cardiovascular disease, cholesterol, severe muscle and joint aches, and bone fractures. Use of tamoxifen vs aromatase inhibitors is associated with increased risk for venous thrombosis, stroke, and endometrial cancer. Clearly both of these toxic therapies cause harm, often more harm than good — even if one does switch from one therapy to the other.

Other Reasons for Opting Out in Favor of Natural Alternatives:

  • A study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, 2016, reported that women in their 40’s with chemotherapy-induced amenorrhea should avoid aromatase inhibitors. Many women who have ceased menstruating post-chemo later recover ovarian function. What the researchers found was that ovarian estrogen production will decrease the effectiveness of AI therapy and that the therapy could actually stimulate ovarian production of estrogen. Unfortunately, the researchers concluded that the way to prevent this would be to shut down ovarian function as well as to offer tamoxifen.  [iii]
  • A study reported at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium in 2106 reported that endothelial dysfunction, a predictor of cardiac disease, is a significant side effect of AI therapy among postmenopausal women, posing the problem again — that while the therapy may inhibit recurrence, it does not improve overall survival time.[iv] Estradiol appears to be important for regulating healthy endothelial function.
  • Endogenous estrogen (the estrogen your body produces) is neuroprotective. The breadth of literature on the role of estrogen in cognitive function is vast. Many women will attest to the fact that peak cognitive function corresponds with cyclic changes in circulating estrogen during their menstrual cycle.
  • Estrogen has also been found to suppress the inflammatory processes that contribute to neurodegeneration as well as to improve stroke outcome.[v] It is well documented that women are ‘protected’ against stroke until menopause, when estrogen levels decline.
  • Numerous studies have shown that beyond the aforementioned complications, tamoxifen can increase the risk of developing liver cancer and raises overall inflammation of the body, a known precursor to cancer.
  • A study reported at the San Antonino Breast Cancer Symposium 2016 looked at endothelial dysfunction, a predictor of cardiac disease.  Interestingly, they determined that the vast majority of participants who had increased cardiac risk after taking AI therapy would not have been considered at risk pre-treatment. The study indicated that the cancer benefit may not be worth the cardiac risk, both for younger and older patients.
  • Also reported at the 2016 Symposium was that AIs, associated with reductions in endothelial function, could contribute to cardiovascular disease independent of the duration of therapy.

With a growing number of cancer survivors, it is very important that we look to understand the long-term complications of conventional cancer treatment. Most postmenopausal women with early-stage breast cancer are at greater risk of dying from cardiovascular disease than their breast cancer. Further, they are at greater risk of a significant reduction in quality and quantity of life from the other overwhelming effects of conventional treatments in general.  Even worse, most doctors don’t even bother to run hormone level tests–they simply prescribe the harmful drugs. Clearly, the current toxic anti-hormonal therapies cause harm, often more harm than good. The question to be asked is ‘is it worth it?”

But, my doctor says they work:

Research published in 2106 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology analyzed the information collected for the BIG 1-98 study that was designed to see whether AIs or tamoxifen was most effective. The study was rather useless—all it managed to say was that the treatments were so toxic that most women were either non-compliant or discontinued treatment due to the side effects. Sure can’t blame them. Again, while these treatments can prolong disease-free survival, they do not always prolong overall survival. This study made no mention of those who died without recurrence (meaning from treatment-induced effects). [vi] It also made no mention of safer alternatives, and likely instilled more unnecessary fear-based compliance out of those who read the study.

If your reason for reading this article was your desire for natural alternatives to anti-hormone therapy, please readNatural Alternatives to Hormone Therapy for Breast Cancer.

This information is for educational purposes only and is not a recommendation to forgo anti-hormone therapy. It 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 and make your own decisions.  The information provided is from my research and not to be taken as scientific evidence. 

ej portrait 150resElyn

~~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.

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[i] https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/756567

[ii] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21689398?dopt=Abstract&holding=f1000,f1000m,isrctn ; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16944964

[iii] http://ascopubs.org/doi/abs/10.1200/JCO.2015.62.2985?rss=1

[iv] http://www.pnas.org/content/108/47/18879

[v] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9445346

http://www.pnas.org/content/108/47/18879.full.pdf

[vi] http://ascopubs.org/doi/abs/10.1200/JCO.2015.63.8619

http://www.mdedge.com/oncologypractice/article/119926/breast-cancer/aromatase-inhibitor-effect-endothelial-function-may

 

 

 

 

Vitamin D Better than Aromatase Inhibitors

In Alternatives to Hormone Therapy for Breast Cancer, Alternatives to Tamoxifen, Breast Cancer, Uncategorized on October 1, 2017 at 9:49 am

Pretty much every medical journal has posted research associating high vitamin D levels with a reduced risk of many cancers. Recent research, however, takes things a step further by showing that vitamin D actually reduces circulating estrogen levels, which has been found to reduce breast cancer risk and the progression of the dis-ease.  Excitingly, this may offer women an safer alternative to aromatase inhibitors.

Research done in 2016 at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center found that those with the greatest increase in vitamin D blood levels had the greatest reductions in blood estrogens. The randomized, controlled, clinical trial involved over 200 women who had insufficient D levels.  At the end of the year-long study, those whose D levels rose the highest had a corresponding reduction in estrogen levels. This study suggests that vitamin D supplementation may be a practical alternative to estrogen-lowering drugs, such as aromatase inhibitors.

Studies also show that natural progesterone offsets the effects of estrogen, and in doing so, reduces cancer risk. This is because progesterone hinders the growth of cancer cells, sort of putting the brakes on estrogen. However, it has been found that a lack of vitamin D reduces the benefits of progesterone.

Importantly, both progesterone and vitamin D regulate gene expression, and both have a positive fundamental effect on cell differentiation and growth, with anti-oxidative and autoimmune anti-inflammatory mechanisms. Therefore, it is important to maintain adequate levels of both progesterone and vitamin D.

Unfortunately, while natural progesterone has an anticancer effect, synthetic progesterone (found in birth control pills and hormone replacement supplements) does not. This is because unlike natural progesterone, synthetic versions do not stimulate activation of the P53 gene [i] (which is the tumor-suppressor gene involved that protects cells from becoming cancerous and orders damaged cells to self-destruct)), and as such, have not been found to inhibit cancer development.

If present, synthetic progesterone will occupy the progesterone receptors, preventing natural progesterone from occupying those receptors. In order for natural progesterone to facilitate the production of P53, it must attach itself to progesterone receptors. If synthetic progesterone (again, which does not stimulate the production of P53) is present on the receptors, natural progesterone will not be able to occupy the receptors. For more information on P53, please click HERE. For a deeper understanding of progesterone, please read my article The Truth About Progesterone and Breast Cancer.

Recent research shows (and this author believes) that blood levels should be 70-100ng/ml  and not the 30ng/ml most labs and doctors regard as adequate. The minimum daily dose required may well be 5000iu’s per day, although the latest research indicates it could be more like 10,000iu’s per day (I personally require even more than that).

Some doctors warn of toxicity risk but studies have found that even an intake of up to 40,000iu’s vitamin D per day is unlikely to result in vitamin D toxicity. [ii]  Just be sure to drink plenty of clean water and consume a healthy diet, which I recommend anyway. Despite the fact that more people are now taking vitamin D supplements, it’s rare to find someone with very high blood levels of this vitamin.

Cholesterol’s Role

Both progesterone and vitamin D3 are manufactured from cholesterol. Progesterone is primarily produced by the adrenals and ovaries. Vitamin D3 is made by the action of UVB sunlight as it strikes the cholesterol covering our skin—assuming you have not doused yourself with chemical or even non-chemical sunscreen. The moral of the story, as they say, is not to be so aggressive in reducing healthy cholesterol, and you might consider leaving the sunscreen home.

While vitamin D shows promise in the efforts to lower estrogen, please know that there are many natural substances that can be employed. It would be my recommendation not to rely solely on vitamin D, but rather to devise a comprehensive plan.  This is especially true as many people don’t actually have high estrogen levels, but rather are deficient in progesterone (and therefore are still estrogen dominant). For more information on natural approaches to anti-hormone therapy, please click HERE.

Elyn

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

ej portrait 150resElyn 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.

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[ii] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21378345

[i] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2882298/

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 quoted 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 (there is a $25 charge for this).

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 K2
  • 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) and helps increase blood levels of progesterone
  • 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)
  • If you prefer, you might try this paraben-free cream.

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. (Please do not ingest thyme oil–better to get this from fresh thyme, which is delicious and safer.)
    • 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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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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