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Natural Ways to Balance and Manage Hormones 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, Anticancer diet, Anticancer foods, foods for colon cancer, foods for breast cancer, aromatase inhibitors, BPA and breast cancer, Breast Cancer, Cancer, Cancer Coach, Estrogen, Estrogen and Breast Cancer, Hormone Balance, Integrative Oncology, Natural Alternatives to Aromatase Inhibitors, Natural Aromatase Inhibitors, Uncategorized on August 4, 2020 at 7:17 am

Hormone imbalances occur when we have to much or too little of a hormone in your bloodstream. While your body secretes about 50 different hormones that control many critical functions, for the purpose of this article, I will be discussing only estrogen and progesterone. When estrogen is high and progesterone is low, we have a condition known as estrogen dominance. Estrogen dominance is often a strong risk factor for breast cancer. Fortunately, there are many natural ways to balance the hormones and manage risk of cancer.

Even small hormonal imbalances can create side effects, including increased risk of breast cancer. What women with breast cancer hear most from their doctors is that estrogen is the villain, the cause of our cancer. However, while estrogen can fuel breast cancer, there is more to the story. Estrogen can fuel a tumor’s growth, but progesterone may put the brakes on that growth.

To be clear, estrogen is not bad, and in many cases, should not be reduced without due care. Estrogen plays a major role in numerous processes including blood sugar balance, as well as bone, eye, and heart health. But it needs to be balanced by progesterone, something that drops dramatically with age and increased stress.

To recap an article I wrote for The Truth About Cancer, estrogen and progesterone receptors are proteins found within many of the cells of our bodies, including cells in the breasts. Both receptors are directly involved in switching genes on and off − some 470 different genes. When estrogen and progesterone are present, these hormones stick to their respective receptors. They can then attach to specific regions of our DNA and turn genes on or off, changing the cell’s behavior.

Hormone receptor-positive breast cancers have many hormone receptors. In the case of breast cancer, tumor cells become overly sensitive to estrogen. When estrogen activates its receptor, it turns on a panel of genes that tell cells to keep dividing, encouraging tumor growth. However, the body also has progesterone receptors. When breast cancer cells have working progesterone receptors, and when there is sufficient progesterone available, progesterone will slow down estrogen-fueled growth and division of these cells. According to the late John Lee, Md, author of What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Breast Cancer, when progesterone receptors are activated by progesterone, they attach themselves to the estrogen receptors. This essentially puts the brakes on the estrogen receptors, telling them to stop turning on genes that promote the growth of cancer cells, and turning on genes that promote the death of these cells.

A 2016 study led by Cambridge-based Cancer Researcher Dr. Jason Caroll of the University of Adelaide in Australia found that progesterone, via the progesterone receptor, is affecting how the estrogen receptor works. He found that the progesterone receptor actually ‘reprograms’ the estrogen receptor, changing the genes that it influences.[i]

Importantly, Carroll found that progesterone seems to cause cancer cells to stop growing as quickly. That said, what I am referring to is natural progesterone. While natural progesterone has an anticancer effect, synthetic progesterone does not and can actually make cancers more aggressive and deadlier. Further, synthetic progesterone does not activate tumor suppressor gene p53 when it attaches to progesterone receptors. P53 is a repair gene, which protects cells from becoming cancerous.

Toxic Substances Act Like Estrogen

We are bombarded daily with chemicals in the air, our food, and the products we use in our home and on our bodies. These chemicals, also known as xenoestrogens, are considered endocrine or hormone disruptors because they interfere with the production of hormones. They cause wide-ranging damage in the body. For example, bisphenol A (BPA) and bisphenol S (BPS), found in plastics, can liners, cash register receipts and most paper products mimic estrogen and can disrupt multiple hormonal pathways. Unlike our own estrogen, chemical estrogens (xenoestrogens) are particularly harmful. Read more HERE.

Fortunately, there are many natural approaches to ease hormones back into balance and reduce your risk of breast cancer.

Natural Approaches for Balancing Hormones

Let’s take a look at some herbs and natural approaches to balancing hormones.

Phytoestrogens modulate estrogen levels. Phytoestrogens work similarly to tamoxifen, blocking the effects of estrogen in breast tissue.[ii]

They act more like estrogen blockers than like estrogen; they modulate the production, availability, and action of hormones and slow down cell division. This is important as many oncologists illogically warn women to avoid them.

Phytoestrogens bind preferentially to estrogen receptor sites in the body. However, they are 99% weaker than our own natural estrogen, which means that they have very little estrogenic effects in the body. It also means that by binding to the receptors, more aggressive natural estrogen or xenoestrogens from the environment will be less able to bind to the receptors. Therefore, phytoestrogens might limit the negative estrogenic impact of those estrogens. Instead of fueling estrogen-dependent cancers, phytoestrogens tend to reduce the risk of these cancers. Even the NCI (National Cancer Institute) acknowledges that the plant-based hormones may have anticancer effects.[iii]

Meanwhile, if you are post-menopausal with very low estrogen levels, phytoestrogens may help reduce the resulting effects, such as bone loss, eye damage, and heart damage. Soy and flaxseed are two of the most powerful phytoestrogens, but herbs such as red clover, sage, hops, and fenugreek are also helpful.

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. This is because 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 or soy protein concentrate) should be avoided as they have the greatest ability to block nutrient absorption. Due to the fact that most soy is genetically altered, it is highly recommended to consume only organic and non-GMO. (My only issue with tempeh is that it is commonly ‘shrink-wrapped’ in plastic’)

 Flaxseed modulates the production, availability, and action of hormones—and does so much more (flax –and sesame seeds– offer anti-cancer lignans which can significantly reduce tumor growth by increasing cell death and decreasing the growth of new blood vessels that allow cancer to advance). As for hormones, 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. Please read my articles — Flaxseed: Better Than Tamoxifen and Demystifying Flaxseed and Estrogen.

Licorice root and Vitex (also known a chaste tree berry), focus more on raising progesterone. Progesterone tends to fall sharply as we age and are no longer ovulating. While bio-identical progesterone supplement progesterone directly, licorice root and vitex are thought to lower estrogen levels while simultaneously raising progesterone, thus helping to relieve hormone imbalance and estrogen dominance. (use caution if you have elevated blood pressure)

Combining vitex with stress-reducing adaptogens such as ashwagandha or Schisandra can be helpful as stress tends to lower progesterone. Some people have reported that vitex worsens depression, so discontinue if that happens. (Do not take Schisandra with Tamoxifen).

Red clover can bind weakly to estrogen receptors, standing in for estrogen when levels are low and lowering high estrogen levels, helping to balance the hormones and correct estrogen dominance.

White peony root, something often used in traditional Chinese medicine, also supports progesterone. Black cohosh seems to support healthy estrogen levels not by actually boosting estrogen, but by improving brain-ovary communication and modulating cell receptors. This can help reduces menopausal symptoms and ease depression.

Adaptogens such as maca support hormone balance and may boost libido and mood while decreasing anxiety.

Vitamin E is crucial to maintaining a healthy balance between progesterone and estradiol. Vitamin C plays an important role in preventing the degradation of steroid hormones into toxic and cancer-promoting metabolites. It also regenerates estrone and significantly regenerates progesterone.

Vitamin B6 has been shown to help increase levels of progesterone in the blood naturally. Magnesium is another key nutrient for increasing progesterone levels, as it plays an important role in maintaining a healthy hormonal balance in the body.

Probiotics support gut bacteria and improve digestion, helping to prevent constipation. This is important because when poop 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 microflora—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.

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 and do not keep near your bed, and preferably out of your room.

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. Insulin resistance leads to an up regulation of the aromatase enzyme leading to high estrogen. Plus, over-consumption of calories leads excessive free radical formation. Free radicals damage cells and cause genetic mutations, which ultimately can lead to cancer.

Your Liver and Estrogen

Be sure that your liver and gut are functionally efficiently as estrogen is metabolized in the liver and excreted out of the bowel. Think of your liver as a filter that neutralizes toxic substances so that they can safely be excreted from the body.  By enhancing liver function, more estrogen is broken down in the body, reducing the overall estrogen load.

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. Nutrients derived from cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts as well as sulforaphane supplements  help with the detoxification of estrogen through the liver (Read about Sulforaphane HERE)

Supporting the liver with supplements such as N-acetylcysteine (NAC), Milk Thistle, and SAMe can be very helpful. DIM and Indole-3Carbinol,  two other extracts of cruciferous vegetables, can encourage proper metabolism of estrogens in the body and help to clear excesses and xenoestrogens from the system. Dandelion, herbal bitters, artichoke extract, also support the liver in detoxifying, metabolizing, and excreting hormones. Fiber binds to bile (liver’s waste) to support excretion.

For more on detoxification and liver function, please request my Estrogen and Detoxification Handouts or visit the Estrogen Management and Detoxification Sections on my supplement page.

Natural Aromatase Inhibitors:

Pumpkin seeds, button mushrooms, and supplements such as DIM, vitamin K2, calcium d-glucarate, zinc, gingko biloba, and  grapeseed extract (organic please)  are natural aromatase inhibitors. Research done at the State University of New Jersey demonstrated that a 2% concentration of rosemary extract was able to inactivate excess estrogen[iv] Apigenin – found in parsley, celery, and chamomile—is another aromatase inhibitor and is a potent estrogen metabolizing compound.

Read more on Natural Aromatase Inhibitors HERE.

Note: while herbs are powerful, it may take at least 4 months of use to begin to show benefits. Further, herbs can interact with one another or with various medications, so always consult your doctor before use.

Testing: If you are looking to lower your estrogen levels, you may want to test your hormone levels first. You can be low on estrogen and still be estrogen dominant, so it may be important to acquire this information. Also note that it is possible to have ‘normal’ estrogen levels when tested via blood or saliva, but still have high estrogen symptoms.  This can happen if your body is not detoxifying estrogen correctly.

In your everlasting good health,

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 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. 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 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 http://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] http://scienceblog.cancerresearchuk.org/2015/07/08/solving-a-breast-cancer-mystery-why-do-double-positive-women-do-better/

[ii]https://marylandoncology.com/disease-drug-info/glossary/P/P1080/

[iii]   https://marylandoncology.com/disease-drug-info/glossary/P/P1080/

[iv] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9806165/

Broccoli and Watercress Sprouts Fight Cancer

In Alternatives Cancer Treatment, Alternatives to Anti-Hormone Therapy For Breast Cancer, Alternatives to Hormone Therapy for Breast Cancer, Alternatives to Tamoxifen, Anticancer diet, Anticancer foods, foods for colon cancer, foods for breast cancer, antioxidants, aromatase inhibitors, Books for Cancer Patients, Breast Cancer, Cancer, Cancer Coach, cancer stem cells and recurrence, colon cancer, COVID-19, Integrative Oncology, Iodine, Natural Aromatase Inhibitors, prostate cancer, Uncategorized on March 28, 2020 at 9:12 am

[Editor’s note] This post was originally published in February 2017. It has been updated and republished in March 2019

It is well known that cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and watercress contain powerful anticancer compounds. But did you know that eating their respective sprouts can supercharge the health benefits? Sprouts are high in vitamins C, A, and phytonutrients that support the immune system.

In sprout form these little three to four day old plants contain almost 100 times the level of cancer-fighting sulforaphane than the mature plants. The phytonutrients in these sprouts up-regulate antioxidant enzymes and detoxification processes which clear toxic compounds from the body. And, that is just the beginning—read on to find out how sprouts knock the socks off cancer.

 What’s in a Sprout

Isothiocyanates (ITCs), such as sulforaphane, are sulfur-containing compounds found in cruciferous vegetables. They support matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) activity which reduces the breakdown of connective tissue within a cell that impede the expansion of existing tumors. Matrix MMP-9 plays important roles in tumor invasion and angiogenesis. Secretion of MMP-9 has been reported in various cancer types including lung, colon, and breast cancer.

ITCs also kill off cancer cells, including cancer stem cells, which is essential for combating cancer metastases. Isothiocyanates restrain certain pro-inflammatory compounds that are associated with chronic inflammation and cancer.

The ITC sulforaphane helps support the anti-inflammatory Nrf2 pathway which protects cells against oxidative and free radical activity. It supports the detoxification process by inducing Phase 2 detoxification enzymes, inhibiting the activation of pro-carcinogens, and  by boosting cellular glutathione levels.  Sulforaphane promotes cancer cell death and inhibits cancer cell proliferation. It also supports the immune system and in particular, increases Natural Killer Cell activity.

Sulforaphane also inhibits Helicobacter pylori, the bacterium that increases one’s risk of stomach and colorectal cancer.  It is also anti-viral and has been found effective against the Epstein Barr Virus and may be helpful against Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Quercetin, another potent antioxidant highly concentrated in sprouts, is a strong anti-inflammatory and prevents tumor cell growth.  It also aids in the removal of excess estrogen from the body — it stimulates liver function to detoxify estrogen and other carcinogenic agents.

Lutein is another powerful antioxidant that neutralizes cancer-causing free radicals (it is also essential for many things, including eye health, protecting against macular degeneration, and for maintaining strong eye tissue). Lutein (and zeaxanthin) may be beneficial to cardio health by preventing hardening of the arteries.

Glutathione has been labeled the ‘mother of all antioxidants” due to its incredible ability to disarm free radicals, detoxify the body, and boost the immune system.

Broccoli Sprouts

broccoli-sproutsBroccoli sprouts are extremely high in cancer fighting activity, particularly against lung, colon, and breast cancers. Compounds in broccoli speed up the removal of estrogen from the body, helping to suppress breast cancer. They also target cancer stem cells, the cells responsible for metastasis.

Broccoli sprouts contain a high amount of the cancer-busting and immune boosting substance sulforaphane. They are also abundant in quercetin, glutathione, beta carotene, indoles, vitamin C, lutein, glucarate, and the metabolic substance DIM, which is a natural aromatase inhibitor.

Broccoli sprouts are rich in cholesterol reducing fiber and have anti-viral and anti-ulcer activity. They are also a super source of chromium that helps regulate insulin and blood sugar.

 

Watercress Sproutswatercress-sprouts

Sometimes called peppergrass, watercress is delicious and pungent. It is also one of the most nutrient-dense foods known. It is rich in beta-carotene and other carotenoids, including lutein. Watercress also offers significant quercetin, EGCG (Epigallocatechin Gallate), flavanols such a kaempferol, lycopene, indole-3 carbinol (13C), sulforaphane, as well as DIM. It is a good source of riboflavin, vitamin C, A and K, calcium, magnesium, vitamin E, and contains trace amounts of omega 3’s. Watercress is one of the best food sources of iodine for vegans.

Watercress also contains a high amount of PEITC (phenylethylisothiocyanate) which has been shown to protect DNA from damage. PEITC reduces the growth of breast cancer cells, triggers apoptosis (cancer cell death), and decreases angiogenesis. It inhibits the growth of HER2 expression as well as cancer metastasis.

PEITC (also found in some other cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli) deactivates mutant p53 in tumor cells but leaves normal p53 alone. P53 regulates cell division by keeping cells from growing and dividing too fast or in an uncontrolled way. A mutation in p53 is a permanent change in the nucleotide sequence of DNA. Loss of p53 function can be deleterious, and about 50% of all human cancers have a mutated p53 gene.

Watercress has antioxidant, antigenotoxic (the process by which chemical agents damage genetic information within a cell causing mutations), and anti-inflammatory properties.

Studies show that a regular intake of watercress has been associated with protection against breast, colon, and other cancers.

Watercress and broccoli affect all stages of cancer: initiation, proliferation, and metastasis. So, what’s not to love about these sprouts? Plus, it is a lot easier to consume a handful of sprouts than it is to down a pound and a half of broccoli or an enormous plate of watercress– which, for example,  is the amount it would take to get an equivalent amount of sulforaphane.

Add sprouts to your smoothies; use on sandwiches, on top of pizza, in salads, and as a garnish for soups. I make wonderful gluten-free pizza crusts using cauliflower or garbanzo bean flour, and pile the pizza high with arugula and sprouts just before serving.  Yum!

Just a reminder that while  eating cruciferous vegetables is a important for overall optimal health, it may support you during the COVID-19 pandemic. Choose to consume cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, radish, and kale). It is necessary to have sufficient iodine in the diet when consuming high quantities  (including DIM).

Can’t find sprouts locally or worried about others handling your raw vegetables?  Grow your own. You can grow your own sprouts and now it is easier than ever (no changing the water several times a day, just add water to the tray day one and done. Here is my first tray of Hamama salad green sprouts.. Next up are broccoli sprouts.  Order your own Hamama sprout kit.

Hamama Sprouts

Hamama Salad Green Sprouts

Here is a great book if you wish to learn more about growing your own sprouts: Year-Round Indoor Salad Gardening: How to Grow Nutrient-Dense, Soil-Sprouted Greens in Less Than 10 days

Curcera-SGS is an excellent supplement if you cannot find or grow broccoli sprouts.

In your everlasting good health,

Elyn

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

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

Follow Elyn on Facebook
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 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 the Natural Alternative to Tamoxifen and Aromatase Inhibitors be in Your Refrigerator? Part II

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, cancer stem cells and recurrence, Estrogen, Estrogen and Breast Cancer, Natural Aromatase Inhibitors, prostate cancer, SERMS, Tamoxifen, Uncategorized on November 15, 2019 at 9:07 am

Synthetic selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMS) such as tamoxifen and pharmaceutical aromatase inhibitors are often recommended for ER+ breast and other hormone-driven cancers, but they have significant adverse effects. Is it possible that natural plant products can perform the same function without the risks and damage of pharmaceuticals? Research says they can.

While estrogen plays many important beneficial roles in humans, the proliferation of ER+ breast cancer cells can sometimes be enhanced by estrogen (especially in the absence of progesterone), which may induce multiple processes involved in cell survival and cell cycle progression. Beyond the estrogen dominance that comes from a lack of progesterone, it is not necessarily our own estrogen at fault, but more likely xenoestrogens — the chemical estrogens, environmental hazards such as BPA and BPS — Bisphenol A and S.

However, to add clarity to the estrogen equation that oncologists speak of, the body has two different estrogen receptors, ERα (alpha) and ERβ (beta). ERα has a proliferative effect, and ERβ acts as a negative regulator of ERα in breast cancer cells, counteracting the proliferative effect of estrogens. Importantly, plant estrogens (phytoestrogens) preferentially interact with ERβ and display high specificity toward ERβ transactivation. Phytoestrogens, also known as phytochemicals, are synthesized from plants and vegetables. They show low estrogenic activity or anti-estrogenic activity with anti-proliferative effects that studies show offer nutraceutical alternatives to pharmaceutical anti-hormone therapies for various cancers.[ii]

For the men reading this article (including those with breast cancer), androgens and estrogens also influence the development and progression of prostate cancer. Research shows that phytoestrogens such as soy could be used alone or in conjunction with anti-hormone therapies for prostate cancer to target metabolic pathways involved in androgen and estrogen syntheses and epigenetic modifications of DNA to promote tumor-suppressor genes.[iv]

In a nutshell, phytoestrogens may be useful as substitutes for breast cancer treatments such as tamoxifen or aromatase inhibitors, and could be extremely helpful for other hormone-related cancers.

The Role of Phytoestrogens as Replacements for SERMs and Aromatase Inhibitors

It is well-established that many foods and natural products have beneficial effects on ER+ breast cancer as well as other hormone-driven cancers.  Pytoestrogens are structurally similar to our own estrogen, but functionally are weakly estrogenic (weakly mimicking estrogen) or antiestrogenic (blocking estrogens’ effects). They have been researched extensively for their role in the interaction with estrogen receptors. The beauty is that they block the receptors from more volatile estrogens.  As such, they deserve consideration in preventive and therapeutic settings for the intervention of cancer initiation and progression.

Studies show that phytoestrogens may provide an alternative or complementary approach to anti-hormone treatments. For example, 2017 research published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences cited many studies confirming that an important application of phytoestrogens is that they could be used as an alternative to the SERMs.[iii] In general, phytoestrogens act as aromatase inhibitors by decreasing aromatase gene expression and inhibiting the aromatase enzyme.   

Some of the more powerful phytoestrogens include flax and sesame seeds as well as whole soy. 

Flax and sesame seeds have anticancer, breast tumor-reducing effects. Both lignans are metabolized to estrogen-like enterodiol and enterolactone, and reduce cell proliferation and apoptosis.[xiv] While each works a bit differently, both may be useful as an effective adjuvant therapeutic agent against tumor development and progression, and therefore, could be used in the prevention and/or treatment of various types of cancer. Studies show that higher intakes of lignans such as flax and sesame seeds are associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer. Flax seed works with tamoxifen to inhibit breast cancer tumor growth, so if you choose to take tamoxifen, know that you can also benefit from flax.  

I have written extensively on the benefits of flax seed, but to recap, a few of the benefits of flax are the following:

  • Decreases cell proliferation rates and inhibits tumor growth in ER+ cancers
  • Decreases angiogenesis (blood supply for tumors) and increases apoptosis (cancer cell death)
  • Influences ER-negative and ER-positive tumors by decreasing insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), HER2 and the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) which supports angiogenesis
  • Reduces growth and metastasis of ER-negative and triple negative breast cancers
  • Favorably influences tumor suppressor genes

For more on flax seed and breast cancer, please read some of my other posts, such as  Demystifying Flaxseed and Estrogen and Flaxseed, Better Than Tamoxifen for Breast Cancer.

Soy: Numerous studies indicate that genistein, the most abundant isoflavone present in soybeans, has anti-proliferative effects on various cancer cells, including prostate, ovarian, and breast. Like other phytoestrogens, genistein interferes with the effects of estradiol by binding to estrogen receptors. This is good as soy may also inhibit inflammation and boost anticancer immune responses, while other estrogens do not. The following are a few key findings of soy[v]:

  • Inhibits NF-kB activity in prostate, breast, lung, and pancreatic cancer cells. Nf-kB plays a crucial role in immune response, inflammation, cell growth and survival.
  • Selective tyrosine kinase inhibitor impeding angiogenesis, a major factor in cancer growth and proliferation. Tyrosine kinases play important roles in cell proliferation, survival, migration and differentiation are often altered in cancer cells, leading to malignancy
  • Induces cancer cell death (apoptosis) in several cancer cell lines, including prostate, ovarian, and breast cancer
  • Modulates EGF (epidermal growth factor) which has been implicated in the development and growth of many types of cancer cells
  • Long-term consumption seems to result in a decreased response to stimulation by estradiol[vi]

Please note that soy consumption is somewhat controversial. Please work with your coach or medical professional to see if soy consumption is right for you.

More Notable Phytoestrogens                                                                            parsley root

  • Apigenin is a natural flavonoid commonly found in fruits and vegetables such as parsley, celery, thyme, chamomile tea, and oranges. The chemical structure of apigenin is similar to estrogen and as such it mimics estrogen. 2107 research indicates that phytoestrogens such as apigenin and resveratrol have the therapeutic potential act like SERMs and could be considered in the development of therapeutics for breast cancer and brain disease.[vii] Extensive studies show that apigenin has potent antioxidant and anticancer activities in ER-positive and ER-negative breast cancer. Apigenin also inhibits proteasome, which certain cancer cells need for survival. By inhibiting proteasome, phytoestrogens such as apigenin induce apoptosis in prostate, breast, and many other cancer cell lines.[viii]
  • Pau d’ Arco exhibits selective anti-proliferative effects in carcinoma cell lines. A study performed at the Strang Cancer Prevention Center in New York found that the anti-proliferative effects of herbal medicines such as pau d’arco may correlate with down-regulated estrogen responsive genes and up-regulated apoptosis-specific genes. The researchers believe their data validates the need to prioritize efficacious herbal medicines and concluded that phytoestrogens such as pau d’arco may provide an alternative or complementary approach to endocrine therapy for breast cancer.[ix] Read more
  • Broccoli: The sulforaphane in broccoli (particularly in broccoli seeds and sprouts) has been found to inhibit proliferation and down-regulates hormone receptor expression in MCF-7 cells. Sulforaphane also passes the blood brain barrier and targets cancer stem cells. If you cannot find sprouts locally, I recommend a supplement.sprouts
  • Luteolin and Naringenin: Flavonoids, especially flavones such as luteolin and flavanones such as naringenin are potent aromatase inhibitors. [x] Luteolin has also been found to down-regulate aromatase gene expression. Luteolin is found in celery, thyme and chamomile tea. Some rich sources of naringenin include bergamot, grapefruit, tomatoes, and tart cherries.
  • Quercetin, found in abundance in food sources such as apples, onions, tea, and red wine, has been reported to have strong antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and anticancer effects. It has the ability bind at high affinity to estrogen receptors, resulting in inhibition of estrogen-regulated cell growth and proliferation[xi]
  • Hesperetin, found in citrus fruits and essentials oils, exerts it anticancer actions by inhibiting cell proliferation, inducing apoptosis, and by regulating aromatase activity and oxidative stress. Although hesperetin is unable to bind to ERs, it is effective in inhibiting cell proliferation of ER+ breast cancer and dramatically decreasing tumor size and other actions. Hesperetin has also been found to reduce serum estrogen levels and down-regulate estrogen target genes and estrogen metabolism-related genes.[xii]. Try putting a drop or two of lemon essential oil in your water, or grating the peel of an organic lemon.
  • Black seed contains thymoquinone, a phytochemical compound found in plant Nigella sativa. It has been found to initiate apoptosis, improve estrogen metabolism, and regulate signally pathways in breast cancer.
  • Vitamin E inhibits cell proliferation, down-regulates the expression of ERα, ERβ, COX-2, and serum estrogen levels (should always be mixed tocopherols, not just d-alpha.
  • Red Clover binds to estrogen receptors, inhibits cell proliferation, and initiates apoptosis in ER+ breast cancer cells.
  • Ellagic acid, a dietary flavonoid present in berries, grapes, pomegranates, and nuts, inhibits cell proliferation and promotes apoptosis in ER+ breast cancer cells.
  • Eugenol, a compound found in clove oil, inhibits cell proliferation and initiates cancer cell death in both ER+ and ER- breast cancers. Excitingly, one study done in Indonesia found that eugenol  is a potent ERa antagonist. The researchers indicate that not only does it work just like tamoxifen, but it may actually work even better.
  • This list is  not inclusive: There are many more powerful phytoestrogens. For more cancer-fighting alternatives to pharmaceuticals, please read my articles on Natural Alternatives to Aromatase Inhibitors and Natural Alternatives to Tamoxifen.

Phytoestrogens can be our friends, but know that herbs are powerful. I have no concerns with food-based phytos, but do take care with extracts. They are best rotated so as to maximize benefits, reduce the chances of resistance, and avoid interactions. Drugs, of course, are often even more dangerous, yet are routinely prescribed.

                               Trust me, I’m a doctor” Peter Gøtsche

I interviewed Peter Gøtsche, author of Deadly Medicines and Organised Crime, on my radio show a few years back. Amazing man, whose controversial views have since gotten him tossed from the Cochrane Collaboration, which he co-founded. Sadly, there are many who wish to silence the voices who speak against Big Pharma.

Like me, Gøtsche worries that most people let their doctors make the decisions for them, but the evidence tells us that we should be cautious. He is a strong advocate for the avoidance of drugs and while not against medical interventions, believes one can not just blindly follow the orders of the medical community.

Notably, there is tremendous variability in the metabolic processing of phytoestrogens and pharmacological drugs, thus establishing the difficulty and complexity of this topic. The bottom line is that it extremely important that one understand that it may not make logical sense to attempt to poison one’s way back to health. Certainly drug therapies have worked for many. That said, NO ONE was every born tamoxifen or AI deficient, but over time we may become estrogen dominant, increasing our risk for cancer. It behooves us all to do our research and decide for ourselves whether drugs or holistic remedies are best, or even a combination of both.  

Estrogen plays many important roles in humans, so it may not make sense to arbitrarily take it away. If you are estrogen dominant (meaning out of balance with progesterone), you may want to consider a bio-identical progesterone cream (I like that one as it is paraben-free, soy-free, and Non GMO).

Read Part I of this article HERE.

Reminder: To get an additional $30 off on the online course for breast cancer,  Toxic Free Me, enroll now and use this LINK. This course will further delve into alternatives for anti-hormonal therapies.

An online course not right for you? Know that I am always there for individual consultations.  To inquire about a consult, please visit me HERE.

Life is a journey, just be sure that journey is on-course for a healthy life.

In your everlasting 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://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5535874/; Notably, there are numerous  crsos-references cited in this article that support the use of phytoestogens as nutraceutical anti-hormone therapies for various cancers.

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

[iii] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5535874/; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4699002/

[iv] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27194038; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5535874

[v] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5535874/#B61-ijms-18-01381; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5535874/

[vi] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8625449

[vii] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28396216; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5033666/

[viii] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26771497; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25408199

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

[x] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21741436

[xi] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4203161/#b9

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

[xiii] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26614455

[xiv] https://elynjacobs.com/2016/02/28/flaxseed-better-than-tamoxifen-for-breast-cancer/; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29032105; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22136581

 

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