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Posts Tagged ‘Estrogen and Breast Cancer’

Natural Alternatives to Hormone Therapy for Breast Cancer

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

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

Tamoxifen vs. Flaxseed

Tamoxifen vs. Nature, the Choice is Yours

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

 Progesterone and the Hormonal Dance

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

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

Making Progesterone…

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

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

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

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

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

Recap of Natural Alternatives:

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

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

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

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

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

Lifestyle Choices for Balancing Hormones and Inhibiting Cancer

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

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

    Avocado Kale Salad with Tomatoes and Spro

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

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

ej pink two

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

Please also read:

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

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

Resources: Understanding Statistics

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

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

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

Tamoxifen: What Difference Does It Really Make? 

Elyn

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

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

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Managing Estrogen Naturally

In Uncategorized on October 30, 2012 at 4:27 pm

Estrogen…it’s a matter of balance.

There are many factors that influence the body’s production and metabolism of estrogen. Environmental estrogens (such as BPA, pesticides, cleaning products and cosmetics) as well as the natural estrogen compounds we encounter on a daily basis need to be addressed. We can’t avoid all the triggers, but it’s important to consider lifestyle changes that reduce exposure and can help balance our estrogen.

Obesity increases estrogen (and limits the effectiveness of aromatase inhibitors).  If you are overweight, lose it as fat cells increase estrogen production. Over-consumption of calories also leads to increased metabolic activity in the body.  This in turn leads to excessive free radical formation.  Free radicals damage cells and cause genetic mutations, which ultimately can lead to cancer.  Studies have also shown that calorie restriction inhibits tumor growth.

Exercise can help balance hormones through the pre-menopausal years and beyond, and can help maintain a healthy weight.  Those who exercise regularly are usually happier, less depressed, and have a more optimistic outlook on life.  This results in increased life expectancy; statistically, life expectancy increases by two hours for every hour spent exercising. Exercise with a friend; double the pleasure!

Alcohol consumption increases estrogen levels, especially if taken along with estrogen replacement therapy.  Also, alcohol and drugs can damage the liver which will lead to an increase in estrogen due to the lack of estrogen breakdown; alcohol cconverts into DNA-destroying acetaldehyde, a carcinogen.  Dr Keith Block likes to say he is a vegan with a heart…I guess I am an educator with compassion; for suggestions to mitigate the risks of alcohol, please read: https://elynjacobs.wordpress.com/2012/10/27/wine-cheese-and-chocolate-anti-cancer-party/

Caffeine intake from all sources is linked with higher estrogen levels regardless of age, body mass index, smoking, and caloric and alcohol intake.  Green tea has some caffeine (decaf is not recommended as the process compromises the activity and can be carcinogenic), but its redeeming qualities make it well worth consuming a few cups a day. If you drink coffee…know that it too has some redeeming qualities (not nearly that of green tea), so enjoy a cup, but don’t overdo it. Those who consumed a t least 500mg of caffeine daily, the equivalent of four or five cups of coffee had nearly 70% more estrogen than women who consumed less than 100mg of caffeine daily.

What about that magic pill….

And no, I am not talking about Tamoxifen.

About twenty years ago, scientists discovered that when broccoli was added to the diets of animals, it could prevent certain forms of cancer.  Since then, numerous studies have shown the efficacy of crucifers as a cancer-crusher. Cruciferous vegetables (and their ability to produce sulforaphane) slow the development of cancer by detoxifying carcinogenic substances, preventing pre-cancerous cells from developing into malignant tumors, promoting the suicide of cancer cells (apoptosis), and starving tumors of their blood supply (angiogenesis.) And, you guessed it, they also help balance our estrogens, the good and the bad.

Yes, there’s “bad” and “good” estrogen! And, they’ve got to be balanced, just like good and bad cholesterol because estrogen can be metabolized in two different pathways in the liver, which results in two different kinds of estrogen, “good” and “bad”.  “Good” estrogen metabolites are released into the bloodstream where they provide benefits, such as prevention of heart disease, and the creation of strong, healthy bones. “Bad” estrogen, in large quantities, can result in many health problems including breast, ovarian, prostate, and uterine cancer.  It’s a big reason why some women are more prone to cancer than others. It’s the type of estrogen in your body that makes the difference.

13C—no, it’s not my apartment number.  13C is a natural compound the body produces when you eat cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and Brussels sprouts.  It is the 13C that blocks the pathways of cancer and stops cancer cells from proliferating—and it helps metabolize and breakdown estrogen in the body balancing hormone levels.  Yes, we can get this nutrient in crucifers, but we would need to eat a lot–and I mean a lot, to influence the ratio of good to bad estrogen; you would have to eat about two pounds of raw or lightly cooked crucifers almost daily.  Here is when a good supplement becomes ideal.  13C is the natural precursor to DIM (diindolylmethane); if considering a supplement, DIM would be preferable over 13C as it is more readily available to the body, and 13C is more irritating to the stomach; I3C has also been shown to be a tumor promoter in chronic use studies of thyroid, colon, and liver health, something not found with DIM.  However, since crucifers contain a whole family of protective phytochemicals in addition to DIM, the best approach is to eat plenty of crucifers and take a supplement.  And, as always, brands matter when it comes to supplements; please do your research or consult with a trusted pharmacist, doctor or advocate.

The supplemental use of phytonutrients from cruciferous vegetables has great potential for the prevention of cancer; specifically the discovery that cruciferous indole — diindolylmethane and indole-3-carbinol (I3C) – may just be the magic pill to promote the healthy metabolism of estrogen.

Is DIM the only story in town; is it really the magic pill?  No, while it is big, there are a few other notable mentions.  Key players are Vitamins E and C,  B vitamins, such as B6, B12 and folate (B9), NAC, selenium, curcumin, green tea, D-Limonene, magnesium, flaxseed, pomegranate, probiotics, sufficient protein intake, complex carbs instead of simple sugars, and consuming only healthy fats.

Food matters; the concept of how what we eat strongly effects how our genes behave is firmly established; but, although it was discovered more than ten years ago, the connection between dietary ingredients and metabolism of estrogen is only recently recognized as important.  The consumption of specific phytochemicals can improve the adaptive responses that regulate hormonal metabolism.

I talk about DIM and foods supportive of estrogen balance in following posts:

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

https://elynjacobs.wordpress.com/2012/09/20/natural-alternatives-to-aromatase-inhibitors/

http://elynjacobs.blogspot.com/2012/09/food-natural-alternative-for-tamoxifen.html

http://elynjacobs.blogspot.com/2010/12/eating-to-cheat-cancer.html

Give some DIM to your man too…. Estrogen metabolism slows as men age, especially when coupled with obesity and regular alcohol use. Too much estrogen plays havoc with a man’s sex life.  Avoiding overactive testosterone metabolism and reducing the conversion of testosterone into estrogen are goals of nutritional support in middle-aged and older men.

Elyn

www.elynjacobs.wordpress.com

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Elyn Jacobs is a breast cancer survivor, professional cancer coach, radio talk show host, speaker, and the Executive Director for the Emerald Heart Cancer Foundation. Elyn is on the peer review board of the Natural Standard Database. Elyn empowers women to choose the path for treatment that best fits their own individual needs.  She is passionate about helping others move forward into a life of health and wellbeing. Elyn lives in New York with her husband and two young boys.

 

 

 

 

Light at Night and Breast Cancer

In Uncategorized on March 15, 2012 at 2:20 pm

About 18 months ago, I attended a lecture at Gildas Club on the prevention of cancer.  Dr Marisa Weiss, Founder and President of BreastCancer.org, gave a great talk, and one thing that struck me was light at night. This was the first I had heard of the perils of light at night and I must say, she was so convincing I went right home and ordered eye covers….and have been using them ever since.  Dr Keith Block talked a bit about this at the Annie Appleseed Project CAM conference a few weeks ago, and while I will blog more on his lecture, I was reminded of this important subject.

sleep maskI am sensitive to light. I remember when I first moved from the suburbs to the city.  My bedroom was so bright, I could not sleep.  My mother made black-out drapes for me and all was well.  15 years later, when I met my husband and moved in with him, I had long forgotten about the issue and found myself sleeping (or sleepless) in a very bright room…natural light from the moon and stars, as well as city lights lighting the night.  Then came the nite-lites and long nights when our children were babies.  While I certainly felt the misery of lack of sleep, I did not realize the effects on my long-term health; that I might be at higher risk of getting cancer.  Habitual light at night during sleep increases breast cancer incidence by 22% (Keith Block, Annie Appleseed CAM Conference, Feb, 2012).

Dr Richard Stevens, Cancer Epidemiologist and professor at the University of Connecticut Health Center, has done a number of studies on light at night (LAN).  In 1987 he was featured in American Journal of Epidemiology proposing a radical new theory that “the use of electric lighting, resulting in lighted nights, may produce circadian disruption,” which causes changes in the hormones, one hormone in particular is melatonin, known as the hormone of darkness because it is secreted in the dark.  In 2009 he studied women who work the night shift and found that these women appear to be at higher risk for breast cancer.   Melatonin reduces the production of estrogen in the body, so with light interrupting the release of melatonin, estrogen levels rise, and too much estrogen heightens the growth of breast cancer. The WHO actually lists the shift work (graveyard shift) as a “probable carcinogen”.light at night

Dr. David Spiegel, a psychiatrist and professor of Stanford University supports the LAN theory as well.  “There is evidence that women who do night time shift work are in increased risk of getting breast cancer.  Melatonin is an antioxidant. There is some thought that disruptive melatonin levels which happens when you don’t sleep well, may reduce the ability of the body to scavenge free radicals that can cause cancer,” said Dr. Spiegel.   Spiegel goes further, saying cortisol levels may also be connected to sleep and cancer.  Cortisol is a circadian hormone produced by the adrenal gland that is released in response to stress. Cortisol also helps to regulate the immune system and releases cells that fight off cancer cells. Cortisol increases in the late hours of sleep, and Spiegel believes Cortisol, like melatonin, lowers the production of estrogen.

Many others have studied and reported on this as well:

http://www.skykeepers.org/lan-health/lan-health.html; http://www.breastcancerfund.org/clear-science/chemicals-glossary/light-at-night-and-melatonin.html

So how do we lower our risk for getting cancer?  Eat well, exercise daily, turn off the computer and the cell phone and get some sleep.  Try to be in bed by 10pm, black shade your room or wear eye covers.  Melatonin release is at its strongest from about 10pm to 2am, although I have heard 10-1 as well as critical from 2-4am.  So, the best advice is likely to simply work on getting a good night’s sleep.

What can you do to improve sleep? The first step to easing insomnia and poor sleep quality is by recognizing it is a problem and then finding ways to resolve the problem.

  1.  Establish a regular bedtime and wake time.
  2. Reserve the bedroom for intimacy and sleep only; do not watch television, eat, talk on the phone, or work in your bedroom. Try reading something more technical than fictional to avoid staying up late ‘to see what happens next in the book’.
  3. Make your bedroom dark, quiet, and comfortable.
  4. Avoid caffeine and alcohol within six hours of bedtime; drink calming teas instead, such as roobios, chamomile and lemon balm, but not too close to bedtime as this may disrupt your sleep if you have to get up to use the bathroom.  It’s a good idea to limit alcohol usage in general as it is linked to cancer and is dehydrating, which may leave you thirsty during the night.
  5. Drink liquids daily to avoid dehydration, but again, not close to bedtime.
  6. Exercise daily, but preferably not right before bedtime.
  7. Avoid foods with additives and preservatives; some of these ingredients can act as stimulants and aren’t good for you anyway.
  8. To avoid nighttime awakening due to drops in blood sugar, eat 1-2 oz of a complex carbohydrate snack, such as oatmeal, whole-grain cereals, or whole-grain bread, one hour before bedtime, perhaps adding a bit of protein such as almond butter or nuts to further slow the glucose factor.

While proper sleep is the preferred source of melatonin, there is strong research suggesting that that low levels of melatonin stimulate the growth of certain types of breast cancer cells. So if levels are low, and cannot be corrected with sleep, supplementation may be the way to go. Melatonin may enhance the effectiveness of some chemotherapy drugs and may also help prevent the lowering of platelets in the blood during chemotherapy, a common complication that can lead to bleeding.  It is always advisable to discuss the use of supplements with a naturopath, integrative or functional medical doctor before use, as often supplements may interact positively or negatively with other drugs.

There are many natural substances that can be taken to enhance sleep, and in my coaching, I highly recommend the use of them.  Ashwaganda, for example, reduces stress and anxiety (do not take prior to surgery).  Rhodiola helps with anxiety, depression, sleep disturbances and insomnia. (Caution, Rhodiola is not advised for those with Bipolar or mania).  L-Theanine reduces stress and improves sleep quality.  Schisandra has a calming effect and may also help manage stress-induced insomnia. (Schisandra should not be taken with Tamoxifen). Magnolia can help calm nerves and alleviate anxiety; it is thought of as the herbal substitute for valium, and is actually better as it does not cause that embarrassing and debilitating muscle relaxation (sounds good until you can’t function).  By the way, several studies have tested magnolia extract on human cancer cells and found that it may inhibit the growth of cancer tumors.

Sleep Aids:

Herbs Etc Deep Sleep 120 Softgels

Natural Factors Stress-Relax Tranquil Sleep Enteric Softgels, 90-Count

THORNE RESEARCH – Rhodiola Rosea

Gaia Herbs Schisandra Berry

Gaia Herbs Ashwagandha Root Liquid Phyto-Capsules

Magnolia Extract

Melatonin 3mg 180c by Pure Encapsulations

Tranquility Therapeutic 100% Silk Sleep Mask; Eye Mask Hypoallergenic, Facial Eye Beauty; Black

Swissco Satin Sleep Mask Leopard Print

These recommendations do not represent medical advice, and I encourage you to discuss this information with your integrative oncologist or naturopathic doctor.  Supplements are intended to supplement a healthy diet–they are not a replacement, and may contain additional ingredients. It is always advisable to discuss the use of supplements with a naturopath, integrative or functional medical doctor before use, as often supplements may interact positively or negatively with other drugs.

For more information on LAN:

http://www.breastcancer.org/risk/factors/light_exp.jsp

http://www.breastcancerfund.org/clear-science/chemicals-glossary/light-at-night-and-melatonin.html

http://www.medicaldaily.com/news/20111011/7369/cancer-sleep-cancer-epidemiologist-steve-jobs-antioxidant-melatonin-cortisol-hydrocortisone.htm

http://www.skykeepers.org/lan-health/lan-health.html

http://www.sleepfoundation.org/article/sleep-topics/melatonin-and-sleep

http://www.betternutrition.com/sleep/features/featurearticles/714

Elyn

Elyn Jacobs is President of Elyn Jacobs Consulting, Executive Director for the Emerald Heart Cancer Foundation, a certified cancer coach and a breast cancer survivor.  Elyn helps women diagnosed with cancer to navigate the process of treatment and care, and educates to prevent recurrence and new cancers.  She is passionate about helping others get past their cancer and into a cancer-free life. To learn more about Elyn’s coaching services, please visit:  http://elynjacobs.com