Posts Tagged ‘Managing Estrogen Naturally’

Natural Alternatives to Anti-Hormone Therapies for Breast Cancer: What your Doctor May Know but Cannot Recommend

In Alternative Cancer Therapies, Alternatives to Anti-Hormone Therapy For Breast Cancer, Alternatives to Hormone Therapy for Breast Cancer, Alternatives to Tamoxifen, Anticancer diet, Anticancer foods, foods for colon cancer, foods for breast cancer, aromatase inhibitors, Bio-Identical Hormones, BPA and breast cancer, Breast Cancer, Cancer, Cancer Coach, colon cancer, Estrogen, Estrogen and Breast Cancer, Healing Cancer Naturally, Hormone Balance, Natural Alternatives to Aromatase Inhibitors, SERMS, Tamoxifen, Uncategorized on April 27, 2021 at 2:12 pm

Natural alternatives to anti-hormone therapies have been well-known for a long time. Oncologists are often hesitant to recommend them as they are required to stick to the ‘standard of care’ (SOC), which limits them to drugs such as tamoxifen or aromatase inhibitors. That does not mean they are not aware that there are alternatives that can be as good or even better than pharmaceutical drugs. However, alternatives are typically not taught in medical school and your doctor may not feel comfortable in recommending them even if s/he could.

So, what can you do?

There are many things you can do to balance your hormones naturally and minimize the cancerous effects of your own estrogen and more importantly, the chemical estrogens in your world. Chemical estrogens (xeno-estrogens) may include but are not limited to chemicals such as BPA (bisphenol A) as would be found in beauty and home products, weed killers, insecticides, and pesticides (especially glyphosate). Oral contraceptives, cash register receipts, plastics, and paper products such as toilet paper and paper towels are also problematic. When too many of these aggressive estrogen molecules occupy estrogen receptor sites, this is when cancer can grow. The first and foremost thing to do is to get these things out of your life as much as possible. Buy organic foods, free of pesticides and GMOs whenever possible. Aim for a variety of 8-10 servings of vegetables and 2-4 servings of fruit daily. Limit processed and packaged foods and use only clean home and personal care products.

Certain nutrients, botanicals, and nutrient compounds impact the body’s ability to process toxins. Top choices are cruciferous vegetables, garlic, onions (red, white, chives, leeks, scallions, and shallots), parsley, leafy greens, turmeric, berries, lemon water, green tea, beets, flax seeds, and artichokes. Consume these regularly to support your body’s natural detoxification systems. Drinking pure water and sweating are very helpful too!

For information about helpful supplements for estrogen management and detoxification, visit the Supplement Page on my website or request my handouts.

The Role of Phytoestrogens

A number of nutrients, botanicals, and nutrient compounds have varying effects on the cancerous process. You may have been told by your doctor to avoid phytoestrogens (plant estrogens), but these substances can inhibit breast cancer! Phytoestrogens are plant compounds with a similar molecular shape and structure to endogenous estrogen molecules. Phytoestrogens such as flax and sesame seeds work like SERMS (selective estrogen receptor modulators) such as tamoxifen. They modulate the effects of estrogen in the body by connecting to their receptors (just as tamoxifen does) thus inhibiting cancer cell replication.

Seeds such as flax and sesame contain lignans, molecules that bind to estrogen receptors just like tamoxifen. Binding turns on, or activates, a hormone receptor. Activation sets in motion cell signaling systems that trigger gene expression. In other words, phytoestrogens are similar enough to estrogen that they can bind to estrogen receptors, but cancer cells cannot use them in the same way as your own natural estrogen or chemical estrogens (they are far less potent). Lignans activate far weaker than your own estrogen or chemical estrogens. What this means is that they cannot stimulate breast cells to divide. They ‘park’ on the estrogen receptors, essentially blocking harmful estrogens from being able to bind to that receptor and do the dirty deed.

Further, flax and sesame seeds reduce tumor growth by increasing cell death and decreasing angiogenesis (the growth of new blood vessels that allow cancer to advance). Flaxseed has also been found to knock down (inhibit) CYP1B1, an enzyme that plays a role in estrogen metabolism. CYP1B1 converts estrogen to the less favorable metabolites. CYP1B1 also tends to make environmental toxins more carcinogenic. It is expressed in ovarian, uterine, and breast tissues and is implicated in colon cancer as well.

Read more about the lignans in flax and sesame seed in my articles Demystifying Flaxseed and Estrogen and Gluten-Free Anticancer, Anti-inflammatory Seeded Flatbread.

Soy is another powerful phytoestrogen that only weakly interacts with receptors. Plus, for many people, the genistein in soy works hard to inhibit cancer growth factors. Soy is a bit more controversial as in some people it can interfere with thyroid function, so speak with your doctor before consuming it.

There are many other phytoestrogens that inhibit the estrogen-related cancerous process. I focused on the seeds and soy as the information on these can be confusing. Fennel, clove, citrus peels, clary sage, and myrrh are a few other good ones.

Natural Aromatase Inhibitors

For women who have an over-abundance of natural estrogen (again, often a result of toxin overload, imparied estrogen metabolism, and chronic stress), reducing aromatase might be helpful. However, it is not necessary to rely on pharmaceutical aromatase inhibitors (loaded with terrible side effects) to lower the production of aromatase (which produces estrogen). Eat foods such as button mushrooms, celery and parsley (rich in apigenin), rosemary, citrus peel, pumpkin seeds, and flaxseed. Supplements such as D3, DIM, vitamin K2, calcium D-glucarate, zinc, grapeseed extract, gingko biloba, myomin, chrysin, red wine, and sea cucumber are natural aromatase inhibitors as well.

Importantly, many women do not need to and should not reduce estrogen, particularly if they have extremely low levels. I caution you not to severely inhibit estrogen, either by holistic or pharmaceutical means. Low estrogen contributes to osteoporosis, heart disease, ocular damage[i], and so much more. Sadly, doctors often order aromatase inhibitors for people without even testing hormone levels.

That said, even if estrogen levels are low, it is still essential to metabolize and excrete estrogen, the way nature intended to be.

Of note, DIM helps with phase 1 liver detoxification, so the toxins and hormones will be broken down and eliminated. However, without an active phase ll pathway, these toxins could get recirculated in the body, rather than being eliminated. When you combine DIM (or Indole-3-carbinol) with sulforaphane and calcium D- glucarate, the nutrients help the liver complete the detox process and eliminate the excess estrogen from the body.

Estrogen is NOT always the Problem

All of that said, estrogen is NOT always the problem. Most people who suffer from hormone imbalance are deficient in progesterone. Progesterone sort of puts the brakes on estrogens’ cancerous activity. While you can use a progesterone cream or perhaps use bioidentical, I would encourage you to try to balance your hormones with diet and supplements.  

Things that help raise progesterone are stress reduction, zinc, thyme, vitamin C, magnesium, cruciferous vegetables, vitamin E, Chaste Tree (Vitex), and activated B6 (also available in food sources such as leafy greens, peppers, carrots, asparagus, broccoli, walnuts, eggs, sweet potatoes, and sunflower seeds. For the carnivores, you can find it in grass-fed beef and beef liver). Activated B6 is necessary for the synthesis of progesterone. It is also necessary for the liver to metabolize and break down estrogen, which can help reduce estrogen dominance. You can find activated B6 here at Amazon or at your local drugstore.

Good info on progesterone in this article, Eternity: Quite Possibly the Best Bio-Identical Progesterone Cream

Estrogen Metabolism and Methylation

Estrogen metabolism and methylation play a role in hormone-sensitive cancers. To control the level of estrogen in the body, we need a way to break it down and eliminate it. This is mostly done by the liver, where enzymes create metabolites, known as catechol estrogens, that can either be favorable or less favorable for estrogen metabolism. Supplements such as DIM, Indole-3-Carbinol and Calcium-d-glucarate (not calcium) support healthy metabolism and elimination of estrogen. That said, not everything is right for everyone, so you may want to do some testing to see what works best for you.

A simple blood test is one option if you just want an idea of your hormone levels. However, because hormone levels vary day to day as well as throughout the day, a blood test may not accurately reflect hormone levels. It will also not provide information regarding methylation and pathways. But it is a start.

Saliva tests are another option, which are believed to test hormones at the cellular level, as opposed to the blood test with measures the level of hormones circulating in the blood stream. You can purchase home kits. See my supplement page if you need recommendations.

The Dutch Test can give you a baseline measurement of hormonal imbalances. It will show you what your estrogen profile looks like and what pathway the estrogens are headed down. Among a lot of other things, it will show methylation and even if things such as DIM, for example, are working for you or against you. For more information see their website.

The Nutrition Genome Test looks at the genetic gene mutations (inherited DNA alterations) you may have been born with that could be affecting estrogen metabolism and driving the growth of cancer.

For example, COMT is a gene that plays a role in methylation and estrogen metabolism. If you have variants of this gene, you might have sluggish methylation. However, it does not affect everyone the same way and can be driven by diet and lifestyle choices, stress, and exposure to environmental toxins such as cigarette smoke. ‘Healthy’ things such as quercetin, resveratrol, cilantro, green tea, and others can further slow COMT in some people and may need to be avoided. The supplement SAMe can help those with COMT, depending on your genetic makeup.

Genomic testing, like many other ‘tests’ is not right for everyone. If you believe you will be super-stressed by finding out what SNPs you have (DNA variants) then you might want to skip the tests. Most variants are quite common, so don’t freak out if you have one or even all of the variants linked to cancer. Lots of things are linked to cancer.

Our gut, brain, and bodies in general are often the most powerful test. Listen to your gut –it is trying to tell you something. Connect with yourself and do not go with what others are doing just for the sake of following the crowd.

Importantly, our genes are NOT our destiny. It is how we ‘talk’ to them that matters. We ‘talk’ to your genes with thoughts and food choices. A great read on this is Dr Mitch Gaynor’s’ The Gene Therapy Plan: Taking Control of Your Genetic Destiny with Diet and Lifestyle.

Keep that Estrogen Moving!

Estrogen that has been metabolized and is ready to be eliminated through feces can be recycled back into circulation either due to chronic constipation or an interaction with certain bacteria in the gut, such as beta-glucuronidase. Calcium d-glucarate suppresses beta-glucuronidase helping you excrete the estrogen metabolites. Adding more fruits and vegetables may help ease constipation.  

So, you can see that estrogen is far more complicated with respect to its role in cancer than you may have been led to believe. Hormones can be very confusing!! Importantly, estrogen and progesterone levels are not to be confused with receptor status!!! For more clarification on that, visit me in my private Facebook group Cancer Coach Elyn as I post on this often, or schedule a consult with me.

There are many more substances that improve hormonal balance, stimulate the livers’ detoxification systems, and inhibit cellular proliferation, but if I listed them all this post would get too long. But, blocking estrogen is not the most important factor for many breast cancer patients. Addressing the cancerous terrain that may have allowed cancer to present is crucial. Chronic inflammation, GMOs, emotional and environmental toxins, viruses, obesity, and other factors are all involved.

Read Also: Natural Ways to Balance and Manage Hormones for Breast Cancer as well as my articles on natural alternatives to anti-hormone therapies.

The above information is not to be considered to be a cancer treatment, but rather to provide information that may improve health. The information provided is for general information only. No online site should be used as a substitute for personal medical attention. If you’d like more guidance, I’d love to work with you! Check out my “Contact Us” page or email elyn@elynjacobs.com for more details.

I have started a new private group on Facebook, Cancer Coach Elyn. If interested, you can visit it HERE. Please do not forget to answer the group questions if you would like to join.


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

Elyn Jacobs is a breast cancer survivor and holistic cancer strategist who helps people make healthier, less-toxic choices for their healing. She emphasizes the importance of not just surviving cancer but surviving well and reducing the risk of recurrence. 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.

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.

Some product links on some posts are affiliate links. This website is monetized in part using 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] file:///C:/Users/elyn/Downloads/[14796805%20-%20Journal%20of%20Endocrinology]%20Oestrogen,%20ocular%20function%20and%20low-level%20vision_%20a%20review.pdf

Estrogen Management for Breast Cancer, Naturally

In Uncategorized on March 29, 2013 at 12:59 pm

Is there a natural solution to estrogen management for breast cancer? The answer is yes and no.  I believe that there is. However, to date, there are no natural supplements that have been compared with aromatase inhibitors side by side to verify that they are equal substitutes or even superior to pharmaceutical drugs. Clinical trials are not likely to be done, simply because there is not enough financial reward to big Pharma; in other words they have nothing to gain and tons to lose by funding research for natural solutions such as consumption of foods such as button mushrooms, broccoli and pomegranate.

button musroomsHowever, many nutraceuticals (food and supplements such as those above) are known to effectively block or manage estrogen, and there are natural compounds that can help protect against the side effects and boost the efficacy of aromatase inhibitors and Tamoxifen and therefore allow for the option of taking a lesser and therefore less toxic therapy.

We also know that there are many estrogen promoters and supporters that need to be avoided, such as xenoestrogens, which act like estrogens produced by the female body and can boost unbalanced estrogen levels. Phytoestrogens, on the other hand, are a whole other story and will be addressed further in a separate post as while complicated, can be beneficial.

Why not the “big guns”?

It is no secret that hormone sensitive cancers are dependent on unbalanced estrogen in the body to fuel their growth.  Aromatase inhibitors are effective in reducing levels of unbalanced estrogen in the body and SERMs such as Tamoxifen interfere with hormone activity.  I won’t get into the side effects or resulting effects of these drugs, but suffice it to say that the list is lengthy. Given the toxicity and known side effects of estrogen blocking drugs, we must explore natural compounds that not only manage estrogen, but that help prevent recurrence and metastasis on many fronts.

Sadly, whether out of ignorance or fear of prosecution, most doctors do not promote or support natural means for estrogen management.  However, remember, cancer is not just estrogen fueled.  Cancer is dependent on a cancer-friendly environment; if we do not change the environment in which it was able to grow, we increase its chance of returning. These drugs that are offered offer no solution to changing the cancer environment.  Nutraceuticals, on the other hand, are non-toxic and are quite beneficial to overall health, including fighting cancer and creating an unfriendly cancer environment. Exercise, sleep, and stress management also play a major role in the balance of estrogen and in risk reduction.

So, until there is funding for clinical trials for natural solutions, we must rely on our own intuition, research, knowledge and common sense in our approach to a natural solution to estrogen management and risk reduction for breast cancer.  For now, the answer lies outside of definitive, quantitative studies. Many, many people have healed their cancers and prevented recurrence via natural means, but these successes are not quantified in published trials and are often dismissed or ignored by their doctors.

To read more on natural solutions for estrogen:

Natural Alternatives to Tamoxifen

Managing Estrogen Naturally

Natural Alternatives to Aromatase Inhibitors

Tamoxifen: There is More to the Story

Magical Mushrooms

Natural Compounds in Pomegranates May Prevent Growth of Hormone-Dependent Breast Cancer

While these articles are a bit dated, they do provide some good information. New research comes out continuously, and it is my quest to stay abreast of it and share with you this knowledge:

Indole 3 Carbinol – the safer, natural Tamoxifen?

Chrysin is Natural Alterative to Toxic Breast Cancer Drug

With my deepest respect and gratitude,



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

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. She is also 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 mentors women who are coping with issues of well-being associated with breast cancer and its aftermath; she is passionate about helping others move forward into a life of health and wellbeing. Elyn has been featured on CNN Money, Talk About Health and more and has contributed to Breast Cancer Answers as well as written for the Pink Paper, Breast Cancer Wellness, Natural Healing-Natural Wellness, Integrative Oncology Essentials, and other publications and newsletters. Elyn lives in New York with her husband and two young boys.

Disclaimer: Nothing in this post represents medical advice, and I encourage you to discuss this information with your integrative oncologist or naturopathic doctor. I have compiled this information solely for those seeking alternatives to pharmaceutical drugs for the management of estrogen and for the management of their cancer.  Nothing in the above post is to be considered to be a cure for cancer, despite what the research or experts claim. I do not believe or intend to imply that any one single compound is a cure for cancer.  I do believe that natural compounds can significantly reduce cancer risk and increase survival if used alongside a comprehensive anticancer strategy.

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Magical Mushrooms: How they Reduce Breast Cancer Risk

In Uncategorized on March 7, 2013 at 7:10 pm

The very idea of mushrooms as medicine may surprise many of you, but they bring a perfect blend of tradition and science to our medicine cabinets.  Mushrooms are some of humankind’s oldest and most highly prized remedies with recorded use dating back thousands of years.  And while many of us may think of  mushrooms as powerful immune system activators, their benefits go way beyond, including possible applications with Alzheimer’s, diabetes, stress, cardiovascular disease, aging and cancer.

“Did you know that cancer patients who regularly consume shitake mushrooms often have a higher survival rate, higher quality of life and lower incidence of recurrence?”

Mushrooms have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, immunity enhancing, anti-viral and anti-tumor effects.  Researchers have found that consuming just 3-5 servings of mushrooms per week reduced risk of breast cancer by 64% and when combined with regular consumption of green tea, affords up to a 90% reduction in risk.  (A serving is about 1/8 of a cup/ 10 grams.)  Some mushrooms can be enjoyed as food, while others are best used in supplemental form.  A note on supplements: In most cases, it is best to take them in between meals to increase absorption rather than dilute with food.

So let’s take a look at a few favorites:

Meshima mushrooms are cancer-preventive, support DNA, WBC’s and the immune system, encourage apoptosis (cell death) inhibit angiogenesis (spread), and effect metastasis on many levels.  Meshima mushrooms also enhance the efficacy of chemotherapy and help lessen the side effects.   Meshima has great synergy with broccoli and green tea, so enjoy them together!

 maitake mushroomsMaitake contains a substance called beta-glucan which may stimulate the immune system and activate certain cells (T cells, natural killer cells, etc.) and proteins that attack cancer and therefore may limit or reverse tumor growth (induces apoptosis).

Reishi offers great immune support as well as protection against radiation.  Reishi also improves liver health—critical for all, but certainly for cancer patients.  With Reishi, the longer you take it, the greater the benefit.

Chaga has many cancer benefits (look for birch tree grown and must be hot water extracted.)  Chaga offers protection from radiation, reduces inflammation,  protects DNA and gives strength to the body– it enables the body to more efficiently deal with the toxins we are exposed to on a daily basis (environmental and from treatments such as chemotherapy).  It is important to note that with some mushrooms, more is better, but this is not the case with Chaga….take only as directed on the package.

Shitake mushrooms stimulate the immune system, activate killer cells, and slow or even halt tumor growth.

But what about the lonely button mushrooms?  Don’t keep them lonely, eat them.  Button mushrooms are thought to contain natural aromatase inhibitors, substances that can block the production of estrogen in the body. Controlling aromatase activity can help decrease estrogen levels, which controls and kills hormone-dependent breast cancers.

A word of caution on mushrooms: Eaten raw, mushrooms contain compounds, called hydrazines, which may be carcinogenic.  Hydrazines are destroyed by cooking, drying or canning. Also, the mycochitin composition of mushroom cell walls, as opposed to cellulose walls of plant cells, is difficult for humans to digest. Our stomachs resent indigestible items, and often forcibly reject them without absorbing nutrients. The cooking process helps break down fungal cell walls, rendering mushroom flesh not only more readily digestible, but also releasing significant nutritional value contained within the cells. 

musroomsMy advice?  Consume a variety of fresh mushrooms and supplements as part of an anti-cancer diet and lifestyle to employ maximum anti-cancer benefits. Eaten daily or at least several times a week in conjunction with green tea, mushrooms may help put you in that impressive risk reduction category.

Want to read more mushroom wisdom?

Click Here for Magical Mushrooms; the Sequel



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

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. She is also 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 mentors women who are coping with issues of well-being associated with breast cancer and its aftermath; she is passionate about helping others move forward into a life of health and wellbeing. Elyn has been featured on CNN Money, Talk About Health and more and has contributed to Breast Cancer Answers as well as written for the Pink Paper, Breast Cancer Wellness, Natural Healing-Natural Wellness, Integrative Oncology Essentials, and other publications and newsletters. Elyn lives in New York with her husband and two young boys.

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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:





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.




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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.