Estrogen dominance and estrogen dominant cancers such as breast and prostate cancer are fueled by estrogen overload. Although there are numerous reasons why women predominantly experience estrogen dominance (use of birth control, menopause and pregnancy), millions of men, children and teenagers are increasingly affected by estrogen dominance due to their diet, lifestyle choices and the environment.
Excess estrogen can cause a wide range of symptoms including early puberty, gynectomastia (man boobs), infertility, fibroids, endometriosis, hypothyroidism and estrogen dominant cancers. It’s estimated that every three minutes a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer. While the overwhelming majority of cases affect women, male breast cancer can also occur and is on the rise.
Different types of breast cancer
• Hormone receptor (estrogen or progesterone receptor) positive. Approximately 75 percent of breast cancers are ER positive and grow in response to estrogen. About 65 percent of these are also PR positive and grow in response to progesterone.
• HER2 positive cancer: 20-25 percent of breast cancers are HER2 positive, a much more aggressive and fast-growing cancer. The cancer cells make too much of a protein known as HER2/neu.
• Triple negative is an extremely aggressive form of breast cancer. Approximately 10-12 percent are known as “triple negative” because they lack estrogen and progesterone receptors and do not over express the HER2 protein.
This information focuses on estrogen dominance, estrogen-sensitive cancers and strategies to support estrogen clearance.
Endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are known as obesogens, which mimic or alter the effects of hormones and often target estrogen receptors, promoting fat accumulation and obesity.
Xenoestrogens, a type of obesogen are environmental, man-made chemicals that have a chemical structure similar to estrogen that accumulate in fatty human tissue. The longer these foreign substances stay in the body the greater the opportunity they have to inflict damage. Obesogens cause damage to tissue that disrupt insulin sensitivity and glucose balance, accelerate aging, increase the aromatase enzyme, trigger early puberty, infertility, cause brain dysfunction and disturb the weight regulating hormone, leptin. Besides disrupting body balance, these substances increase fat storage and toxic load. Research shows that obesogens can even alter your genes.
Symptoms, causes of excess estrogen and sources of obesogens
• Consuming the Standard American Diet (SAD) heavy in carbs, dairy, wheat and grains, soy, conventional animal protein, soy, sugar and processed foods.
• Non-organic foods.
• The normal aging process.
• Carbohydrate intolerance, insulin resistance, pre-diabetes, diabetes.
• Early menstruation and accelerated puberty.
• Hormone imbalances, specifically insulin and cortisol.
• Endometriosis; Fibroids.
• Food sensitivities and food allergies.
• Heavy metal toxicity.
• Deficiency in iodine, selenomethionine, zinc and other nutrients.
• Prescription drugs, especially diuretics, anti-depressants, anti-fungals, oral contraceptives, steroid and liver activity drugs.
• Alcohol overindulgence and marijuana.
• Excess inflammation.
• Poor methylators; poor detoxification pathways. Anything that impairs liver function or ties up the detoxifying function results in excess estrogen.
• Infertility and/or miscarriage.
• Lack of veggies, clean protein and healthy fats and excessive carb and sugar intake.
• Aromatization and gynectomastia. Excess fat and breast growth in men is a definitive indication of high estrogen in relation to testosterone. The real problem is insulin resistance and pre-diabetes. Estrogen dominance in men contributes to hair loss, atherosclerosis, gynectomastia (man boobs), prostate problems, reduced sperm counts, lowered libido and impotency.
• High estrogen is present in most overweight and obese individuals, including children.
• Plastics, PCBs, pesticides, soaps, emulsifiers, phthalates and artificial fragrances found in skin care products, lotions, cosmetics and household cleaning products.
• Parabens affect the body much like estrogen, which can lead to decreased muscle mass, extra body fat, man boobs, and estrogen-sensitive health issues. Research has detected the presence of parabens in 99 percent of breast cancer tissues sampled.
• Zinc and other nutrient deficiencies.
• Those who have had their gallbladder removed tend to be estrogen dominant.
Reduce risk of estrogen dominant cancers and lower estrogen load
Eat real food:
• Consume grass-fed, free-range meats and organic foods as much as possible versus conventional due to their abundance of synthetic hormones, pesticides, antibiotics and GMOs.
• Eat more cruciferous veggies such as broccoli, watercress, cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprouts and cabbage. A study at the University of Michigan found that sulforaphane, an active compound found in broccoli sprouts helps eliminate breast cancer stem cells.
• Increase fiber intake from non-starchy vegetables and leafy greens to encourage reduction of the amount of circulating estrogen in the body.
• Drink only purified water and more green tea (at least 3 cups daily). The EGCG in green tea helps suppress the gene that triggers the breast cancer.
• Stabilize blood sugar and insulin.
• Read the entire list of ingredients on all food items and personal care products. You’ll be surprised at the number of chemicals, colorings and artificial ingredients.
• Excessive alcohol consumption.
• Foods rich in copper (soy milk, tofu, soy-based protein powders, tempeh, and grains).
• Non-organic, conventional meats, eggs and dairy products.
• Overcooked foods.
• Sugars, carbs, grains, soy, artificial sweeteners, corn, HFCS, vegetable oils, trans fats, food additives, preservatives, GMOs.
A study in the Journal Cancer Epidemiology found that carbs (white flour, wheat, sugar, corn, high-fructose corn syrup) are linked to increased risk of cancer. The study of more than 1,800 women found that those who consumed 57 percent or more of their total energy intake from carbohydrates had a 220 percent higher risk of breast cancer.
• Teflon cookware, and storing food and beverages in plastic containers.
Lifestyle thumbs up
• According to a study in the Archives of Internal Medicine, “women who breast-fed had a 59 percent lower risk of premenopausal breast cancer.”
• Reduce body fat through healthier lifestyle choices.
• Periodic detoxification.
• Annual lab work and a functional blood chemistry analysis.
• Go braless occasionally. Bras restrict the flow of lymph. Practice breast self-exams and breast massage.
• Campaign against pesticide use in schools and workplaces. Children are especially susceptible to the effects of xenoestrogens.
• Get plenty of restful sleep in complete darkness. Most liver healing occurs during restful sleep. A healthy liver is responsible for hormone balance and is essential for correcting estrogen dominance.
• Spend time outdoors in sunlight without sunscreen 10-30 minutes every day.
• Rule out heavy metal body burdens, underlying viruses and infections such as Candida, bacterial, fungal, yeast, H. pylori and SIBO.
• Use natural cleaning products and natural pest control in your home and garden.
• The average woman puts 400-500 chemicals on her body every day. Use only naturally-based lotions, cosmetics, perfumes and personal care products.
Avoid exposure to:
• Smoke, smoky environments and second-hand smoke.
• Toxic heavy metals.
• Chlorine, fluoride and bromine, which displace iodine in the body.
• Synthetic flea shampoos, flea collars and flea pesticides for your pets and homes.
• Chemical exposure and carcinogenic toxins. BPA, phthalates, GMOs and pesticides are the most prevalent and damaging sources.
Move your body. Cancer cells cannot thrive in an oxygenated environment. Daily movement and deep breathing provide oxygen at the cellular level.
Estrogen dominance is a complex health condition. There are countless factors that contribute to estrogen overload and cancer. By taking personal responsibility for our health and our choices, we can reduce the risk of estrogen-dominant cancers and lifestyle diseases. Maintaining a strong immune system through a healthy lifestyle, a holistic approach and a functional integration that includes eating real food, stabilizing blood sugar and insulin, balancing hormones, the right type and amount of exercise, prioritizing sleep, managing inevitable stressors, dealing with emotions, and taking the appropriate nutrients are preventative measures every single one of us can do to live a healthier, more vibrant life and reduce risk of estrogen dominant cancers.
• Paula Owens, M.S., is the author of “The Power of 4” and “Fat Loss Revolution.” An Ahwatukee resident for 22 years, she is a leading expert in nutrition, functional health, fitness and fat loss with more than 20 years of experience. For more information, visit www.PaulaOwens.com.