Oestrogen, or estrogen, is one of the major causes and drivers of many cancers. In both women and men! Not just some breast cancer, but endometrial, cervical, colon, brain tumours, non-small cell lung cancer, melanoma, testicular and prostate cancer. This article looks at the main contributors and what you can do about it all.
(Originally published in April 2003 icon)
Oestrogen is a major driving force in cancer
A large number of cancers, both male and female, are identified as being hormonally driven and in a great many of these cases the prime culprit is oestrogen (or estrogen in the USA).
I am frequently asked about breast cancer, or ovarian cancer; men ask about prostate cancer, and both sexes ask about melanoma and brain tumours. One person recently even asked about Hurtle´s cells - they too have been linked with high oestrogen levels. Many more cancers are linked to this same hormone.
Oestrogen, or estrogen, is not a single hormone, but a family of hormones with varying chemical strengths.
* Human oestrogens
* Chemical oestrogens, or xenoestrogens
And both of these can aggressively cause and drive cancers.
Then there are
* Plant oestrogens, or phytoestrogens which are highly helpful in blocking the receptor sites from attack by the bad guys above.
The female sex hormone is called oestrone (estrone) and is made by the C-2 pathway in a woman´s ovaries.
However another oestrogen, is made from your fat stores, not just in women but in men too. Aromatase enzymes make it via the C-16 pathway and it is called oestradiol (estradiol) - it is particularly aggressive.
Oestradiol can alight on cellular membranes of healthy cells and cause havoc inside the cell, increasing sodium levels, whilst reducing potassium, oxygen and power levels. The cell then powers down, the p53 regulatory gene stops working and havoc ensues.
It can also cause genetic change and power cancer spread or metastases.
And it can cause stem cells to remain in their rapidly dividing ´elementary´ state, dividing rapidly.
Oestrogen is also one of the major factors (along with stress, environmental toxins and a poor diet) known by Epigeneticists to cause blockages all round your DNA, with the loss of crucial messages.
Go To: Epigenetics, bioactive foods and breast cancer
Although it is relatively easy for a woman to understand that oestrogen might be involved in her breast, ovarian or endometrial cancer, men find it hard to believe that it can be involved in theirs. Yet localised oestrogen has been implicated in colon cancer, which men have, non-small cell lung cancers, colorectal cancers and testicular cancers, which sometimes occur because mum used too much perfume or other oestrogen mimics (xenoestrogens) on her skin when her male child was in the womb!
Finally, there is research that shows some prostate cancers are driven by a chemical called DHT - produced when oestrogen (either human or chemical) attacks your nice safe male hormone, testosterone. DiHydroTestosterone is predictive of the aggression of a prostate cancer, and high levels often go hand in hand with high oestradiol.
Women at Risk
A few hundred years ago women had menstrual cycles that started around the age of sixteen to eighteen and ran until their late thirties. These monthly oestrogen surges were further regulated by their diets, which were low in animal fats and high in vegetables and pulses; and by their babies. Not only did they have an average of four children but they breast fed them for a year or so, further reducing the number of monthly oestrogen bursts.
Modern diets, two children as a maximum and breast fed for six months at the most, plus environmental toxins and less everyday exercise, has seen the number of lifetime menstrual cycles rise from around 240 to 400-440 and that is a lot more oestrogen a modern woman´s body has to cope with.
Worse, modern women add to their levels by taking the pill or HRT. Women who take the pill increase their chances of breast cancer by 26 per cent. If they take it into their 30´s this extra risk rises to 58 per cent. For the 10 per cent of women who take, it into their 40´s the figure increases to 144 per cent. In other words their risk of breast cancer increases from one in eight women to one in three.
An HRT trial was stopped in the USA after the dangers started to emerge. A 2016 study showed HRT triples the risk of cancer.
Whilst both the pill and HRT can simply add oestrogen to an already overloaded body, wild yam cream seems to be an excellent and much safer alternative to HRT as it is the pre-curser of progesterone, known to balance oestrogen.
The Diet Factor
Overweight people have excess fat
For years popular opinion from Health Authorities and Western governments has been that we should eat a low fat / high carbohydrate diet. Recently this has come under serve scrutiny and is almost certainly incorrect. At CANCERactive we have been telling people about this since 2006 when we launched our best selling book ´The Rainbow Diet´. It is not just about colourful vegetables and fruit, but about the correct understanding of good fats and bad sugar!
A high carbohydrate diet provides high calories, the carbohydrate often coming from refined foods like white rice, bread and pasta. Excess calories are stored in the body. As fat.
And cancer cells love sugar. They must have it. And refined foods and glucose increase insulin in the body which causes inflammation. Inflammation, and feeding for cancer cells can´t do you a lot of good, can it?
Animals on a calorie restricted diet (15 per cent less calories than they need - from reduced carbs) have been shown in research to live 40 per cent longer than average. Okinawans who have a similar low carbohydrate diet have an average life expectancy of 81.2 years!
A 10 per cent reduction in calories reduces oestrogen levels by 20 per cent. Recent research in the USA, re-analysed by Erasmus College in Rotterdam has shown that men and women who are just 4 kgs overweight can expect a three year reduction in life expectancy, whilst those over 10 kgs come off worse; men at 5.8 years, women losing 7 years.
Overweight people have excess fat. Fat is a wonderful solvent. So instead of oestrogen being fully excreted, the fat stores this unwanted killer, along with a host of chemical toxins! In women and men.
Worse, the type of foods we eat nowadays do not help. The vegetables, seeds and pulses we ate in abundance two hundred years ago produced large amounts of phytoestrogens in our bodies. These substances elongated and calmed menstrual cycles. The ´phytoestrogens´ can sit on the same receptor sites, blocking oestradiol. However, phytoestrogens wash through the body more easily and don´t bind so tightly - you need to be eating every day.
Flaxseed is very anti-oestrogenic, as are mushrooms. Even button mushrooms have been shown by the City of Hope Hospital in LA to inhibit aromatase enzymes!
Pulses, beans, lentils, peas, chickpeas, green vegetables, carrots, red peppers, broccoli, cabbage and herbs all increase your phytoestrogens and protective carotenoids. In 1900 we derived 30 per cent of our protein from pulses; now it is less than 2 per cent. That is an example of how much our natural protection has declined.
In 1900 we derived 30 per cent of our protein from pulses;
now it is less than 2 per cent
And don´t forget that the animal fat we eat can bring yet more oestrogens into our bodies plus toxins from the fields. Is it any wonder that vegetarians have half the cancer rates of meat eaters?
Food compounds such as Indole 3 Carbinol (and its breakdown substrate DIM) have been shown to have anti-oestrogenic activity. These bioactive natural compounds denature oestradiol, change the receptors it wanted to sit on, and have actions against cancer cells and even TNBC. In America it was called Nature´s Tamoxifen at one point.
Finally, our dairy, and particularly milk, consumption does not help us. For example, in America where dairy herds have growth hormones used more freely, milk contains quite high levels of Insulin Growth Factor (IGF 1), which has been shown to affect insulin, oestrogen and other hormone levels. Some people, for example, the geochemist Professor Jane Plant who, for a while, overcame her breast cancer through supplementation, diet and giving up dairy completely, argue vociferously against dairy. Certainly, in Swedish studies there appears a direct link between the volume of dairy consumed and the risk of prostate and testicular cancers.
The bioactive compounds in the colourful Mediterranean Diet (or Rainbow Diet) have been shown in a number of research studies to be ´dose-dependant´ and synergist. The more types you eat, and the more of them, the healthier you become. One 15 year study showed those that adhered most closely to the Rainbow Diet, were 40 per cent more likely to reach 70 years of age. And there are several studies showing the benefits of The Rainbow diet in breast, prostate and colorectal cancers.
Go To: The Rainbow Diet
Hormone balance and estrogen
If one hormone is present in abnormal amounts, all the hormones are knocked out of balance. The normal, healthy balance is called homeostasis. Indeed, a whole host of imbalances occur in the metabolism of someone who gets cancer.
But one of the biggest Oestrogen balancers is the hormone Melatonin, produced about 1 hour after you fall asleep in a darkened room by your pineal gland under your brain. While you can buy it in supermarkets in America, in Europe it has to be prescribed and your doctor will probably suggest a drug instead.
They´d be wrong to do so. Melatonin is the most important antioxidant we animals make; it is also very anti-inflammatory. Importantly, it regulates our natural oestrogen and growth hormone levels, has 5 epigenetic ways of correcting cancer cells and will affect the receptor sites that oestradiol would like to jump on. Research suggests supplementation, and even top US cancer center Sloan Kettering feel it has a clear action against estrogen-driven cancers and helps relevant drugs become more effective.
Go To: Melatonin - self-defence against cancer
Blind people hardly have breast cancer, whereas night shift workers and others with poor sleeping patterns get more cancers. Melatonin production is also disrupted by EMF´s from phone masts to natural Electromagnetic forces running through your home.
Have a gut feeling about oestrogen!
Melatonin is also produced by your gut bacteria. Some of them have circadian rhythms - they go to sleep too. And when they do, they produce up to 400 times the volume of melatonin you produce. It is massively corrective and they are massively important. And interestingly with the correct gut bacteria, they bind to fibre and excrete both excess human oestrogen and chemical oestrogen from your body.
So, in the last 6 years, have you had drugs, PPIs, antibiotics. Have you eaten sugar, salt, pickles, drunk too much alcohol, or had lots of stress. If that is the case, you will not have a strong microbiome and it will not be regulating your human and chemical oestrogens for you. Want to find out more?
Go To: Heal Your Gut - Heal Your Body
Chemical oestrogens or xenoestrogens
In 2010, there was a research study implicating 13 chemicals in prostate cancer. When I checked each chemical, it was an oestrogen mimic, or xenoestrogen.
1. Water -One source of unwanted oestrogen is tap water in big cities where the water is recycled. With millions of women on the pill and HRT relieving themselves into a city´s water supplies, and little attention paid to filtration of the hormone, recycled tap water has become a little risky. The only solution is to use a top quality water filter (In the UK call 0203 186 1006, for advice)
2. Plastic bottled water doesn´t help. Indeed, plastic packaging around all drinks and food leaches phthalates, which are ´oestrogen mimics´ into the food and drink in varying quantities. Plastics can also leach BisPhenol A, a chemical now banned in certain countries - it comes in white lined cans, bottles, dummies, babies´ feeding bottles and even plastic toys. The WHO has suggested all countries ban both.
But then, oestrogen mimics surround us. The average American woman has a toxin level in her blood stream four times that of her male equivalent!
3. Personal care, cosmetics, toiletries - Cosmetics, from face creams to lipsticks, can all contain oestrogen mimics. Sodium lauryl sulphate in soaps, bubble bath, shampoos etc. can increase the permeability of the skin by up to 40 per cent. The skin is a carrier not a barrier. This just allows more mimics to pass into the blood stream. Only recently Swedish researchers showed that three quarters of toiletry products tested contained phthalates and in particular DEHP. In particular perfumes, and perfumed body sprays, hairsprays and hair products were the main culprits. With pregnant women, these have been linked to reproductive health problems in male offspring. But men are not immune to this - they wash their faces with soap, use perfumed shaving foam and aftershave everyday. It´s easy to see how we increase our oestrogen levels. Men and women should ensure that they find a reputable provider of carcinogen free products for their cosmetic, toiletry and bathroom needs.
One of the biggest sources of oestrogen is in the toiletries, cosmetics and personal care products IN YOUR OWN HOME
4.One of the biggest sources is cleaning products, from washing-up liquid, to spray cleaners (for furniture or bathrooms), to detergents and polishes. No wonder that women who work at home have 40 per cent more toxins in their blood streams than their sisters who go out to work! Clean up these products too!!
Go To: Live clean with products that contain no ´chemicals of concern´
5. But it doesn´t end there. Volatile organic carbons can be ingested by breathing the petrol fumes while filling the car; or from faxes or computer circuitry if your office is not properly ventilated.
6. Then there are compounds in your house, from glues for floor and ceiling tiles, to fire-proofed furniture.
7. And Pesticides, fungicides and herbicides on your vegetables and fruit. Take out a contract with a local organic farmer and have him deliver a box of organic food every week.
Oestrogen - the killer in our midst
The sad truth is that we are just surrounded by ever increasing levels of oestrogen in the Western World. Hopefully this article has given you clues on how to stay clear of most.
You may well benefit by buying the Book - ´Oestrogen - the killer in our midst´ which will tell you many ways on how you can reduce your personal oestrogen levels naturally.
10 ways to reduce your oestrogen levels
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