There can be little doubt that oestrogen, the female sex hormone, is a cause of, and one of the major drivers of many cancers. Not just some breast cancer, but endometrial, cervical, colon, brain tumours and testicular and prostate cancer. This article looks at the main sources, (from pesticides to cosmetics and toiletries) and what you can do about it all.
Originally published in April 2003 icon
Oestrogen - a major driver in cancer
A large number of cancers, both male and female, are identified as being hormonally responsive and in a great many of these cases the prime culprit is oestrogen.
I am frequently asked about breast cancer, prostate cancer, melanoma and brain tumours - even Hurtle´s cells - all of which have been linked with high oestrogen levels. Many more cancers are linked to this same hormone.
Oestrogen is not a single hormone, but a family of hormones with varying chemical strengths. One Oestradiol 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.
It can also cause genetic change.
And it can cause stem cells to remain in their rapidly dividing ´elementary´ state (something found in some brain tumours).
Although it is relatively easy for a woman to understand that oestrogen might be involved in her cancer, men find it hard to believe. Yet localised oestrogen has been implicated in colon cancer, which me have, and some testicular cancers are thought to occur because mum used too much perfume or other oestrogen mimics (xenoestrogens) on her skin when the male was in the womb!
Finally, there is research that shows some prostate cancers are driven by a chemical called DHT - produced when oestradiol attacks your nice safe male hormone, testosterone.
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 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 recently stopped in the USA after the dangers started to emerge. 2.2 million women in the UK need to understand that their risk of any cancer rises by at least 27 per cent by taking HRT.
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.
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.
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.
Animals on a calorie restricted diet 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.
There are two main reasons for this. The first is the way we eat. Big meals, especially calorie-heavy meals, cause insulin surges in the body. This has a knock on effect to other hormones particularly oestrogen.
Overweight people have excess fat. Fat is a wonderful solvent. So instead of oestrogen being fully excreted, the fat stores this unwanted killer. In women and men.
Worse the type of foods we eat do not help. The vegetables 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 and, although weaker than human oestrogen, competed with it and helped control its levels. In cancers oestrogen aids the binding of certain cancer chemicals to receptor sites on good cells and this spreads the cancer, whether it be prostate or breast. Phytoestrogens block the attack on these receptor sites.
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. Is it any wonder that vegetarians have half the cancer rates of meat eaters?
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 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.
If one hormone is present in abnormal amounts, all the hormones are knocked out of balance. This balance is called homeostasis. In deed a whole host of imbalances occur in the metabolism of someone who gets cancer. For example, instead of a naturally healthy mineral rich and slightly alkaline body, cancer patients are often slightly acid. Yet cells and the immune system need this alkalinity to work properly. A good vitamin and mineral supplement helps. Another excellent addition is coral calcium which helps to re-alkalise the body with its high levels of organic minerals.
But one of the biggest Oestrogen balancers is the hormone Melatonin, produced about 1 hour after you fall asleep in a darkened room. 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. Read more by clicking here.
The Secret Attacker
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 reverse osmosis water filter (call 01280 815166 for advice).
Plastic bottled water doesn´t help. Indeed, plastic packaging on all drinks and food stuffs 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 bottles, dummies, babies´ feeding bottles and even plastic toys.
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!
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. 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 tap water in big cities where the water is recycled
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.
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!! For more on all of this just go to the PREVENTION section of this web site - click here.
And don´t drown your sorrows!
Alcohol can affect your oestrogen levels. Only recently one study claimed that a three-glasses-of-wine-a-day lady had a six per cent increased risk of breast cancer over a two-glass drinker. Each extra regular drink increased this risk by a further six per cent.
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 to reduce your oestrogen levels naturally.
10 ways to reduce your oestrogen levels