Preventing Breast Cancer: How Hormone Balance Can Help Save Your Life
When was the last time you thought about your personal risks for breast cancer?
As October wanes, please don’t let the disappearance of pink ribbons rob us of the greater message of our hard-won awareness: that despite all the money raised and the billions spent, we still have no guaranteed treatment or cure for breast cancer. In the meantime, the continuing war on cancer with the latest designer drugs or procedures is big business. Sometimes it works and we survive to race for the cure. But breast cancer keeps catching up and overtaking too many of us. One in eight women is diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime, and in North America one woman dies of breast cancer every 12 minutes. (It should also be noted that although white and Black women tend to get breast cancer at the same rate, death rates are 40% higher among Black women).
Still no cure.
But we can take steps to prevent breast cancer!
Not every breast cancer is inherited. In fact, the majority manifest as the end result of risks we knowingly or unknowingly, take with our health every day: the overworked, overfed, overstressed, toxic lifestyle that over time becomes a breast cancer waiting to happen. Many of us are living this way. Many of us are at risk. So, what do we do about it? Is it too late to reduce our odds? Can we do something, right now?
Two Steps You Can Take Now:
Yes we can!
As it turns out, two of the most important actions women can take to reduce breast cancer in our lifetime turns out to be losing weight and balancing hormone levels.
We know that the most common type of breast tumors are estrogen-driven, and that aromatase conversion in fat cells – the more fat cells we have the more estrogen we churn out – fuels their growth. A recent study published in Cancer, the peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society (Dec 2012, vol. 118), found that extra pounds—even within the overweight but not obese range—are linked to a 30% higher risk of breast cancer recurrence and a nearly 50% higher risk of death, despite optimal treatment.
We know too, that users of hormone replacement therapy (synthetic HRT) have increased rates of breast cancer following the landmark Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) which studied the health impacts of HRT use among women in menopause. When the results were published in 2002, HRT use plummeted by almost 50%, and for the first time in two decades, breast cancer rates began to decrease. Between 2002 and 2003 they dropped by almost 7%, a dramatic decline that has occurred in tandem with the declining number of women users of HRT, and the trend towards plant-based bioidentical versions deemed to be safer among functional medicine advocates. (You can read our full blog post on the difference between synthetic HRT and plant based hormone replacement HERE).
Dr. John Lee, M.D., and David Zava, Ph.D., in their groundbreaking book, What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Breast Cancer were among the first to hammer home the connection between lifestyle, environment, hormone imbalance, and breast cancer.
“Experts agree that environmental risk factors such as diet and exposure to toxins, account for about 80% of breast cancers, and genetic factors account for about 20%. Even those who happen to have a genetic predisposition can improve their chances of dodging a breast cancer diagnosis with hormone balance and a healthy diet.”
Testing Hormones to Dodge a Breast Cancer Diagnosis
First: test your hormone levels! Undetected hidden imbalances such as estrogen dominance or high cortisol stress hormones are associated with higher risks for breast cancer. In fact the majority of breast cancers are driven by excess estrogens, or excess estrogens in the absence of progesterone (which is needed in adequate amounts to provide the checks and balances dictated by human physiology). Progesterone is a natural anti-estrogen with potent balancing properties that actually keeps an eye out for us… making sure that estrogen activity doesn’t get out of control and grow a breast tumor no woman wants. Therefore, in any discussion of breast cancer, the essential balancing powers of progesterone cannot be underemphasized or overlooked!
Once you've tested your hormones (ideally testing 'bio available,' active hormone levels - which we test in saliva), it is crucial to take steps to correct imbalances ASAP.
At YHB, we offer at-home test kit packages designed to get to the root of hormone imbalances that can seriously undermine breast health! For breast cancer prevention and weight loss concerns in particular, we highly suggest checking out our Weight Balance Package, which is designed to get to the root of the underlying causes of weight gain, belly fat, and/or challenges losing or maintaining weight. This package includes our saliva test kit as well as vitamin D testing and a 50min consult with our in house holistic health coach, Jessica Suchan (Body Bliss by Jess).
KEY STEPS TO TAKE FOR TESTING + REBALANCING
- TAKE OUR QUIZ - Determine your own symptoms of hormone imbalance by taking our hormone imbalance quiz HERE
- TEST HORMONES IN SALIVA - collect your hormones at home, in saliva, then send to our lab for analysis (we provide the prepaid shipping envelope) and receive your test report in under 2 weeks. (View test kit packages HERE).
- NATURALLY REBALANCE. When you test with us, your test kit package includes a phone consult with a trained health educator who can interpret and review your test results with you, correlate your symptoms with the imbalances identified and send a customized "Rebalancing Action Plan" that guides you in rebalancing your hormones naturally with suggested herbs, supplements and/or bioidentical (plant-based) hormones (as needed), along with suggested diet and lifestyle adjustments and additional reading and resources to help you better understand the imbalances and symptoms you are grappling with!
Doing these 6 things can help Prevent Breast Cancer:
- Fill up on high fiber, cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts that promote proper estrogen metabolism and help rid the body of accumulated toxic estrogens (see xeno hormones below).
- Get your “good fats” from avocados, olive/coconut oils, nuts and seeds to reduce inflammation, boost immunities, and help inhibit tumor growth.
- A daily dose of 64 oz. of water can flush out free radicals and toxins that invite cancers.
- Avoid bad “xeno” hormones by choosing hormone-free meat/dairy/poultry (see our tips for finding best hormone free foods HERE). Always microwave in glass or ceramic vs. plastic containers, drink from stainless steel or BPA-free water bottles, and go “green” with household, garden and personal care products.
- Lower chronically high stress hormones, blood sugars and insulin levels that are the perfect storm for tumors to thrive. Prioritizing time to de-stress, eat right, get enough sleep, and exercise are HUGE when it comes to boosting your immune reserves against cancer.
- Continue your education on breast cancer and breast cancer prevention. Here are some of my favorite resources:
BOOK: What Your Doctor May Not Tell you About Breast Cancer, by John R. Lee, M.D.
By taking steps to balance our hormones we are turning awareness into action for breast cancer prevention. Not just in our own lifetime but in our children's and grandchildren’s as well!
-Candace Burch, M.A.
Founder, Your Hormone Balance
Hormone Health Expert
Interested in testing your hormone levels and getting started on an all-natural rebalancing plan? Check out our at-home hormone testing + consulting packages HERE.
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions!