The Connection Between Breast Cancer and Hormonal Imbalance
- Posted on: Oct 23 2018
Did you know that breast cancer is most common in women when they enter their 40’s and 50’s? There’s a significant increase, and although conventional medicine fails to address this in most cases, there is a reason for this: HORMONAL IMBALANCE.
During this time, a woman is likely experiencing the decline in her hormones as she enters peri-menopause, and eventually menopause. In addition to the natural decline in hormones, there are many other factors that can contribute to hormonal imbalance, including:
- Declining levels of progesterone with age and/or with the removal of the ovaries in hysterectomy.
- Environmental, “Xeno”-estrogens in the form of pollutants and pesticides.
- Oral contraceptives.
- Synthetic hormone replacement therapy (such as Premarin or birth control pills)
These factors can contribute to an excess of estrogen in the body known as “estrogen dominance.” Since estrogen stimulates cell growth, a predominance of it, especially in the absence of adequate levels of progesterone (common in perimenopausal and menopausal women), presents an increased risk of cancer, particularly in the breasts.
So, What Exactly Happens to Your Hormone Levels During Menopause?
As you approach menopause, you will experience an increasing decline in certain key hormones. You first need to understand that your body makes more than one type of Estrogen: Estradiol, Estrone, and Estriol. To understand what is happening to your body, you must first grasp what each of these three Estrogens does within your body. There are two primary effects that Estrogens have on the cells in your breasts, one is a stimulatory effect, and the other is an inhibitory effect.
Here is how each of the 3 Estrogens influences your breast tissue:
- Estradiol: The most potent estrogen, equally stimulates and inhibits cell growth. In other words, it is stable.
- Estrone: The second most potent estrogen, stimulates cell growth.
- Estriol: The weakest estrogen, actually inhibits cell growth.
The key takeaway here is that having levels of Estrone that are too high in your body result in more breast stimulation. Higher levels of Estriol in your body results in less breast cell stimulation, and therefore less breast protection.
“But I’ve Heard That Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) Increases Your Risk of Breast Cancer…”
When a woman is taking Premarin or other synthetic hormones, this presumption can be valid. The ugly fact is that Premarin, and other such synthetic hormones, are composed of 48% Estrone (the potent stimulatory Estrogen). In a nutshell: you are taking more of the bad estrogen and decreasing your amount of the good estrogen. This equates to a prime set-up for breast cancer.
On the other hand, the use of bio-identical estrogen, given in ratios that are in favor of the cell growth inhibiting estrogens, has not been shown to cause breast cancer. In fact, it may actually be protective against breast cancer.
“What About Progesterone?”
Progesterone is another important component in helping to prevent breast cancer. Progesterone is the key hormone in the second half of a woman’s cycle. Estrogen is the dominant hormone in the first half of your cycle, which causes the growth of the uterine lining, and progesterone causes the sloughing off of the uterine lining.
Basically Estrogen = GROWTH, and Progesterone = NO GROWTH. Without adequate amounts of Progesterone to balance, the stimulatory effects of the estrogen go unchecked. This overstimulation is particularly bad for the breast tissue.
“Is there a difference between Progesterone vs. Progestin?”
Progestins are a classification of drug that are similar to the natural progesterone you produce in your body. However, just as the name is similar but not identical, neither are their molecular structures. The Women’s Health Initiative revealed a 26% increase in breast cancer as a result of taking synthetic progestin. The Nurse’s Health Study found that synthetic progestins tripled breast cancer risk over that of estrogen only. The use of Provera, a synthetic progestin and component of Prempro, has been shown to increase the risk of breast cancer by 800%.
Check out some benefits of Bio-Identical Progesterone:
- Converts estradiol to weaker estrone
- Converts estrone to inactive (sulfated) form
- Down-regulates estrogen receptors altogether
- Activates the cancer protection gene, p53
- Helps women sleep and manage stress (an essential aspect of cancer prevention)
Lastly, care for yourself by knowing the symptoms of hormonal imbalance:
- Unwanted weight gain/inability to lose weight
- Premenstrual weight gain/bloating
- Heavy/painful periods
- Irregular bleeding
- Tender and/or fibrocystic breasts
- Mood swings
- Low Libido
- Low thyroid symptoms
- Sleep disturbances
- High stress
- Belly fat
- Low immunities/susceptibility to illness
What Can I Do to Prevent / Treat Estrogen Dominance?
First, I recommend testing your hormones using to determine the extent of estrogen dominance. If your progesterone/estradiol ratio is low, this indicates that progesterone levels are inadequate in relation to estrogen levels. This is a clear indication of estrogen dominance.
If this is the case, it would be a good idea to talk to a health care provider who specializes in the use of bio-identical hormones about supplementing with bio-identical progesterone to balance estrogen levels. It is essential that your physician takes the time to discuss all your symptoms, medical history, along with your lab results. This will give them the best picture of your unique situation and needs.
If any of these symptoms sound familiar or you would like to be tested to see if you have any hormonal imbalance, we would love to have you in the office for a FREE CONSULTATION. We can conduct advanced hormone testing, discuss your symptoms, and use the results to create a personalized plan of action for your care.