Hormones and Breast Cancer: What is the Connection?
October is BREAST CANCER AWARENESS MONTH
A woman dies of breast cancer every 12 minutes in North America! It has become the most common cancer-related cause of death in women. The risk of surviving malignant breast cancer is just about the same as it was 50 years ago, when the only treatment was mastectomy; about one in three. The incidence of breast cancer is steadily rising and the numbers are appalling. Between 1973-1998 the incidence of breast cancer rose by over 40%.
The rate of breast cancer has increased by 1 per cent a year since 1940.
Wearing a pink ribbon is simply not enough!
If I had my wish every pink ribbon would carry an additional message for women. That message would be that “TODAY….YOU can improve your breast health and reduce the risk of breast cancer!”
The hormone connection with Breast cancer is Estrogen unopposed by adequate progesterone specifically Estrogen Dominance. Estrogen dominance describes a condition where a woman can have deficient, normal, or excessive estrogen but has little or no progesterone to balance its effects in the body. Uterine and breast tissues are sensitive to the proliferative effects of estrogen and prolonged states of estrogen dominance can increase a woman’s risk of cancer. Progesterone promotes differentiation and stimulates apoptosis or cell death in endometrial and breast cells. If progesterone is not adequate then that does not bode well for hormonal balance.
Breast cancer then is likely a result of a hormonal imbalance
The Johns Hopkins University conducted a 20 year study, published in 1983 in the American Journal of Epidemiology, showing that women who had good progesterone levels had less than a fifth of the amount of breast cancer. The outcomes suggested that having a normal level of progesterone in balance with normal levels of estrogens protected women from nine-tenths of all cancers that might otherwise have occurred….. in other words hormones in balance.
When the estrogen/progesterone ratio is dramatically altered the estrogen becomes toxic to the body without progesterone to stop it. As a result, the risks for breast and uterine cancer, fibrocystic breasts, ovarian cysts, uterine fibroids, cervical erosions and/or dysplasia, and osteoporosis rise.
Estrogen, unopposed by progesterone, results in other adverse effects.
In addition to cancer, the additional symptoms include hypertension, salt and water retention, abnormal blood clotting, excessive body fat, hypothyroidism, painful breasts, fibrocystic breast disease, increased risk of gall bladder disease and gallstones and liver dysfunction.
We may not be able to change our genetic risk factors for Breast Cancer- that is true. However, a growing body of research is showing us that women really can make a difference in their breast health through becoming better informed about how our body makes hormones, understanding about hormonal imbalance and then learning some natural alternatives to deal with out of balance hormones.
Test don’t Guess
Evaluating hormone levels using saliva testing is one way to know if our health challenges are connected to hormone issues. A saliva test kit is a small expense to have the peace of mind knowing if your hormone levels are in balance!
Women need to have all the information presented to them on the hormone issue so that they can make a well-informed choice as to which path they would like to travel down in order to bring balance to their hormones. Knowledge is power!!
The National Breast Cancer Coalition (NBCC) is a grassroots organization dedicated to ending breast cancer through action and advocacy. www.breastcancerdeadline2020.org
Cowan, L.D., L. Gordis, J.A. Tomascia and G.S. Jones, “Breast Cancer Incidence in Women with a History of Progesterone Deficiency” Am J Epidemiol 114 (1981): 209 – 217