Posts Tagged ‘breast cancer’

What is the Connection Between Hormones and Breast Cancer?

There is a great deal of confusion regarding the connection between hormones and breast cancer. I believe that breast cancer can be related to an imbalance between hormones such as estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. As I have said before, many things can lead to these imbalances such as stress, poor diet, lack of exercise and toxin exposure.  One of the interesting experiences I have had since my breast cancer diagnosis is wondering what I “did wrong” to develop breast cancer. I have realized that it is an exercise in futility to beat yourself up over “how” you get something like this; you just move forward and optimize as many parts of your life as you can.

Another interesting thing about breast cancers is that there are different types. Breast cancers are typed by what hormone receptors they express. Some breast cancers express estrogen receptors (known as estrogen receptor positive). These are the breast cancers that are sensitive to estrogens and women with these types of cancer should reduce their estrogen exposure. Other breast cancers express receptors to the hormone progesterone and to HER2 receptors. In normal, healthy breast cells, HER2 receptors receive signals that stimulate their growth. With too many HER2 receptors, however, breast cancer cells grow and divide too quickly. Depending on the receptors expressed, the breast cancers can be classified as positive or negative for estrogen, progesterone and HER2. Treatment options are based on which receptors are positive on the breast cancer cells.

Approximately 10-20 percent of breast cancers do not express any of these receptors. They are known as triple negative breast cancers (TNBC). This is the type of breast cancer I have. It is not hormonally sensitive (so I could take hormones if I needed them). These types of breast cancers tend to occur in younger women (under the age of 40 or 50), black and Hispanic women and women with genetic mutations such as BRACA 1 and 2. Some of the main issues with triple negative breast cancers are that they are harder to treat and more aggressive. However, there are many therapies that show promise in treating TNBC and it is a very hot area of cancer research. I have an amazing team in my corner and am positive that I will overcome this challenge and be around to share information with you for decades to come.

My Planned and Unplanned Summer Adventures

It has been a really busy summer and I wanted to let you know about the latest adventures I have going on in my life right now. I have been planning the first one for over a year and am very excited to announce the release of my new book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Hormone Weight Loss, on September 2nd! It will be available in book stores like Barnes and Noble and it can be preordered on Amazon.
My second adventure came as a bit of a surprise. On June 1st, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. My immediate thoughts were that I live and I am able to use this experience with cancer to help myself and others. It has been a challenge for me, my husband, Rob, and my sons, Eric (age 15) and Evan (age 11) to come to terms with the changes in our lives. However, we have been overwhelmed by the amount of support we are receiving from everyone: family, friends, neighbors, and strangers. Over the next six months, I will be treated with chemotherapy, surgery, radiation and an intensive IV nutrition program. In addition, I am focusing on healing my body and learning to slow down.
As I heal over the next months, I will focus on keeping you up to date on the newest information on nutrition and hormones through my blogs and radio show, Aging Without Limits. This week, I will start a two-part show with Marge Piccini, a fantastic life coach, on transformation. What happens when things are going well in your life and you have an involuntary event that creates a major change in your otherwise wonderful life situation?  My obvious change was a breast cancer diagnosis but many of us have involuntary changes such as divorce or job loss. Learn how to move through these situations to make the most of your experience. I will make sure to keep you up to date with my progress and success in overcoming this challenge. 

Answer to a Reader’s Question about Keeping Estrogen Levels Low and the Importance of Vitamin D

I recently received a question from a woman in Wisconsin and I thought my response would be helpful to other women out there. This particular individual is a breast cancer survivor and estrogen receptor positive, so she was seeking ways to lower her estrogen levels.

There are a few different ways that you can naturally lower your estrogen levels. First of all, make sure you’re getting at least 25 grams of fiber per day in your diet because extra fiber helps you excrete (remove) excess estrogen through your intestines.

Secondly, the more fat you have (especially belly fat), the more estrogen you make. Therefore, it’s important to eat a diet that limits refined carbohydrates and saturated fats so your weight can stay at an optimal level. Exercise also helps you build lean muscle mass and will reduce the amount of fat you have.

Lastly, it is important to support your liver so your body is better able to metabolize (break down) your estrogen. You can do that with an herb called milk thistle and a supplement called indole-3-carbinol. Limiting your alcohol intake will also support your liver by allowing it to focus on metabolizing other things like estrogen.

Additionally, I shared with this reader the importance of vitamin D as she continues to stay in remission from her cancer. Studies show that low vitamin D is associated with a higher risk of many cancers including breast cancer. I recommend having your physician test your vitamin D levels regularly and make sure your level is between 60 and 100, and this goes for all women, not just cancer survivors. I also suggest taking a pharmaceutical grade vitamin. You should be on at least 2000IU per day and could go as high as 10,000IU per day if your levels remain low.

I hope you find this information helpful.