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.