An astounding 1 in 8 women will develop invasive breast cancer in their lifetime and a woman’s risk nearly doubles if she has a first-degree relative (mother, sister, daughter) whose been diagnosed. Don’t let those stats scare you though because whether or not you become one of those 8 women is largely in your hands — even if you are genetically prone. Studies show that 90 of breast cancer cases are caused by lifestyle factors and not genes, and the following 4 techniques can help to vastly reduce your risk.
Optimize the 3 Major Estrogen Metabolite Ratios
There are three major naturally occurring estrogen metabolites – estrone (E1), estradiol (E2), and estriol (E3). Both estrone and estradiol are considered pro-carcinogenic, meaning they promote the growth and replication of cancer cells. On the other hand, estriol (which is the weakest of the three) is anti-carcinogenic and it helps reduce the negative effects of the more aggressive estradiol. To cut your risk of breast cancer, you need to reduce your estrone and estradiol (if elevated) and boost your estriol. You can use a 24-hour urine collection test to identify your estrogen metabolite levels.
To prevent and reverse elevated estrone and estradiol levels avoid the birth control pill and hormone replacement therapy (unless it is bioidentical); and lose excess body fat because estrogen is stored inside fat cells. Also, limit your exposure to xenoestrogens which are environmental compounds that mimic estrogen in the body. Some of the biggest xenoestrogens to avoid include: non-organic cleaning and personal care products, meat and dairy, anything that contains pesticide or herbicide residue, artificial sweeteners, additives and preservatives; plastics, and tap water. To boost estriol you can use iodine (more on this later), and/or bioidentical estrone (choose creams, pellets, or sublingual drops over tablets).
Increase 2-Methoxyestradiol Levels
2-Methoxyestradiol is another estrogen metabolite that is made naturally in the female body and it has a powerful ability to prevent the formation of the new blood vessels that tumors need to grow and spread. Clinical trials have proven that maintaining adequate levels of this estrogen metabolite helps to both prevent and treat breast cancer. 2-Methoxyestradiol also helps to enhance the effectiveness of chemotherapy drugs and test tube trials suggest it may even reverse the most aggressive forms of breast cancer (triple-negative cell). If you have a strong history of breast cancer you should have your 2-methoxyestradiol levels tested with a 24-hour urine collection test, and make a conscious effort to maintain high levels of it.
To boost 2-methoxyestradiol you need to start by reducing stress, because stress interferes with a process known as methylation, which is required for the production of 2-methoxyestradiol. Also, include plenty of green vegetables, citrus fruits, berries and nuts in your diet, because they are high in methyl groups which are required for methylation. The following supplements will also help boost the production of 2-methoxyestradiol: the methylated forms of B12 (methylcobalamin) and folate (methylfolate); Diindolylmethane (DIM), and Indole-3-carbinol (I3C).
*You can purchase supplements with clinically effective doses of DIM and I3C here: http://estroblock.com/
Modify Your Diet
A person’s diet is thought to be responsible for approximately 30 to 40 of all cancers. The proper diet will help to optimize your immune system so that it eliminates cancer cells before they become a problem. It will also lower inflammation and oxidative stress — both of which contribute to the growth and proliferation of cancer cells.[i] Finally, your diet can help encourage healthy ratios of the 3 major estrogen metabolites, and enhance methylation so that you naturally produce more 2-methoxyestradiol.
If you want to reduce the cancer-causing metabolites estrone and estradiol, you need to consume a whole-foods based diet and eliminate or vastly restrict all animal products (they are potent sources of toxic estrogens). Try to eat a minimum of 13 servings of vegetables daily, and include a wide-variety of different veggies in your diet. Brassica vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, kale etc.) are particularly beneficial because they are natural sources of DIM and I3C. Omega-3s are also beneficial, and can be found in fresh, fatty fish (limit your serving to 5-oz per week); flax, chia and hemp seeds; winter squash, and sea vegetables.
Optimize Iodine Levels
An iodine deficiency, which is the most common mineral deficiency worldwide, is strongly linked to the development of breast cancer. Iodine helps to increase the helpful-estriol and simultaneously reduce estrone and estradiol. Iodine also desensitizes estrogen receptors in the breasts, kills cancer cells, and helps prevent their replication – thereby halting breast tumor development. These effects explain the low rates of breast cancer in Japanese women who consume a diet containing seaweed (the richest food source of iodine).
You want to optimize your iodine levels without overdosing, because too much can suppress your thyroid function. Ideally, you should consume 3 to 4 mg daily, and the best way to achieve this is through your diet. Kelp powder is one of the easiest ways to boost your iodine levels– you can sprinkle it on soups and salads, and use it as seasoning in any dish that could use a salty kick. In addition to kelp and other seaweeds (arame, kombu, Wakame etc.) you can also increase your intake of iodine by eating cranberries, navy beans, and organic strawberries and potatoes.
*This article is based off an interview between Dr. Nick Delgado Dr. Jonathan V. Wright (www.TahomaClinic.com).