On this past week’s periscope, we’ve been discussing hormones and the role they play in your health. We got on to the discussion of breast cancer and how hormonal imbalance affects the incidence and outcome. By no means am I an expert in this, but I do see a lot of patients who end up developing breast cancer. And a lot of them lead “healthy” lifestyles. So it got me to think and research the ultimate question: “WHY”?
By the numbers
- 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime
- Leading cause of death for women in comparison to other cancers
- 85% of women who develop breast cancer have no familial history of breast cancer
Risk Factors For Breast Cancer
- Early puberty, late menopause
- Overweight, obesity
- Long-term use of birth control & hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
- Having few children and/or having children later on in life
The infamous aromatase enzyme
The culprit – ESTROGEN. When estrogen is not being metabolized effectively by the liver, you end up with estrogen dominance. Estrogen’s role is to initiate cell proliferation. So cells will increase in growth. But then it should be balanced out with progesterone which promotes cell maturation. If you only have cell proliferation, that’s when you begin to develop cancer (again, this is a crude explanation of the development of cancer, because there are many other factors that play a role. But this is the basis of it all)/
3 Types of Estrogen
- E1 (Estrone)
- E2 (Estradiol) – the main active form of estrogen
- E3 (Estriol)
3 types of estrogen metabolites
- 2-OH Estrone – doesn’t stimulate cell proliferation, blocks the stronger estrogen that may be carcinogenic
- 16-OH Estrone – May increase the risk of cancer
- 4-OH Estrone – Damages the DNA directly and causes mutations
3 Factors that influence the metabolism of estrogen
- Genes – only accounts for about 30% of the expression of cancer. If you have a SNiP that doesn’t code for a specific gene in the cytochrome P450 system that metabolizes estrogen, your risk increases.
- Diet & Lifestyle – if you’re eating carcinogenic foods, not exercising and your digestive system is not working effectively, you increase your risk as well.
- Environment – xenoestrogens such as pesticides on your foods, plastics in your home and cosmetics all play a significant role in cancer. There are many other toxins in the environment that play a big role in breast cancer.
- CA-125 – the most common
- Anti-Malignan Antibody in Serum (AMAS)
- Essential Estrogens
- Salivary Hormone panel
Are you going through breast cancer or know someone who is? Feel free to share this discussion with them!
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