Breast Cancer Diet – Clean Waters - Dietary and Lifestyle Strategies to
Avoid Submersion in a Sea of Estrogen
Why a Breast Cancer Diet and Lifestyle Approach may prove
effective in prevention and improving survival
The breast cancer stats in the West are
sobering and point to the importance of implementing the right diet now to decrease your risk for getting
the disease and increase your chances of survival, should you get it.
thinking about whether a diet for breast cancer is worth the effort, start with the
- Breast cancer is the top cancer killer
among women of all races in the United States. Second to non-melanoma skin
cancer, it is the most prevalent
cancer among US women.
- In 2009, the last year for which stats are
available, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reported that 211,731 women were diagnosed with
breast cancer; 40,676 died from the
disease. The American Cancer Society estimates for 2013 that one in eight (12%) women in the United States will
get breast cancer in their lifetime.
- Only 5
to 10 % of breast cancers are
thought to stem from genetic defects such as the BRCA1, BRCA2 and other gene
mutations. In fact, a whopping 85% of women who get breast cancer do
not have a family history of the disease.
- We have much higher rates of breast cancer
in the West than in Japan and the developing world. When Japanese women move to the US, within a
generation, their breast cancer rates rival those of their American
the above suggests that diet, environment and lifestyle are key factors behind
the breast cancer epidemic in the West and may hold the answers for prevention
|Breast Cancer Diet Stats
80% of women with breast cancer have no family member with the disease, suggesting the majority of breast cancers are not caused by genetics but by lifestyle and environmental factors including diet. This is why a breast cancer diet is worth considering for prevention and management of the disease.
Breast Cancer Diet – What the research suggests about the
causes of Breast Cancer
The research suggests … and there are oodles of scientific studies on
breast cancer, as anyone who has read any news service in the last twenty years is aware …. one of the key factors in a woman’s risk for breast cancer is
an excess of estrogen whether from diet, the meds she consumes, environmental
exposure or lifestyle factors including when and how many kids she has and whether she breast feeds or not.
|Breast Cancer Diet – What are hormones?
Hormones are powerful chemicals produced in one part of the body that have an effect in another part, traveling via the blood stream. The body produces hundreds of hormones which are essential for many functions including reproduction, sex drive, sleep, metabolism, stress and illness, tissue and bone growth, as well as triggering release of other hormones. Simply put… without hormones you’d die. The network of hormone producing glands is known as the endocrine system. Hormone producing glands include the adrenals; pituitary; pancreas; pineal glands; thyroid; parathyroid glands; and the ovaries in women and testes in men.
Breast Cancer Diet – The Estrogen Role in Breast Cancer Not a
Reason to Despair
Hearing that estrogen - the predominant female sex hormone which all women produce in
spades during their reproductive life - may be a primer
for one of the biggest cancer killers, might make even the feint hearted
As in many health detective stories,
identifying the cause or contributing factors to a disease, lie the answers to
its prevention and possible cure.
This is the case with breast cancer and why
following a breast cancer diet, sooner
rather than later, is a prudent idea to lower your risk. While best to start consuming a breast cancer
diet before you are diagnosed; should
you get breast cancer, the right food can help and compliment the medical
therapy your doctor recommends.
The research confirms this.
is never a downside to eating a healthy
balanced diet that normalizes hormones and improves detoxification. You will reap many emotional and physical, not
to forget, aesthetic benefits from good food, aside from increasing your odds to
prevent and fight disease.
Of course, should you be diagnosed with
breast cancer, always confer with your doctor to ensure any specific dietary
changes won’t compromise your treatment.
For more information about how some foods
and nutrients can mimic the effects of common pharmaceutical cancer therapies,
press on Cancer and Nutrition.
Breast Cancer Diet Basics – Fundamentals of Cancer
As outlined in Cancer and Nutrition
a cancer needs two things to develop.
The same process occurs in breast cancer.
- Damage to a cell’s DNA that causes it to divide abnormally and not
respond to signals from the immune system to die or stop dividing. Often this initial damage to the cell is caused by free radicals,
also known as oxidants. Sometimes innate aberrations in the DNA can promote
this damage, like with the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations; these increase a
carriers’ risk for breast cancer, in some cases, 80% over non-BRCA gene mutation carriers.
- An environment which encourages DNA damaged cancer cells to
replicate. In the case of breast and other
estrogen-driven cancers like ovarian and endometrial cancers, an estrogen-rich
environment is the oxygen that can
fan the cancer flames. Estrogen provokes these cancer cells to continue to divide,
invade and damage adjacent healthy tissue and eventually spread or metastasize
to other organs.
… So what to do when devising an effective
breast cancer diet?....
If you can eliminate or minimize the above
factors, you can minimize your chances of getting breast cancer in the first
instance or having it grow and spread in the second. The food you eat and the
common household and cosmetic substances to which you expose yourself can play
a role in balancing the amount and function of estrogen and other hormones in
To read more about how a cancer cells can
remain “in situ” and not grow or spread and how food can affect that process,
press on Cancer and Nutrition and Cancer Prevention Diet.
Breast Cancer Diet Basics – Mopping up the Sea of Estrogen
for safe swimming
The key to any breast cancer diet and
effective strategy for breast cancer prevention is to reduce your intake,
exposure and production of estrogen.
Breast Cancer Diet Primer - What is Estrogen?
The majority of breast cancers are estrogen
driven AKA estrogen sensitive. The
growth of cancerous breast tissue is triggered by and enhanced by estrogen’s
presence. There are other cancers that
are estrogen sensitive including endometrial/uterine cancer and ovarian
cancers, among others.
Cancerous tissue, unlike healthy tissue in
adults, consists of cells that replicate uncontrollably. If not stopped, they
will spread into neighboring tissue or metastasize to other organs, at the
expense of a person’s health and, if not controlled, life. If you have an excess of the active forms of
estrogen (and we’ll learn about the different kinds) circulating in your system;
your chances increase of existing cancerous cells
in your breast replicating.
|Breast Cancer Diet – Hormones - A Complicated Endocrine Interplay
The thing to remember with hormones is that they interact with one another, often synergistically in feedback loops: One hormone will suppress the effects of another or, alternatively, trigger the release or production of another. While it has many independent actions in the body, progesterone has been found to combat some of estrogen’s effects. This is why researchers have examined progesterone for its protective role against breast cancer. The same goes for the male sex hormone testosterone (that women also produce, if in smaller amounts), which can have an anti-estrogenic effect. Melatonin, the hormone produced when one sleeps, has been found to enhance production of progesterone, whereas excess cortisol the stress hormone generated by the adrenals has been found to suppress progesterone. Insulin produced by the pancreas can stimulate production of testosterone – a potential problem when insulin levels remain high like with PCOS, insulin resistance and diabetes … This gives an idea of the complicated interplay among hormones, many of which scientists are still discovering. .
Breast Cancer Diet Facts - Risk Factors for
Breast Cancer – Surveying that Sea of Estrogen Surrounding us
The following are key risk factors for
breast cancer. Most directly or indirectly relate to a woman’s lifetime
exposure to estrogen:
- Being a woman - While men can get breast cancer, it’s 100 times more common in women. The Estrogen Factor: While men produce
estrogen, women produce considerably more. It’s the key female sex hormone
needed for preparing the endometrium for a fetus, among other purposes. It is implicated in strong
bones and a healthy heart. In essence, its effect is pervasive.
- Aging – Getting older increases your breast
cancer risk as well as the risk of severity. 66%
of invasive breast cancers are in women 55
and over. The Estrogen Factor: At
menopause women no longer produce progesterone, the anti-estrogenic hormone,
except in infinitesimal amounts; by contrast, they continue to produce small but
significant amounts of estrogen, in body fat. Without the inhibiting effects of
progesterone, which levels fall precipitously in the few years prior to menopause,
the unopposed estrogen (even the small amount produced by fat) has a greater
effect than, if adequate progesterone were present. With age and a life time of bad
habits and exposure to toxins, liver function can deteriorate and compromise
your ability to eliminate toxins including pharmaceutical, alcohol and old hormones, including old estrogens, from your body.
- Some but not all breast
conditions - While fibroids
and most cysts are not a risk factor for breast cancer, atypical ductal and
lobular hyperplasia, which involves an overgrowth of abnormal if benign cells
in breast tissue, can increase a woman’s breast cancer risk. The Estrogen Factor: Women who follow a breast cancer diet and reduce their overall exposure
to estrogen statistically show improved hyperplasia symptoms. This suggests
a connection between estrogen and breast hyperplasia.
- Early age of first
period along with late onset of menopause – Women who started their period before age 12 and whose menopause began age 55 and over. The Estrogen
Factor: While women produce estrogen from fat deposits
after menopause, they produce the greatest volume of estrogen during childbearing years.
It follows, the longer her reproductive life, the
greater a woman’s risk of breast cancer.
- No kids or having your first child after age 30 – Not having children, or having your
first after age 30 increases your breast
cancer risk - miscarriages don’t count towards the tally. The
Estrogen Factor: During pregnancy, a woman’s levels of
progesterone increase and remain high; progesterone inhibits
estrogen’s effects. It follows that the more full term progesterone-rich
pregnancies a woman experiences, the less the effect of estrogen during these
- Not Breastfeeding – Said to lower breast cancer risk somewhat, especially when continued
for 1 ½ to
2 years. The Estrogen Factor: Research suggests that breastfeeding decreases a woman’s estrogen production.
- Birth control pills - especially as teenager. While oral contraceptives raise the risk of breast cancer
slightly in adult women, the risk is eliminated 10 years after stopping; for those taken depot medroxyroprogesterone acetate (DMPA; Depo Provera) an injectable birth control progesterone given
every 3 months, the risk is eliminated
5 years after stopping. The Estrogen Factor: Some birth
control pills are estrogen dominant, which increases a woman’s estrogen
exposure. Others contain mainly progestin, a synthetic version of progesterone.
Unfortunately, it’s thought that synthetic progesterone does not have the same
estrogen-countering effects as bio identical progesterone. It follows, that
progestin-combo or progestin-only birth control pills don’t have the same
anti-estrogenic effect as natural or bio-identical progesterone.
- HRT – The Women’s Health Initiative confirmed in 2000 on
a large scale that HRT routinely prescribed women to help menopause symptoms,
increased women’s risk of getting breast cancer substantially as well as their
risk of death from it. The drop in breast cancer rates since 2000, including a 7% drop in 2002-2003 alone, is
attributable in large part to fewer women on HRT in light of this study. The Estrogen
Factor: Taking supplemental
synthetic estrogen and synthetic progesterone can increase a woman’s estrogen
|Breast Cancer Diet – Why Caution is Needed when Supplementing Hormones
Because hormones have such powerful effect in the body and on each other, caution is required when supplementing any hormone whether it’s a natural form (chemically bio identical to the hormone produced by the body) or synthetic type (molecularly different, if marginally, from what the body produces – the case with some estrogens and progestins in HRT and birth control pills). There may be unexpected effects as with HRT (generally a combination of synthetic estrogens and progesterones (progestin) prescribed for many women to help with menopausal symptoms). Several major epidemiological studies showed HRT increased substantially the incidence of breast cancer and other health conditions. As well, if care is not taken, supplemental hormones can suppress the body’s natural hormone production – the potential case when taking growth hormone (HGH) and cortisol. Luckily, these concerns generally don’t exist when balancing hormones via diet as the effect of food is gradual and cumulative when achieved via health-giving nutrients from food.
- Overweight – Excess
weight, especially in the abdomen is associated with a higher risk of breast
cancer. As well as producing estrogen, body fat is the repository of many toxins including pesticides
and the like that can damage cellular DNA
possibly causing cancer. The Estrogen Factor:
Body fat especially that
around the middle produces estrogen, a concern especially around menopause
when progesterone levels plummet. It follows that overweight or obese women generally have
higher levels of circulating estrogens than normal weight women and higher breast cancer risk.
- High Alcohol intake – More than a glass a day raises one's risk by 1 ½ times over women who are teetotal. One glass per day raises the
risk minimally. The Estrogen Factor: Alcohol raises estrogen levels. Research
has found raised blood estrogen levels in women after consuming one glass. As
well excess alcohol is liver toxic, overloading the liver’s clearing
pathways, which are the same that eliminate used estrogens. Hence a
lot of alcohol can lead to excess estrogen levels.
- Exposure to radiation especially chest X-rays as well as transatlantic
air travel – This can
produce DNA damage and provoke cancerous changes in exposed tissue.
- Dairy and meat, especially high fat and well-cooked varieties – are associated with a higher risk of
breast cancer. Well cooked meat has been found to contain a carcinogenic
substance linked to increased cancer risk.
The Estrogen Factor: Diary
contains both natural hormones for the growing calf as well as synthetic growth
hormones designed to increase milk yields. Meat and dairy, unlike most unprocessed plant
foods, lack fiber so the higher proportion of your calories from animal
products, the less fiber you’ll consume. Fiber is key for good elimination of
old estrogens to ensure they aren’t reabsorbed.
- Highly refined foods including added sugars
– High glycemic foods like white flour and rice and
refined sugars including high fructose corn syrup spike insulin levels, which
in turn, promote release of insulin like growth factor (IGF). IGF promotes cell replication and inflammation, two factors that
promote cancer growth. The Estrogen Factor: High blood insulin levels provoke testosterone production, which can trigger
polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). This condition prevents a woman from
ovulating and, therefore, from producing progesterone. As well, fluctuating
blood sugar levels resulting from excess insulin promote secretion of cortisol,
the stress hormone. Cortisol, in turn, suppresses progesterone production,
which leaves estrogen uninhibited.
- Diet low in fiber – Fiber rich plant
foods including whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables can help regulate
blood sugar levels, and discourage release of excess insulin and especially cancer and
inflammation promoting IGF (See
above). -The Estrogen Factor: Lack of
fiber can slow elimination of old hormones including estrogen that will be
reabsorbed in the digestive tract and can lead to excess hormone levels
- Poor sleep and shift work – is associated with higher breast cancer risk thought to be related
to reduced melatonin levels caused by disturbed or insufficient sleep. The Estrogen Factor:
Scientists say that melatonin promotes good sleep, which, in turn,
can counter excess estrogen levels.
- Smoking and exposure to second hand smoke –
especially long term heavy smoking is associated
with an increased risk of breast cancer. The Estrogen
Factor: Along with the carcinogenic aspects of
cigarette smoke which damage DNA, cigarette toxins increase the load on the
liver and compromise detoxification of old hormones including estrogen.
- Lack of physical activity – exercising
as little as 1 ¼ to 2 ½ hours per week can lower breast cancer risk by up to 18% and decrease risk of recurrence.
- Stress - can
promote the release of cortisol from the adrenal glands. The Estrogen Factor: Cortisol suppresses the
action of progesterone which, in turn, can lead to an overabundance of estrogen.
|Breast Cancer Diet Facts – The Multiple Faces of Estrogen
Estrogen is a group of hormones comprising more than 25 varieties.
The main types generated in the body are E1 estrone, E2 estradiol; and E3 estriol. In young adult women, these normally co-exist in a ratio or 15:15:70. The first two estrogens – estrone and estradiol -encourage the growth of breast cancer and other estrogen sensitive cancers; the last – estriol - is seen as beneficial and possibly cancer protective because it is less biologically active than the other two. Because they all latch onto the same estrogen receptors in the body, it makes sense to have the most benign estrogens getting a seat at the table, to prevent the damaging estrogens joining the party .
Breast Cancer Diet –What is the Goal of Any Breast Cancer
As a rule, the greater a woman’s lifetime
estrogen exposure; the greater a woman’s chances of breast cancer.
Because of this, any breast cancer diet
must achieve two goals;
- Lower a woman’s overall estrogen
- Ensure that excess estrogen and
toxins are eliminated from the body.
Luckily, diet and lifestyle practices in
your home and kitchen are effective places to start reducing estrogen intake
and exposure and begin balancing your hormones. We’ll look at reducing estrogen
production and exposure first.
Next we’ll look at improving your liver’s
detoxification capacity both for old hormones and toxins generally – the second
part of an effective breast cancer diet.
Breast Cancer Diet - The basics of the Breast Cancer Diet
In light of the above risk factors for
breast cancer, below are some dietary and lifestyle strategies to balance your
hormones and reduce your overall chances of breast cancer for you and your daughter.
The Breast Cancer Diet Basics
- Maintain a healthy weight – Avoid excess body fat. Adipose (fat) tissue produces estrogen independently
of the ovaries. As well, excess body fat is a repository of toxins and old
hormones that can damage DNA.
- Avoid HRT – First try dietary and lifestyle
measures to reduce menopausal symptoms, including weight bearing exercise in
the case of retaining bone mass, before trying hormone replacement; and consumption of phytoestrogens like soy to diminish hot flashes. Next, explore
bio identical progesterone and estrogen therapies with your doctor before
exploring synthetic HRT. This is a
complicated area but dietary measures can go a long way to reduce menopausal symptoms in some women and avoid or minimize
the need for HRT or bio-identical
- Minimize meat and dairy – in order to reduce saturated fat intake. Source organic and grass
fed products, as opposed to the conventional commercially raised kinds, to
ensure no added hormones or pharmaceuticals but a healthier Omega 3; Omega 6 profile. A healthy Omega 3; Omega 6 ratio can render the
meat and dairy less inflammatory – a good thing when it comes to cancer. When
preparing meat, avoid well done meat or high heat cooking methods like grilling and broiling, to minimize intake of
carcinogenic nitrosamines. The same
goes for cured and smoked meats prepared with cancer causing nitrates.
- Maintain a high fiber intake by eating whole grains and legumes as well as plenty of fruits and vegetables – this ensures that old hormones are
evacuated efficiently from the body and do not recirculate.
- Avoid excess added sugar and other refined high glycemic
foods – they play havoc
with your insulin levels and stress hormones. The former provokes IGF secretion that can promote cancer
cell growth; the latter can inhibit anti-estrogenic progesterone production.
- Consume phytoestrogens regularly in order to minimize the effects of the more biologically active
estrogens. Phytoestrogens include traditional soy products like tofu, tempeh, miso, tamari (soy sauce) and other
phytoestrogens like beans and lentils.
- Limit your alcohol – if female, drink no more than one glass a day and give your liver a
break each week for a few days from alcohol. Alcohol is liver toxic and a
healthy liver is essential for balancing estrogen levels. Consume alcohol with
food, because taken alone it can spike blood sugar levels and promote insulin and IGF secretion. Should you
drink, stick with resveratrol-rich red wine, which contains therapeutic
- Limit radiation exposure whether
from x-rays, transcontinental air travel or other forms.
- Get regular sound sleep.
Avoid shift work if possible so you don’t disrupt melatonin production that can play havoc with your adrenal stress hormones.
This in turn can suppress your progesterone
production and lead to excess estrogen levels.
- Eat organic food or only those foods grown or raised
without added pesticides; hormones; antibiotics and other pharmaceuticals. Remember, whatever is fed to the
animals or plants you eat, is fed to you too. Many of the pesticides or
hormones given animals or sprayed on crops are
xynoestrogenic endocrine disruptors that can increase a person’s
overall estrogen load and
disrupt healthy hormone balance. Other
of these pesticides can damage cellular DNA and are directly neurotoxic or carcinogenic. Collectively these excess
hormones, toxins and antibiotics put a strain on the liver that impairs hormone
- Manage Stress and ensure it does not become chronic – Major and chronic unresolved stress can make cortisol levels skyrocket and diminish normal progesterone and melatonin
production and function - bad news for minimizing estrogen.
Breast Cancer Diet Strategies– Nutrients to Include As part
of your Breast Cancer Diet
While a healthy balanced diet with an emphasis on pesticide-free whole plant
foods and organic free-range organic animal products in moderation is essential;
consider making the following nutrients part of your breast cancer diet.
- Vitamin D – While the link between Vitamin
D and breast cancer incidence is controversial with several studies showing a
link and others not; two studies have indicated a connection between inadequate Vitamin D in young girls as well as premenopausal women and a higher future incidence of breast cancer. The
Canadian Cancer Association recommends all adults supplement 1000 IU of Vitamin D during the winter months and that adults over 50 or with dark skin or who routinely cover their skin, supplement year round. Even those in sunnier climes may need supplemental
vitamin D, due to widespread sun avoidance practices to prevent skin cancer.
Press here to read more about the Benefits of Vitamin D and how to get enough via diet and supplements.
- Omega 3s - While low fat diets are
linked to decreased incidence of breast cancer, the type of fat matters. Omega 3s and some forms of Omega 6 fats are associated
with lower incidence of breast cancer. An excess of saturated and trans fats
are linked to higher breast cancer risk, as are an excess of monounsaturated
fats; in contrast, Omega 3 oils are considered breast cancer preventative.
Press here to read more about the Benefits of Omega 3s and how to
incorporate them in your breast cancer diet.
- Soy Foods- Dietary intake of traditional
soy foods has been found in repeated studies to lower the risk of breast cancer.
See Box about phytoestrogens and why
they are important part of a breast cancer diet. Among those who have breast
cancer, soy foods and other phytoestrogens decrease the incidence of recurrence.
Press on Cancer Prevention Diet, Cancer and Nutrition and Cancer
Fighting Diet for more details about different types of soy foods and how
to incorporate into your breast cancer diet.
To read more about what foods to include in a breast cancer diet, press on Cancer Foods.
| What are phytoestrogens and why are they important part of a Breast Cancer Diet? As mentioned, phytoestrogens are plant foods with a weak estrogenic effect that can reduce overall estrogen levels in the body by latching onto estrogen receptors and effectively ensuring the more powerful circulating estrogens don’t get a seat on the bus. Phytoestrogens also lower blood levels of estrogen and testosterone, by promoting the liver’s release of SHBG.
The most abundant phytoestrogens are soy and its many byproducts including miso, tofu, tempeh, tamari, soy milk and soy yogurt. Other foods contain phytoestrogens, if lesser amounts, including whole wheat bread; lentils; rye bread; brown rice; bean sprouts; chickpeas; red beans; peanuts; and currants.
Breast Cancer Diet and Lifestyle Strategies – It’s Never too
Early to Think about a Breast Cancer Diet - Start you Daughters when young on a
Breast Cancer Prevention Diet
The research shows that childhood diet can
affect a woman’s risk of breast cancer later in life. Researchers speculate
this is because estrogens affect developing breast tissue in particular. It follows
that one is never too young to follow a breast cancer diet in order to lower
risk of future disease.
- Avoid overweight in young children – girls will
menstruate when they achieve a certain percentage of body fat. The rise in
childhood obesity is thought to be one reason for the increasingly younger age
at which girls in the West begin their periods and, accordingly, the start of
- Minimize your child’ reliance on meat and dairy – instead rely on
plant sources of protein liked beans and lentils, which function as phytoestrogens, and can counter the effect of the more powerful estrogen forms. Use hummus and other bean dips. Reduce cheese
on pizza and use roasted garlic spread instead. Roasted garlic, like roasted
onions, has a smooth sweet flavor that children like. Introduce your child to
soy milk and use diary substitutes in cooking.
- If you’re considering the birth control pill for acne or
family planning reasons for your teenager, considers alternate non-hormonal
means. Even switching to a
progesterone only birth control pill may not be sufficient, because the
artificial progestin is not bio identical to the progesterone a woman produces
naturally. It follows that this artificial progesterone won’t counter the
effects of a woman’s estrogen like naturally progesterone.
- Be careful about the products you apply to your child’s
skin and scalp – to avoid common xynoestrogens
found in makeups and hair products. Avoid parabans and other estrogen-like
substances used routinely in sunscreens, skin creams and cosmetics.
- Avoid phthalates made into PVC in your child’s room,
bedroom and toys and in the packaging of foods used by your family - due to their possible
xynoestrogenic and endocrine disrupting effects.
- Eat organic food, especially animal products high on the
food chain – in order to avoid pesticides,
antibiotics and added hormones that can disrupt healthy hormone function in your
child during a time when breast tissue is rapidly developing.
|Health Conditions that Can Dispose you to a higher incidence of Breast Cancer
- Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome – PCOS
- Insulin Resistance
- Ductal or Lobular atypical hyperplasia
Breast Cancer Diet Strategies – Improving Liver
Detoxification – The Key to Balancing Hormones
A successful breast cancer diet, along with
reducing exposures to estrogens, will be a liver friendly diet.
When it comes to ridding your body of excess
estrogen, it’s essential that your liver detoxification be tip top. Why?
The liver is where old estrogens as well as
other used hormones and toxins are processed before being eliminated in
feces or urine. If this detoxification processes works properly, old estrogens,
most notably the bad kinds (from a breast
cancer perspective) E1 and E2 will recirculate in blood
contributing to elevated hormone levels.
|How phytoestrogens balance hormones. First, the weaker and more benign phytoestrogen latch onto the body’s estrogen receptors in place of the stronger more biologically active estrogens. Second, phytoestrogens promote the liver’s release of sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG). Together, these decrease circulating hormones that can promote cancer’s growth in hormone sensitive organs like the breast, ovaries, testes and prostate.
Breast Cancer Diet Basics - Two Phases of Liver
Detoxification and why it’s important that your liver detoxification pathways function
Because of the liver’s hormone balancing
role, any effective breast cancer diet must ensure that the liver is well
nourished in order to perform its hormone removal function.
A simple explanation is needed.
In the first phase of liver
detoxification, the products of digestion are transformed into
metabolites. Some of these intermediary liver byproducts are as dangerous, if
not more, than the original product of digestion that arrives in the liver via
the blood stream. Oxidizing free radicals are rife at this stage. This is why
an abundance of anti-oxidants like Vitamin
C, Vitamin E, glutathione, carotenoids, milk thistle (silymarin)
are beneficial to prevent anti-oxidant damage to the liver. Other key nutrients
at this stage are all the B Vitamins
including B6 (pyridoxine), folic acid, biotin and inositol.
- An abundance of
fruits and vegetables are superb sources of Vitamin
C; nuts and seeds are good sources of Vitamin
E; many B Vitamins are abundant
in whole grains including wheat germ and brewer's yeast; Carotenoids are
widespread in colorful fruits and vegetables; and milk
thistle or silymarin is available
as a supplement in extract form.
The second phase of liver detoxification occurs when these metabolites bind
with other molecules in order to be escorted from the body via the kidneys or
bowel. Many of these molecules needed
for this process are contained in amino acids as well as sulfur containing
- There are many food
sources that promote effective second stage liver detoxification including a
number of sulfur containing amino acids including glutamine, glycine, taurine
and cysteine as well as sulfur containing phytochemicals like those found in
(a) cruciform vegetables including
broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, arugula ; as well as (b)
allium family members including garlic, leaks, shallots and onions. Eggs are
good source too. Glutathione is also a
necessary for phase 2 liver detoxification process and can be found in dark berries.
This two-step liver detoxification process
is a complicated one requiring many different nutrients along the path…. If any
one nutrient is deficient, the result can be sluggish or impaired elimination. In
the case of breast cancer, this can lead to an excess of old estrogens or DNA
damaging toxins circulating in the body that, if liver function were optimal,
would have been eliminated.
While it’s important to supply the liver
with the nutrients it needs to perform its detox function, another equally
important strategy for healthy liver function and effective detoxification is
to not overwhelm the liver with toxins or substances that make this essential
organ work harder or expend more nutrients than necessary
When you look at substances that can
overwhelm the liver detoxification pathways and the risk factors for breast
cancer, you see the connection between the two.
Breast Cancer Diet Basics - Substances to Limit for Good
Liver Detoxification Function
- added hormones including
from HRT as well as synthetic and naturally occurring kinds in meat and dairy
- pharmaceuticals especially liver taxing pharmaceuticals like paracetamol (acetaminophen)
and some antibiotics
- excess saturated and trans fats
- pesticides, many of which can be
xynoestrogenic as well as directly carcinogenic
- carcinogens like nitrosamines in well
done meat , nitrates in cured meats, and byproducts of cigarette smoke.
Many of the above substances and their
effect on the liver are dose and health related. Often a person can consume the
above substances occasionally or in small amounts without ill effect. However,
larger doses or chronic consumption of several liver-taxing substances cumulatively
can cause the liver detoxification pathways to falter. This is especially the
case when age, inadequate diet or physical or emotional stress is a player.
From the perspective of a breast cancer
diet, this can tip the balance and lead to disease or its spread.
So what to do? ….
Breast Cancer Diet – Simple Estrogen Lowering Strategies – A
two part approach to make sure your liver
can remove old hormones effectively
First - minimize your intake and exposure to estrogenic substances,
whether in food or environment, including the chemicals you apply to your
skin like shampoos, skin creams and sunscreens many of which contain
Second – help eliminate old estrogens from your body – To do this,
make sure your liver detoxification capacity is tip top by
- consuming the nutrients your
liver needs to function properly;
- avoiding foods and substances
that are liver toxic or overload the liver’s detoxification pathways; and
- eating enough fiber so that old
estrogens are eliminated efficiently via the intestinal tract and don’t get
Press on the below links to read more about the Breast Cancer Diet and related health and diet issues....
Healthy Diet Tips
Press here to read more about cancer and
nutrition and how it will impact on an effective breast cancer diet.
Press here to read more about a cancer
Press here to read more about a cancer
Press here to read more about cancer foods.
Press here to read more about what inflammatory
foods you should avoid when you have or seek to prevent cancer.
Press here to read more about the
benefits of Omega 3 oils including their anti-cancer and immune-enhancing
Press here to read more about oxidizing
free radicals as well as figuring out a food’s anti-oxidant potential
using orac values.
Press here to read more about the
anti-cancer benefits of vitamin C and the importance of anti-oxidants
generally in your diet.
Press here to read more about the benefits
of vitamin D and how it can play a part in a breast cancer diet.
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