Tag Archives: bioidenticals
Learning how to lose weight and balance our hormones is one of the most important things we can ever do to help reduce breast cancer risks in our lifetime. I’ve got science on my side when I say this; in fact in a very recent study, researchers at Montefiore Medical Center looked at outcomes in patients with breast cancer and found that despite women receiving the most up-to-date treatment, being overweight or obese increased their risk of breast cancer recurrence by 24 percent and death by 37 percent! The increased risk was specifically linked to women whose tumors were fueled by estrogen – this is significant, given the fact that fat cells are mini-estrogen producing factories (thanks to the action of the aromatase enzyme in fat cells) – so the more body fat we have, the more fat cells we have churning out estrogen – and raising our risks for breast cancer or its recurrence. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) tell us that this is the first time in history more adults are overweight than average sized (!) so needless to say, maintaining an ideal weight is top priority not only in the fight against diabetes and heart disease, but a necessity to protect against breast cancer.
The medical literature is full of studies linking hormones and lifestyle to cancers (for an up-to-date archive visit: www.theseventhwoman.org). In the penultimate guide to preventing breast cancer: What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Breast Cancer, How Hormone Balance Can Help Save Your Life,” Dr. John Lee and David Zava, PHD, reiterate the point: Experts agree that environmental risk factors, such as diet and exposure to toxins and pollutants, account for about 80% of breast cancers, and genetic factors account for about 20 percent. Among the environmental risk factors for breast cancer, diet is probably as important as exposure to toxins. Even those who happen to have a genetic predisposition can improve their chances of dodging a breast cancer diagnosis with hormone balance and a healthy diet.
This is exactly why the motto during breast cancer awareness month AND all year long needs to morph into Prevention is the Cure! (see Pinkwashing blog, Oct. 2011 www.menopausibilities.wordpress.com).
So, let’s talk about best ways to improve your odds of dodging that diagnosis in the first place:
- First test your hormone levels to detect hidden hormone imbalances such as estrogen dominance, low progesterone or high cortisol stress hormones, that are strongly associated with higher risks for breast cancer. You can order a saliva hormone test kit at lowest prices online through www.canaryclub.org
2. If estrogen dominance is identified through hormone testing, take steps to correct it a.s.a.p. An estimated 97% of breast cancers are linked with excess estrogens unbalanced by adequate progesterone, its’ critical balancing partner. Supplementing with natural/bioidentical progesterone is the first line of defense against breast cell growth fueled by an excess of estrogens relative to other hormones. Losing weight to stop estrogen production in fat cells is every bit as important to reverse this vicious cycle. (The Body in Balance program at MRC Weight Loss Centers emphasizes natural hormone balancing to achieve weight loss goals: www.emetabolic.com )
3. To lose weight and reduce estrogen dominance choose hormone-free, organic foods, fruits and vegetables as often as possible – reject simple sugars, carbs, and caffeine in excess. Think not that you can’t have them, think instead: I don’t want them! This gives YOU back your power!
4. Eat plenty of cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussells sprouts (and supplement with the active ingredient DIM) that promote proper estrogen metabolism AND actually clear and rid the body of xenoestrogens that dangerously raise estrogen levels. (see “The Cruciferous Connection” Feb. 1st, blogpost: www.menopausibilities.wordpress.com)
5. Get your EFA’s (Essential Fatty Acids – fish oil is the best source) and “good fats” in avocados, olive/coconut oils, nuts and seeds vs. trans/fake fats. Good fats help regulate cell reproduction, inhibit tumor growth, boost the immune system and reduce inflammation.
6. Drink at least 64 ounces of water every day to flush out fat, free radicals, and other toxins that invite cancers.
7. Avoid bad estrogens not only by choosing hormone-free foods, but by heating/microwaving in glass or ceramic (never plastic), using stainless steel or BPA-free water bottles, and switching to GREEN household, garden, and personal care products. (see March 3rd blog “Got Milk”, www.menopausibilities.wordpress.com)
8. Normalize cortisol/stress hormone levels that raise blood sugar and insulin levels which provide raw fuel for tumors. Prioritizing ME time to unwind and counteract stress with deep breathing and tension releasing exercise (stretching, yoga, swimming, walking, etc.) can prevent breast cancers triggered by uncontrolled stress. So too can we protect ourselves from the cancer inducing effects of toxic stress by doing the things we love to do and spending time with the people, pets, projects that calm, relax, engage, and ignite our energy, zest for living, and immunities against cancer. Prevention IS the Cure! It’s simply a no brainer.
In subsequent posts during breast cancer awareness month I will provide you with specific information about the hormonal links to breast cancer. Meanwhile, if the prevention motto moves you, comment on our blog and tell us how you maintain your weight, balance your hormones, reduce estrogen dominance and protect your girls against breast cancer!
It never ends I said to no one in particular. And then loud enough to raise a few eyebrows: when will these people get it right!! I was referring of course to the crazy- making misinformation on hormones that crops up way too often in the popular press. I had been in the doctors office that day, riffling through the Health and Science section of a month old Time Magazine when my eye landed on a handy dandy chart divided into OLD SCIENCE – NEW SCIENCE. The OLD column was in a muddy green hue and the NEW in eco-green.
Under OLD Science on Hormone Replacement it was written: Estrogen and progestin protected post-menopausal women from heart disease.
Under NEW Science it was written: Hormones do not protect the heart and can increase the risk of breast cancer.
Excuse me? They got the first part right, but to then say that “hormones do not protect….” sounds like they are saying ALL hormones do not protect and ALL hormones are bad for us when nothing could be further from the truth. Endogenous hormones, the real ones that our bodies produce naturally, certainly do protect the heart and the breasts (not to mention all the other reproductive organs in the body, including blood vessels, bones, brain, etc.), that’s what they are there for! And the next best thing to the real thing? A bioidentical hormone, derived from plant substances made to mimic mother nature. Yet the presumably up-to-date editors of Time’s Health and Science section (no less) chose not to make mention of bioidentical hormones. They chose not to mention what is widely recognized by scientists and experts alike that Bioidentical Hormone Restoration Therapy” or BHRT is the new HRT.
And in the year 2012, a full decade since the bad news about Prempro hit the headlines, there was no mention of the millions of American women who are switching over to BHRT because it works – without putting us at risk for strokes, heart disease and breast cancer. We women are on to the NEW science of bioidenticals, learning how hormones work in our bodies, reading the studies, listening to the experts, partnering with providers and experiencing the relief. We have seen the future of women’s hormonal health and we’re not going back!
My little hormonal rant puts me in mind of a recent “Dr. Oz Says” that I have to share with you here: “Hormones are better now. The Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) monitored women taking high doses of Prempro, a synthetic mix of horse derived estrogens and progestin ….. This combo is still prescribed today, but you should insist on today’s much safer types of hormone therapy: bioidentical estrogen, and especially, progesterone. They can lower your breast cancer risk and protect your heart. Yes, we’re going against the establishment but you deserve the right data, not the BS (bad science) from those who seem not to care what the WHI and other studies said. Today’s hormone therapy is safer – so safe in fact that it is the intelligent option for women.”
Oz says it all, and he says it all right. Mixed in with the mixed messages on hormonal health there are those who are doing the work, witnessing its benefit, and unafraid to speak truth to power. In the paradigm shift from synthetic to authentic hormones the science is growing and it is on our side.
You can gather that evidence for yourself by checking out the scientific resource sections at Women in Balance www.womeninbalance.org or The Seventh Woman Foundation www.theseventhwoman.org. Meanwhile join in the discussion and comment right here on the blog to let us know how you have experienced the benefit of BHRT and natural hormone balance.
How well I remember a certain Christmas season in Idaho about 15 years ago ….I was in my late 40s then and had just moved back to the States from England – a culture shock and-a-half. My daughters, Jess and Rye were still little, 9 and 6 years old, and having a hard time making friends who could understand their English accents. My husband was setting up a photography studio in our garage (bad idea). I was looking for work in health publishing where there was none. It was a tough transition and to top it off, my hormones were in full revolt. Between the mood swings and hot flashes every 20 minutes, no amount of holiday cheer could cheer me up. In the dead of winter I kept opening up the windows, and gawd help anyone who complained of frostbite. “Try putting on another sweater,” I would bark at my shivering little ones… Needless to say, my family was beginning to hate me…. That Christmas Ebenezer Scrooge had nothin’ on me!
I guess I should have built an igloo in the back yard and moved in… that might have helped. But when it came to helping myself, I was my own worst enemy…drinking too much caffeine, eating all the wrong things, and not getting enough sleep! Forget hitting the pause button – I was in full-throttle Peri-menopause and letting it get the best of me.
The night before Christmas, the only creature stirring all through the house was I, woken by the sound of night sweats dripping on the floor (well it was almost that bad). Around 2am, I went outside to stand on the deck (in minus 10 degrees… ahh relief) when I heard a noise behind me. Was I about to meet the jolly man himself? Would he wag his finger in my face for scarfing all his cookies and for being a mostly naughty, not nice, peri-menopausal person? He would have been perfectly within his rights to say so. But no, it was Ryan, my little one, too excited to sleep. “Mommy, has Santa been here yet?” She looked over at the tree and then up at me, crumbs trailing down my PJ’s. “Mommy, did you eat the cookies we made for Santa!!” She started to wail; “now he’ll never come! You’re a mean mommy!” A mean (hot, sweaty, flabby, crabby, itchy, bitchy) mommy, that’s what I was. But I didn’t want to be. I didn’t want to be that person. And I never wanted to see that look on my child’s face again!! That Christmas was the beginning, the eve of my journey back to balance.
I hit the books, starting with What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Menopause, by Dr. John R. Lee, the bible for women in menopause. (A couple pages in, I started to cry, he was speaking to ME!) Hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, weight gain, the dreaded belly fat in particular, nervousness, irritability, i.e. behaving like the wicked witch of the west to those you love best in all the world? I could blame it on my hormones. The extent to which I was out-of-sync had everything to do with the extent to which my hormones were out-of-sync. Yes, I could expect my hormones to significantly shift in mid-life, but however steep or rapidly the shift occurred was clearly up to me. I could stop the rollercoaster and get off. So I did, and so can you! In fact it’s one of our essential guiding principles: You can get off the rollercoaster and get your mojo back!
Start now:1) Buy Dr. Lee’s book and read it cover to cover. (Stay tuned for other selected books that Kyle and I love, and that will be available for you to order in the New Year right here on our blog.)
2) Get your hormones tested (www.zrtlab.com) to determine whether and to what extent your hormones are out of balance.
3) If testing reveals imbalances requiring hormone support insist on bioidentical vs. synthetic hormones (HT).
4) Find a provider to partner with for prescribed hormone therapy
5) Support your adrenal glands! They have to manage your stress response, energy levels, immunities AND take over all hormone production in mid-life so these mighty little glands need all the help they can get: optimal nutrition, exercise, stress control, sleep and pursuit of meaningful work and ME time.
For specific tips about how to quell the hot flashes please keep reading:
• Avoid alcohol, caffeine, sugar, spicy foods, hot soups and drinks that can trigger hot flashes and worsen mood swings.
• Steer clear of unnecessary, avoidable stress since it is one of the biggest causes of hot flashes and night sweats. Your body reacts to constant stress by raising cortisol levels, which alters the normal balance of hormones in the body. Vow not to let stress take center stage in your life. Start to banish it
now by breathing deep to get oxygen to the brain, an instant stress reliever. Make time to read, relax, soak in the tub, take a 20-minute walk, or a 10-minute catnap, cancel at least one appointment a week.
• Reset the temperature in your house to 68 degrees.
Studies show that sleeping in a cooler room can lead to deeper sleep. Night sweats can be triggered by changes in room temperature, so if you start off cool and use minimal covers, you are less likely to wake in a sweat as your body warms up through the night.
• Daily exercise can release held tension in the body, so you can truly relax. It also triggers endorphins; the “feel good” hormones that help you feel calmer and increase your overall sense of well being. Studies tell us that woman who make exercise a part of their daily routine have fewer hot flashes, night sweats and other symptoms of imbalance.
Supplements that can help relieve hot flashes:
• Bioidentical progesterone (balanced by bioidentical estrogen as need be) may dramatically reduce the strength and frequency of hot flashes by keeping estrogen and progesterone balanced and less prone to fluctuate erratically. Studies have shown up to 80 percent relief from hot flashes in women using bioidentical progesterone in a ‘Goldilocks’ dose – no more and no less than the body needs.
• Multivitamins and Trace Minerals (zinc, selenium, etc), B-complex, Vitamin E, and Flax seed (grind your own and sprinkle on salads, oatmeal, in smoothies etc.) help to optimize hormone production and metabolism, and diminish hot flashes and night sweats.
• Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) are essentials for balanced estrogen production and GOOD for hot flashes
• Soy protein in moderation has been shown in studies to relieve hot flashes and night sweats. Asian women with soy-rich diets are famous for their lack of hot flashes and menopause symptoms. (Best sources of soy are fermented as the Asians take them in, e.g. tofu, tempeh, miso, etc. vs. overdoing it with soy lattes, chips and bars.)
• Phytonutrients found in plants and herb supplements, such as magnolia, red clover, dong quai, black cohosh, rhodiola, etc. and other “weak plant-based estrogens” can cool hot flashes and help you refocus.