October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month so I wanted to take this opportunity to talk about prevention. I want to share tips for reducing the risk of developing breast cancer, both for men and women. These tips will also help you to reduce your chances of getting cancer overall.
After several years of research, we now know that the driver for all chronic illnesses and diseases is inflammation. There are a lot of things that we can do to improve our chances of stopping that inflammation. In this blog post, we will discuss the role of lifestyle in preventing breast cancer, metabolization of estrogen, the immune response, and testing and treatment.
Nutrition for Breast Cancer Prevention
I’ve talked so many times before about lifestyle playing a large role in overall health and it’s no different when speaking about cancer prevention. Nutrition is very important in keeping inflammation down. As a matter of fact, one of the most inflammatory substances that we put into our body is food that comes in the form of sugars, highly processed foods, and grains. We also don’t eat enough antioxidants so those brightly colored fruits and vegetables that actually help decrease oxidation or if you will rust inside of our body. Oxidation contributes greatly to cancer.
Movement and Sleep
The other thing that we need to make sure to do is move move and move some more! Movement really helps a multitude of things but in particular for cancer prevention, it helps to move the lymph. The lymph nodes that we have in our body are there to help us prevent infections and diseases like cancer. So when that fluid becomes stagnant because we don’t move that puts us at a higher risk for developing cancer.
We also have to make sure we get plenty of sleep. Our body repairs itself and detoxifies at night while we sleep. And of course, we also have to make it a priority to reduce and manage our stress better. Stress can cause high or low cortisol and that decreases our immune response.
Metabolization of Estrogen
Another important factor, again whether you’re a man or a woman, is how you metabolize your estrogen. The metabolization of estrogen happens through the liver. It’s a detox process and if you are not metabolizing your estrogens well those estrogens will build up over time. If they go down the wrong detoxification pathway they can become more dangerous for your body, putting you at higher risk for not only breast cancer but also uterine cancers. We always want to balance estrogen with progesterone and as we age our progesterone levels tend to drop and then our estrogen levels can drop. We have to make sure we are balancing them out.
There is an enzyme called Beta-glucuronidase that affects estrogen metabolism. If beta-glucuronidase is too high, we are unable to rid our body of extra estrogen. The estrogen that gets broken down through our liver typically goes to our colon so that we can eliminate it. But if we have too much of that enzyme, that estrogen just gets reabsorbed again putting us at an imbalance and causing us to have higher estrogen. And that can increase breast cancer risk.
70 to 80% of our immune response resides in our gastrointestinal tract (our gut). So if our gut is not healthy, we won’t be able to adequately protect our bodies from any kind of infection that comes our way. This also applies to any kind of cancer that our immune system needs to be strong and fight.
Testing and Treatment for Breast Cancer Prevention
At Julian Healthcare I test hormones to determine estrogen pathways as well as levels of the different hormones that we have. We also do stool testing to look at your gut health and to look for that beta-glucuronidase enzyme. If you’re interested in learning more or having a personalized treatment plan put together to help you decrease your risk of getting cancer, I would love to help you. Give us a call at Julian Healthcare!
Susan Julian, NP, IFMCP