Dear Pharmacist: My sister and mother have both had breast cancer, so far I’m OK (but obviously worried). What is your number one recommendation for me since my genetics are bad? Thanks. — K.B., Orlando, Fla.
A: When it comes to breast health, your weight matters the most in my opinion. But another important factor is hormone balance.
Let’s start with weight. I do not know your particular size or weight, so I will speak from a general standpoint. Those flabby abs and thighs can increase production of dangerous cancer-causing hormones, including estrogen. Clinical trials will often conclude that “estrogen promotes cell proliferation in breast tumors,” which could also be stated this way: Fat causes cancer.
Fat cells hold on to estrogen, and estrogen drives certain cancers. Losing weight helps because doing so reduces estrogen load in the body, and this may slow growth of tumors (even before you find out they’re in you). Yes, even before diagnoses. Why wait for the cancer to be diagnosed? Remember, tumors don’t grow overnight; it has been growing for years, sometimes 10 to 20 years, before it’s picked up by an imaging scan.
Losing weight also works because this lowers serum insulin, and high insulin is a risk factor in the development of cancer as well as 30 other disabling medical conditions. You see, insulin increases an enzyme in your body called “aromatase enzyme.” This is the same enzyme which converts testosterone and androstenedione to estrogen within the cells. Remember, I just told you excessive estrogen fuels cancer growth. I’ve posted an article I wrote on this at my website; just use my search box to find “Many Diseases Linked to High Insulin.”
The point is losing weight is critical, and choosing good foods can help you regain your figure while slashing your risk of cancer. I think the best breast food you can eat is broccoli. This vegetable, as well as other crucifers (cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, turnips) have a positive impact on the way you break down your estrogen. They benefit breast health by reducing four and 16 estrogens (considered harmful) while increasing a protective, potent anti-cancer form of estrogen called 2-methoxyestradiol.
Supplements, which increase production of this 2 estrogen, are sold nationwide at health foods stores as “I3C” for indole-3-carbonol, or a related type which is better for people with low stomach acid called “DIM.” Both I3C and DIM are proven to support breast and prostate health. Natural iodine supplements can help this pathway too.
On my “no-no” list are fried or fast foods, any boxed, processed or heavily refined dinners and anything artificial, as well as a diet high in refined sugar.
Coconut, olive, avocado and grape seed oil are all wonderful to include in your diet. Spices such as curcumin and saffron are powerful herbs you should eat frequently (or supplement with). And obviously, monitor your hormones with a urine analysis each year.
This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. For more information about Suzy Cohen, visit her Website at www.suzycohen.com.