Estrogen plays many important roles in the body. For example, it is necessary for a woman’s menstrual cycle and for reproduction. It also supports cardiovascular and bone health. And, while estrogen is needed for the development of breasts, too much exposure to estrogen can also increase a woman’s risk of breast cancer. Estrogen can stimulate breast cell division and can support the growth of estrogen-responsive tumors.
Within the body, there are different estrogen metabolites which are known to be either beneficial or harmful. Simple urine tests are available to measure the metabolites and ratios to assess one’s risk. For example, the company Metametrix offers a test that measures the 2-hydroxyestrone (“good” estrogen) to 16-α-hydroxyestrone (“bad” estrogen). The 2:16 ratio can assess a woman’s long-term risk for breast, cervical, and other estrogen-sensitive cancers. Higher concentrations of 2-metabolites and lower concentrations of 16-metabolites may reduce breast cancer risk as well as the risk for other hormonally-related cancers. The good news is that nutritional interventions can promote a healthy 2:16 ratio.
In a recent study involving 47 premenopausal and 49 postmenopausal women, the results indicate that supplementation with an herbal formula may reduce the risk of breast cancer. Continue reading “Herbal Formula Shows Promise for Reducing Breast Cancer Risk”
Dr. Jerry V. Teplitz offers this information about new studies regarding breast cancer treatment.
A study reported in Annals of Surgery found that for certain women with breast cancer, a lumpectomy which includes the removal of many lymph nodes may not be necessary. When cancer has spread to the lymph nodes, the current standard cancer treatment is removal of all the other non-cancerous nodes in the region. This study found that removing all these lymph nodes has virtually no impact on survival or disease recurrence. As a matter of fact, reducing the number of lymph nodes removed reduces the patient’s levels of pain and debilitation.
Another study found that if a lumpectomy is performed, then a single dose of radiation delivered directly to the site of the tumor right after the surgery was as effective as 6 weeks of daily radiation treatments.
After five years, the survival rate for those who had all the lymph nodes removed was 82.2%, while the survival rate for those who did not have this surgery was a little better at 83.8%.
Please be sure to consult with your own health care practitioner about what options are best for you.
Aside from mammography, there are other diagnostic tools that can be used to confirm the presence or absence of cancer. However, most health care professionals still consider these as a supplement to mammography and not a replacement. Sort of like breast self-exams and the ones done by your doctor. Although there has been much controversy about breast self-exams and their effectiveness, I still think it is important to do them. You should know and be familiar with your body, and if something doesn’t feel quite right, you can go to the doctor and let them know. Then a follow-up can be done with a diagnostic test of some kind.
Mammograms have been an important step in helping women detect breast cancer early. However, this test can be painful, uncomfortable and sometimes unreliable. It also adds radiation to the body. Thermography, or digital infrared imaging (DII) is a painless, non-invasive procedure that uses an infrared camera and a computer to detect, analyze and produce high resolution diagnostic images of temperature variations within the breast. One of the key benefits of thermography is its sensitivity to detecting abnormalities or changes in tissues long before a mammogram or other screening method could. So, while mammography relies on finding the physical tumor, thermography can detect the new blood vessels and chemical changes associated with a tumor’s growth. Continue reading “Diagnostic Tools and Screening Tests for Breast Cancer”
New information came out today that women who regularly take fish oils may have a lower risk of breast cancer! Wahoo! The study was on 35,000 women who were part of a larger study looking at different supplements and health. When the researchers looked at the women who took the fish oil supplements, they found they had a 32% reduced risk of breast cancer, which appeared to be restricted to invasive ductal breast cancer, the most common type. Researchers cautioned that fish oil supplements should not be taken for reducing breast cancer risk, and have issued a statement that “without confirming studies…we should not draw any conclusions about a causal relationship.” The study was “observational” only, and not a randomized trial that compared the use of fish oil with a group not using fish oil and the effect on cancer rates.
I think this is another reason to take a good quality Omega 3. Keep in mind that diet, exercise and genetics play huge roles in breast cancer and must be considered as well.