Can green tea or soy reduce risk of breast cancer?

What about the estrogen in green tea and soy for increasing breast lumps?  My GP has told me not to drink green tea.

Green tea does not contain any estrogen. In fact, some research has suggested that it may actually help in estrogen metabolism and reduce reduce risk of  breast cancer.

Soy contains isoflavones which are known as phytoestrogens because they can bind to estrogen receptors and exert weak estrogenic effects. Soy foods have been shown in studies to offer many health benefits including providing protection against osteoporosis (increasing bone density), reducing risk of heart disease with beneficial effects on cholesterol, platelets and blood vessels, and relieving menopause symptoms.

According to most human research, eating whole soy foods does not increase risk of breast or endometrial cancer in postmenopausal women, and may even be protective.  There is also some evidence that soy may be beneficial for cyclic breast pain and improve fibrocystic breast conditions.

However, consuming purified soy products and supplements is a different matter. A study published in Carcinogenesis suggests that not only is the cancer-preventive ability of soy foods markedly reduced in highly purified soy products and supplements, but that such processed foods can stimulate the growth of pre-existing estrogen-dependent breast tumors.

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Supplements for Breast Health for Breast Cancer Survivors

If you have already had breast cancer, are BRCA2 positive and are taking Tamoxifen,  taking femMED Breast Health can help protect breast tissue by aiding detoxification, helping the body eliminate harmful estrogens and promoting a healthy estrogen balance. Specifically, it helps raise levels of 2-hydroxy estrogen, which is a form of estrogen that is breast-protective. In fact, several studies have shown that as levels of 2-hydroxyestrogen increase and levels of 16-hydroxyestrogen decrease, the risk for breast cancer decreases.

femMED’s Breast Health formula was just recently involved in a double-blind, placebo controlled clinical trial that was published in a peer reviewed journal called Breast Cancer: Basic and Clinical Research. This study was also presented at a prestigious scientific conference. Researchers evaluated the product in 47 pre-menopausal women and 49 post-menopausal women for 28 days. On day one and 28, they analyzed blood and urine samples for estrogen metabolites. They discovered that femMED’s Breast Health supplement significantly increased the mean urinary concentration of 2-hydroxy estrogen in pre- and post-menopausal women (by 110% and 88%, respectively). The Breast Health supplement was well-tolerated, and displayed no adverse side effects.

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The Role of Supplements for Breast Health

Breast Health Supplements

At the turn of the century, 1 in 90 women had breast cancer.   Today it’s 1 in 8.   Despite advances in research and treatment, breast cancer continues to take a significant toll on women in our country.   Many risk factors for breast cancer can’t be changed: family history, the age at which you get your first period, and the age at which you go through menopause.

However, risk can be increased or decreased based on the lifestyle choices you make.  Fortunately, there are ways to reduce your risk that are entirely in your control.

Consider Breast Health Supplements

femMED Breast Health is a clinically proven, specially formulated solution with seven proven ingredients which regulate hormones, inhibit abnormal cell growth and support detoxification. They work together to protect breast tissue, promote a healthy estrogen balance and even reduce menstrual cycle breast pain and tenderness.

Included in the ingredients is Indole-3-carbinol, a nutrient found in cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli. It aids in the detoxification of estrogen, has anti-cancer properties and fights free radical damage. Milk thistle supports liver function and aids in detoxification. Calcium-D-glucarate helps the liver detoxify and eliminate estrogen. Studies have shown that Vitamin D3 may help reduce breast cancer development and growth.

Other Ways that May Prevent Breast Cancer

Maintain a Healthy Weight

The amount of weight a woman gains after age 18 is a strong indicator of breast cancer risk, especially after menopause. Older women who gained 20-30 pounds after high school had 40% increased risk compared to those women who kept their weight down. Another report stated that the risk doubled if a woman gained over 70 pounds. This is in part due to the fact that many breast tumors thrive on estrogen and body fat stores estrogen. Don’t give cancer a good place to hide.

Foods that Fight Breast Cancer

Indole-3-Carbinol (I3C) is a naturally occurring phyto-nutrient (plant based) found in vegetables like broccoli, kale, cabbage and cauliflower. I3C helps protect breast tissue by stimulating your body’s natural detoxifying enzymes. This aids the body in releasing excess estrogen safely.

Rethink Hormone Replacement Therapy

Current and long-term users of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) have an increased risk of developing breast cancer, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association. HRT was found to raise the number of breast cancers that are ductal and lobular.

Stop Smoking

Tobacco smoke carries carcinogens, which can accumulate in fluid around the breasts. Active smoking can significantly increase your risk of breast and lung cancers, and passive smoking may also raise your risk. Get help to kick the habit and improve your long-term health. The evidence is piling up supporting  a link between smoking and breast cancer. It’s another good reason to stop smoking.

Watch the Alcohol

Regular and modest amounts of alcohol can raise your estrogen levels. Even one drink a day can expose breast tissue to higher hormone levels. Since some breast tumors are estrogen-sensitive, alcohol can increase the risk that the cells in that tissue will become cancerous. Limit your intake to lower your risk.

Get Regular Excercise

Exercise helps manage weight and decrease the risk of several cancers, including breast cancer.

Breast Self Exam (BSE)

Self examination on a routine basis allows you to become familiar with how your breasts normally look and feel. This can help you become aware of any changes that may occur.

Clinical Breast Exam (CBE)

A clinical breast exam is an examination by a healthcare professional; who uses his/her hands to feel for lumps or other changes. Many women have a CBE as part of their regular health check-up. If you are between 40-49 years of age it is recommended that you have a CBE at least every two years.

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Part Three-Breast Cancer -What can be done to reduce your risk?

Lifestyle Interventions

Maintain a Healthy Weight

Carrying an extra 10 pounds of body fat after age 30 increases the risk of breast cancer by 25%. Fat is metabolically active and the major source of estrone following menopause. Maintain a healthy body weight (BMI less than 24) and avoid eating excessive dietary animal fat (less than 20% of daily calories).

Exercise regularly

Regular exercise reduces insulin resistance and body fat and independently can reduce the risk of breast cancer. Data from the Nurses Health Study has shown that even after a diagnosis of breast cancer, women who exercise have better survival rates.

Avoid Alcohol

Excessive consumption of alcohol is one of the most important risk factors for breast cancer following family history. Drinking more than 3 glasses per week increased the risk of breast cancer by 5-fold in the Nurses Health Study.

Consume plenty of Fruits & Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are rich in anti-oxidants (vitamin A, C, E and selenium). The more colourful -the better. Anti-oxidants reduce free radical damage to DNA. Cruciferous vegetables contain indole-3-carbinol, which increases the 2/16 ratio by aiding in estrogen metabolism. Consuming at least 3 servings daily of broccoli, nappa cabbage, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, and kale or using a dietary supplement like femMED Breast Health can correct the ratio.

Eat Organic

Industrial pesticides (DDT, lindane) and colorants (Red Dye#3) can bind to estrogen receptors and are linked with breast cancer. Consuming organically grown produce to avoid these pesticides and toxins is recommended. Furthermore, commercial livestock is often treated with hormones that can stimulate the breast. Selecting organic meat and dairy can help avoid these hormones.

Avoid industrial plastics/chemicals

Bisphenol-A (banned in Canada in 2010), polystyrene and other compounds present in plastic food packaging and bottles binds to estrogen receptors and are carcinogenic. Use glass cookware for microwave heating foods. Use hair dyes with caution as some of the chemicals used in hair dyes are known carcinogens. The scalp is more absorbent than the skin and chemicals in hair dyes can bind estrogen receptors. Several studies have shown an increased risk of breast cancer with regular use of hair dyes.

Manage your Stress

Mind-body balance is critical to wellbeing and good health. Constant stress contributes to prolonged high cortisol levels which in turn impairs the function of our immune system. We are dependent on our immune system to detect and eliminate cells damaged by free radicals. It is not uncommon that a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer following a stressful life event such as divorce or death of a loved one. Stress reduction techniques include meditation, moderate exercise, tai chi and yoga and pleasurable activities such as enjoying a massage or bath.

There are many other factors that are emerging as risk factors for breast cancer including exposure to synthetic hormones such as those used in oral contraceptives and in menopause hormone therapy, tobacco smoking, direct trauma or injury to the breast and radiation.

Regular screening for breast cancer enables early detection (not prevention) and has been shown to save lives. It is important to partake in regular screening programs involving mammograms performed every 1-2 years after menopause.

Research suggests that by time breast cancer can be visualized by mammogram it has been developing for over 7 years. For this reason, it is important to utilize additional tools in conjunction with mammography to identify women at increased risk include ultrasound, thermography, evaluation of estrogen metabolism, and ductal lavage or nipple aspirate fluid collection.

While our understanding of the factors that transform healthy breast cells to cancer remains in its infancy, it is clear that much of the risk is amenable to interventions under our control. For too long, the focus of intensive research has been on the detection of breast cancer and not its prevention. Dr. Pearlman believes it is time to shift the focus and welcomes the opportunity to discuss how these recommendations can be used to empower you and protect you.



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Part One-Breast Cancer -What can be done to reduce your risk?

Breast cancer results from uncontrolled growth of breast cells. About 1 in 8 Canadian women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. Only 20% of women diagnosed with breast cancer have a family history of breast cancer and known gene mutations (such as BRCA1 and BRCA2) account for only 5 to 10% of cases. This means that most breast cancer occurs in women without a family history.

Women living in the US have a 10-fold greater risk of dying from breast cancer than do women living in Thailand. When women migrate from areas with a low incidence of breast cancer (i.e. Asia) to the US their breast cancer risk increases. These facts suggest that environment, diet and lifestyle play an important role. Unlike gender and age, these modifiable risk factors can be controlled by; maintaining a healthy weight, diet, regular exercise, restoring hormone balance, avoiding alcohol, and avoiding environmental toxins that can serve as transforming agents for breast cancer (i.e. xenoestrogens and carcinogens).

The following is a list of scientifically based interventions to reduce your risk of developing breast cancer.

Restore Hormone Balance

The phase prior to menopause (lasting 5 to 7 years) is marked by increasing levels of estrogen and falling progesterone as the ovarian follicles are no longer capable of producing efficient ovulation. As well, there is a significant shift in the balance of the three forms of estrogen as menopause approaches with falling levels of estriol (E3) and estradiol (E2) and increasing levels of estrone (E1). E1 continues to be made in postmenopausal women as it is converted in fat tissue and the adrenal glands. The surplus of E1 and low levels of protective progesterone are major contributors to the rise in breast cancer after menopause.

Optimize Estrogen Metabolism

Estrogens are broken down by the liver and tissue into three major metabolites -two of which have potent activity at the estrogen receptor and are both mutagenic and carcinogenic to the breast. A high “2/16 ratio” of favourable metabolites (2hydroxy-estrone) to toxic metabolites (16hydroxy- estrone) is considered protective and can be enhanced through nutritional factors that optimize the hydroxylation of estrogen. Factors that can increase the 2/16 ratio include; cruciferous vegetables, indole 3-carbimole (400mg), di-iodomethionine (DIM), soy, flax, rosemary, and vitamin D3.

The supplement from femMED, Breast health containing indole-3 carbinol, milk thistle extract, calcium-D- glucarate, Schizandra chinensis fruit extract, stinging nettle, lignans and vitamin D recently underwent a double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Researchers were pleasantly surprised to discover consumption of the femMED supplement significantly increased the mean urinary concentration of 2- OHE in pre- and post-menopausal women (by 110% and 88%, respectively), suggesting a risk- reducing effect. The Breast Health supplement was well-tolerated, and displayed no adverse side effects. The study was published in Breast Cancer: Basic and Clinical Research.


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