How Hormones Affect Your Breast Cancer Risk

Adrenal Hormone Balance and Breast Cancer Risk

Do you know the role that insulin and fat retention play to your cancer risk? This is a great breakdown of how your adrenal system’s balance, insulin, blood sugar, and weight all play a part in your breast cancer risk and why getting your hormones into a healthy state of balance as early as possible is a vital step for your lifelong health and well being.

Hormone balance is deeply connected to the food we eat, the exercise we get, the toxins we absorb, the weight we carry, and the stress levels we put up with. How these multiple factors impact the overall hormone picture is crucial, particularly at midlife when most hormone production is taken over by the adrenal glands. If stress takes center stage in our lives and becomes chronic, cortisol floods the system and total hormone production lags. This forces the body to steal from its own supplies of available progesterone, to make more cortisol, thus depleting this key balancing hormone with obvious implications for estrogen dominance.

Prolonged stress tears up our bones, melts our muscles, robs us of strength and energy, lowers our libido and overwhelms our immunities, putting us at serious risk for chronic illness and autoimmune disease.

The bottom line: when our adrenals get run down, we get run down. Supporting them with enough rest, exercise, and good nutrition is vital to maintaining hormone balance and long-term health.

Belly Fat, Insulin Resistance and Breast Cancer Risk

Insulin is the hormone responsible for maintaining normal blood sugar (glucose) levels in the body. The foods we eat break down into glucose, and insulin’s job is to transport that glucose into the cells that turn it into fuel for energy. Insulin resistance arises when the body is flooded with more sugar than it can handle, and attempts to deliver that glucose to the cells are met with resistance. The syndrome goes hand-in-hand with rising rates of obesity and diabetes.

What, you might ask, has this to do with breast cancer? The answer boils down to simple physiology. Excess carbohydrates (especially in refined foods and sugars) that are not needed for energy are stored as fat. Increased body fat increases estrogen levels and increased estrogen levels lead to estrogen dominance, which, as we already know, leads to increased risks for breast cancer.

Insulin resistance is linked with many health problems, Type II diabetes, being the most commonly known, but it also leads to an increased risk of breast cancer. Insulin is a growth factor and as we eat more and more carbohydrates and sweets, it rises, and as it does it increases IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor) which stimulates cancer cells.

Insulin resistance and the belly fat that often accompanies it are at epidemic proportions with long-term consequences besides breast cancer: more hypertension, heart attack stroke, and other cancers. Some predictions have the US life expectancy about to decline for the first time in history.

Lifestyle approaches to avoid insulin resistance:

  • Throw out the bad carbs—the buns, the chips, the fries, and the doughnuts for whole grains, vegetables and high fiber fruits
  • Eat a high protein breakfast and make sure you have some high quality protein at every meal, but don’t go overboard. You can figure out the right amount of protein to eat every day by multiplying your ideal weight by 0.55
  • Eat slowly and stop before you are full
  • If you are apple-shaped with most of your weight concentrated in your belly and upper body, you may be insulin resistant and might benefit from supplements like chromium and alpha lipoic acid that improve blood sugar and insulin balance

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Fact And Fiction About Breast Cancer Risks

Unfortunately, we’re all at risk of becoming cancer victims. But for women who struggle with hormonal imbalance, there are a few extra things to keep in mind when it comes to lowering your cancer risk and keeping yourself healthier for longer.

One important step is separating fact from fiction.

FICTION: A breast cancer diagnosis is merely an unlucky roll of the dice. Though nothing has been proven to eliminate cancer risk, it’s vital that every woman understands that she has the power to reduce her own breast cancer risk with simple lifestyle choices.

But the phrase ‘simple lifestyle choices’ is not a headline-maker…so a common sense approach to this subject is not always easy to find, though it is very real! Here’s what you need to know about reducing your breast cancer risk:

FACT: Excess weight and obesity increases breast cancer risk. In recent studies, researchers at Montefiore Medical Center looked at breast cancer patient outcomes  and found that, despite state of the art treatment, excess weight or obesity increased breast cancer recurrence by 30%-50%! (Learn more about the study in this video from Montefiore Medical Center.)

FACT: Two-thirds of all breast cancers are fueled by excess or unbalanced estrogen. The increased risk detected in the Montefiore study was specifically linked to women whose breast cancer tumors were fueled by estrogen. What is the link between fat and estrogen, you ask?

FACT: Simply put, fat cells are mini-estrogen producing factories. So the more body fat we have, the more fat cells we have churning out estrogen – and raising the risk for breast cancer or its recurrence. Women with the most common forms of breast cancer who are overweight or obese at the time of diagnosis have significantly higher risk of breast cancer recurrence and death

FACT: A healthy weight is the best defense against hormone imbalances that can fuel a breast cancer diagnosis or recurrence. Since an increase in body mass equaled an increase in breast cancer recurrence, your best choice for preventing or minimizing risk for breast cancer is losing weight and maintaining hormone balance.
– via Your Hormone Balance

Are you working to get your hormones into balance?