Hormone Therapy After Breast Cancer

Hormone Therapy After Breast Cancer

Conflicting studies and negative media reports have done it again. Even specialists are confused about prescribing hormone replacement therapy to survivors of breast cancer.

The phrase “adding fuel to the fire” is almost becoming a cliché in the context of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and breast cancer. Unnaturally high levels of the hormone estrogen are widely known to play a part in causing breast cancer. So, many oncologists and specialists, sometimes influenced by sensationalist media reports, still believe breast cancer survivors should stay away from HRT that includes estrogen in case their cancer worsens or recurs. But should they?

Perhaps the phrase “throwing the baby out with the bathwater” is more appropriate. Maintaining a healthy hormone balance, which includes natural estrogen, is absolutely vital for any woman – breast cancer survivor or not. If more cancer occurs in those with normal hormone levels, it’s not because the hormones themselves are necessarily causing them. It’s because a hormone deficiency slows everything in the body down, including the cancer growth. What successful hormone treatment depends on is the careful monitoring of all hormone levels and making sure that the replacement hormones are not foreign to the body. For more than a decade, integrative and preventive medicine specialists have been advocating this view, but it still seems as though it hasn’t quite filtered into conventional practice yet.

Nature Knows Best

Given the uncertainty of the research, one can hardly blame specialists like Dr Guidozzi and his peers for their hesitation. But it’s also worth mentioning that all the studies he mentions focused on testing the effect of pharmaceutically produced, synthetic hormones on breast cancer. In light of this, it’s perhaps not surprising that some of them produced worrying results. In fact, one of the most widely publicised investigations of the health effects of synthetic estrogen and progestin, called the Women’s Health Initiative Randomized Controlled Trial, was stopped in 2002 due to a sharp spike in the number of breast cancer cases among the otherwise healthy participants receiving these hormones.8

Since then, it’s almost become an accepted fact that HRT with synthetic hormones is risky business, because it significantly ups a woman’s chances of developing breast cancer. But that might be due to one (or both) of two possible reasons. Firstly, the hormone levels might not be monitored and balanced carefully enough, which means that the level of estrogen goes up so high that cancer does become a risk. Secondly, neither the replacement estrogen nor the replacement progesterone used in conventional HRT is bioidentical. They are synthetic molecules, which are foreign and unnatural to the body, which may trigger unwanted responses that could lead to cancer. And if synthetic hormones can cause cancer where previously there was none, just imagine what it would do in someone who is already vulnerable to the disease, having suffered from it before.

Hormones & Cancer

Another point that should be made is that a careful distinction is needed between the different kinds of estrogen, because not all estrogen is bad. The three kinds of estrogen found naturally in the body are estriol, estradiol and estrone, and each has its own function. Estradiol and estrone can damage DNA.9 High levels of these estrogens are therefore strongly linked to breast cancer and should be kept low in those who’ve either had the disease before, or who have a strong family history.10

Estriol, on the other hand, is a protective estrogen, the levels of which are high during pregnancy.11 Some of its protective qualities come from the fact that it blocks the estrogen-sensitive cells in the body and so keeps the damaging estradiol from binding with them. Higher levels of estriol may play a crucial role in preventing breast cancer from recurring. Progesterone has almost the same effect as estriol because this hormone also “down regulates” the estrogen receptors in the breasts and uterus.12

Testosterone, traditionally considered a “male” hormone, also has been shown to have breast cancer-fighting effects. That’s why it’s crucial for breast cancer survivors to ensure that their testosterone levels are checked, monitored and, if too low, restored with bioidentical testosterone cream.13

From this information, it’s clear that not all hormones, or hormone replacement therapies for that matter, are created equal in terms of their role in cancer. A careful and more informed approach to bioidentical hormone replacement could have far-reaching health benefits in breast cancer survivors and shouldn’t be discouraged offhand.

BREAST CANCER RECURRENCE PROTOCOL

  • Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy based on careful evaluation
  • Indole-3-carbinol (I3C) (100mg daily)
  • Di-indole-methane (DIM) (100mg daily)
  • Quercetin (400-800mg twice daily)
  • Vitamin D3 (2,000 IU daily)
  • Krill oil (1,000mg daily) or fish oil omega-3 (2,000mg daily)
  • Melatonin (as directed by doctor).
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References

  1. 1 Guidozzi F. Hormone replacement in breast cancer survivors. News release. Distributed by fax on behalf of the council of the South African Menopause Society. Sep 2010
  2. Meurer LN, Lena S. Cancer recurrence and mortality in women using hormone replacement therapy after breast cancer: meta-analysis. Journal of Family Practice. Dec 2002;51(12):1056-62
  3. Col NF, Kim JA, Chlebowski RT. Menopausal hormone therapy after breast cancer: a meta-analysis and critical appraisal of the evidence. Breast Cancer Research. 2005;7:R535-R540
  4. Batur P, Blixen CE, et al. Menopausal hormone therapy (HT) in patients with breast cancer. Maturitas. Jan 2006;53(2):123-32
  5. Von Schoultz E, Rutqvist LE. Menopausal Hormone Therapy After Breast Cancer: The Stokholm Randomised Trial. JNCI. Jan 2005;97(7):533-5
  6. Holmberg L, Anderson H. HABITS (hormonal replacement therapy after breast cancer – is it safe?), a randomised comparison: trial stopped. The Lancet. 2004;363(9407): 453-5
  7. Kenemans P, Bundred NJ, et al. The safety and efficacy of tibolone in breastcancer patients with vasomotor symptoms: a double-blind, randomised, noninferiority trial. The Lancet. 2009;10(2):135-46
  8. Writing Group for the Women’s Health Initiative Investigators. Risks and benefits of estrogen plus progestin in healthy postmenopausal women: principal results from the Women’s Health Initiative Randomized Controlled Trial. JAMA. 2002;288(3):321-33
  9.  Hoover R, Gray LA, et al. Menopausal estrogens and breast cancer. N Engl J Med. 1976;295:401-5
  10. Bulbrook PD, Swain MC, et al. Breast cancer in Britain and Japan: Plasma oestradiol- 17b, oestrone and progesterone and their urinary metabolites in normal British and Japanese women. Eur J Cancer. 1976;12:725-35
  11. Lemon HM. Estriol prevention of mammary carcinoma induced by 7,
    12-dimethylbenzanthracene and procarbazine. Cancer Res. 1975;35:1341-53
  12. See reference 10
  13.  Somboonporn W, Davis SR. Testosterone effects on the breast: Implications for testosterone therapy for women. Endocrine Reviews. 2004;25(3):374-88

Baby Boomers Want Never-Ending Youth

Baby Boomers Want Never-Ending Youth!

The crucial role that hormones play in aging is gaining popular attention worldwide. Even Samantha Jones, Kim Cattrall’s character in Sex and the City 2,touts a hormone replacement regimen that keeps the symptoms of menopause at bay. But how do changing hormone levels affect your brain?

When your hormones are in perfect balance, your brain sees you as being a reproductive woman and wants to keep you around.” So quips the foxy Samantha Jones in her typical honeyed voice.* She’s the much-loved character played by Kim Cattrall in Sex and the City 2, in which she also touts the latest book by Suzanne Somers, titled Breakthrough: Eight Steps to Wellness. This book sees Somers continuing her impassioned crusade for antiaging medicine and natural hormone replacement therapy. Samantha may be fictional, but the book isn’t. Neither are the problems faced by so many women of Samantha’s age, who suddenly neither think nor feel quite like their younger selves. They may not realise it, but most of it has to do with the effects that hormones have on the brain.

Foggy Thinking

If you’re a woman approaching menopause, you’ve more than likely begun worrying about yourself. You’ve started finding it more difficult to retrieve facts, or you can’t remember details so clearly. Or it feels like you’re losing your mind altogether, because you forget things like birthday sand shopping lists. You may also feel as though your body has declared war on you. You may get depressed and grumpy, possibly with mood swings and, worst of all, you might be gaining lots of weight, no matter what you eat or drink, which makes you feel even worse about yourself.

All of this is because changes in your hormone levels not only affect the production of brain chemicals directly, but also how they work in your brain.

If you’re feeling any of the symptoms above, you may be estrogen deficient, or lacking in any of the other hormones that affect your brain. Progesterone deficiency, for example, usually occurs before an estrogen imbalance and comes with common complaints such as an inability to sleep as well as you used to, spells of anxiety, heavier and irregular menstrual cycles and even cysts in the breasts or growths in the uterus, called fibroids.

Youthful Levels

There are a number of reasons why you should consider restoring your hormone levels and replacing those you’re deficient in:1

Bone production Osteoporosis is a debilitating, crippling disease that’s preventable. As you grow older, you burn up, swell up and dry out, due to inflammation, dehydration, and calcium seeping out of your bones and settling in your brain and blood vessels

Growth and repair Without sufficient hormones, the body’s ability to renew itself, heal and repair damage slows down, which speeds up aging

Heart health Estrogen protects your heart. This benefit is lost when estrogen levels are low. The safest way to replace estrogen is through bioidentical hormones, absorbed either through the skin or the vagina. This way, there’s no risk of blood clotting as happens with estrogen taken orally. There’s also no risk of inflammation, no blood pressure problems, no effect on the mood-stabilising brain chemical, tryptophan, and no weight gain

Prevention of memory loss and Alzheimer’s The brain isespecially dependent on the hormone pregnenolone to replenish brain cells and for clear, quick thinking

A longer life Women who replace their hormones live longer than those who don’t.

A Chemical Balancing Act

The most important reason why hormone levels need to
be kept in check is because they directly influence the
levels of other important brain-controlling chemicals,
which either stimulate the brain for quicker, clearer
thinking, or slow it down to prevent over-excitement
and promote better sleep.2

The neurotransmitters responsible for slowing the brain down are GABA, serotonin, glycine and taurine, while the stimulating neurotransmitters include glutamate, norepinephrine, epinephrine, phenylethylamine, histamine and aspartic acid. Dopamine can either stimulate the brain, or slow it down, depending on the part of the brain on which it acts.

It’s all about maintaining a careful balance: the brain shouldn’t be over-stimulated into a frenzy, nor slowed to a crawl. The first step is usually to improve its ability to calm down and for this we generally prescribe gabatropin, inositol, taurine, N-acetyl-cysteine and theanine for GABA support.

Which Hormones to Boost?

When it comes to hormone replacement therapy, one size doesn’t fit all. You need to do what is right for your body, which is why customised natural hormone therapy is the best way to replace your hormones safely. This is because your hormone response is as unique as your fingerprints.3

How you respond to hormone restoration therapy depends on your genes, stress levels, health condition, your environment and lifestyle, the nutritional supplements you use and your diet. Since no two women are the same, or share the same lifestyle, no two women should follow identical treatment plans.

Quick guide to hormones and the brain

ESTROGEN4

  • Improves memory
  • Lowers Alzheimer’s risk
  • Lowers the risk of seizures
  • Boosts dopamine levels, which controls energy,
    motivation, drive and mood
  • Makes acetylcholine more available in the brain, a chemical needed for memory
  • Makes serotonin more available, which affects mood and relieves anxiety
  • Improves blood flow to the brain
  • Boosts norepinephrine levels, needed for energy and dealing with stress.

PROGESTERONE5

  • Keeps estrogen levels balanced, without interfering with blood flow to the brain, as synthetic “progestins” do
  • Improves sleep
  • A natural antidepressant
  • Improves libido
  • Prevents migraines and headaches
  • Helps protect nerve cells.

TESTOSTERONE6

  • Boosts norepinephrine levels, a brain chemical needed for energy and dealing with stress
  • Improves memory
  • Improves emotional well-being, self-confidence, and motivation
  • Boosts libido.

DEHYDROEPIANDROSTERONE (DHEA)7

  • Better sleep
  • Boosts growth hormone levels in the brain
  • Improves your body’s response to sugar
  • Improves mood.

PREGNENOLONE8

  • Improves the way your nerve cells work
  • Boosts your memory
  • Helps repair nerve damage
  • Better energy levels, both mentally and physically
  • Better sleep
  • Improves your ability to deal with stress
  • Reduces pain and improves your ability to deal with it
  • Quicker learning
  • Increases alertness
  • Better mood.

MELATONIN9

  • Improves mood and sleep
  • Boosts levels of the “sex hormones”, testosterone, estrogen and progesterone
  • Protects the brain
  • Lowers cortisol levels to help you cope with stress.

CORTISOL10

  • Influences the immune system
  • Affects how all of the other hormones work in the body
  • Affects how your body reacts to stress
  • Plays a role in improving sleep, mood and thought processes.

HORMONE-BOOSTING PROTOCOL

Bioidentical hormones (testosterone, estrogen, progesterone, pregnenolone, DHEA, melatonin)
Boron (1mg daily)
Increases testosterone and decreases bone loss
Fibre (30-50mg daily)
Lowers cancer risk by decreasing estrogen levels – necessary if your estrogen level is too high or progesterone level is too low
Folic acid (800mcg daily)
Repairs your genes and lowers breast cancer risk
Vanadium (15-50mcg daily)
Balances progesterone levels
Vitamin A (5,000-8,000mcg daily)
Helps your body make hormones
Vitamin C (1,000-2,000mg daily)
Also helps your body make hormones
Vitamin E (400 IU twice daily)
Relieves hot flushes and protects the body from free radicals
Zinc (25-50mg daily)
Boosts overall hormone health and function.

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011 718 3004 / 011 483 1080

Visit Dr Golding’s Online Store

Resources and other information sources:

  1. NeuroScience: www.neurorelief.com/index.php?option=com=content&task
  2. Depression. University of Maryland-Medical Centre: www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/depression-000047.htm
  3. La Valle JB, et al. Cracking the metabolic code. Basic Health Publications, Laguna Beach: 2004
  4. Miller PL, et al. Life Extension Revolution. Bantam Books, New York: 2005
  5. Lichten EM. Textbook of Bio-identical Hormones. Foundation for anti-aging research LLC: 2007
  6. Wartian Smith P. HRT: The answers. Healthy Living Books, Traverse City: 2003

References

  1. Wartian Smith P. What you must know about women’s hormones. Square One, New York; 2010:159
  2. Wright E. Neuroendocrinology in Clinical Practice: The link between Neurotransmitters and Hormones. Neuroscience. www.neurorelief.com/index.php?option=com=content&task