Posts Tagged estrogen

Reduce Breast Cancer Risk with Simple Test

by Berris Burgoyne – Naturopath –
Suite 8/1177 Logan Road, Holland Park, Brisbane 4121

You can reduce your risk of oestrogen dependent cancers such as breast cancer by using a simple test to monitor oestrogen metabolites in the urine. You can read more about this test and the importance of oestrogen metabolites below but basically there is a ‘good’ metabolite and a ‘bad’ one. High levels of the ‘bad’ metabolite is a risk factor for breast cancer, however there are things you can do to change this. The right diet can be very beneficial. For example components in vegetables in the cabbage family, particularly broccoli, help to reduce the dangerous metabolite and increase the protective one. Sometimes food is not enough to correct the imbalance initially so supplementation with products containing high levels of these compounds may be needed. Once the correct balance is achieved diet alone is often enough to maintain it. There are other nutritional factors that also have a favourable effect on the metabolism of oestrogens. Many herbal medicines also improve the way that oestrogens are metabolised.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women. In many cases breast cancer is hormone dependent, meaning that the naturally occurring female hormones (usually oestrogens) cause it to grow. Although there are many factors involved in the development of cancer, in oestrogen dependent cancers excessive oestrogen and/or improper metabolism of oestrogen plays a role.

An excess of oestrogen can occur when the body produces too much or when it is not removed efficiently from the body once it has done its job. Taking hormone containing drugs such as the oral contraceptive pill or HRT can also upset the body’s natural balance.

Although oestrogens are extremely important female hormones they need to be at the correct levels and to be in balance with other hormones. The liver is the main organ that ensures excessive oestrogens are removed from the body, so it is very important that the detoxification pathways in the liver are working efficiently.

Oestrogens can be metabolised in two ways and these need to be in balance if oestrogen dependant conditions, including cancers, are to be prevented. One pathway produces a metabolite called 2-hydroxyoestrone (2-OHE1) and the other produces a metabolite called 16a-hydroxyoestrone (16a-OHE1). For the sake of simplicity I will call these 2 and 16 from now on. These metabolites can be measured in the urine or blood, however urine is the best method. In the blood these metabolites fluctuate throughout the menstrual cycle making it difficult to know the true levels. This is not the case in urine where the levels are consistent throughout the menstrual cycle.

So what does all this mean for you? Very simply type 2 is protective against breast cancer and other oestrogen dependent cancers whilst 16 is proliferative and increases breast cancer risk. We will always have both of these metabolites because that is the natural result of oestrogen metabolism. However, it is the level of each of these metabolites and the ratio between them that is very important and must be kept in balance.

The ideal ratio between 2:16 is 2.0. A low ratio, indicates low levels of the protective 2 and a state of oestrogen excess, increasing the risk of oestrogen dependent cancers. If the ratio is very high it can indicate low oestrogen levels and an increased risk of osteoporosis.

So, you can see it is worthwhile having this simple urine test so that any problems with oestrogen metabolism can be fixed. This not only applies to mature women but also to younger women. It seems that we are seeing an increase in the number of young women being diagnosed with breast cancer so perhaps all women should be tested from time to time. This is particularly true for women taking the oral contraceptive pill and for women taking HRT.

The test is very simple and easy to perform. Upon your request the test is sent to you directly from the laboratory and contains instructions and everything you need. All you need to do is collect a sample from your first wee of the day and send it off as per instructions. You do need to stop eating at 10 pm the night before and for women who have a regular menstrual cycle the sample should be collected between days 18-25 of the cycle. Do not collect urine during menstruation.

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