A new approach to prevention

A new approach to prevention

1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer. 

That's a staggering statistic.

When I look at that little pink ribbon, it reminds me of two little fingers crossed. Fear looms around all of us, that we will be the 1 in 8 and we largely have no idea how to protect ourselves.

But, I don't want to cross my fingers and hope this disease doesn't hit me or a loved one, I want evidence-based prevention strategies and I want the facts.  So, let’s start with the facts:


  1. There are modifiable (you can change these) and unmodifiable (you have no control) factors that increase risk of breast cancer.
  2. Modifiable factors include diet, exercise, obesity, alcohol consumption, toxic accumulation in your body the level of YOUR endogenous estrogen.
  3. Unmodifiable factors include age, BRCA1 & BRCA2 genetic mutation, family history, reproductive history, and high dose radiation to the chest area.


Each modifiable factor is essential, but the one that no one is talking about is the factor affected by all the others  – your endogenous estrogen! Until you understand your estrogen, you are running blind when it comes to prevention.


The many faces of estrogen


Estrogen is produced primarily in the ovaries prior to menopause and then mainly by adipose tissue (fat cells) after menopause (one reason our bodies are programed to gain weight after menopause).  Estrogens (estradiol, estrone, estriol) circulate throughout the body, attaching to cells and affecting functions such as reproduction, heart and blood vessel health, balance of mucosal membranes, histamine release, bone growth, cognition, breast development, fat placement and more. Some forms of estrogen are very bioactive, while others are fairly lazy. Some variations of estrogen are known to trigger tumor growth while others are known to protect against it.


Estrogen does its job and then what?


“Use it – then lose it”


After estrogen has done its job, it is metabolized (broken down) in the liver by very important and specific enzymes which are impacted by both genetics and environment.  For instance, broccoli and other sulfuric veggies increases some of these enzymatic pathways while alcohol inhibits them. Genetics like the MTHFR and COMT genetic mutations reduce this function. if pay attention to our symptoms, we can mitigate risk with diet and supplementation to help overcome both lifestyle and genetic factors so our livers excrete estrogen efficiently.


What happens when estrogen hangs around?


Research shows that in post-menopausal women, breast cancer risk is associated with higher circulating estrogens.  THIS IS IN POST MENOPAUSAL WOMEN WHEN ESTROGEN PRODUCTION IS AT AN ALL-TIME LOW! They also found that women with higher SHBG (this is the protein that binds estrogen rendering it unavailable by the body) had reduced risk.


So, ask yourself, are these postmenopausal women making more estrogen? 



Studies show that excess fat around the belly (central obesity) is linked to increased risk of breast cancer likely due to its ability to make estrogen and inflammatory molecules. High sugar/carb diets, nightly cocktail(s), and low activity levels increase fat storage not only in the belly, but even in the liver. 

But also consider, even with reduced estrogen production, if the liver isn't clearing estrogen, circulating levels will rise in the same way that your trash can overflows if you don't take the trash out each week. 


On the other hand, there are far fewer studies for premenopausal women.  The Nurses’ Health Study II reported significantly elevated estradiol levels in women with breast cancer compared to controls with a higher magnitude effect for women with ER+/PR+ breast cancer.

The study reported "circulating levels of estrogens and androgens were significantly positively associated with risk of breast cancer before age 50 years".

 A 2013 analysis of a group of studies found that when circulating estradiol and estrone levels were doubled compared to controls there was an increase of 19% and 27% rate of breast cancer, respectively.


So, who is at risk?


There is no perfect and definitive risk assessment.  However, obesity, sedentary lifestyle, regular alcohol consumption, low intake of cruciferous vegetables, high sugar diet, and environmental toxic accumulation in the body are important factors.

These factors can be addressed!  This is evidence-based PREVENTION.


And there are often warning signs!


These warning signs are definitely not something we are teaching our daughters or that most of us were taught in school or by our providers, but excessive estrogen in the body makes itself perfectly clear! 

Symptoms we normalize like PMS & PMDD, cramps, heavy bleeding, mood swings, early menstruation and acne are symptoms. Even signs like developing large breast and hips in early adolescence early can be clues that your body produces a lot of estrogen and may be out of balance with protective progesterone. 

This is not, on its own, a bad thing!  Remember, we need to use it and lose it.  If you are a female that makes a lot of estrogen, you need to focus on estrogen clearance.


How do we boost estrogen clearance?


Consider your body's amazing detox system.  Once estrogen is ready to clock out, your liver first must change the shape of estrogen and make it water soluble.  Then, it attaches estrogen metabolites to bile and shuttles that compound to the gallbladder and ultimately to the small intestine to get rid of it.  

There, the bile-estrogen must attach to dietary soluble fiber found in beans, lentils, flax, chia, avocado, Brussels sprouts and the like, to prevent the bile/estrogen from being reabsorbed back into the bloodstream. If your diet provides enough soluble fiber, this fiber will carry the excess estrogen/bile waste into your colon and into the toilet by way of poop.  

Voila – you’ve cleared estrogen!

If your diet is low in soluble fiber, you'll reabsorb the estrogen, keeping the vicious estrogen-recycling process going while your estrogens increase over time.


What if your liver has genetic factors working against it, increased toxic burden (already well-linked to breast cancer risk), fatty build-up within the organ, or if its bogged down with alcohol consumption? It loses the efficiency to detoxify and metabolize estrogen.  To compound issues, it also has reduced capacity to move toxins out too.  This means more estrogen and more toxins.


What if you’re not eating a diet that provides the critical sulforaphanes or activated B vitamins required to move waste through the liver? What if your genetic mutations and high level of estrogen production bog the liver down and slow clearance? 

You need more support!


How do you know if your liver is keeping up?


Any symptom (s) of hormone imbalance can be a sign that you may need additional support to metabolize your hormones.  Even if you are now through menopause, if you suffered or suffer any of the following, investigating your unique liver detox needs is critical:


  • Menstrual cramps
  • Heavy periods
  • Endometriosis
  • Ovarian cysts
  • Fibroids
  • Hormonal acne
  • Early menstruation onset
  • Infertility
  • Hormone headaches or migraines
  • Tender or fibrocystic breasts
  • Unexpected weight gain or weight loss
  • Excessive weight gain around the middle
  • Increased histamine responses


These symptoms are common…but they aren’t normal.  Listen to your body – it’s talking to you.


The estrogen-clearing protocol


  1. Eat a diet high in plants – especially cruciferous veggies. Aim for 6-8 servings of veggies per day.
  2. Consume beans and lentils, flax and chia daily
  3. Avoid added sugar and keep blood sugar balanced
  4. Moderate/restrict alcohol
  5. Avoid plastics and other environmental toxins as much as possible
  6. Sleep with an air purifier in your bedroom
  7. Hydrate with purified water and trace minerals
  8. Eat organically
  9. Consider extra liver support such as Axis Endo if symptoms persist
  10. Use an organic soluble fiber supplement such as Florasophy to reach a daily goal of 20g soluble fiber.
  11. Sauna, sleep and strength train!
  12. Reach out to our experienced providers for additional support!

Let's work together to think deeply about prevention and to educate ourselves, our daughters, granddaughters, nieces, mothers, sisters, aunts, grandmothers, friends and students.  Let's arm each other with better prevention and better overall health, now.