The topic of breast health is multifaceted and includes not only breast cancer, but breast tenderness, a common PMS symptom, as well as breastfeeding. Women’s Health America helps you work with your healthcare provider on these issues.
What is Breast Health?
This big topic covers everything from diminishing the tenderness felt as a part of your monthly cycle to giving yourself a monthly breast exam to protect yourself from cancer. You can improve your breast health and reduce the risk of breast cancer with a few simple lifestyle changes. Research has shown us that women really can make a difference in their breast health through diet, exercise, and weight management. The key is estrogen metabolism and a proper hormone balance.
The body breaks down, or metabolizes, estrogen in two ways. Along one pathway, estrogen is converted into a complex molecule called 16alpha-hydroxyestrone (16alpha-OHE1). 16alpha-OHE1 acts to stimulate breast, bone, and endometrial tissue. While having a positive influence on bone health and normal menstruation, over a period of years, too much 16alpha-OHE1 may predispose you to conditions associated with estrogen excess including breast cancer and lupus.
Along another pathway, estrogen is broken down into a weaker metabolite, 2-Hydroxyestrone (2-OHE-1) that has the positive effect of slowing down cell proliferation, including those cells associated with cancer. Though a 2-OHE-1 excess is not usually the case, high levels of this metabolite have been linked to conditions associated with estrogen deficiency, such as heart disease, depression, and osteoporosis.
What is most important for good health, including optimal breast health, is the ratio of these two metabolites in your body. The exciting thing is that you can favorably alter that ratio through diet, weight management, and exercise.
How Women’s Health America Can Help
The best way for you to know if your body is metabolizing estrogen favorably is with an FDA-approved Estrogen Metabolism Assessment, available at Women’s Health America. This non-invasive test can be completed with a urine sample you conveniently collect in the privacy of your home and send to Madison BioDiagnostics laboratory for analysis. The lab analysis determines the levels and ratio of the two estrogen metabolites (16alpha-OHE1 and 2-OHE-1), which are linked to bone health, cardiac function, immune function, and hormone-dependent diseases such as breast and endometrial cancers and lupus. With your healthcare provider, we will help you with the proper baseline and follow-up tests.
White Beans With Spinach
We can provide you with advice, support as you talk with your healthcare provider, and breast-healthy supplements, especially plant-derived Diindolylmethane (DIM) . As DIM is metabolized, it favorably adjusts the estrogen metabolite ratio by increasing the favorable estrogen metabolite 2-OHE-1 while decreasing 16alpha-OHE1, the metabolite associated with promoting unhealthy breast tissue.
Breast cancer afflicts nearly 180,000 women a year in the United States and is the cause of death for nearly 44,000 annually. What many women do not realize is that the disease does not have to be a death sentence. By doing monthly breast self-examinations, yearly mammograms after the age of 50, and clinical examinations, breast cancer can be detected in time to ensure a 92 percent cure rate. The key is early detection and treatment.
To better know what preventative measures you can take, you need to understand your risk factors. Risk factors that you cannot control include gender, age, previous cancer, family history, early onset of menstruation (before age 12), late menopause (after age 50), and late child bearing (first child after age 30). Only 20-30 percent of women who have breast cancer have one or more of these risk factors. Researchers are continuously seeking new treatments and searching for a cure.
Some factors that you can control include getting enough exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, eating a well-balanced diet, creating support systems, eliminating exposure to hazardous toxins in the environment, and paying attention to your emotional well-being. Although these factors help you maintain good overall health, there is no guarantee that they will decrease your risk of breast cancer.
As you can see, it is very important that you assess your risk factors, lifestyle, and other aspects of your health to make the changes that are within your control. By taking these steps, in conjunction with the early detection methods, you are helping to prevent breast cancer in yourself.
Just as with all risk factors, undergoing hormone therapy does not dictate whether or not a woman will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. Many culprits are suspected of causing breast cancer in women. Among them are exposure to radiation and pollution, weight, diet and exercise level, genetics, and viruses. All of these factors can cause the damage to DNA (the cells’ genetic blueprint) that leads to cancer.
While hormones themselves do not increase the risk of breast cancer, taking overdoses of individual hormones has been shown to increase the risk. That is why it is so important for you to measure your hormone levels regularly to make sure you are taking the right amounts and not too much.
It is important to know that several popular studies of menopausal women who took hormone replacement therapy for several years were flawed, or incomplete. No direct link has been found between bioidentical (natural) hormone therapy and breast cancer.
Eat Those Vegetables
Research has acknowledged what your grandmother always knew: a diet emphasizing fruit and vegetables leads to a healthy, vibrant you. One to three servings a day of cruciferous vegetables (in the mustard family) like broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage help your body produce more of the “anti-cancer” metabolite 2-Hydroxyestrone (2-OHE-1). Other foods with a similar positive influence are those containing phytoestrogens, such as flaxseed and (unprocessed) soy products, and those with omega-3 fatty acids.
Supplements Help Too
Another way is to supplement daily with Estrobalance® with DIM, which is derived from those cruciferous vegetables so important to breast and heart health.
Weight Maintenance and Exercise
Maintaining a healthy, average weight is important in favorably influencing the metabolite ratio. Regular exercise is equally important. On the other hand, obesity, high insulin levels, alcohol intake, smoking, oral contraceptives, hormones from meat and meat products, pesticides, and herbicides can swing your ratio in the wrong direction.
White Beans And Spinach
Ibn Al Qayyam wrote :
وأجودُه: الأبيضُ السمينُ، السريع النُّضج ويُقلل ضرره السلقُ، والإسفاناخ
The best type of Adas is the fat white Adas that digest faster, & eating lentils with beetroot & spinach will lesson their negative side effects.
White Beans are popular among Arabs & they name them as “Faasolia”, I cooked them with Spinach & the recipe is so simple, white beans should be soaked for 4 hours, washed & then along with Spinach + spices, cook the curry in a pressure cooker with the blessed Olive Oil, no need to roast the onions OR to cook the Spinach separately, you will have a rich / creamy soup type curry. You may soak a barley Bread & enjoy the taste at its best.
Spinach (Palak) curry at your house is over-cooked, it is nothing but ASH where all the nutrients have been destroyed, but you will realize that Spinach soup with White Beans or White Lobia will be the best nutrition for your body.
The combination of Spinach+White Beans will testify the wisdom of a man who had an experience of 1,000 years.
Vitamin D: The Sunshine Vitamin
You need vitamin D for healthy bones and to boost your immune system, but use care when getting it from sun exposure. Eating fortified foods and taking dietary supplements are safer.
Vitamin D, an essential vitamin, is both a hormone-like compound and a fat-soluble vitamin, says Roberta Anding, MS, RD, sports dietitian at Memorial Hermann Sports Medicine Institute in Houston and a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. “Almost all cells and tissues of the body require vitamin D.”
Vitamin D is naturally present in very few foods. However, vitamin D is often added to other foods, sometimes called vitamin D-fortified foods, and can also be taken as a dietary supplement. Also, when the skin is exposed to the sun, our bodies make vitamin D. “That’s why it’s often referred to as the sunshine vitamin,” Anding explains.
Vitamin D’s benefits include:
- It brings calcium to your bones and teeth, helping to protect you against bone diseases such as osteoporosis. Its role in bone health is probably the best-known vitamin D benefit, Anding says.
- It regulates how much calcium stays in your blood, contributing to heart health.
- It helps strengthen your immune system and regulate cell growth.
Good Vitamin D Sources
Natural sources of vitamin D include egg yolks and cold-water fish such as tuna, mackerel, and salmon. “Grandma’s cure-all, cod liver oil, is an excellent source of vitamin D,” Anding says.
Many foods are fortified with vitamin D, including:
- Breakfast cereals
- Orange juice
- Soy drinks
Read the nutrition facts panel of the product to see if it has been fortified with vitamin D.
Most people can produce adequate amounts of vitamin D by getting 10 to 15 minutes of sun exposure every day. But using sunscreen can block vitamin D production, and individual sun exposure needs depend on your complexion, whether you live in a northern latitude, and seasonal factors.
Anding says risking a sunburn isn’t a good way to get your dose of vitamin D. Indeed, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends against getting vitamin D from sun exposure or tanning salons and instead suggests relying on dietary supplements.
“Dietary supplements of vitamin D are safe and effective,” Anding says. “They can be useful since food sources are limited, and it can be problematic if you don’t like the few food sources there are.” Vitamin D comes in two major forms, D2 and D3. D3 is most effective, but D2 is a vegetarian’s best choice, Anding says.
Getting the Right Amount of Vitamin D
The older you are, the more vitamin D you need. The current recommended daily dose of vitamin D, revosed in 2010, is no more than 600 IU (international units) for people through age 70, and up to 800 IU for people age 71 and older. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants receive 400 IUs of vitamin D daily for as long as they are breastfed, since breast milk is not a source of vitamin D. Infant formula is fortified, and babies who consume 27 to 32 ounces a day do not need additional vitamin D. Studies show a lack of vitamin D early in life increases one’s risk of multiple sclerosis, Anding says.
At the same time, large amounts of vitamin D are considered toxic. People who get too much vitamin D may feel nauseated, constipated, confused, or have abnormal heart rhythms and even kidney stones.
The recommended upper limits for vitamin D are 2,500 IUs per day for children aged 1 through 3, 3,000 IUs per day for children aged 4 through 8, and 4,000 IUs per day for all others.
Is There Even More Value in Vitamin D?
Vitamin D has been all over the news in recent years, with many claims being made about its powers to improve health. Several studies have suggested that vitamin D can improve one’s ability to fight cancer, including breast cancer. There are also suggestions that vitamin D can prevent a wide variety of illnesses and some evidence that taking vitamin D supplements can decrease risk of getting seasonal influenza A in children, as well as decrease the risk of asthma attacks.
However, a 2010 Institute of Medicine expert panel said more research is needed because study results are inconsistent and results are mixed.
You need vitamin D to keep your bones healthy and protect against osteoporosis. Most people get adequate amounts of vitamin D from limited exposure to the sun and through diet, but people who are inside all day and who don’t like any of the foods that are good sources of vitamin D or that have been fortified with vitamin D, such as milk, should consider taking dietary supplements. Consult your doctor for an individualized recommendation for how much is right for you.