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How the breast-gut connection impacts breast cancer risk
Scientists have known for years, the majority of breast cancers cells, are fired up, in the presence of estrogen.
This is why, women battling an estrogen positive breast tumour, are given “anti-estrogen” drugs, like tamoxifen, to help stop the cancer cell growth. And, why hormone “replacement” therapy, can be a two edged sword – both helping to alleviate symptoms, but at the same time, increasing the risk of breast cancer.
So what determines estrogen levels ?
The estrogen count
Puberty marks estrogen’s big debut. And what a debut it is. She gives the female body it’s curves and starts up the baby making factory.
For the next 30 plus years, the female body is awash with estrogen. She does lots of GOOD THINGS, but can be responsible for some of the troubles, associated with “THAT TIME OF THE MONTH”.
Her comings and goings follow the menstrual cycle, as a rule, the estrogen levels are highest, at the time of ovulation and lowest around the time of menstruation.
And then she goes
When estrogen leaves – menopause sets in.
But, just because the ovary shuts up shop, doesn’t mean NO ESTROGEN. Post-menopause there can still be estrogen in circulation, this estrogen, comes from the adipose tissue.
Yup. Those pesky fat cells, do more than just store fats, they also make hormones – especially estrogen.
And the more fat cells you have, the more estrogen is produced. Eish !
Another reason why those extra pounds aren’t good for you, they put you at risk of breast cancer.
But, there is more to the story, than what fat cells are up to.
The liver is the clearing house
The liver is tasked with cleaning up the blood. It is a monumental task – since chemicals continuously pour into the blood, they arrive from the outside, courtesy of whatever you had for dinner and they arrived from the inside, as cells empty out their trash.
The chemicals include the good, the bad and the ugly.
It is the liver’s job to sort through the pile and process and package accordingly. Being a liver is HARD WORK and many modern livers find themselves permanently overwhelmed. To help the liver do the job, it has a collection of enzymes, capable of performing some nifty chemical wizardry.
So the estrogen, like every other chemical, is processed by the liver.
How the liver handles the pretty girl
No – it is not with kit gloves.
The cytochrome P450s (the liver enzymes), are nasty fellows, they rough up the estrogen, damaging her beautiful steroid body. Once she is bruised and battered, she is marked for destruction.
Somewhat bedraggled, some of the estrogen, is shipped into the intestine. The liver’s overall plan, is to eliminate her, along with the other waste materials, when you do a number 2.
Pretty girls have seductive powers.
It ain’t over till the fat lady sings
The bedraggled estrogen finds herself swimming with…………….
Not fishes, but the trillions of bacteria that live in your gut.
And, some of these bacteria, are not immune to the allures of a PRETTY WOMEN. And remember, bacteria, are chemical boffins.
Some of them, take pity on the bedraggled estrogen and clean her up.
With her nose all powdered and her make up fixed. The sexy bombshell IS BACK !
She is armed and dangerous
The circulating levels of estrogen are higher.
High enough to cause trouble.
This is what a group of researchers from the American National Institute of Health have just discovered.
The estrogen-microbiome connection
The team correlated urinary estrogen levels, with the gut residents, of a group of 60 healthy post-menopausal women.
They discovered, ladies with the “wrong” bugs, had higher estrogen levels than expected. They also found, ladies with lots of different species of bacteria, hanging out in their gut, had “better” estrogen profiles. The team defined “better” as an estrogen profile, that is not associated with breast cancer.
As the media focuses on “breast cancer awareness” during October – be aware there is a breast-gut connection. What is going on in your gut, is impacting your breasts. To take care of your female assets, so you avoid breast cancer, you also need to cultivate the “right” gut microflora.
You might view breast tissue as private territory, out of bounds to all but the special people in our lives, but bacteria view breast tissue as a classy hotel.
You have your mothers eyes, your fathers ears and your bacteria’s personality profile. The bacteria in your body outnumber you 10 to 1, their genes are you
For a cancer cell to grow big and strong, it needs to eat. So one way to weaken them, is to put them on a serious diet.
Interested in learning more about the chemistry behind chronic health conditions ?
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