How Hormones Get the Better of Us - Battling Breast and Prostate Cancer
In this of month of Valentine, the patron saint of love, we'll take a look at preventing two cancers where sex hormones are implicated, breast cancer and prostate cancer, the two most common invasive cancers in women and men.
The female sex hormone, estrogen, activates the growth of breast tissue, both at puberty and during pregnancy in preparation for feeding.
The male sex hormone, testosterone, stimulates the prostate gland to grow. It's part of the reproductive system, generating fluid that helps sperm survive a woman's vagina, as well as muscle fibers that aid with ejaculation.
Sex hormones are generated throughout life, albeit in diminished quantities after menopause and andropause, but the same hormones that stimulate breast and prostate growth, can't distinguish between cultivating healthy or cancerous cells.
Aging is a big factor in developing cancer because cancer is created by the accumulation of mutations in genes that regulate cell division. The longer we live the more our cells divide. Mutations of the brac1 and brac2 genes produce bigger risks of breast and ovarian cancer in women, while in men they can lead to a greater risk of early onset prostate cancer.
1 in 2500 women have a risk of developing breast cancer by age of 30, while for those who live to 85, their risk is 1 in 9. Compare these figures to prostate cancer. Men get a later start. By age 45, 1 in 2,500 are at a risk of prostate cancer but the pace accelerates. Men reach a 1 in 9 risk by age 45.
In the US this year the National Cancer Institute predicts 240,000 new prostate cancer cases with 28,000 deaths.The American Cancer Society predicts 227,000 new cases of breast cancer with 40,000 deaths.
Steps to Prevent Breast and Prostate Cancer
We know that male hormones like testosterone spur prostate cell growth so they may increase prostate cancer risk in some men. Men also produce estrogen. Once estrogen has fulfilled its hormonal duties, it is broken down into smaller molecules and excreted. The toxic estrogen metabolite 16 alpha-hydroxyestrone promotes both breast and prostate cancer.
Cruciferous vegetables cabbage, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts, contain compounds like indole-3-carbinol which neutralize the breakdown of the toxic estrogen products that promote cancer growth.
Soy is the human diet's richest source of isoflavones, plant compounds with estrogenic activity. When their effect was first recognized, some doctors were leery about letting their breast cancer patients eat soy fearing that it would stimulate cancer growth. Research has since shown that soy reduces the risk of breast cancer, most strikingly in a 2007 Shanghai study of postmenopausal women by Cui X et al. in Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention. The women who ate a Western-style diet including beef, pork and desserts were 60% more likely to develop breast cancer than those eating a vegetable and soy based diet .
Researchers in a 2009 study published in the journal Cancer Science showed that a diet of soybean products and fish were associated with a decreased risk of prostate cancer in Japanese men. Other studies have shown an association between eating high amounts of beef and prostate cancer. As Julian Whitaker, MD points out in the anti-aging documentary, “Reverse Aging Now,” soy can be effective in helping to protect men against prostate cancer.
In recent years a whole series of tests have shown that people with higher levels of vitamin D have a much lower incidence of not only breast and prostate cancers, but also the of the colon, esophagus, pancreas and more. Vitamin D also promotes bone growth by increasing the digestive system's absorption of calcium.
Vitamin D is not common in foods The oils of fatty fish like salmon, tuna and mackerel are rich in it, one of reasons why in the anti aging documentary "Reverse Aging Now," Zone Diet Inventor Barry Sears, PhD, recommends supplementing diets with fish oil.
We produce our own vitamin D through exposure to sunlight, but people who live in the northern US during the winter will fall short.The National Institute of Health suggests that between the ages of 18 - 70, people need at least 600 IU of vitamin D from all sources each day, rising to 800 IU after 70. Harvard's School of Public Health Professor, Walter Willett, MD suggests that taking a supplement is the best way for most people to get enough Vitamin D.
For those with a genetic predisposition to prostate or breast cancer, it's a good idea to shun any milk or cheese created with recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH) now used to spur milk production in cows. Unfortunately, rBGH produces an increase in Insulin-like Growth Factor 1 (IGF-1) levels in the milk we consume, which is bioidentical to that in humans. A May 1998 study in Lancet by Susan Hankinson linked increased IGF levels to greater risk for breast cancer, while that January in Science, June Chan drew a correlation between high IGF levels and increased prostate cancer risk.
Maybe all of us should simply play it safe by buying milk or cheese that is clearly labeled, "no rBGH” unless it is from Canada or Europe which do not allow rGBH in their dairy products, given these health concerns.
The cause of breast and prostate cancers are complex and also involve inflammation, but to sum these easy to take steps: You can help prevent breast and prostate cancer by eating more cruciferous vegetable and soy, getting enough Vitamin D, and minimizing your intake of red meat and dairy products made with rBGH.
Even during a mild winter, it still gets cold which should be no excuse to stay inside. Find an outdoor activity you enjoy from skiing to jogging, then do it.
Multiple layers give you flexibility under changing weather conditions. As you work out, you’ll warm up. If you make your top layer a water repellent easy to doff windbreaker, you can remove it as needed.
The layer closest to your body will start to perspire with vigorous activity so choose a lightweight synthetic material with good wicking ability to carry moisture from the skin.
The second layer can be fleece or wool. Cotton is a favorite in moderate conditions, but this time of year is prone to retaining sweat, getting waterlogged, which will make you colder through evaporative cooling.
Wear gloves, a hat, and warm socks
As a body chills, it will direct blood to vital organs to keep them warm, diverting warmth from the extremities. Hats for men went out of fashion when John F. Kennedy gave his January inaugural speech bare headed, but as much as half your body heat can be lost through your head. Gortex lined boots and gloves will keep hands and feet dry.
When it’s really cold put on a ski mask
Beards are great for keeping a face warm, but if you’re not lucky enough to have one, when the temperature flirts with zero degrees Fahrenheit, a fabric face mask or even a scarf worn around your mouth, will not only protect exposed skin, but warm breath before it’s inhaled. Don't forget to take the mask off before you pull into a gas station to fill up on the way home.
Finally, check the forecast
Conditions can change rapidly in winter with severe effects. Even if it's a bright sunny day, your thermometer doesn’t take the wind chill factor into account. At 15 degrees, a mild 15 mph wind will take the effective temperature to zero. Know what to expect and dress accordingly.
Carolisa's Cholesterol Busting Crunch
Five minute apple dessert is worth lingering over.
1/2 large apple
1/8 cup raisins
2 tablespoons of crunchy, all natural peanut butter
300 calories 8 grams protein 40 percent fat
Before cooking dinner, chill good tasting apples. The best choices are either Fuji or the seasonal Honey Crisp. Just prior to serving them, wash, core and slice unpeeled apples, fanning the slices on dessert plates.
Top the apples with crunchy peanut butter. It's important to make sure that this is a peanut butter with just one ingredient on the label: peanuts. If you don't have high blood pressure, it's okay to spread peanut butter made with salt. Too often store brands are filed with unhealthy trans fats. Avoid hydrogenated fat because it both lowers the good HDL cholesterol and increases the bad LDL .
As a final touch, sprinkle the raisins over the peanut butter. The contrast in textures, sweetness and temperature makes this deceptively simple dessert a real treat.
Although more than a third of the calories come from fats, these are plant fats, mostly monounsaturated, shown to have hand in lowering LDL cholesterol. Peanut butter also contains polyunsaturated fats, which help raise HDL cholesterol. Peanuts also have iron, zinc, magnesium and are some of the few food sources of vitamin D.
Rich in fiber like raisins, the apples lower cholesterol with pectin, a complex carbohydrate and soluble fiber that can also help with digestion. Apples also have polyphenols, plant compounds that complement the action of the pectin and can help prevent spikes in blood sugar. Don't peel the fruit. The skin is rich in fiber and very nutritious.
Since raisins are dried grapes, you get all their health benefits in a concentrated package. They are high in fructose and glucose, making them the sweetest part of the dessert and a good source for quick energy. Since they partially reconstitute in the stomach, they can ease digestion. Raisins also contain oleanolic acid, which protects against tooth decay. They're a good source for calcium, essential for bone strength. Finally, these dried grapes also have polyphenols including resveratrol, the much touted anti-aging molecule found in wine although tests have shown that in raisins resveratrol levels varied widely, making red wine a more dependable source.
Easy to make, tasty, healthy, and inexpensive; what's not to like about Carolisa's Cholesterol Busting Crunch?
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To see how one baby boomer is applying anti-aging precepts to his own life, go to Anti Aging Diary.com. To embrace anti-aging you need to make a mental as well as physical journey. It's not always easy, but well worth the effort. Remember to watch our anti-aging documentary, “Reverse Aging Now.
Reverse Aging News c. 2012 Checkmate Pictures - Paul M. J. Suchecki, Editor
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