October 8, 2009
Many oncologists throughout the nation recommend that breast cancer patients not take estrogen, particularly if the tumor is estrogen-receptor positive. A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association raised questions about that recommendation, however.
Under the direction of Dr. Matthew Ellis of Washington University of Medicine in St. Louis, researchers studied 66 women with advanced breast cancer. Study participants, who had been treated with anti-estrogens (estrogen-lowering drugs), had all experienced a relapse and their disease was progressing. Dr. Ellis found that low dose estrogen stopped the disease progression in many patients and was much better tolerated than chemotherapy would have been. Thus, low dose estrogen may help to arrest the breast cancer in women with recurrence that failed to respond to estrogen blockers (even when the tumor is estrogen-receptor positive).
I have advised my breast cancer patients to take estrogen if they are suffering from the effects of lack of estrogen and are at a very low risk of atherosclerosis (non smoker, not hypertensive, low cholesterol levels, vegetarian, non diabetic). They should also be estrogen receptor negative, progesterone receptor negative, HER negative. In such cases, estrogen helps to reduce stress levels and helps treat insomnia, in addition to potentially increasing the possibility of long-term survival.
One natural source of estrogen would be soy. A number of studies, including a recent major study (published in the June, 2009 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition), have shown that the consumption of soy reduces breast cancer risk. Researchers who studied the diets of 73,223 Chinese women over a period of 7.4 years found that those who consumed the most soy estrogens, or isoflavones, from food were 59% less likely to develop breast cancer than women who consumed the least. This cancer-fighting tendency is due to the anti-estrogenic, as well as anti-carcinogenic, properties of the isoflavones in soy. By blocking cell receptors, soy estrogens keep human estrogen levels from filling estrogen receptors to encourage the growth of cancer cells.
Topics: Health News