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Balancing Estrogen Metabolism Might Reduce Breast Cancer Risk

Posted Feb 25 2011 9:56am
While we generally think about estradiol, the primary estrogen, in regards to increased breast cancer risk, many forms of estrogen as well as various estrogen metabolites are produced by our bodies.  It has been suggested in many research studies that two such estrogen metabolites, 2-hydroxyestrone (2-OHE1) and 16a-hydroxyestrone (16a-OHE1), might have opposite effects on breast cancer risk.  2-OHE1 has been reported to have anti-estrogen effects, while 16a-OHE1 has been reported to have strong estrogen effects.  Studies have shown that increased levels of 2-OHE1 and an increased ratio of 2-OHE1 to 16a-OHE1 might reduce breast cancer risk .  Interestingly, it has been suggested that the balance of these estrogen metabolites can be modified by everyday lifestyle factors including diet.

A new breast cancer research study ( free to download ) explored the effect of a dietary supplement on the levels and balance of 2-OHE1 and 16a-OHE1.  The main ingredients in this supplement were indole-3-carbinol, a cancer fighting chemical in broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables, and 7-hydroxymatairesinol (HMR), a plant lignan.  Premenopausal and post-menopausal women consumed either this dietary supplement or a placebo pill daily for 28 days.  Blood samples were analyzed for estrogen metabolites at the beginning and end of the study.  The breast cancer researchers reported
  • Both 2-OHE1 and the 2-OHE1:16a-OHE1 ratio were increased in premenopausal women taking the indole-3-carbinol and HMR supplement, while no change was seen in premenopausal women taking the placebo pill.
  • In postmenopausal women, only 2-OHE1 was increased after taking the dietary supplement for 28 days. No changes in the ratio of the two estrogen metabolites was seen in postmenopausal women.
Overall, this breast cancer research study suggests that one of the active phytochemicals in cruciferous vegetables and a lignan found in many plants might be able to balance estrogen metabolites in a direction that might lead to a reduction in breast cancer risk.  Based on the results of this study, the benefits appeared to be greater in premenopausal women than in postmenopausal women.  This was because both the levels of 2-OHE1 and the ratio of 2-OHE1:16a-OHE1 were increased in premenopausal women, while postmenopausal women only acheived an increase in 2-OHE1.  Nonetheless, this breast cancer research trial adds to existing information that dietary changes can modify breast cancer risk.

To learn about other diet and lifestyle choices to reduce your breast cancer risk, read my FREE book FIGHT NOW: EAT & LIVE PROACTIVELY AGAINST BREAST CANCER . Please recommend to anyone interested in breast cancer, breast cancer treatment, and breast cancer symptoms.
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