Estrogen dominance and breast cancer
Prolonged exposure to high amounts of estrogens may increase the risk for some cancers. This issue, known as estrogen dominance, occurs when there’s an imbalance in the ratio of progesterone to estrogen, high exposure to xenoestrogens in the environment, or poor estrogen metabolism in the liver or digestive system.
An analysis of nine different studies suggested that having high levels of the estrogen doubles the risk for breast cancer, especially for women post-menopause (9).
There are ways to reduce estrogen dominance and promote healthy estrogen metabolism.
Endometriosis associated with increased risk of cancer
Endometriosis may increase the risk of ovarian cancer, and other conditions, but does not appear to increase endometrial cancer risk.
Endometriosis is an inflammatory disease characterized by endometrial tissue growing outside the uterus. It often causes debilitating pelvic pain and fertility struggles. Although largely benign, endometriosis does have cancer-like features. Endometriosis is also linked to an increased ovarian cancer risk (10).
Despite some findings linking endometriosis to increased cancer risk, researchers urge that any increase in ovarian or endometrial cancer risk remains similar to that of the general population. It’s estimated that 1 in 76 women will develop ovarian cancer in her lifetime, while the lifetime risk of ovarian cancer among women with endometriosis is fewer than two women in 100 (10).
It’s an increase—but a very small one. This small increase in risk should reassure women with endometriosis that their lifetime ovarian cancer risk is quite low, and is negligibly different from women who don’t have endometriosis.
Read more: 10 Signs You May Have Estrogen Dominance
Endometrial hyperplasia can be the culprit behind heavy menstrual cycles, and in some cases, cancer.
Excess estrogen and/or the absence of sufficient progesterone (frank or relative estrogen dominance) causes the cells in the lining of the uterus to grow thicker than normal. When the endometrium becomes abnormally thick, this can result in a condition known as endometrial hyperplasia.
Some types of endometrial hyperplasia are more likely to cause cancer
Some types of endometrial hyperplasia are more likely to develop into cancerous cells. There are different types of endometrial hyperplasia:
- Simple endometrial hyperplasia
- Complex endometrial hyperplasia
- Simple atypical endometrial hyperplasia
- Complex atypical endometrial hyperplasia
Complex atypical hyperplasia is rare, but it is also mostly considered a precancerous condition.
Endometrial hyperplasia doesn’t always result in cancer, and there are other hormone-related factors you can improve to reduce your risk of developing breast, ovarian, uterine, and endometrial cancers.
Other risk factors for hormone-related cancers
Various lifestyle, dietary, and metabolic risk factors may influence your overall risk of developing certain types of cancer.
Inflammation – PCOS is linked with greater chronic inflammation, which is a root cause of various chronic diseases.
Excess body fat – Because fat cells (called adipocytes) are capable of producing estrogen, this elevation in estrogen exposure may fuel the growth of cancers that use estrogen to grow.
Insulin resistance – PCOS has a high prevalence of insulin resistance, which makes it more likely you’ll experience metabolic dysregulation and cardiovascular risk factors.
Oral contraceptives – Long-term use of hormonal birth control pills can also affect risk of cancer in some people.
Reduce your risk of cancer if you have PCOS
Whether you have a hormonal condition or just want to optimize your hormone health, there are things you can do to be proactive and become aware of your current risk factors for various hormone-related problems.
Get regular exams with your integrative practitioner
Keep track of your health with regular hormone testing, nutritional evaluation, and a personalized plan tailored specifically to your needs. The proper function of your body’s chemical messengers is paramount to your overall health.
All new patient appointments include 3-hour visit times and a detailed history and exam.
Eat a balanced diet high in anti-inflammatory foods
Build healthy hormones with quality proteins, nutrient-dense plant foods such as leafy greens and other vegetables, and fats rich in omega-3s like fish, nuts & seeds, olive, coconut, and avocado.
A healthy diet can stack the deck in your favor to reduce xenoestrogens, improve antioxidants, and reduce inflammation.
Leverage the right supplements like berberine and inositol
Dietary supplements can help fill the gaps in your diet, as well as optimize specific hormone processes. Supplements that may be helpful include:
- Inositol to support healthy progesterone and thyroid function
- Berberine to promote healthy blood sugar and insulin sensitivity
- Calcium d-glucarate to support estrogen detoxification
Browse all hormone health supplements in the shop.
Stay active and maintain a healthy weight.
Regular exercise is important for hormone balance. One study found that women who worked out for 12 weeks developed not only better muscle strength and flexibility, but an improvement in estrogen levels as well (12).
Consider IV therapy
With environmental toxins, nutrient-depleted diets, and a hefty dose of stress, most of our bodies aren’t getting what they need on a cellular level. This can lead to a host of chronic illnesses stemming from reduced immune function, antioxidant status, and more.
At CentreSpringMD, we offer IV drip packages ranging from a recovery-boosting Recharge Drip, to an antioxidant Beauty Drip.
Work with an integrative provider if you have PCOS or endometriosis
So, what does this all mean for women with PCOS or endometriosis? While the research on the links between PCOS, endometriosis, and cancer is ongoing, it’s important to be proactive about your health if you have one of these conditions. Diet, exercise, stress management, and other lifestyle modifications are key to mitigating risk factors. Additionally, early diagnosis is crucial for managing any precancerous changes. Integrative therapies like acupuncture and IV therapy may also be helpful in supporting hormone balance. Ultimately, by taking a proactive approach to your health and partnering with an experienced practitioner, they can help you create a personalized prevention plan.