What Is Environmental Health Tracking
Environmental health tracking is one way for us to gather more information about diseases and how they may be linked to what were exposed to in our air, water, and homes in order to take action to protect our health. Currently, we have very little data on exposures to environmental hazards and the health effects that may be related to those exposures. The chemical industry and polluters get off clean by saying no data means no problem. But when we consider the small but growing amount of evidence linking diseases like cancer, asthma, and Alzheimers to toxic chemical exposure, we know that no data really means that the problems just havent been adequately studied.
Environmental health tracking is one way to help bring those problems to light. In 2003, Congress appropriated $28 million to begin the development of a nationwide network to track when and where breast cancer and other chronic diseases occur, along with the presence of relevant environmental factors such as exposure to PCBs, dioxin, pesticides, and other pollutants. This data will hopefully help us better understand the links between diseases and environmental hazards in order to take action to protect public health.
A national system of environmental health tracking would:
What Types Of Hormone Therapy Are Used For Breast Cancer
Several strategies are used to treat hormone-sensitive breast cancer:
Blocking ovarian function: Because the ovaries are the main source of estrogen in premenopausal women, estrogen levels in these women can be reduced by eliminating or suppressing ovarian function. Blocking ovarian function is called ovarian ablation.
Ovarian ablation can be done surgically in an operation to remove the ovaries or by treatment with radiation. This type of ovarian ablation is usually permanent.
Alternatively, ovarian function can be suppressed temporarily by treatment with drugs called gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists, which are also known as luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone agonists. By mimicking GnRH, these medicines interfere with signals that stimulate the ovaries to produce estrogen.
Estrogen and progesterone production in premenopausal women. Drawing shows that in premenopausal women, estrogen and progesterone production by the ovaries is regulated by luteinizing hormone and luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone . The hypothalamus releases LHRH, which then causes the pituitary gland to make and secrete LH;and follicle-stimulating hormone . LH and FSH cause the ovaries to make estrogen and progesterone, which act on the endometrium .
Hormonal Contraception And Breast Cancer Risk
Even a small association between use of hormonal contraception and breast cancer would be clinically relevant because hormonal contraceptives are among the most frequently prescribed drugs in the world . The most common hormonal contraception is combined estrogenprogestogen oral contraception. A reanalysis of epidemiological data published in 1996 addressed many of the common questions about breast cancer risk associated with oral contraceptive use . The findings were based on a total of 53297 women with breast cancer and 100239 controls, the majority from North America or Europe. The main finding was a small increase in breast cancer risk during use of oral contraception, which began to decline shortly after stopping and which disappeared 10 years after discontinuation. The RR of breast cancer was estimated at 1.24 for current users compared with non-users. Within 10 years after discontinuing use of oral contraception the RR declined to 1.01 . Cancers in oral contraceptive users were 12% less likely than those in non-users to have spread beyond the breast.
The absolute number of breast cancers attributable to oral contraceptive use by young women would be 1.5 cases and 4.7 cases per 10000 women using oral contraceptives from ages 20 to 24 years and from 25 to 29 years respectively during and 10 years after use ceased .
Read Also: Is Breast Cancer Hard Or Soft Lump
Birth Control And Endometrial Cancer
Use of some forms of hormonal birth control the risk of endometrial cancer.
Current users of estrogen-containing pills have half as much risk as those who never used hormonal methods . Former-users of the pill also have a reduced risk after discontinuation .
There has been less research on progestin-only birth control, but some studies have found reduced risks too. One study from 2014 found that people with heavy menstrual bleeding who used the hormonal IUD had half the risk of developing endometrial cancer . Users of the progestin-only shot have been found to be at reduced risk , and progestin-only pills might also reduce risk , though more research is needed.
Theoretically, users of progestin-only methods should be at a reduced risk, because it is thought that the synthetic progestins prevent the development of endometrial cancer .
The hormonal IUD and an oral form of the progestin found in the contraceptive shot have actually been used to treat some forms of endometrial cancer and endometrial hyperplasia, or abnormal cell growth .
Signs Of Estrogen Dominance
Estrogen can be metabolized in your body in different ways. Some pathways lead to estrogen metabolites that can compromise your health. This can be a particular problem if your liver is not functioning well. Then your liver doesnt process estrogen metabolites and help remove them from your body, and you end up with more estrogen circulating, causing havoc and estrogen excess.
ED can mean one of two things: you either have too much estradiol in relation to progesterone, or an imbalance in your estrogen metabolites .
This can lead to the following symptoms:
- Worsening PMS
- Lumpy, painful or swollen breasts
- Weight gain, particularly around the hips
Recommended Reading: Is Stage 1 Breast Cancer Curable
The Power Of Prevention
Living with the fear of breast cancer, fearing it, and not understanding it is a toxic way of living. Going for a mammogram is like waiting for a sickness to happen. Like youre waiting for the worse news of your;life. ;
Im all about taking steps to promote your own wellness and prevent illness. To help prevent breast cancer, its important to recognize the links between elevated hormones and ill health. This is particularly true for estrogen, the female hormone that helps us develop our menstrual cycle and curves. Many women are very surprised to learn that breast cancer can be fed by estrogen. And theres plenty of clear science to show the link.
Here is the good news: Estrogenic cancers like breast cancer can be managed with a sensible diet and clean lifestyle options. This article is about that.
When Brigham and Womens Hospital and Harvard Medical School looked at womens hormones via blood samples taken from the ongoing Nurses Health Study, they found a strong link between hormonal imbalance and breast cancer.
Their study measured levels of eight different important hormones in women after menopause. Those hormones included estrogen, androgenic hormones, DHEA, prolactin and insulin-like growth factor . The results were startling. When more than one hormone level was elevated, the risk of breast cancer doubled. And when several were elevated? It tripled. But the hormone with the biggest impact? Was estrogen. You can to read more about this study.
Prevalence Of Hormonal Steroid Use
Ever use of contraception among women of reproductive age reached 62% worldwide and 70% in the more developed regions in the year 2001 among those who live in a marital or consensual union. Current use of steroidal contraception including oral, injectable and implantable methods exceeded 8% worldwide and 17% in the more developed countries. Current usage rates for steroidal contraception were as high as 48% in The Netherlands, 46% , 36% , 26% , 24% , 20% and 16% .
Use of hormone preparations among menopausal and post-menopausal women is less well documented and more uncertain. In 1997 the worldwide acceptance of menopause hormone treatment among women aged 4564 years was estimated to be 12% .
Also Check: Does All Breast Cancer Chemo Cause Hair Loss
When Is Hormone Therapy Used
Hormone therapy is often used after surgery to help reduce the risk of the cancer coming back. Sometimes it is started before surgery . It is usually taken for at least 5 to 10 years.
Hormone therapy can also be used to treat cancer that has come back after treatment or that has spread to other parts of the body.
Age At Menarche Is More Influential Than Age At Menopause On Breast Cancer Risk
The observation that lengthening the reproductive life of a woman, either by an earlier menarche or later menopause, increases the risk of breast cancer would suggest that the overall duration of the exposure to estrogen is underlying the risk. However, a recent meta-analysis of reproductive events and breast cancer risk has found that age at menarche may be more of a deciding factor on the risk than age at menopause .
These findings contradict earlier theories that the influence of age at menarche and menopause on breast cancer risk was simply due to the duration of exposure to cycling ovarian hormones. Instead, it seems that the timing of the first exposure of the mammary gland to cyclic hormones sets up a developmental program that has consequences for breast cancer risk later in life.
Recommended Reading: What To Eat During Breast Cancer Treatment
How Can Hormones Affect The Growth Of Breast Cancer
Hormones like estrogen and progesterone are chemicals produced by glands in the body. Normally, these hormones help regulate body cycles, like menstruation. However, sometimes these same hormones can cause cancer to grow.
The pathologist will perform tests on the breast cancer cells to determine if they have receptors that feed on estrogen or progesterone, stimulating their growth. If the cancer cells have these receptors, your doctor may recommend hormone therapy drugs, such as blockers or inhibitors. Both types of drugs help to destroy cancer cells by cutting off their supply of hormones.
How Much Does Hrt Increase Risk
The risk of developing breast cancer between the ages of 50 and 69 is around:
- 63 in every 1,000 women who have never used HRT
- 83 in every 1,000 women who use combined HRT for five years from the age of 50
- 68 in every 1,000 women who use oestrogen-only HRT for five years from the age of 50
Oestrogen-only HRT increases the risk of womb cancer, so is generally only offered to women who have had their womb removed .
Tibolone is another type of HRT that contains a steroid that acts like oestrogen and progesterone. Tibolone users also have an increased risk of breast cancer, but probably less so than combined HRT users.
Read Also: Can You Get Breast Cancer At 16
The Pill Might Cause A Small Increase In Breast Cancer Its Unclear If Hormonal Iuds Do The Same
The link between birth control pills;and breast cancer has been controversial, says Dr. Goldfrank. Studies looking at this have gone back and forth.
Birth control pills might increase the risk of breast cancer a small amount, especially for women who currently use or who recently used birth control pills. Any elevated risk seems to decrease over time after stopping use.;
Even less is known about the link between hormonal IUDs and breast cancer, says Dr. Goldfrank. Its not clear yet, she says.
Foods For Breast Health
Some of the best foods for breast health are the ones that help lower your levels of dirty estrogen. These are cruciferous vegetables, or members of the brassica family, and they include cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprouts, collard greens, radishes and arugula. Cruciferous vegetables are rich in a substance called DIM , which is key in liver detoxification as well as the elimination of mutated estrogen metabolites. This, in turn, helps women maintain a healthy balance of estrogen, progesterone and thyroid hormone, which is critical if you want to naturally balance hormones and have healthy breasts.
Cruciferous vegetables can also help you filter estrogen metabolites from your body. A pilot study published in the journal Nutrition and Cancer found that supplementation with 108 mg of DIM per day increased the 2-hydroxylation of estrogen urinary metabolites in postmenpausal women who had a history of early-stage breast cancer.
Since these estrogen byproducts can be harmful if they keep circulating at high levels, women who eat their cruciferous vegetables may reduce their tendency toward estrogen dominance. Stabilizing estrogen can also help to stabilize other important hormones.
Heres a list of some cruciferous vegetables to include in your diet to promote healthy breast tissue:
- Yams or sweet potatoes
Don’t Miss: What Not To Eat With Breast Cancer
Does Hrt Cause Breast Cancer
Taking HRT increases the risk of breast cancer.
- The longer you use HRT, the greater your risk
- Once you stop taking HRT, it can take up to 10 years for this risk to fall to about the same as if you had never taken it.;This will depend on the type of HRT and the length of time you were using it
- Breast cancer risk is greater with combined HRT than with oestrogen-only HRT
Talk to your doctor when deciding to start or stop taking HRT, or if you are worried about HRT and breast cancer.
Associations Between Hormone Concentrations And Breast Cancer Risk
Associations between breast cancer risk and quartiles of steroid hormone levels are shown in . For all estrogens and androgens, the HRs were higher for women with higher concentrations. The test for trend was statistically significant only for free estradiol and estrone sulfate . SHBG was inversely associated with breast cancer risk with a dose-response relationship; the HR for doubling the plasma concentration was 0.41 .
HRs and 95% CIs of breast cancer by quartiles of steroid hormone levels
Only minor differences were observed in HRs for breast cancer when excluding tumors diagnosed during the first 2 years of follow-up, whereas no association was found for any hormone and breast cancer risk during the first 2 years of follow-up; only SHBG was inversely associated with breast cancer risk in both periods. The HRs associated with a doubling of hormone level for durations of follow-up of up to 2 years and of >2 years were as follows: 0.94 and 1.65 for total estradiol , 1.24 and 1.74 for free estradiol , 1.08 and 1.68 for estrone sulfate , 1.10 and 1.10 for testosterone , 1.03 and 1.19 for DHEAS , 0.96 and 1.34 for androstenedione , and 0.41 and 0.42 for SHBG .
You May Like: Are Breast Cancer Lumps Hard Or Soft
Lowering Estrogen Levels From The Ovaries
This type of treatment only works in premenopausal women who have functioning ovaries. It can help some types of hormone therapy work better. It is also used to treat cancer that has spread.
There are three ways to lower estrogen levels from the ovaries:
- Surgery to remove the ovaries
- Radiation to damage the ovaries so they no longer function, which is permanent
- Drugs such as goserelin and leuprolide that temporarily stop the ovaries from making estrogen
Any of these methods will put a woman into menopause. This causes symptoms of menopause:
- Hot flashes
- Loss of interest in sex
How Breast Cancer Forms And Multiplies
Cancer cells are triggered when a mutation in normal cells occur. This can happen due to well-known problematic lifestyle factors like living on junk food, chronic sunburn and cigarette smoking, but hormones can also play a big role. Once cancer cells are born they grow and divide to make more cancer cells, which form a tumor that may contain millions of cancer cells.
Cancers need a blood supply to provide them the oxygen, nutrients and hormones like estrogen, which help them grow and multiply. But as they get bigger they are often further away from the blood vessels so they need to set up their own supply. They do this by sending out signals that tell your body to grow new blood vessels like capillaries. This process is called angiogenesis. And it is ongoing, so once it occurs the cancer keeps getting bigger and then may start to spread to organs like your liver . Thats why scientists are working on cancer vaccines and drugs to try to halt the process of angiogenesis.
Breast cancer is often caused by cancer cells growing in the lobules, where milk is produced or the ducts, where the milk travels to the nipple. Breast cancer cells may then spread to surrounding breast tissue, then move to the lymph nodes under the arms and migrate to other parts of the body.
Read Also: How Likely Am I To Get Breast Cancer
Cortisol Stress And Breast Cancer Risk
In healthy individuals, normal levels of cortisolthe adrenal hormone that maintains the immune system and manages our stress-coping response 24 hours a dayshould be highest in the morning when we need to get up and get going, and decrease steadily to its lowest point at night, when we need to sleep. But the stress-coping demands of 21st century living can wreak havoc on this normal circadian rhythm, disrupting our ability to sleep through the night, focus on our work, and take lifes daily challenges in stride. When cortisol levels are out of balance, we tend to feel tired and wired all the time and/or may suffer from asthma and allergies, chemical and noise sensitivities, anxiety, and eating disorders. We may find ourselves crashing in the afternoon, craving sugar and caffeine to cope, and catching every cold and flu bug that comes along. The bottom line is adrenal exhaustion: when the body can no longer keep up with the demand for constant cortisol we hit bottom and may find ourselves at serious risk for chronic illness and autoimmune disease, premature aging, and a breast cancer just waiting to happen.
How Does Pregnancy Affect Benign Breast Disease
Changes in hormone levels during pregnancy can cause breast lumps, tenderness and nipple discharge. Youre also more likely to experience benign breast changes or develop a breast infection called mastitis while breastfeeding. Breast changes during pregnancy or breastfeeding are rarely cancerous. Still, you should reach out to your healthcare provider when you notice any breast change.