I used to take Prempro, but shortly after that scary study years ago
my doctor stopped all my hormones. He said it could increase my
risk for breast cancer or a heart attack. It’s been four years since I’ve
been off hormones. Does this mean I don’t have to worry anymore?”
–L.K., Bethesda, Maryland
ANSWER: That scary study you refer to is the Women’s Health
Initiative (WHI), which was halted in 2002 when certain parts of
the trial suggested a greater risk for cancer, heart attack, stroke
and blood clots. The medications used in the study contained
equine estrogen and synthetic progestins (i.e. Premarin, Prempro).
A new JAMA study found that once women stop these types
of drugs, their risk for heart attack and blood clots does go down,
although the risk for cancer still remains slightly higher than women
who did not take these drugs. Now, the development of cancer
depends on many, many things—your genes, your weight, how long
you took these drugs, your liver and kidney function, whether you
exercise and what you eat.
I wouldn’t ‘worry’ because this type of negative ‘meditation’
only frightens you. But it’s completely within your power to take
action and make changes to help yourself. Some cancers are driven
by estrogen—any kind of estrogen, even the bio-identical sort, and
the type used in birth control pills. So just remember: Estrogen has
to do its job in your body and then leave.
When the harmful by-products of estrogen linger, rather
than clearing your body, your risk for cancer increases. So I
always tell my patients that if you take (or have taken) estrogen-
containing hormones of any sort, it’s time to focus on ways to
‘unglue’ the harmful estrogen by-products that are wedged in your
cells waiting for the right set of circumstances to start multiplying.
If overweight, you should exercise because fat cells hold onto estrogen
and when you lose weight, the estrogen burden lessens. What you
eat matters too. So simple, but true. Foods rich in a compound called
I3C (indole-3-carbonal) turns aggressive estrogens into meek ones
that leave the body easily.
Guys, I3C can confer protection to your prostate too. You
could supplement with I3C (200mg twice daily) or you can eat foods
naturally rich in I3C such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower,
green leaves like kale, turnip and mustard greens, spinach and chard.
Oatmeal helps unglue poisonous cancer-causing globules
that hide deep inside the crevices of your colon. Kick it up a
notch and sprinkle a tablespoon of ground flaxseed meal on
your oatmeal, or any meal, to help normalize estrogen levels.
Also, iodine-rich foods (like seafood) or supplements may help
because iodine is needed for healthy breast and thyroid tissues.
Research these for yourself and speak to your doctor to make
sure this is right for you. Everything you do now, matters later.
Suzy Cohen, has been a licensed pharmacist for over 30 years and believes the best approach to chronic illness is a combination of natural medicine and conventional. She founded her own dietary supplement company specializing in custom-formulas, some of which have patents. With a special focus on functional medicine, thyroid health and drug nutrient depletion, Suzy is the author of several related books including Thyroid Healthy, Drug Muggers, Diabetes Without Drugs, and a nationally syndicated column.