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Part One-Breast Cancer -What can be done to reduce your risk?

Part One-Breast Cancer -What can be done to reduce your risk?

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Breast cancer results from uncontrolled growth of breast cells. About 1 in 8 Canadian women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. Only 20% of women diagnosed with breast cancer have a family history of breast cancer and known gene mutations (such as BRCA1 and BRCA2) account for only 5 to 10% of cases. This means that most breast cancer occurs in women without a family history.

Women living in the US have a 10-fold greater risk of dying from breast cancer than do women living in Thailand. When women migrate from areas with a low incidence of breast cancer (i.e. Asia) to the US their breast cancer risk increases. These facts suggest that environment, diet and lifestyle play an important role. Unlike gender and age, these modifiable risk factors can be controlled by; maintaining a healthy weight, diet, regular exercise, restoring hormone balance, avoiding alcohol, and avoiding environmental toxins that can serve as transforming agents for breast cancer (i.e. xenoestrogens and carcinogens).

The following is a list of scientifically based interventions to reduce your risk of developing breast cancer.

Restore Hormone Balance

The phase prior to menopause (lasting 5 to 7 years) is marked by increasing levels of estrogen and falling progesterone as the ovarian follicles are no longer capable of producing efficient ovulation. As well, there is a significant shift in the balance of the three forms of estrogen as menopause approaches with falling levels of estriol (E3) and estradiol (E2) and increasing levels of estrone (E1). E1 continues to be made in postmenopausal women as it is converted in fat tissue and the adrenal glands. The surplus of E1 and low levels of protective progesterone are major contributors to the rise in breast cancer after menopause.

Optimize Estrogen Metabolism

Estrogens are broken down by the liver and tissue into three major metabolites -two of which have potent activity at the estrogen receptor and are both mutagenic and carcinogenic to the breast. A high “2/16 ratio” of favourable metabolites (2hydroxy-estrone) to toxic metabolites (16hydroxy- estrone) is considered protective and can be enhanced through nutritional factors that optimize the hydroxylation of estrogen. Factors that can increase the 2/16 ratio include; cruciferous vegetables, indole 3-carbimole (400mg), di-iodomethionine (DIM), soy, flax, rosemary, and vitamin D3.

The supplement from femMED, Breast health containing indole-3 carbinol, milk thistle extract, calcium-D- glucarate, Schizandra chinensis fruit extract, stinging nettle, lignans and vitamin D recently underwent a double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Researchers were pleasantly surprised to discover consumption of the femMED supplement significantly increased the mean urinary concentration of 2- OHE in pre- and post-menopausal women (by 110% and 88%, respectively), suggesting a risk- reducing effect. The Breast Health supplement was well-tolerated, and displayed no adverse side effects. The study was published in Breast Cancer: Basic and Clinical Research.


Dr. Jennifer Pearlman
Dr. Jennifer Pearlman is a medical doctor with a focused practice in the area of women’s health and wellness.

She is a NAMS Certified Menopause Practitioner certified by the North American Menopause Society (NAMS) and is attending staff physician at the Menopause Clinic at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto. Dr. Pearlman has been awarded a focus practice designation by the Ontario Medical Association to enable her to work as an expert consultant to other physicians in the area of women’s health.

Dr. Pearlman completed her medical school and residency training at The University of Toronto. She graduated with Honours and received numerous scholarships and awards.

Dr. Pearlman is an active member of the Canadian and Ontario Medical Associations, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, and the College of Family Physicians of Canada. She is an active member of the North American Menopause Society (NAMS) and the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine (A4M) and is completing a Fellowship in Anti-Aging Regenerative Medicine (FAARM).

Dr. Pearlman is passionate, approachable, caring and committed to enhancing the life of midlife women. Offering the best of both conventional and integrative approaches, Dr. Pearlman helps her patients achieve optimal health and wellbeing.

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