Breast and chest cancer is a top health concern for women and people with breasts. In December 2020, the World Health Organization announced that it had overtaken lung cancer as the most commonly occurring cancer on the planet.
In North America, breast cancer is the most prevalent cancer in women. For transgender men and people on the trans-masculine spectrum, cancer in the chest area is still a concern even if they’ve had top surgery.
Knowing this, it’s natural for people at higher risk for breast and chest cancer to want to know how they can naturally reduce their risk and take better care of their bodies overall.
All estrogen isn’t the same
To get a stronger understanding of breast cancer risks, we need to start first by talking about how estrogen affects the body. Rather than one single hormone, estrogens are a group of hormones (estrone, estradiol, and estriol) that are made up of two types: the “good guys” (weak) and “bad guys” (strong).
While weak estrogens, like estrone and estriol, are important for heart and bone health later in life, strong estrogens, like estradiol, are linked to poor concentration, weight gain, insomnia, and cancer. Because estrogen dominance is linked to breast cancer, our first step in preventing a positive diagnosis is to look at how to reduce or eliminate the bad guys.
It’s not a simple task when we’re regularly exposed to environmental chemicals that mimic estrogen and lead to an excess in our bodies. These foreign imposters are called xenoestrogens. They’re synthetic substances that are so similar to the body’s own natural estrogen that they can fit into the same cell receptor sites.
Since our detoxification pathways are incapable of breaking them down, they tend to set up camp in fatty tissue (like breasts and chests) and stay with us for life.
This is why estrogen-positive breast cancer is the most common. On the bright side, that also means that it’s preventable.
Say goodbye to synthetics
Reducing or eliminating the main culprits from your daily life is one of the most important steps you can take to protect your natural estrogen balance. This takes a bit of work on your part to switch to all-natural products as much as you can and investigate the synthetic items you have in your life and which are the most harmful.
Some of the synthetics to keep an eye out for include:
- Chlorinated water
- Cosmetics containing parabens and phthalates
- Fabric softener sheets
- Lice shampoos
- Pesticides, including herbicides and fungicides
- Petrochemicals (derived from petroleum and natural gas)
- Plastics containing Bisphenol A
- Sanitary napkins, tampons, and menstrual products
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How to balance estrogens with food
It’s not all doom and gloom. There are also things we need more of in order to minimize the appearance of cancer-causing estrogens. The best part? We’re talking delicious foods.
The foods listed below help the body maintain healthy levels of weak estrogens while halting unwanted conversions to strong estrogens at the same time.
This is exactly what we want to happen, so start snacking more on:
- Alfalfa sprouts
- Berries (blueberry, cranberry, blackberry)
- Dried beans, lentils, and chickpeas
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Rice bran
- Sesame seeds
- Wheat germ and barley
- Whole grain rice and oats
- Wild yam
Veggies that inhibit strong estrogens
It’s easy being green. Cruciferous vegetables contain a plant nutrient called Indole-3-carbinol (or IC3) that helps break down cancer-causing estrogen and eliminate harmful estrogen mimickers. IC3 also improves the liver’s ability to process the estrogen in our bodies.
One of the most heavily-researched anti-cancer nutrients, IC3 has been shown to inhibit breast cancer tumors. Make sure it has a place in your diet by eating one cup of any of the following veggies each day:
- Bok choy
- Brussels sprouts
- Collard greens
- Mustard greens
Other breast-friendly superstar foods
All veggied out? Here are some other foods that can help fight cancer-causing estrogens.
- A very potent antimicrobial, antifungal and antiviral, plus a natural antibiotic.
- Aim to eat garlic 2-3 times a week.
- Pro tip! When cooking with garlic, chop and set aside for a few minutes to activate potent allyl sulfur, a compound that can help suppress tumor growth.
- Contains polyphenols, catechins, and flavonoids that have been shown to protect against estrogen-dominant breast cancers.
- Aim to drink 2-3 cups each day.
- Pro tip! If you don’t want all that caffeine, simply toss out your first cup — but save the teabag! Since the majority of the caffeine leaches out into your first cup, using the same tea bag to pour yourself another will pretty much eliminate the caffeine.
- Known for blocking the enzyme that makes estrogen from androgens.
- Aim to add pomegranate to your shopping list at least once a month.
- Pro tip! Cut a pomegranate in half and tap the back of each half with a wooden spoon. Watch as the seeds fall into your bowl in a matter of seconds.
- Contains the essential oil eucalyptol, a potent antioxidant that inhibits breast cancer development and helps detoxify carcinogenic estrogens.
- Aim to add it to your meal once or twice a week.
- Pro tip! Instead of eating it, you can buy the essential oil and rub it behind your ears to decrease fogginess and increase concentration.
- A powerful anti-inflammatory spice that helps eliminate cancer-causing estrogens and environmental estrogens via the liver to increase detoxification.
- Aim to take 50-100mg each day.
- Pro tip! Add 2 tsp to your soup or stir fry for some cancer-fighting flavor.