Recently I have been treating more and more women who have developed breast cancer between the ages of 45 and 55. According to recent research, one out of every 5 women in America will develop breast cancer during their lives. Why are women developing breast cancer at younger and younger ages? There are many factors contributing to this increased breast cancer rate.
- Women have more stress and anxiety in their lives with more career and family responsibilities during their peak career time from the ages of 40 to 60. Unfortunately from a stress viewpoint, professional women still have teenagers at home to challenge their moods. During this period of time, women gradually develop an imbalance of estrogen and progesterone, and at the same time, their relaxing hormones are declining. In addition, they often have difficulty sleeping which can create a compromised immune system potentially resulting in cancer.
- Estrogen dominance can stimulate a common breast cyst to grow uncontrollably. During menopause, both estrogen and progesterone levels decrease, but progesterone drops much more than estrogen. This imbalance, especially with bad estrogen, called estradiol, serves as a cell growth stimulator. Estradiol can stimulate breast cells, the uterus lining and ovaries to grow abnormally. If a woman does not eat healthy foods during this time, problems will occur. For example, eating a high sugar diet can cause inflammation in the overgrowing cells leading to mutated genes, which can cause abnormal growth of breast cells.
- High intensity, energetic women love to drink 2 to 3 cups of coffee a day. They feel that coffee can make them more productive. Actually, too much coffee can deplete their adrenal gland function and weaken their ovarian function, which further lowers their progesterone level. The lowered progesterone level can make them more anxious. Additionally, sleep can become an issue. Coffee also stimulates insulin release which can abnormally stimulate cell growth. In turn, high insulin can transfer blood sugar into fat cells. This sudden dropping of blood sugar can make anxious women suddenly crave sweets even more, creating a destructive cycle.
- Both men and women love to have a glass of wine with dinner to relax their minds. For women, however; alcohol enhances the function of the enzyme aromatase. Aromatase can make the body produce more bad estrogen. New hormone therapies use aromatase inhibitors to reduce the production of bad estrogen. That is why breast cancer patients are advised to stop drinking any kind of alcohol, in order to reduce the production of bad estrogen. Furthermore, alcohol consumption can induce falling asleep faster, however, this type of alcohol induced sleep often leads to waking up in the middle of the night with hot flashes and night sweats. If you really enjoy drinking wine or other types of alcohol, you should cut down your drink consumption and go to bed later when you do so. It is also recommended to drink water as you do, to speed up the discharge of alcohol from the body, and to dilute the percentage of alcohol that your body has to process at any given time.
How can we prevent getting breast cancer earlier in life?
Acupuncture can help women relax and reduce stress. Additionally, it can help bring energy to the adrenal gland and ovaries so your body can produce more relaxing hormones such as serotonin, GABA and progesterone. Along with receiving acupuncture treatment, women should change their diet and eat more cruciferous vegetables such as kale, cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower to reduce the production of bad estrogen by blocking the function of the aromatase.
Acupuncture is helpful for balancing your nervous systems, so women can sleep deeper and have less anxiety. With improved sleep, digestion becomes stronger and you can absorb good nutrients more efficiently and produce more anti-oxidants to prevent inflammation. Deep sleep also makes your immune function stronger, which can control cancer cells better. If women can use acupuncture, meditation and yoga to reduce stress and balance hormones periodically, the bad estrogen will not get to the level that turns on the bad genes.
At the same time, the immune system will monitor cancer cells better and control them to healthy levels. Everybody carries cancer cells but as long as our immune function is balanced, our body can destroy the cancer cells before they get out of control. Women cannot avoid stress and hormone changes, but as long as we use acupuncture and other self- healing techniques to bring the balance back, we can prevent or delay the onset of the different cancers.