Maynon Ballow, CN has worked with FEM Centre since 2005, developing a loyal client following. Her education and experience as a Clinical Nutritionist gives her special insight into nutritional counseling, including dietary guidance and weight loss coaching. Maynon offers nutrition consultations at Energy Health Centre offices in
and Fort Worth.
Energy Health Centre Fort Worth (817)927-5111.Energy Health Centre Colleyville (817)421-2922.
by Joseph McWherter, MD I recently reviewed an endocrine society literature update which contained two headlines:
I recently reviewed an endocrine society literature update which contained two headlines:
"Taking menopause hormones for five years may double breast cancer risk."
"Women who take hormone therapy and develop breast cancer may have a 47 percent decreased risk of dying from the disease."
I believe both studies are not only reconcilable but illustrate the beneficial effects of hormones with respect to the breasts. Understanding these implications should play a key role in your decision to begin or continue hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Instead of causing breast cancer, post-menopausal hormone replacement therapy may well unmask pre-existing hormone-sensitive tumors, allowing for earlier detection on mammograms and thermograms and allow more timely medical intervention, resulting in a less lethal outcome.
Statistics show that within the general post-menopausal population, at any given time a certain number of women who begin hormone replacement already carry pre-existing breast tumors too small to be found by mammography alone. Cancer researchers agree that it takes a single breast cancer cell seven to ten years of dividing before becoming detectable. According to this cellular growth timeline, the five years of hormone replacement mentioned in the first headline would not be sufficient for hormones to increase the incidence of tumors.
Why then do HRT studies report a doubling of breast cancer incidence? Estrogen and progestin therapy may not initiate cancer cells but instead may slow malignant cellular growth and permit the body to mount a greater inflammatory response, leading to a more timely mammographic diagnosis. Rather than creating cancers, HRT may be helping us find them twice as fast! Earlier detection translates into life-saving treatment with a greater chance of containment and lowered chance of lymph node spread. This could explain why in the second headline hormone users had a 47 percent reduction in dying from breast cancer. Without hormone replacement these cancers could have grown undetected for years.
The hormone unmasking effect would be most pronounced during the initial replacement phase, accounting for the higher detection rates of pre-existing breast cancer within the first few years of therapy. This translates into doubling the detection rate as opposed to doubling the risk. Several years after stopping hormones, a woman may not have the benefit of this early warning effect. A resultant decline in breast cancer rates noted several years after the cessation of hormones should not be construed as proof that hormone replacement therapy was the cause of breast cancer, but may indicate that tumors continue to grow undetected. Since two thirds of breast cancers occur during the post-menopausal years, new tumor cells would continue to arise and grow undetected especially without the potential unmasking effects of hormone replacement.
I think the two studies headlined in the endocrine briefing present sufficient evidence to consider that hormone replacement protects women by exposing and containing pre-existing breast cancer. I am also encouraged by a recent report in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute stating that post-menopausal women carrying the BRCA1 mutation who used estrogen had an almost 50 percent lower incidence of breast cancer in comparison to those carriers not on hormone replacement. In addition, carriers using combined estrogen and progestin replacement had no increase in breast cancer compared to non-users. (BRCA1 is a human gene which stops a breast cell from becoming cancerous. A mutation in this gene may increase the risk of breast cancer by almost 85 percent therefore one must be careful to avoid environmental carcinogens.)
Because hormonal balance is essential in maintaining optimal health and wellness, the decision to initiate or continue taking hormones should be based on your current needs and future life expectations.
I hope this discussion affords you a scientific perspective of the relationship between hormones and the breast. FEM Centre's Wellness program, derived from extensive clinical experience, promotes breast health by combining bio-identical hormone replacement with nutrition-oriented detoxification.