What do fibroids, endometriosis, and breast cancer have in common besides being conditions you’d rather not have in your life? It’s that familiar hormone, estrogen.
You have probably heard for years about the important role estrogen plays in keeping your body in balance. But it also turns out that estrogen can be a contributing factor in the growth of fibroid tumors, endometriosis tissue, and many types of breast cancer. In fact, estrogen-sensitive breast cancers are the most common type found in the United States.
What does this mean for you? Simply put, when estrogen production increases or the ability to eliminate estrogen is diminished, it can be harmful for your body. So let’s take a closer look at fibroids, endometriosis and breast cancer and the role estrogen plays in their development.
Fibroids are smooth muscle tumors that can be very uncomfortable, causing pain in your pelvis and abnormal uterine bleeding. They are very common and affect 20-25% of women in their reproductive years. Though rare before puberty, fibroids tend to enlarge during pregnancy and stop growing at menopause.
They respond powerfully to hormones and contain estrogen receptors in higher concentrations than the normal uterus that surrounds them. This is the reason the rise in fibroids is so prevalent during the reproductive years, especially during pregnancy.
If you’re African American you will also be more at risk, as fibroids occur more frequently with African American women, which by age 50 goes up to over half of that population.
But how are fibroids created? On a cellular level, these smooth muscle tumors arise when a single cell begins to multiply. This multiplication takes place within the muscle, which then disturbs the the uterine muscle and it’s lining causing the cramping and heavy bleeding. That’s why it is important to address the all factors that cause the fibroid to grow in order to relieve the symptoms.
While fibroids are smooth muscle tumors in the uterus, endometriosis is the result of uterine tissue that’s found in the floor of the pelvis or around the fallopian tubes and ovaries. The cause is believed to be reverse menstrual flow through the fallopian tubes into the pelvis, which enables glandular tissue to implant and grow internally, rather than leave the body normally through the vagina. Endometriosis can also be related to digestive issues, where inflammation from the intestinal tract, due to issues like food sensitivities, leaky gut or the wrong bacteria, increases the likelihood that endometrial tissue will implant where it doesn’t belong.
This growing uterine tissue, or endometrial tissue, remains just as sensitive to hormones as it was in the uterus. This is why symptoms of pain and discomfort are particularly prevalent during your period when, estrogen and progesterone are abundant.
The endometrial tissue also impacts your immune system, producing an inflammatory response that is thought to be the underlying cause for infertility that often accompanies endometriosis.
So much has been written about breast cancer and the massive impact it’s had on women’s lives in our modern culture. Again, the most generally accepted view of high risk factors for estrogen-sensitive breast cancers is that these risks result from increased exposure to estrogen.
The risk factors which all increase the lifetime exposure of your breast to estrogen include:
In addition, there is still a lot of controversy in medical circles around whether short term HRT given at menopause increases breast cancer risk.
You are probably familiar with the standard conventional approaches to fibroids, endometriosis and breast cancer which involve both prescription medication and surgical interventions. But while estrogen is the main culprit affecting these conditions, there are other factors involved as well, such as Inflammation, low blood sugar, stress and even spiritual issues. This is why it’s so important to address all of these conditions with a holistic approach and:
Fibroids, endometriosis and breast cancer are conditions that affect millions of women each year, so whether you already have one or at risk, it’s so important to understand the options for treatment. Coming up in part 2, we’ll take a look at the conventional approach and then walk through a holistic treatment plan step by step.