Breast cancer affects a large number of women every year. In the first article, we explained what cancer is, giving statistics on the incidence of breast cancer compared to the other most common cancers. We closed off our last segment by listing its risk factors. We will now discuss hormone replacement therapy and risk reduction.
4. Hormone replacement therapy
During the 2000s, a large number of studies of hormone therapy pointed to an increased risk of breast cancer. There is a wide variation in the increased risk depending on the type of treatment. Some treatments use a single hormone, others use multiple hormones, and now there are bioidentical hormones as well. It’s difficult to know where to begin, as it could be the subject of several articles, but I’ll tell you two things:
- The Canadian Cancer Society recommends that women avoid using HRT for any reason other than to treat severe symptoms of menopause that no other treatment has been able to relieve. (I will tell you about natural solutions which, on the contrary, would reduce the risks).
- A recent study (2019) even concludes that hormone therapy increases the risk of breast cancer, even after its cessation. This study reports the results of analyzing data from 108,647 women with breast cancer from 58 epidemiological studies conducted around the world. The levels of increased risk are directly proportional to the duration of hormone therapy use.
Many professionals will tell you that there is no risk, and that is not true. There are risks to using hormone replacement therapy, but the risks may be less, depending on the type of treatment, the dose, and the duration of its use. On the other hand, know that there are natural alternatives which instead of increasing the risks, would decrease them. It would therefore be wise to try a quality natural alternative like Vitoli Menopause first, which is highly effective, and to reserve hormone replacement therapy for women who do not respond to natural alternatives.
5. Risk reduction
We must, of course, start by reducing the presence or impact of the risk factors mentioned above. Then, remember that all healthy lifestyle habits have an impact on the incidence of a very large number of cancers, including breast cancer. You probably don’t need to reiterate all the recommendations, and the Vitoli blog gives you free access to advice from over 15 healthcare professionals who write about all of these facets. It should be noted in passing, that it is all the healthy habits that count, and not just being excellent at just one of them.
Social life, an underestimated ally
On the back of the 2014 book, McGill University professor Susan Pinker reports that a woman with breast cancer who has a large circle of friends is up to four times more likely to survive than a woman living a more isolated lifestyle. This Montreal psychologist is now recognized for her bestselling book which explains that social life is one of the most important facets for happiness and human health.
A large number of studies have concluded that the quality of social life is important for the incidence of breast cancer, but also for the survival rate of women with it. The largest study to date has followed 9,267 women diagnosed for more than 20 years. They were questioned about their social relationships every two years following their diagnosis.
The data speaks for itself. Compared to a woman with a good social life, an isolated woman is:
- 43% more at risk of having a recurrence,
- 64% more at risk of dying from breast cancer,
- 69% more at risk of dying from all causes.
More specifically for food, flavonoids have shown very interesting protective effects. It is a group of natural molecules from the large family of plant polyphenols. Soy isoflavones have long been suspected of increasing the risk of hormone-dependent cancers. However, it would be quite the reverse. A recent study of 6235 women shows that, on the contrary, soy consumption even has a preventive effect on hormone-dependent cancers.
Past misinterpretations regarding soy isoflavones are believed to be due to the existence of two types of estrogen receptors. Some scientists say that it is rather a competition for the receptors that would allow an effect similar to drugs usually used to reduce the impact of hormones in the event of a diagnosis (e.g. tamoxifen). The high consumption of isoflavones is also correlated with the reduction in the risk of mortality from all causes. In addition, it is also clearly linked to an increase in bone density.
By the way, let’s also mention that a 2019 study points out that consuming onions and garlic would also reduce the risk of breast cancer. The Mediterranean diet, which is linked to reducing the incidence of a wide variety of cancers, is especially the case for breast cancer. In this diet, it should be noted that hydroxytyrosol, the most important polyphenol in olives, present in all Vitoli products, inhibits several mechanisms of action linked to the development of solid tumors, which would explain the reduction in the risks of breast cancer related to the consumption of olive oil. The encouraging results of a recent study in cancer cells allow the hypothesis that olive polyphenols not only reduce the risk of breast cancer, but they improve the chances of recovery during treatment. These are of course laboratory results that will have to be demonstrated in clinical studies, but two studies are already underway on the subject.
One last important point, in the event of a diagnosis, your lifestyle habits are also your allies when putting the odds in your favor when overcoming the disease. For example, a systematic review of the scientific literature recently concluded (18 published studies) that physical activity reduces mortality following diagnosis and 2 studies also demonstrated a reduction in cancer recurrence.
Other suggested articles
- Sleep: Your Ally for a Multitude of Health Problems
- Natural Products: We Don’t Need That?
- Stop Sleeping Pills in 5 Steps
- Chicken Tagine With Olives and Lemon
- Calahorra J, Martínez-Lara E, Granadino-Roldán JM, Martí JM, Cañuelo A, Blanco S, Oliver FJ, Siles E. Crosstalk between hydroxytyrosol, a major olive oil phenol, and HIF-1 in MCF-7 breast cancer cells. Sci Rep. 2020 Apr 14;10(1):6361. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-63417-6. PMID: 32286485; PMCID: PMC7156391.
- Collaborative Group on Hormonal Factors in Breast Cancer, 2019. Type and timing of menopausal hormone therapy and breast cancer risk: individual participant meta-analysis of the worldwide epidemiological evidence. The Lancet Journal, Volume 394, ISSUE 10204, P1159-1168, September 28, 2019.
- Desai et al, 2019. Onion and Garlic Intake and Breast Cancer, a Case-Control Study in Puerto Rico. Received 19 Apr 2019.
- Hwang, Eun Suk, and Ju-Hee Nho. “Lifestyle Intervention for Breast Cancer Women.” Journal of lifestyle medicine vol. 9,1 (2019): 12-14. doi:10.15280/jlm.2019.9.1.12
- Kroenke CH, Michael YL, Poole EM, Kwan ML, Nechuta S, Leas E, Caan BJ, Pierce J, Shu XO, Zheng Y, Chen WY. 2016. Postdiagnosis social networks and breast cancer mortality in the After Breast Cancer Pooling Project. Cancer. 2017 Apr 1;123(7):1228-1237. doi: 10.1002/cncr.30440. Epub 2016 Dec 12. PMID: 27943274; PMCID: PMC5360517.
- Maumy L, Salakos E, Rocher G, Al Mamari T, Bonneau C, Elies A, Neuzillet C, Rouzier R. Activité physique après diagnostic de cancer du sein et survie : revue de la littérature [Physical activity after breast cancer diagnosis and survival: A systematic review]. Bull Cancer. 2020 Sep 22:S0007-4551(20)30343-X. French. doi: 10.1016/j.bulcan.2020.06.013. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 32977937.
- McGrowder DA, Miller FG, Nwokocha CR, Anderson MS, Wilson-Clarke C, Vaz K, Anderson-Jackson L, Brown J. Medicinal Herbs Used in Traditional Management of Breast Cancer: Mechanisms of Action. Medicines (Basel). 2020 Aug 14;7(8):47. doi: 10.3390/medicines7080047. PMID: 32823812; PMCID: PMC7460502.
- Morabito N, Crisafulli A, Vergara C, Gaudio A, Lasco A, Frisina N, D’Anna R, Corrado F, Pizzoleo MA, Cincotta M, Altavilla D, Ientile R, Squadrito F. 2002. Effects of genistein and hormone-replacement therapy on bone loss in early postmenopausal women: a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled study. J Bone Miner Res. 2002 Oct ; 17(10) : 1904-12.
- Somekawa Y, Chiguchi M, Ishibashi T, Aso T. 2001. Soy intake related to menopausal symptoms, serum lipids, and bone mineral density in postmenopausal Japanese women. Obstet Gynecol. 2001 Jan;97(1) : 109-15.
- Spinker, S. 2014. The Village Effect: How Face-to-Face Contact Can Make Us Healthier and Happier. Penguin Random House Canada. 432 pages.
- Zhang FF, Haslam DE, Terry MB, Knight JA, Andrulis IL, Daly MB, Buys SS, John EM. 2017. Dietary isoflavone intake and all-cause mortality in breast cancer survivors: The Breast Cancer Family Registry. Cancer. 2017 Jun 1;123(11):2070-2079.