Hormone imbalances are rampant, specifically among women in our society. Not only are many women transitioning into menopause, but many women suffer from symptoms such as painful menses, irregular menses, mood swings, PMS, breast tenderness, uterine fibroids and ovarian cysts. These are all signs of unbalanced hormones in females, particularly of estrogen and progesterone.
Another factor to consider is the climbing rate of breast cancer. Now 1 in 7 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer. In the last forty years, rates of breast cancer have almost tripled. It is now the leading cancer among white and African America women in the U.S. Scientist are still trying to figure out why breast cancer rates continue to climb. Many well educated scientist and doctors believe the increase in breast cancer rates are partly related to the massive increase in exposure to hormone-like chemicals used in industrial processes. In addition, exposure to hormones has significantly increased in the last 40 years with the advent of using hormones in the meat and dairy industries.
Estrogen is the stimulus that triggers breast and other female hormone sensitive tissue (uterus + ovaries) to grow. The hormone-like chemicals from industry and the hormones used in the meat and dairy industry are all estrogen like molecules. They have the ability to stimulate human breast cells anywhere from 10x to 10,000x more than our own natural estrogen. Cancer is cells growing out of control. These foreign estrogens we are exposed to may be a large part of the stimulus triggering breast cells to grow out of control.
Modifying the diet can have a huge impact on the amount of exposure an individual has to these chemicals. First, it is important to avoid eating food raised with hormone-like chemicals. Buying hormone free meat, milk, cheeses, eggs and butter is a great place to start. This will instantly reduce your exposure to powerful estrogen-like compounds that can stimulate breast cells. The meat and dairy industry use synthetic estrogen-like hormones to promote their animals to produce more milk and to grow at a faster rate. There have been many documented cases of young girls (age 6-7) who started developing breasts. When taken off of milk, or switched to hormone-free milk the breast development stopped and they returned to a normal schedule of development. That is how much these chemicals can affect our health.
Organically grown produce is named as such because it is grown without the use of synthetic pesticides. Many pesticides have chemical structures similar to that of estrogen. They work by disrupting endocrine function in insects and have the residual effect of being able to strongly stimulate the estrogen receptors in breast tissue. Eating organic foods help to minimize this type of chemical exposure and thus reduce this type of estrogen stimulation on breast cells. In addition, organic food contains 3-5x the amount of nutrients as non-organic food so it helps supply your body with a rich source of nutrition.
Another topic of great interest is that some types of food actually posses the ability to create a better balance of estrogen in the body. Vegetables in the cruciferous family including; broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, bok choy, watercress, kale and collards all contain a specific type of nutrient that helps our body to balance estrogen levels. Commonly referred to as 3,3′-Diindolylmethane or DIM for short, this nutrient helps the body to process and excrete excess estrogen. It is one of the more biologically active components of the cruciferous vegetable and is being widely studied for its hormone balancing and anti-cancer properties. Eating generous servings of these vegetables on a regular basis offers a significant way to help keep hormones balanced and reduce the stimulatory effects of chemicals on your body.