October is breast cancer awareness month. In addition to breast cancer screening (check out my blog on screening options), there are many things you can do to help optimize your breast health. Lifestyle modifications like eating whole foods higher in produce, getting adequate sleep, not smoking, and abstaining from alcohol intake can promote general health, cancer prevention, as well as hormone health.
There are several supplements that support breast health as well.
Resveratrol: A potent antioxidant found in a variety of foods, most notably berries. One study found that resveratrol can significantly reduce cell viability in a dose-dependent manner (decreased activity, proliferation, and increased apoptosis), and that it had greater effects on breast cancer cells vs normal cells.
Diindolylmethane: Diindolylmethane (DIM), a metabolite of indole-3-carbinol, is found in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli (my personal favorite veggie!). Taking DIM may decrease breast tissue density. Additionally, DIM may help push estrogen down the 2-hydroxyestrone detox pathway. A greater 2-hydroxyestrone: 16alpha-hydroxyestrone ratio has been linked to a decreased risk of estrogen receptor negative breast cancer in premenopausal women.
Calcium D-Glucarate: Beta-glucuronidase is an enzyme produced by the microbiome of the colon and is involved in phase II liver detoxification. Elevated beta-glucuronidase activity is associated with an increased risk of cancers such as breast, prostate, and colon cancer. Calcium D-Glucarate (the calcium salt of glucaric acid, found in fruits and veggies) can inhibit an enzyme called beta-glucuronidase.
Vitamin D: Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is best known for its relationship with calcium homeostasis. However, vitamin D has many actions in the body, including anti-inflammatory and immune modulatory properties. Research has linked vitamin D deficiency with an increased risk of breast cancer.
Curcumin: Curcumin is derived from the turmeric spice that gives Indian food its gorgeous color and flavor. Curcumin has powerful anti-inflammatory properties and research has shown that curcumin has multiple anti-breast cancer effects.
Grape Seed: Multiple studies have shown grape seed to have anti-cancer properties, including against breast cancer. You can take grape seed extract as a supplement, add in some fresh grapes or 100% grape juice into your diet for breast benefits. However, getting your grapes from wine does not have the same breast benefits (unfortunately), as alcohol intake can increase the risk of cancers.
As a physician who focuses on hormone health in Minneapolis, breast cancer prevention is a very important issue to me. Contact Twin Cities Integrative Medicine to schedule an initial consultation where we can discuss your health concerns in detail and come up with a treatment plan.
Wu H, Chen L, Zhu F, Han X, Sun L, Chen K. The Cytotoxicity Effect of Resveratrol: Cell Cycle Arrest and Induced Apoptosis of Breast Cancer 4T1 Cells. Toxins (Basel). 2019 Dec 13;11(12):731. doi: 10.3390/toxins11120731. PMID: 31847250; PMCID: PMC6950385.
Yerushalmi R, Bargil S, Bar Y, et al. 3,3-Diindolylmethane (DIM): a nutritional intervention and its impact on breast density in healthy BRCA carriers. A prospective clinical trial. Carcinogenesis. 2020;41(10):1395-1401
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