Estrogen has long been the subject of special focus with an increasing number of studies providing further insights into the relationship between breast cancers and estrogen metabolism. The pathways in which estrogens are metabolized and ultimately how they can impact a woman’s risk for breast cancer is very important.
There are two main pathways that estrogens are broken down or metabolized into, the 2-hydroxyestrogens (2OHE) and the 16-alphahydroxyestrogens (16OHE). Research shows that the metabolites 2OHE have an anti-proliferative or inhibitory effect on breast tissue whereas the 16OHE have a proliferative or stimulatory action on breast tissue. There is a strong link through research suggesting that when measuring these metabolites in menopausal women, those who have a low 2OHE/16OHE ratio have a higher risk for breast cancer.
The good news is that the 2OH pathway is inducible by certain dietary interventions such as flax seeds, fish oil, and soy. Oftentimes times if your 2/16 ratio is low, diet will not be enough to increase it alone. Typically the nutrient, Di-indolemethane (DIM) is recommended. This is a naturally occurring phytochemical found in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts. To get the amount of DIM needed you would need to consume for example over 2lbs of broccoli a day, which is why it has been concentrated into a pill. There is extensive research demonstrating DIMs’ anti-breast cancer effect is derived by inducing the 2OH pathway and by causing apoptosis (cell death) of abnormal cells.
These estrogen metabolites can be measured via a urinary test through your Physicians, at East Valley Naturopathic Doctors, to determine if you are processing your hormones optimally.