Why Estrogen Does Not Cause Breast Cancer!
By Judy Couch, FNP-C
Estrogen therapy is a vital part of hormone replacement for women in menopause and beyond. Unfortunately, conventional wisdom of the past has tied it negatively to breast cancer. With over 2 million breast cancer survivors in the U.S., there has been enormous debate surrounding using hormone replacement therapy during and after breast cancer treatment.
Should there be concern? Does estrogen actually cause breast cancer? What is the research telling us? We’re here to answer these questions, debunk some myths, and find the truth.
Does Estrogen Really Cause Breast Cancer?
The short answer? No, it does not! Mis-information and outdated studies are what guides many to believe that estrogen (and hormone therapy in general) can raise the risk of breast cancer in women. The questions we should be asking are: what does new research tell us and what do we know now?
Let’s talk about a recent book about women’s health: “Estrogen Matters: Why Taking Hormones in Menopause Can Improve Women’s Well-Being and Lengthen Their Lives–Without Raising the Risk of Breast Cancer.” The author is Avrum Bluming, an oncologist with more than 20 years of experience treating cancer.
Dr. Bluming has gone through the many years of research – including clinical research at his own practice – and he’s come up with some important conclusions. The number 1 thing he has said is that estrogen does NOT cause breast cancer. I think many women are fearful of this, and therefore avoid the use of hormone replacement therapy.
He has also found that estrogen prevents heart disease. Heart disease – or cardiovascular disease – is a leading cause of death in women. I think it’s important that we understand the role of estrogen and preventing it and prolonging our lives.
Click here to watch a video where I discuss the importance of hormones in regard to heart disease.
Can breast cancer survivors take estrogen?
While many doctors had previously cautioned using estrogen following breast cancer, research from the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) suggests otherwise.
According to ACOG, “data does not show an increased risk of cancer recurrence among women currently undergoing treatmentfor breast cancer or those with a personal history of breast cancer who use vaginal estrogen to relieve urogenital symptoms.”
In addition to that, there are actually long-term benefits to estrogen replacement for both survivors and those without a history of breast cancer. The End of Alzheimer’s: The First Program to Prevent and Reverse Cognitive Decline by Dale Bredesen explains, among other things, that keeping estradiol levels optimal is important in preventing and reversing cognitive decline.
Again from Dr. Bluming’s book, his research finds that women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer and are now breast cancer survivors CAN safely use hormone replacement (estrogens, progesterone) without fear of these causing their cancer to reoccur. It’s been a long-held thought that these women shouldn’t take HRT. This incorrect belief has caused many women and their quality of life to suffer.
Why would I use estrogen after breast cancer?
Women who are treated for estrogen-dependent breast cancer, as well as natural menopause in survivors, often experience female-specific issues that negatively impact their quality of life. These include:
- Vaginal atrophy (inflammation)
- Vaginal dryness
- Bacterial infections
- Painful intercourse
- Vasomotor symptoms (hot flashes, night sweats)
It is estimated that up to 20% of all breast cancer patients stop or consider stopping therapy due to the severe detrimental effect on their quality of life (ACOG).
There are non-hormonal therapies, including the O-Shot, diVa, and diVaTyte, but these may not always be enough for breast cancer survivors. The ACOG committee recommends using hormone-based therapy for these cases.
Two Things You Can Do – Starting Today!
If you’re wondering what you can do today to start taking active control over your health and well-being, here are a couple of things:
Do Monthly Breast Self-Exams
The first important thing women should do is establish a monthly breast self-exam. Oftentimes, women will not do them on a routine basis, then all of a sudden they will do one and feel a lump or bump. They get concerned and worried about what this might mean.
When you do a monthly breast self-exam, you become familiar with what your breast tissue feels like. If you feel a possible lump, you may not be as concerned because you’ll know what does and doesn’t belong, and if anything has changed.
If by chance you do feel something and you’re not sure what it is, get it evaluated with an updated mammogram. In the meantime, let’s all make sure that we’re being healthy and wise by doing a monthly breast self-exam.
Get Your Hormone Levels Checked
We believe in empowering women to own their health and happiness. If you are a breast cancer survivor or are experiencing the symptoms above, please give us a call at 513-791-9474 or fill out our online consultation form to get started on your personalized journey. We are here to help you feel better, live better, and look better.
It’s very exciting to me and others in my field that an oncologist like Dr. Bluming has done the research and is publishing this information for women to have. I highly recommend that anyone interested in HRT, especially estrogen replacement, look into “Estrogen Matters”- which you can purchase right here!
Dr. Bluming’s book has lots of good information about hormones and hormone replacement, so please get the book and read for yourself. Here at Your Wellness Center, we believe in helping provide resources for your education so you can make an informed decision about whether hormone replacement is good for you or not.
While you’re here, be sure to check out some of our blogs below:
- “How Your (Lack Of) Hormones Makes Menopause Worse”
- “Adrenal Fatigue: The Cause and The Solution”
- “Skincare While Pregnant or Breastfeeding”