Saturday, September 22, 2012

Food; the Natural Alternative for Tamoxifen and Aromatase Inhibitors

Estrogen can fuel the growth of some breast cancer cells.  If your breast cancer is estrogen-receptor positive, your doctor may suggest hormone therapy to reduce the risk of recurrence.   There are many ways to block the effect of estrogen or lower estrogen levels, but most oncologists recommend pharmaceutical remedies.   Tamoxifen is most often prescribed for pre-menopausal women to prevent recurrence, as well as to treat metastatic breast cancer; it is also sometimes prescribed to help prevent the development of breast cancer in women at high risk, such as BRCA carriers. Aromatase Inhibitors stop estrogen production in post-menopausal women; they work by blocking aromatase, the enzyme responsible for making estrogen.  AI’s are not effective for pre-menopausal women as they cannot stop the ovaries of these women from making estrogen.  However, these drugs all come with the risk of permanent resulting effects, such as heart damage, as well as a host of side effects, some temporary and some life threatening.  (For more information, please view the links at the bottom of this page) Many seek alternatives to these drugs, but there is not one simple magic bullet for a substitute and sadly, many doctors are not trained in alternatives.   However, managing estrogen is just one part of beating breast cancer.

Breast cancer is a multifactorial disease; therefore it must be targeted on many levels.  We must control the estrogen, cut off the pathways for cancer, and reignite the self-destruct button that cancer cells so cleverly turn off--normal cells have the ability to self destruct if they begin to reproduce too fast or become damaged; cancer cells disable the process and then are allowed to replicate and grow.  What magic bullet can do all this?  Food.
The compounds in everyday foods can block and manage estrogen just as effectively as drugs, yet cause no side effects and come with a host of other benefits. To block estrogen without a prescription aromatase inhibitor, eat plenty of celery, parsley, basil, artichokes, oranges, red grapes, onions, garlic, olives, olive leaves and extract and members of the cruciferous family. But those same foods can do so much more.
Quercetin, for example, found in apples, red wine, red grape skins, tomatoes, onions, and green tea, has anti-estrogenic effects and may reduce the metastatic potential of cancer cells.  It disrupts the process that turns healthy cells into malignant cancer cells and its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties protect DNA from cancer friendly mutations.  And like Raid (ok, it's toxic, but you get the idea), quercetin stops cancer cells dead in their tracks, which can stop tumor growth, encourages cell death, and cuts off cancer pathways. Apigenin, found in foods like parsley and celery, can stop breast cancer tumor cells from multiplying and growing and also blocks estrogen.Plant extracts such as turmeric, lycopene, and green tea can target cancer on many levels; they hit many targets and cut off pathways.  Combine a variety of these foods, and you have one powerful anticancer meal.  And remember, all fruits and vegetables have their own individual benefits, so include a wide, colorful variety to your day.  Just picture the lycopene in those carrots surfing your body on a seek and destroy mission, mopping up free radicals before they can damage your cells.  Peppers, they never get enough credit; they have tons of vitamin C without the sugar, and can lower your CRP, a critical marker for inflammation. And don’t even get me started on the dark chocolate…yes, food; it’s delicious, beautiful and can beat the socks off cancer.
 For more information, please visit:
Please understand that nothing in this post represents medical advice, and I encourage you to discuss this information with your integrative oncologist or naturopathic doctor. I have compiled this information solely for those seeking alternatives to Tamoxifen and Aromatase Inhibitors and cannot endorse either protocol.

Elyn Jacobs
Elyn Jacobs is a breast cancer survivor, professional cancer coach, radio talk show host, speaker, and the Executive Director for the Emerald Heart Cancer Foundation. Elyn empowers women to choose the path for treatment that best fits their own individual needs.  She is passionate about helping others move forward into a life of health and wellbeing. Elyn lives in New York with her husband and two young boys. To learn more about Elyn’s coaching services and radio show, please visit:  To tune into the Survive and Live Well radio show, please visit, Tuesdays at 1pm (EST).
Facebook @Elyn Jacobs and @Elyn Jacobs Consulting
Linkedin @Elyn Jacobs


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