Can this ONE Diet Change Help Slash Hormonal Cancer Risk?
- Published on: 28 August, 2015
- Last update: 01 October, 2020
Did you know that the development of breast and prostate cancers are largely contributed to by continuous exposure of tissue to serum hormones? Androgen exposure for prostate cancer, and estrogen exposure for breast cancer (1). Women with breast cancer have higher levels of circulating and bio-available estrogens than do women who are breast cancer free (2).
So how do we lower these pesky circulating hormones, and thus take a huge chunk out of our cancer risk?
I’ve got two answers for you: eat more fiber and support/detox your liver.
The short version: to “clean up the mess.”
Multiple studies show that pre and post-menopausal Western women have higher circulating and excretion levels of total estrogens than do low-risk Asian women (3, 4). This is largely related to the incredible fiber content in Asian diets. I have learned so much from eating meals with my Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner.
For dinner, she will prepare at least 6 different dishes, family style. Only 1 dish will consist of protein such as fish or chicken, and all 5 others are full of fiber-rich vegetables for balance: carrots, wild yam root, bok choy, string beans, mushrooms, etc.
How do we know this? In the 1970’s, Dr. Ray Peat performed extensive research on hormones and nutrition. He found that eating raw carrots daily helped detox the bowels and reduced levels of estrogen within only 3 days!
Because of my own experience in finding that eating a raw carrot daily prevented my migraines, I began to suspect that the carrot fiber was having both a bowel-protective and an antiestrogen effect. Several women who suffered from premenstrual symptoms, including migraine, had their serum estrogen measured before and after the “carrot diet,” and they found that the carrot lowered their estrogen within a few days, as it relieved their symptoms.
He goes onto explain in this article that “carrot salad improves the ratio of progesterone to estrogen and cortisol, and so is as appropriate for epilepsy as for premenstrual syndrome, insomnia, or arthritis.” He also noticed that carrots lowered inflammation and helped thyroid function. Dr. Ray Peat recommends a whole, medium sized carrot — not the baby ones!
Carrot fiber also prevents estrogen from being reabsorbed in the intestine, which can happen when transit time is slow. I would also like to note that Lily’s meals are always taken with hot soup to emulsify any fats in the meal and encourage digestion/circulation.
Why Liver Support?
The short version: to prevent the mess from happening in the first place.
“Anything that impairs liver function or ties up its detoxifying function will result in excess estrogen levels.” – Harvard Physician John R. Lee, M.D.
We just learned that fiber safely removes excess hormones and toxins from your body, but why are there so many circulating estrogens in the first place?! Let’s go back to the basics and look at the organ responsible for controlling metabolizing them: the liver.
Because the liver is a hormone processor, it has to do the job of manufacturing AND regulating hormone levels. It also must direct various hormones to function in other parts of the body. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) this ‘direction’ or flow of hormones would be seen as the flow of Qi. When the body experiences a hormone excess, whether caused by stress and poor eating habits, or introduced by xenoestrogens in the environment like plastic and pesticides, the liver will get energetically and often physically ‘stuck.’ It will not perform its job correctly because there are these factors in its way causing stagnation. This “liver stagnation” will inhibit your liver from processing circulating hormones quickly or efficiently.
So how can you solve liver stagnation and support your liver? You can start by eating more of these foods in addition to your daily carrots:
Want more liver tips?
I actually have an entire post dedicated to the topic of healing liver stagnation, complete with a full list of “Dos” and “Don’ts” for liver support. Check it out and let me know what you think!