Young Women and Breast Cancer

Younger women generally do not consider themselves to be at risk for breast cancer. Statistics however show that breast cancer is the most common cause of death in women aged 35-54 and the incidence continues to rise. About a quarter of all breast cancers diagnosed this year will be diagnosed in women before menopause. We have also observed this increase at our clinic in women under the age of 50.

What is different about Breast Cancer in younger women?

Younger women generally have denser breast tissue than in older women. By the time a lump is felt in a younger woman’s breast the cancer is usually in an advanced stage and therefore is less likely to be treated effectively. Routine screening with mammography is offered to women 50 and over. Screening younger women with mammography has not been effective. Denser breast tissue, present in younger women, does not bode well with X-ray mammography. In cases where the patient has Grade III or IV density of the breasts, the effectiveness of mammography screening drops below 50%. Younger women have a higher level of hormonal activity that leads to a more aggressive cancer and responds poorly to treatment. Many women assume that they are too young to get cancer and tend to dismiss a lump as a harmless cyst while some health care providers also dismiss breast lumps as cysts and adopt a ‘wait and see’ approach

Rick factors involved in Breast Cancer

  • Medical radiation exposure and especially exposure at younger age
  • Family history of breast cancer, particularly on the maternal side (mother, sister, aunt)
  • Recent use of oral contraceptives
  • Genetic mutation involving BRCA1/BRCA2
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Diet, specifically high levels of fat consumption
  • Early age at menarche and menstrual irregularity
  • Shift work and Insomnia
  • Medications, specifically antihypertensive , synthetic estrogens and thyroid medication
  • Smoking and secondhand smoke, in women who began smoking before age 20 or before first birth

Lack of Screening

The high prevalence rate among younger women may reflect the lack of routine screening and due to low compliance of Breast self Examination (BSE) among this age group.

Nonetheless, an effective way of screening is available in the form of medical infrared thermography. Thermography becomes essential in helping many young women identify who is at a higher risk of developing breast cancer by assessment of how the breast functions. By identifying a high risk group early we can follow this group more vigilantly and when necessary escalate to other forms of testing which would involve structural tests like, Ultrasound, Mammography, and MRI.

Once the initial baseline is established it is possible to track future changes in the breast tissue and use all subsequent examination results as an early warning system. According to a number of researchers, a persistent abnormal thermogram is thought to be “the single greatest indicator of breast cancer risk” and is considered 10 times more important than a positive family history for the disease. Because physiological changes over time are known to precede morphological changes, an abnormal thermogram can often be the first warning sign of an increased risk for breast cancer. Different factors may be contributing to a high risk (abnormal) thermogram, such as: hormonal imbalance, early angiogenesis (proliferation of blood vessels), lymphatic swellings and poor function, thyroid dysfunction or other endocrine disorders, environmental toxins, emotional stress, just to name a few; these are important contributors to breast disease and malignancy and are not detected by mammography or ultrasound as these factors do not appear as structural changes.

Can breast cancer be prevented?

According to The World Health Organization 70% of all cancers can be prevented. Every woman should know her risk level for developing breast cancer. With proper risk assessment, that includes different testing modalities, the patient is able to determine her risk factors and develop an action plan on how to improve the breast tissue or even reverse the existing trend. The current mainstream screening strategy is not applicable to younger women, as it does not identify who is at risk before it is too late. Medical infrared thermography should be added to every woman’s regular breast health care because the earlier and younger, the better.

– Dr. Alexander Mostovoy
HD, DHMS, BCCT Board Certified Clinical Thermographer

The Link Between Estrogen and Histamine

Headaches. Anxiety. Insomnia. Brain fog. Hives. Nasal congestion. These are just a few of the symptoms of histamine intolerance or mast cell activation.

Histamine problems are more common in women, and are often worse at ovulation and just before the period. Why? Because that’s when estrogen is high compared to progesterone, and estrogen increases histamine.

Estrogen stimulates mast cells to make more histamine and estrogen down-regulates the DAO enzyme that you need to clear histamine. At the same time, histamine stimulates the ovaries to make more estrogen. The net result is a vicious cycle of:

estrogen → histamine → estrogen → histamine.

For many women, symptoms of “estrogen dominance” such as PMS, period pain, and heavy periods improve by taking steps to reduce histamine.

What is histamine?

You best know histamine as the immune signalling protein that causes allergies and swelling. But histamine has lots of other jobs. It regulates stomach acid, stimulates the brain, and plays a key role in ovulation and female reproduction.

Did you know? Histamine boosts libido, which is why estrogen increases libido and antihistamines decrease it.

Normally, your body regulates histamine by making it, and then by clearing it with the enzymes histamine N-methyltransferase (HNMT) and diamine oxidase (DAO). It’s a fine balance between “histamine in” and “histamine out.

Did you know? The placenta makes a huge amount of DAO, which is why histamine intolerance and food sensitivities often improve during pregnancy.

A histamine problem occurs when there is either too much histamine is being generated or being eaten, or not enough histamine going out.

Reasons for too much “histamine in

  • Mast cell stimulating foods such as fermented foods and alcohol. Histamine is a big reason that
  • Eating too many histamine-containing foods such as alcohol (especially wine), sauerkraut, and smoked meat.
  • Intestinal dysbiosis (wrong gut bacteria) because some species of bacteria make histamine.
  • Estrogen excess because estrogen stimulates histamine release.

Reasons for not enough “histamine out

  • Genetic variant of the histamine-clearing enzymes HNMT and DAO.
  • SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) because it impairs DAO activity.
  • Nutrional deficiency eg Vitamin B6 deficiency because vitamin B6 is an essential cofactor of DAO.
  • Estrogen excess because it down-regulates DAO.
  • Progesterone deficiency because progesterone is needed to up-regulate DAO. That’s why you have more DAO (and less histamine) early in the luteal phase when progesterone is high. (Better histamine clearance is just one of many ways that progesterone feels good.)
  • Hormonal birth control because it causes estrogen excess and progesterone deficiency.

What’s the solution?

Avoid histamine-stimulating foods..

Reduce histamine-containing foods. This is the fastest and simplest way to feel better, but it can become restrictive and difficult in the long-term. If you address underlying gut issues, you should find that you improve your tolerance of histamine foods.

Histamine-containing foods:

red wine and champagne
hard cheese
smoked or canned fish
soy sauce
deli meats
dried fruit
dried nuts
bone broth and fish stock
vinegar and fermented foods such as sauerkraut

Improve gut health. This usually means identifying and correcting dysbiosis and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO).

Eat a wholefood diet rich in Minerals and Vitamins, vitamin B6 upregulates DAO. This is one reason vitamin B6 is so incredibly helpful for PMS. (B6 also boosts the calming neurotransmitter GABA.) Food sources of vitamin B6 include meat, chicken, and sunflower seeds.

Promote the healthy detoxification of estrogen.

Consider Thyroid function

STRESS Reduce stress

When addressing a Hormonal Imbalnce is it important to establish the Root Cause.

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