By: Pamela Egan, FNP-C CDE
Some hormones may help reduce the risk of cancer
More than half a million Americans die of cancer every year. Medicine has accrued more and more treatments against cancer. These treatments either attack the cancer cells, as in chemotherapy, or stimulate the immune system. Ideally, one would avoid cancer all together. A strong immune system is the key to that plan, and balanced hormone levels are vital to a healthy immune system.
Hormones, with a few exceptions, don’t kill malignant cells directly but they do stimulate the immune system. If the immune function drops, the risk of developing cancer increases. When some hormone levels drop, immune defenses drop. Hormones, when used appropriately, can reduce the risk of cancer, although they cannot banish it completely or permanently.
Estrogen has gotten a bad rap as a cause of cancer. Excessive doses of some synthetic forms have been associated with increased risk, but the natural forms in the appropriate doses might actually be protective against cancer. A number of studies show estrogen’s anticancer properties. The overall cancer risk is lower in women taking plant based bio-identical estrogen balanced with natural plant based progesterone, not progestin, which increases cancer risks.
Natural progesterone is considered protective against cancer in general, and specifically against breast, endometrial, and ovarian cancer. Physiologic doses of natural progesterone, combined with estrogen, work on immunity.
Testosterone might be protective against cancer, even prostate cancer. Men from families predisposed to prostate cancer generally have lower testosterone levels in the blood than other men of similar ages. This suggests that men with higher levels of testosterone have less risk of prostate cancer than those with low levels.
Thyroid hormones apparently help prevent cancer and improve survival in those who do get cancer. It might slow the growth of cancer cells. For people with thyroid hormone deficits, correcting those deficits can significantly diminish their risk of cancer.
DHEA helps prevent cancer. Several studies have shown how this hormone stimulates immunity, offering protection from several specific kinds of cancer, including breast, prostate, testicular, liver, thyroid, and colon cancers.
A variety of studies show that people diagnosed with cancer have low melatonin levels in their blood. The more severe the cancer, the lower the melatonin level usually is. A high level of melatonin seems to provide some protection against cancer. Melatonin blocks the multiplication of certain fast-growing breast cancer cells (in lab cultures). Cortisol might be useful as a component of cancer treatment, as it can lessen inflammation, eliminate fever, relieve pain, stimulate the appetite, and produce feelings of well-being. For more information read The Hormone Solution-Stay Younger Longer by Thierry Hertoghe, MD. (Next: Nutritional Supplements & Cancer).