Tag Archives: Dr Jacob Schor

Does Curcumin Have An Estrogenic Effect?

http://MarnieClark.com/ Does-Curcumin-Have-An-Estrogenic-EffectDoes Curcumin Have An Estrogenic Effect?

This week I received a very helpful and enlightening newsletter from Dr Jacob Schor, Naturopath, titled Does Curcumin Have An Estrogenic Effect? and I wanted to share it with you.

Dr Schor is also on the Board of Directors for the Oncology Association of Naturopathic Physicians and is based in Denver, Colorado.  He is often quoted on this website because of his excellent research skills, quality information and helpful insights for the breast cancer community.

Dr Schor has very kindly allowed me to copy the contents of his newsletter for you to read:

Does Curcumin Have An Estrogenic Effect?
By Jacob Schor, ND, FABNO
September 27, 2015

Over the last month or so, several patients have contacted me in great concern because they had read online that curcumin (the turmeric extract) has estrogenic effect and is thus contraindicated in any estrogen sensitive cancer, in particular, breast cancer.  Thus I am obligated to consider and answer this question in great detail.  For those of you who simply want the bottom line: many things you read online are not true. This is one of them.  Curcumin is still strongly indicated for use in all types of breast cancer.

This concern appears to have been started by an inaccurate statement on WebMD: “Hormone-sensitive conditions such as breast cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, endometriosis, or uterine fibroids: Turmeric contains a chemical called curcumin, which might act like the hormone estrogen. In theory, turmeric might make hormone-sensitive conditions worse. However, some research shows that turmeric reduces the effects of estrogen in some hormone-sensitive cancer cells. Therefore, turmeric might have beneficial effects on hormone-sensitive conditions.   Until more is known, use cautiously if you have a condition that might be made worse by exposure to hormones 1.

This statement in various versions has been copied and pasted onto a growing number of other websites.

The WebMD article did not cite a source for this idea.  In a situation in which one makes a statement that runs contrary to general consensus, it is typically expected to be justified with a reference.

Our assumption is that WebMD’s statement is based on a 2010 paper by Bachmeier et al as it is the only study that we’ve found to suggest the idea that curcumin is at all estrogenic:

Bachmeier et al examined the impact of curcumin, along with quercetin and the enterolactones (derived from flax) on the expression of the  genes in breast cancer cells that are normally strongly stimulated by estrogen.  “Gene regulation induced by these compounds was low for genes strongly induced by E2 and similar to the latter for genes only weakly regulated by the classic estrogen. Of interest with regard to the treatment of menopausal symptoms, the survival factor…” 2

Bachmeier found that curcumin has a very weak estrogen-like effect on these genes. The authors of the paper were not worried about breast cancer stimulation, rather they were wondering if these compounds might decrease hot flashes.

We should note that the same authors have published other papers on curcumin and breast cancer, all focused on its potential benefit in treating this type of cancer.  They do not seem the least bit concerned about an estrogenic effect, nor do they appear to be the least concerned about their findings.  Here are a few other titles from these same researchers:

2008 “Curcumin downregulates the inflammatory cytokines CXCL1 and -2 in breast cancer cells via NfkappaB.” 3

2007 “The chemopreventive polyphenol Curcumin prevents hematogenous breast cancer metastases in immunodeficient mice.” 4

2010 “Curcumin, either as an isolated chemoprevention substance or in combination with chemotherapeutic agents as supportive measure reducing pharmaceutical resistance of tumor cells to certain chemotherapeutics” 5

My colleague Lise Alschuler, author of “The Definitive Guide to Cancer, 3rd Edition: An Integrative Approach to Prevention, Treatment, and Healing”, when asked about this commented that the concern was based only on “… in vitro indirect data – so [it is] bogus. Every plant would have some phytoestrogenic properties in a petri dish and this one was weak.”

I also contacted Bharat Aggarwal who directs the MD Anderson’s research laboratory, which has done much of the published research on curcumin, to ask if this idea was possibly true.  His response: “…there is no evidence for this.”

To paraphrase another colleague, Paul Reilly ND, FABNO, ‘Almost all flavonoid molecules have some mildly estrogenic effect.  In the case of curcumin this effect is quite weak and is far outweighed by its other anti-cancer actions. These estrogenic effects themselves, though mild can be considered anti-estrogenic in that they compete for the ER binding sites on cells, like a very weak form of tamoxifen.’

So where does that leave us?  There seems to be no evidence to support the idea that patients should be concerned about estrogenic effects from curcumin.

This should serve as a lesson to all of us, that, as we move forward through this journey of living with cancer, science and medicine,  we take careful steps; we need to be cautious regarding what we read and believe to be fact.  The idea that curcumin should be avoided appears to have no credible evidence to support it.  Yet as a result, many patients may be hesitant to use something that could have potential benefit in their lives.


1.  http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-662-Curcumin%20%28TURMERIC%29.aspx?activeIngredientId=662&activeIngredientName=Curcumin%20%28TURMERIC%29

2. Bachmeier BE1, Mirisola V, Romeo F, Generoso L, Esposito A, Dell’eva R, Blengio F, Killian PH, Albini A, Pfeffer U. Reference profile correlation reveals estrogen-like trancriptional activity of Curcumin. Cell Physiol Biochem. 2010;26(3):471-82.

3. Bachmeier BE1, Mohrenz IV, Mirisola V, Schleicher E, Romeo F, Höhneke C, Jochum M, Nerlich AG, Pfeffer U. Curcumin downregulates the inflammatory cytokines CXCL1 and -2 inbreast cancer cells via NFkappaB. Carcinogenesis. 2008 Apr;29(4):779-89. Epub 2007 Nov 13.

4. Bachmeier B1, Nerlich AG, Iancu CM, Cilli M, Schleicher E, Vené R, Dell’Eva R, Jochum M, Albini A, Pfeffer U. The chemopreventive polyphenol Curcumin prevents hematogenous breast cancer metastases in immunodeficient mice. Cell Physiol Biochem. 2007;19(1-4):137-52.

5. Bachmeier BE1, Killian P, Pfeffer U, Nerlich AG. Novel aspects for the application of Curcumin in chemoprevention of various cancers Front Biosci (Schol Ed). 2010 Jan 1;2:697-717.

Thank you Dr Schor for setting the matter straight for us in the breast cancer community and for going to all of the trouble to make phone calls and delve into the research.  We thoroughly appreciate your time and attention.

For more information on how curcumin is beneficial for breast cancer, dosages and specific supplements see my article Harvest The Power Of Curcumin To Kill Breast Cancer Cells.

GET MY BEST TIPS on getting through breast cancer and preventing recurrences by signing up for my free e-newsletters and e-books on the right.  You can also “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com) to get my inspirational snippets, news and updates.  I promise to do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond. 

Clarification On DIM And Its Uses For Breast Cancer


Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net and M Bartosch
Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net and M Bartosch

Clarification On DIM And Its Uses For Breast Cancer

Back to work!  I’ve been moving from Colorado to Australia, hence the very quiet period on the website.  Just before leaving, I had the opportunity to get some clarification on DIM and its uses for breast cancer from Naturopath Dr Jacob Schor, whose views on various health matters have appeared on this blog previously, most notably in these two articles:

DIM Is Not The Wonder Supplement We’ve Been Led To Believe

More Information On Dim, Estrogen Metabolite Ratios

I was quite upset when I wrote that first article, but I am letting it stay on this site in the event that other women are given the same information about DIM – that it acted like Tamoxifen.  That does not appear to be the case, but it does have some therapeutic value for breast cancer.  Read on.

Once you’ve read the above two articles, and the lengthy article that Dr Schor wrote about estrogen metabolite ratios, you’ll understand better what the issue is with regard to DIM and the old theory of how it supposedly worked.

Basically, natural health care providers have been – for years – recommending the supplement DIM for their patients who have estrogen receptor positive breast cancer but they have been basing their recommendations on a theory that just hasn’t been proven to be true.

Wait!  Don’t Throw The DIM Out Yet!

Dr Schor, in a recent email to me, shared with me the following:  “That theory is used to justify DIM use but we shouldn’t mix the two up.  Just because the theory doesn’t work doesn’t mean that DIM doesn’t work.  Because it seemed to lock in to the theory, all benefits were thought to come from its effect on estrogen metabolites.  I’m not sure that is so but I am also not sure we should throw DIM in the trash.  I think we need to think twice about testing 2 vs 16 metabolite ratios, that we should not think these lab tests are prognostic and we should not be in a rush to move them one way or another.

There seem to be a surplus of interesting papers being published that suggests that DIM does things we want it to do.  There are a growing number of reasons to take it.  There are fewer and fewer reasons to think the 2/16 hydroxy estrogen theory is the reason why it is useful.
Dr Schor referred me to the following very interesting articles:

2,2′-diphenyl-3,3′-diindolylmethane: a potent compound induces apoptosis in breast cancer cells by inhibiting EGFR pathway, Bhowmik A, Das N, Pal U, Mandal M, Bhattacharya S, Sarkar M, Jaisankar P, Maiti NC, Ghosh MK, PLoS One. 2013;8(3):e59798. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0059798. Epub 2013 Mar 28.

Modulation of CYP19 expression by cabbage juices and their active components: indole-3-carbinol and 3,3′-diindolylmethene in human breast epithelial cell lines, Licznerska BE, Szaefer H, Murias M, Bartoszek A, Baer-Dubowska W, Eur J Nutr. 2013 Aug;52(5):1483-92. doi: 10.1007/s00394-012-0455-9. Epub 2012 Oct 23.

BreastDefend™ prevents breast-to-lung cancer metastases in an orthotopic animal model of triple-negative human breast cancer, Jiang J, Thyagarajan-Sahu A, Loganathan J, Eliaz I, Terry C, Sandusky GE, Sliva D, Oncol Rep. 2012 Oct;28(4):1139-45. doi: 10.3892/or.2012.1936. Epub 2012 Jul 26.

BreastDefend™ is a product that is readily available in the USA but I’m not aware of it being available in Australia or the UK yet.

Dr Schor advises us: “So don’t throw out the DIM, throw out the reasons why people thought it was good.  It’s not tamoxifen.  It’s not an aromatase inhibitor.  It’s something else.”

Dr Schor’s qualifications are Naturopathic Doctor, Fellow American Board of Naturopathic Oncology, Associate Editor, The Natural Medicine Journal, Board Member and President, Oncology Association of Naturopathic Physicians (www.OncANP.org) and Board Member of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (www.naturopathic.org)

If you would like my help with getting through breast cancer in an inspiring and ultra-healthy way, please sign up for my free e-newsletters and e-book on the right, or “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com).  It is my honor and my goal to help you through this so that you emerge from breast cancer feeling better than before, thriving!

More Information on DIM, Estrogen Metabolite Ratios


Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net and David Castillo Dominici

Image source: freedigitalphotos.net / David Castillo Dominici

Further to my article of December 11, 2012 “Dim Is NOT The Wonder Supplement We’ve Been Led To Believe“, the article written by Dr Jacob Schor, for which we were waiting publication in the Townsend Letter, the Examiner of Alternative Medicine,  has been published and I wanted to share that link with you:  Estrogen Metabolite Ratios: Time For Us To Let Go

Dr Schor is a gifted naturopath in Denver, and is also President of the Oncology Association of Naturopathic Physicians.  Fair warning – the article is not an easy one to read – I suggest you print it out and go put your feet up in a quiet place to digest the information.  It will probably require several readings to fully appreciate what Dr Schor is telling us about estrogen metabolite ratios.

I found the information fairly depressing, because I (and many like me) had been relying on DIM to keep circulating estrogen levels at a safe range without having to resort to the toxicity of Tamoxifen.  Having said that, I really appreciated Dr Schor’s review of the research, and his courage to publish an article that goes against the current thinking.  We need more fine minds like his in this fight.

If you would like my help with getting through breast cancer in an inspiring and ultra-healthy way, please sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, or “like” me on Facebook (Marnie Clark, Breast Health Coach).  It is my honor and my goal to help you through this.