Tag Archives: Tamoxifen

Coping With Tamoxifen Side Effects

http://MarnieClark.com/ Coping-With-Tamoxifen-Side-EffectsCoping With Tamoxifen Side Effects

As a breast cancer coach, one of the most asked questions is how to cope with Tamoxifen side effects, so today I’m offering assistance!

Tamoxifen is a drug recommended for people whose breast cancer cells exhibited estrogen receptors, termed ER+ breast cancer.

The Action of Tamoxifen

Tamoxifen is in a class of drugs called “SERMs” – selective estrogen-receptor modifiers.  Tamoxifen’s action is to occupy an estrogen receptor on a cell, thus paralyzing the receptor and preventing it from triggering the events that result in cell division.  It does not kill cancer cells, rather it disables them or puts them to sleep.  Tamoxifen targets not only the estrogen receptors in breast tissue, but also all of the other cells in the body that have estrogen receptors.

Tamoxifen Side Effects

Tamoxifen is currently the “gold standard” treatment recommended for all women with hormone driven breast cancer, regardless of the stage.  The recommendation of most oncologists for women with ER+ breast cancer is that taking this medication for 5 years after a breast cancer diagnosis can supposedly reduce the risk of recurrence by up to 50%, which is a very persuasive figure.  They are now recommending Tamoxifen use for up to 10 years.

I am not convinced that Tamoxifen is such a wonder drug, and I discuss why in my article Why I Chose Against Hormone Blocking Drugs.

Part of my problem with Tamoxifen is the wide range of side effects which include headaches, dizziness, nausea, hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, leg cramps, hair thinning, brain fog, pins and needles in hands and feet, joint pain, moodiness, depression and anxiety.

Tamoxifen may also put a patient at a higher risk for blood clots in the legs (deep vein thrombosis) and the lungs (pulmonary embolism), endometrial cancer and overgrowth of the lining of the uterus.

Since women are recommended to be on this drug for 5-10 years, their concerns about the side effects and loss of enjoyment of life are very real.

It Doesn’t Work For Everyone

What we are finding out here in the trenches is that this drug works for some but definitely not all.  I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been told by a woman that she took the Tamoxifen for the prescribed amount of time and is still battling her second or even third round of breast cancer.  So it is clear that the drug doesn’t work for everyone.

Are There Alternatives To Tamoxifen?

At this time, there do not appear to be any good research studies that directly compare specific diets or nutritional strategies with the use Tamoxifen to prevent breast cancer recurrence.  Having said that, we do know that a healthy diet and plenty of exercise are truly important, they do make a big difference, and this has been proven by research studies.

The Women’s Healthy Eating and Living (WHEL) study followed 1,500 women with early stage breast cancer who were treated between 1991 and 2000, and found that women who both ate plenty of vegetables and fruit every day as well as got regular physical activity were nearly 50% less likely to die during the study follow up.  In this study both women taking Tamoxifen and not taking Tamoxifen were included, so it is clear that diet and exercise are incredibly important for staying well.

For those who choose to take Tamoxifen, some of the side effects can be quite troublesome and these people really need some help.

Here Are My Best Recommendations For Coping With Tamoxifen Side Effects:

Headaches – Having a regular deep tissue massage and/or acupuncture from qualified practitioners can make a huge difference with headaches.  Also, as simple as it may seem, drinking plenty of filtered water can assist your body to clear the drug from your system a little better.  So make sure to drink plenty of water (and not tap water!).

Dizziness – As odd as it may seem, meditation can be very helpful with the dizziness associated with Tamoxifen use.  If the dizziness becomes severe, however, seek the advice of your doctor.  You may need to go off the Tamoxifen or reduce your dosage.  As with headaches, drinking more water can often help to ease dizziness.

Nausea – Drink ginger tea.  You make it with organic ginger root (not the dried spice), slice off a small chunk of it and put it in hot (just off boiling) water and let it steep for several minutes.  Sip as needed.

Hot Flashes & Night Sweats – These are more difficult to solve – these symptoms show that the Tamoxifen is doing its work.  You may find that certain herbal remedies like Remifemin assist with the frequency, intensity and duration of hot flashes and night sweats.  Traditional Chinese Medicine has a number of herbs that are helpful, so seek the help of a qualified Chinese medicine doctor.  For a list of other helpful hints, see my article Tips Tricks and Support For Hot Flashes.

Vaginal Dryness – This is one of the most distressing of the side effects and not often discussed.  There is one very safe product I can recommend, a natural lubricant called Sylk.  Highly recommended.  Also organic coconut oil is very useful.

Leg Cramps – Take 500 mg of magnesium citrate twice daily.  Magnesium is also found in plenty of green leafy vegetables, so eat your salad!

Brain Fog – Essential oils are extremely helpful here because they help to clear off the neuron receptor sites of any accumulated gunk (which can result in brain fog).  Deep breathing of oils like basil, peppermint, and frankincense helps to clear your mind, improves memory and brain function.  Meditation is also very helpful.

Pins & Needles in Extremities – Again, I recommend the use of massage therapy and/or acupuncture, drinking plenty of water, and it would also be helpful to do a bowel cleanse and a liver cleanse because Tamoxifen is a toxic drug, and cleansing will help you clear chemical residues which may be building up in the tissues of your body.

Joint Pain – This is one of the more widely experienced side effects of Tamoxifen.  Yoga is helpful, as is massage therapy, and I also recommend a good quality glucosamine sulfate supplement for joint health, together with plenty of omega-3 fatty acids in the diet.

Moodiness, Anxiety, Depression – Sometimes associated with Tamoxifen use, but often these problems arise just from the fact that you are going through cancer.  It’s better not to ignore them and I recommend getting some counseling.  Meditation is extremely helpful for anxiety and moodiness.  For depression related to Tamoxifen, check with your doctor to see if you can reduce your dosage of Tamoxifen.  Some women are taking it every other day, rather than daily, and still getting good results.   Dietary assistance for these problems includes eating lots of fresh organic veggies and fruit, omega 3 fatty acids, and vitamin B complex – all of these are surprisingly beneficial.  One last word about depression – it can come on slowly over a period of several months, and some women will not realize that they are depressed.  Pay close attention to this please and get some help if you need it.  You may want to discontinue the use of Tamoxifen if the symptoms are severe (discuss this with your doctor).  I would not recommend the use of anti-depressants because they may make Tamoxifen less effective.

If you are having problems with any of these side effects (or anything not mentioned above) associated with Tamoxifen and would like more information from me, please feel free to contact me.  I have plenty of information about all of the things I have recommended and would be happy to share it with you.  I also have a more holistic protocol for staying well without the use of hormone blockers, so please contact me if you would like information about that.

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Why I Chose Against Hormone Blocking Drugs

 

Photo courtesy of MorgueFile and Aidairi
Photo courtesy of MorgueFile and Aidairi

Why I Chose Against Hormone Blocking Drugs

Every single day I am contacted by women who are either going through breast cancer treatments or have finished their treatments and have been prescribed estrogen blocking drugs like tamoxifen (Nolvadex), anastrozole (Arimidex), exemestane (Aromasin), letrozole (Femara), raloxifene (Evista).

Many of these drugs are also known as aromatase inhibitors because they deactive a key enzyme (aromatase) that is responsible for a key step in the biosynthesis of estrogen.

Why Women Are Prescribed Hormone Blockers

A breast tumor is called “estrogen receptor positive” or “ER+” if it has receptors for estrogen – this suggests that the cancer cells, like normal breast cells, may receive signals from the hormone estrogen that could promote their growth.  The cancer is termed “progesterone receptor positive” or “PR+” if it has progesterone receptors.  Again, this means that the cancer cells may receive signals from progesterone that could promote their growth. According to BreastCancer.org, roughly two out of every three breast cancers test positive for hormone receptors.

The women who are contacting me are very concerned about the side effects of such medications, they are researching and wanting to know more and they are wondering if there are any natural products that will do the same job without the side effects.

My Personal History

I went through breast cancer in 2004.  If you’d like to read my whole story, check out my Breast Cancer Diary page.  Briefly, however, I had a 2.5 cm tumor, about the size of an olive, and it was a rapidly growing tumor known as infiltrating ductal carcinoma.  I had a large lumpectomy and a latissimus-dorsi flap reconstruction.  I was recommended to have chemotherapy right away, but being a natural therapist I needed to be convinced of the necessity of that, so I went home to heal up and work on my immune system.  Eventually both my oncologist and my natural therapists convinced me that it would be beneficial for me to undergo chemotherapy and I did 6 months worth.  I chose not to have radiation for various reasons, and although both my oncologist and my regular doctor tried hard to get me to say yes to the hormone blocking drugs, I just could not be convinced that this was a good route for me to follow.  For one thing, I was progesterone receptor positive only, which is somewhat unusual.  I couldn’t see how tamoxifen, which is used as an estrogen-blocker, was going to help me since I was PR+.  My doctors argued it would “still have some therapeutic benefit.”  I wasn’t convinced, and especially when I read about the side effects of these drugs.  Instead I went home and went into deep research mode.  Here’s what I found.

1.  Some research indicated that tamoxifen was more useful in elderly and frail women and it removed the need for surgery in a high proportion of those women. (Akhtar SS, et al.  A 10-year experience of tamoxifen as primary treatment of breast cancer in 100 elderly and frail patients.  Eur J Surg Oncol. 1991; 17:30-5.)

2.  The Institute of Cancer Epidemiology in Copenhagen studied 3,500 post-menopausal women who received surgery for breast cancer. About half of these patients were considered to be low risk and received no further treatment.  The high risk patients received either radiotherapy or radiotherapy plus tamoxifen.  After about 8 years, the scientists looked at the incidence of cancer in these women.  All 3 groups had more cancer than the general population and for those who had received radiotherapy there was a higher incidence of leukemia.  There was no difference in cancer incidence in the high risk group that  received tamoxifen plus radiotherapy compared to those who just received radiotherapy, indicating that tamoxifen did not confer any special protective effects.  In fact, there was a tendency to an elevated risk of endometrial cancer. (Andersson M, et al. Incidence of new primary cancers after adjuvant tamoxifen therapy and radiotherapy for early breast cancer: J Natl Cancer Inst. 1991; 83:1013-7.)

3. The McArdle Laboratory for Cancer Research of the University of Wisconsin studied rats given tamoxifen.  At first, all appeared okay, but when the rats were also given a small dose of chemicals and then fed tamoxifen, the livers of these animals showed an increase in the size and number of altered liver lesions compared with the animals that had been fed the chemicals but not the tamoxifen.  The researchers felt that tamoxifen acts as a tumor promoter in the rat liver, that it was four times the strength of phenobarbital (a drug commonly used as a representative promoting agent in experimental carcinogenesis). (Dragan YP, et al. Tumor promotion as a target for estrogen/anti-estrogen effects in rat hepatocarcinogenesis. Prev Med. 1991; 20:15-26).

4.  There were too many disturbing reports of eye damage from the use of tamixofen.  In one article that appeared in the Annals of Ophthalmology, I read about toxicity to the cornea, retina and optic nerve.  And though it seemed that the damage did not progress once the drug was stopped, it could not be repaired. (Gerner EW. Ocular toxicity of tamoxifen. Annals of Ophthalmology 1989; 21:420-3).  I had enough problems with my vision, I certainly didn’t need any more.

I could go on and on here, citing all of the research that I did – and yes this research is a little older, I went through breast cancer in 2004, as I mentioned. 

Possible Side Effects of Hormone Blocking Drugs

The list of possible side effects of these drugs is lengthy:  hot flashes, vaginal dryness, headaches, muscle, joint and body aches, dry mouth, nausea and vomiting, changes in bowel habits, muscle weakness, fatigue, increased risk of liver cancer, precancerous changes in the uterus, blood clots which could travel to the lungs and cause pulmonary embolism or a stroke, cataracts and other vision changes. 

I just wasn’t willing to submit my body to any of that.

It’s Time To Wake Up

What I am seeing as a breast cancer coach is a large quantity of women (more than I ever thought possible) who have taken the hormone blockers for the prescribed length of time (usually 5 years) and are coming to me with a new breast cancer.

We need to wake up people!  These drugs are not working.  They are toxic to our bodies and there are better ways of regaining our health.  The thing is, you can’t just say no and do nothing else.  You really need to be very pro-active with your health.  If you don’t know what to do, feel free to sign up for my e-books and newsletters, I provide them as a free service to people going through breast cancer and I share all of my best tips and information in them (see the sign-up form on the right side of this page).

It’s Not All About Estrogen!

I have said this so many times lately, it’s starting to become my slogan.  Estrogen is a hormone we want and need in our bodies.  The doctors are so focused on the fact that there are estrogen receptors on our breast cancer cells but part of the problem is that there are synthetic estrogens in our body products, our drinking water, our cosmetics, our environment, and these are part of the problem with our health (see my article Protect Yourself From Xenoestrogens and Estrogen Dominance).

In her book “Molecules of Emotion“, author and scientist Candace Pert shares with us “… accumulated environmental pollutants within our bodies are mimicking and disrupting the action of our sex hormones — estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone — which run the male and female reproductive systems.”  She goes on to state that “A recent report on receptor binding in Science, for example, has shown that environmental toxins have estrogenlike effects and bind to estrogen receptors, where they can stimulate breast cancer tumor growth.  Similarly, various toxins can act like testosterone in the male body and stimulate prostate cancer, which is embryologically similar to breast cancer.  Although this has been suspected for a long time, only recently have we gotten the hard proof that accumulation of these toxins in our bodies chronically stimulates our estrogen and testosterone receptors, putting them into a state of overdrive and leading to cancer.”

There are many other factors which put us at a higher risk for breast cancer, and right up there at the top of the list is STRESS.  You can do little to avoid it but you certainly can change the way that you react to it.  Try meditation to relieve that stress.  Get yourself into a meditation group, or if you live in a remote area download my meditation course.

I also believe that it’s vitally important to build up your immune system to be as strong and healthy as it can be, since our immune system is our first line of defense against cancer cells.  Why don’t the doctors tell you that?  Any natural therapist certainly will.  Have a look at my page 8 Ways To Build A Super Strong Immune System.  How important are these 8 items?  I believe they’re absolutely crucial.   Give proper attention to each of the 8 items on the list and you will be much happier and healthier than if you are taking toxic drug therapies.

References:

http://www.webmd.com/drugs/drug-1555-anastrozole+oral.aspx

http://www.webmd.com/breast-cancer/tc/breast-cancer-comparing-hormone-blocking-treatments-topic-overview

http://www.breastcancer.org/treatment/hormonal/serms/tamoxifen

Cancer Therapy, The Independent Consumer’s Guide To Non-Toxic Treatment and Prevention by Ralph W Moss, PhD.

Molecules of Emotion by Candace B Pert, PhD.

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, and/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!

 PLEASE BE AWARE THAT THIS BLOG POST IS INFORMATION I HAVE DISCOVERED FOR MYSELF. IT FEELS TRUE FOR ME. THE INFORMATION PRESENTED HERE IS NOT MEANT TO DIVERT YOU ON YOUR HEALING PATH, IT IS ONLY INTENDED TO RAISE AWARENESS OF OTHER WAYS OF THINKING. YOU MUST DO WHAT IS RIGHT FOR YOU.

Curcumin Very Helpful For Those With Resistance to Chemotherapy, Tamoxifen

Photo courtesy of rgbstock.com and Tacluda
Photo courtesy of rgbstock.com and Tacluda

Curcumin Very Helpful For Those With Resistance To Chemotherapy, Tamoxifen

According to breastcancerresearch.com, approximately 70% of breast cancers are estrogen receptor positive (ER+) at diagnosis.  These patients are often recommended to have endocrine therapies that target estrogen receptors, such as the drug Tamoxifen.

Tamoxifen works by binding to tissues that use estrogen. This binding blocks the action of estrogen in the breast but mimics the action of estrogen in the bones and uterus.  Tamoxifen is used to treat ER+ breast cancer in men and women and to prevent breast cancer in those at high risk.

Some People Are Resistant

Some people, however, are resistant to anti-estrogenic drugs like Tamoxifen, and also to certain chemotherapy drugs.  See my article about chemoresistance, Chemo-Resistant Breast Cancers In The News.  This has proven to be a huge problem for some patients.

According to breastcancerresearch.com development of resistance is a process that “appears to result from upregulation of growth factor and protein kinase signaling pathways that provide an alternate mechanism in support of tumor cell proliferation and survival.”  So researchers are keen to identify or target the factors that come into play with endocrine resistance.

Some progressive oncologists are utilizing the chemosensitivity test for their patients who are resistant to certain chemo drugs.  See my article If You Are Contemplating Chemotherapy, You Should Know About the Chemosensitivity Test.

Curcumin To The Rescue

The good news is that a new Chinese study, published in January 2013 in Molecules, indicates that curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, has been shown to be effective in helping to restore Tamoxifen sensitivity and also sensitizes cancer cells to chemotherapy, thus making the chemotherapy more effective.  The researchers “discovered that curcumin treatment displayed anti-proliferative and pro-apoptotic activities” and that the “findings suggested that curcumin alone and combinations of curcumin with endocrine therapy may be of therapeutic benefit for endocrine-resistant breast cancer.  Click this link to read the Chinese study.

You can get curcumin in capsules in health food stores, you can also use turmeric in your cooking.   Allrecipes.com has a big list of recipes that utilize turmeric.  It’s a gorgeous spice and adds depth and flavor to your curries, as well as other dishes.  I recommend turmeric in my page Diet and Cancer (scroll all the way to the bottom).

References:

http://breast-cancer-research.com/content/13/3/R70

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23299550

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 (MarnieClark.com).  It is my honor and my goal to help you through this.

 

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.

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

DIM Is NOT The Wonder Supplement Weve Been Led To Believe
Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net and healingdr

 

DIM – A Misunderstood Natural Supplement

A chance message from one of the members at a breast cancer forum of which I am also a member (breastcancer.org) had me scurrying around yesterday, in an attempt to discover some information about a favorite supplement of mine named DIM, also known as di-indolyl-methane, hence the easier moniker DIM.

She had heard that taking DIM might raise progesterone levels and since her tumor was progesterone receptor positive (as was mine), this was a concern.  So she asked me about it and I referred the question to the naturopath whose opinion I most highly respect, Dr Jacob Schor, my mother’s naturopath in Denver, who is the President of the Oncology Association of Naturopathic Oncology and also Associate Editor of The Natural Medicine Journal (and, among other things, a very learned man and someone I trust).

Too Good to be True?

DIM is a supplement I had been taking myself for about 4 years – it was recommended to me by a naturopath in Australia because it supposedly promotes beneficial estrogen metabolism and healthy hormonal balance and was supposed to be especially helpful for managing estrogen dominant conditions. Even though my tumor was not fueled by estrogen, he felt it would still have benefits for me.  Some articles I found on the Internet even said it was better than Tamoxifen, a well-known breast cancer drug.

DIM and Estrogen Metabolites

Apparently the longer view, taken from more current and exhaustive research, however, is that DIM is not in any way a replacement for Tamoxifen, nor does it work in the manner initially thought.

Dr Schor shared with me a soon-to-be-released article he’d written on the subject of estrogen metabolite ratios for The Townsend Letter, an alternative medicine journal, but asked me merely to ingest its contents and not forward it on as it had not been released yet.

The contents of the article had my head spinning. After reviewing decades of research on estrogen metabolites, Dr Schor feels that we have been going on a theory that just has not proven to be fact, no matter how much we might wish it to be true.  He told me in an email yesterday, “there is certainly little reason to think that DIM was a substitute for Tamoxifen, there was nothing about the proposed mechanism of action that was similar.  One could argue that at least flax seed or soy genestein was kind of similar in action.  Sorry to be the party pooper.”

He did say that DIM has some great health benefits and he still recommends it.  It just doesn’t work the way we thought it did.

 IMPORTANT UPDATE:  31 October 2013 – Rather than delete this page, because a few other websites and articles link to it, in an effort to keep you updated with all the relevant studies and thinking on the issue of DIM, here are links to two more of my articles on this subject, which will definitely help you to realize that DIM does have some very good healing properties, and that you SHOULD be using it for breast health, just not for the reasons we initially thought.

More Information On DIM, Estrogen Metabolite Ratios– this article contains within it a link to the article written by Dr Schor for the Townsend Letter

Clarification On DIM And Its Uses For Breast Cancer

And here is a link to another relevant website, Life Over Cancer, on the subject of DIM written by Dr Keith Block:   DIM and Breast Cancer

 My own thoughts and feelings are that the best thing we can do for ourselves to keep ourselves disease free are relatively simple.  Follow the recommendations in my page Diet and Cancer, exercise at least 30 minutes per day, keep stress levels down, keep toxic chemicals and xenoestrogens to a minimum and a few other important things I recommend in my free e-book “21 Crucial Things To Do When You Have A Breast Cancer Diagnosis” – you can receive a free copy when you sign up for my newsletters on the right-hand side of this page.

 

Chinese Study Examines the Role of Soy, Tamoxifen, Estrogen in Breast Cancer Survival

LastSoybeans growing week I received a copy of a very interesting 2009 study which examines the role of soy, tamoxifen and estrogen receptors in breast cancer survival.

The study was published in the esteemed JAMA, Journal of American Medical Association, December 9, 2009.  If you’d like to read the entire article, click:  Soy Food Intake & Breast Cancer Survival 2009 study.

The objective of the study, called the Shanghai Breast Cancer Survival Study (“the Study”) was to evaluate the association of the intake of soy foods after a breast cancer diagnosis.  It was quite a large study – over 5,000 female breast cancer survivors aged 20-70 years with diagnoses between March 2002-April 2006 were followed up through June 2009.  It was one of the largest population-based studies of breast cancer survival when it was published.  See the Study for all of the relevant details.

Many are Confused About Whether Soy is Safe or Not

I’m writing about this today, some 3 years after publication, because there still seems to be quite a lot of confusion about the role of soy’s phytoestrogens (plant estrogens) among breast cancer survivors and those actively battling it.  We are told to be wary of too much soy – that because soy’s phytoestrogens can supposedly act as weak estrogens, those who had estrogen receptor positive tumors (meaning estrogen appeared to fuel the growth of the tumors) should exercise caution and not eat too much soy.

The Study blows that theory out of the water. Here’s a direct quote:

In our comprehensive evaluation of soy food consumption and breast cancer outcomes using data from a large, population-based cohort study, we found that soy food intake was inversely associated with mortality and recurrence. The inverse association did not appear to vary by menopausal status and was evident for women with ER-positive and ER- negative cancers and early and late-stage cancers.”

For those not accustomed to the language used in scientific studies, “inversely associated with” means that the more soy foods that were eaten, the less mortality and recurrence was exhibited in the Study participants.

Soy Phytoestrogens vs. Our Estrogen

The Study also found that soy isoflavones (one of a family of phytoestrogens found chiefly in soybeans) compete with the body’s estrogen in the binding of estrogen receptors, they increase the synthesis of sex hormone-binding globulin (thus lowering the bioavailability of sex hormones), they reduce estrogen synthesis and increase the clearance of steroids from circulation.  It is thought that these anti-estrogenic effects may be one of the underlying mechanisms through which the consumption of soy foods is associated with better breast cancer outcomes.

Soy Phytoestrogens vs. Tamoxifen

Additionally, the Study found that soy food intake was associated with improved survival, regardless of tamoxifen use.  Interestingly, the Study concluded that for women who took tamoxifen and had low soy intake, the tamoxifen helped their overall survival rates.  For those who ate high levels of soy foods, tamoxifen was not related to further improvement of survival rates.  More importantly, women who had the highest level of soy food intake and who did not take tamoxifen had a lower risk of mortality and recurrence rate than women who did take tamoxifen and who had the lowest level of soy food intake.  This suggests that high soy food intake and tamoxifen use may have a comparable effect on breast cancer survival.

I know which one I’d rather take!

How much is enough?

The study indicated that 11 grams per day of soy protein was sufficient to confer the benefits they observed.

If you’d like to stay connected, sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, or “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com) and I’ll do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey.

Survivor Rejects Oncologist’s Advice to Take Tamoxifen in Favor of Special Diet

To Take Tamoxifen or Not…. That is the Question

I wanted to share with you this great article I read today about Vicky Sewart, a 4-year breast cancer survivor who has rejected her oncologist’s advice to take Tamoxifen in favor of a special diet.

Here’s a link to that article.  It’s a great article, I hope you’ll read it.

I did exactly the same thing 7 years ago.  It’s nice to have company.

I’m not passing any judgment whatsoever on those who have decided to take Tamoxifen, I just know that for myself and my body it wasn’t the right thing to do.  I wasn’t willing to risk any of the side effects that the drug engenders, there are too many of them.

This may not be a good course of action for everyone, I’m not saying that either.  My whole desire here is just to inform – to let you know that in some cases doctors don’t know everything there is to know about the healing power of certain nutrients in our food.

My Biggest Hope

My biggest hope is that the field of oncology will begin to pay attention to and take on some of the wisdom that natural medicine has to offer.

I loved the part of the article that stated “Her experience will now form part of an academic study into how lifestyle can affect the body’s response to cancer.”  There are lots of these studies being done already. 

Just go to the pubmed.gov website and put the words “turmeric cancer” in the search field and you’ll get 20 studies that say curcumin (the active ingredient in turmeric) is effective against all kinds of cancer cells. 

The most interesting and newest study just published on June 14, 2012 says “The findings indicate that curcumin is of potential value for the chemoprevention of breast cancer, especially in breast cancer with Skp2/Her2 overexpression.”  Cycle arrest and apoptosis in MDA-MB-231/Her2 cells induced by Curcumin, Sun SH, Huang HC, Huang C, Lin JK, Eur J Pharmacol. 2012 Jun 14. [Epub ahead of print].

Come on, oncologists.  Your way isn’t the only way.  Get with the program!

If you’d like to stay connected, sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, or “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com) and I’ll do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey.

The Down & Dirty on Aromatase Inhibitors for Breast Cancer Treatment

 

The Down & Dirty on Aromatase Inhibitors for Breast Cancer Treatment
Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net and adamr

The Down & Dirty on Aromatase Inhibitors for Breast Cancer Treatment

The subject of aromatase inhibitors was huge for me when I was going through my treatment for breast cancer, and I know it is for others so I believe it deserves a bit of room today in my blog post.

What are Aromatase Inhibitors?

Okay, so what the heck are aromatase inhibitors?  They are drugs that stop the production of estrogen in post-menopausal women – they work by blocking the enzyme aromatase, which turns the hormone “androgen” into small amounts of estrogen in the body.

This means that less estrogen is available to stimulate the growth of hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer cells.  They are only recommended for post-menopausal women because they cannot keep the ovaries from making estrogen. 

Why Doctors Recommend Aromatase Inhibitors

A number of studies have been done on aromatase inhibitors, and based on the results of those studies, most doctors recommend that after initial treatment (surgery and possibly chemotherapy and radiation therapy), women take aromatase inhibitors because when treating early-stage, hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer, aromatase inhibitors were shown by the drug studies to have more benefits and fewer serious side effects than tamoxifen.

Additionally, the studies showed that switching to an aromatase inhibitor after taking tamoxifen for 2 to 3 years (for a total of 5 years of hormonal therapy) offered more benefits than 5 years of tamoxifen.  The studies also indicated that taking an aromatase inhibitor for 5 years after taking tamoxifen for 5 years continued to reduce the risk of the cancer coming back, compared to no treatment after tamoxifen.

Why Women Hate Aromatase Inhibitors

The problem is the side effects of these drugs.  One woman reported “hot flashes/night sweats, general muscle and joint aches, and memory failings.  But most alarming, arthritis-like pain in finger joints has been making everyday tasks difficult.”  Another woman said she had stiffness in her limbs, lots of pain and/or numbness in her hands and feet upon waking, her knees cracked when she walked up and down the steps, she had difficulty stepping on and off of buses, stiffness in her hips when getting out of chairs and had to limp a lot!

These were relatively younger women – feeling like they were in their 90’s.  Considering the fact that the doctors recommend we be on these drugs for 5 years or more, that’s a very long time to feel like that.  Apparently there is also a risk of increased osteoporosis.  Great.

Having said that, there are many cases where it’s an excellent idea to be taking these drugs.  It’s beyond my scope of knowledge to tell you which of you should be taking them.  My advice follows.

My Advice

Obviously I am not a doctor and I cannot tell you what to do here – that’s not my purpose.  I only want to present the facts and the research that I have done.  For myself, I chose not to take aromatase inhibitors or tamoxifen.  This might not be the right decision for you.  I would recommend you take a long look at the research, see what others have said about it, talk to your doctors, and additionally seek the advice of a trained naturopath (natural medicine doctor).

Update:  I have written an article on natural aromatase inhibitors.  Whatever you decide, make it YOUR choice.  This is your body and you have every right to decide what goes in it!

For More Information:

http://community.breastcancer.org/forum/78/topic/693120

http://www.breastcancer.org/treatment/hormonal/aromatase_inhibitors/index.jsp

http://www.naturalnews.com/026514_cancer_breast_natural.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aromatase_inhibitor

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