Hormone Replacement and Cancer

Hormone Replacement and Cancer

Does hormone replacement therapy (HRT) cause cancer?

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is a common treatment used to relieve the symptoms of menopause, especially those with severe hot flashes.

It works by replacing the hormones that are dropping as we enter menopause.

HRT augments the body’s natural hormone levels, either in the form of estrogen-alone therapy (ET), for women who have had a hysterectomy (or surgical menopause), or as estrogen with progesterone therapy (EPT), for women who experience menopause naturally at midlife.

Two of the most common HRT meds prescribed are Premarin and Provera.

Both are synthetic hormones and been known to have a carcinogenic (cancer causing) effect on the body.

Dr. Rishi Verma (a Vancouver-based medical doctor who is the owner and medical director of Balance Medical Center and Westcoast Women’s Clinic) explains on his blog that:

Premarin

  • Contains 20+ estrogens
  • All estrogens are derived from pregnant horse urine
  • The majority of the estrogens are estrone (E1) compounds, which are unknown to the human body and unfavourable to our body chemistry
  • The pill is taken orally, which is a dangerous way to take estrogen, as it has been linked to blood clots

Provera

  • Synthetic progestogen which bears little resemblance to progesterone
  • Has a similar effect to progesterone in the uterus, but a directly opposite effect on all other body tissues
  • Is a known carcinogen
  • Is strong enough to cause osteoporosis in young women

Bioidentical Hormones

Bio-identical hormones are hormone preparations which are identical molecules to those produced by the body. These are made from plant chemical, in particular yams and soy.

Many women assume that bio-identical are “natural” hormones are better or safer — but the term “natural” is open to interpretation are not not tested or regulated by Health Canada.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said the marketing of these products is misleading to women and that they carry the same risks as other hormonal therapies.

Latest Research on Hormone Replacement Therapy

In 2001 there was a landmark study called The Million Women Study where the researchers there found a link between increased breast cancer risk and hormone replacement therapy.

However, in 2012 a group of experts reviewed the plan and concluded that it wasn’t done properly.

Why did the experts conclude it wasn’t done properly?

Apparently the experts deemed the analysis unreliable because of the way the information was analyzed.

Fast-forward to last August, to the release of a new study aimed to better quantify the size of the risk with the different HRT types.

In this study they used data from a questionnaire on around 40,000 women in the UK.

The study that took place between the years of 2003 and 2015 and assessments were made at recruitment, after 2.5 years and then again at six years.

What did the new study find?

Researchers found women taking combined HRT – both estrogen and progestogen – had just over twice the risk of developing breast cancer compared with women who have never taken HRT.

Women who took the pill for 15 years or more had three times the risk – though this was only seven women in total, meaning the link may have been subject to chance.

The good news.

Thankfully the risk returned to baseline around a year or two after a woman had stopped taking HRT.

Hormone Replacement Therapy and  Cancer

  • HRT can triple a women’s chances of developing breast cancer
  • While the link was first announced in 2001, it was widely disputed
  • Conclusion: this latest study shows a link to breast cancer and HRT

The authors of the new study caution women to put this in perspective though (of course they do, it’s not their boobs and body that are at risk).

They state:

These findings will be of concern to women taking combination HRT. But there are a few extra points to put this into perspective.

The baseline risk of developing breast cancer with combined HRT is still quite small. This research found no link with the estrogen-only pill.

But we still can’t conclude with complete certainty that it’s only the combined pill that carries a breast cancer risk – particularly when the analyses combining all types of HRT found an increased risk. For now, it has to be considered that any type of HRT could carry a small increased risk of breast cancer.

HRT can also increase the risk of developing other types of cancer. Estrogen-only HRT can increase the risk of womb cancer and is normally only used in women who’ve had a hysterectomy – women who were excluded from this study.

This means we cannot conclude that all women taking combined HRT should switch to estrogen-only – they could be increasing their risk of another type of cancer.

Other potential risks of HRT include ovarian cancer and blood clots. Whether or not the benefits outweigh the risks therefore has to be considered on an individual basis.

The authors call for women to be provided with more information to make informed decisions about the potential risks and benefits of HRT overall, and by the specific type: combined or estrogen-only.

Read more: PubMed Health – Combined HRT breast cancer risk ‘may have been underestimated’

What should you do?

Dr Verma recommends:

Navigating through the world of hormone decline and deciding whether to take HRT is a complex one. If you are considering HRT, please go through the following checklist to ensure your safety:

Only trust the judgement of a doctor who is well versed in the pros and cons of both synthetic and bio-identical hormones

If you choose to take hormones, you should test your levels with a 24 hour urine sample at least once per year, or as indicated by your physician

Do not use oral estrogens – they are strongly linked to blood clots

Do not take anything labelled as a progestogen – this is a synthetic version of progesterone, which bears very little similarity

Use the lowest dose possible to achieve your desirable effect

Ensure you are engaging in appropriate screening for breast and bone health, which your doctor can arrange

Dr. Rishi Verma – read more on his blog.

Are there natural ways to rebalance your hormones

Exercise. I recommend 4-5 days a week. Exercise releases endorphins, our feel-good hormones in the brain.

Soy products, have been shown to help improve hot flashes. Examples are: tofu, edamame, miso, soy milk, soy nuts and tempeh

A healthy diet, high in fruits and veggies. Diet can help impact your mood swings.

Herbal remedies that act like our own hormones. If you do decide to take HRT, ask if you can take an estrogen-only, low-dose formula and try to take it for the shortest time possible. You also may want to ask about vaginal or transdermal HRT.

Decrease your stress with yoga, meditation or deep breathing.

Bottom line

If you do decide to take HRT, ask if you can take an estrogen-only, low-dose formula and try to take it for the shortest time possible. You also may want to ask about vaginal or transdermal HRT.

It’s important to work closely with your physician or other specialist in menopausal health to decide what’s right for you and then monitor on a regular basis.

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35-Minute Total Body Dumbbell Tabata

35-Minute Total Body Dumbbell Tabata

35-Minute Total Body Dumbbell Tabata

A total body Tabata workout that uses dumbbells to increase muscle tone, as well as improve your cardio.

This workout, I am sad to report, I am solo. No loving husband.

I know! It’s just not the same without him. However, I gave him a really bad cold and the day I had to film (cause I missed last week from filming from being sick myself) he was coughing, sniffling and feeling pretty crappy.

So… since I was the a-hole who got him sick, the only conceivable thing to do was to leave him at home with Netflix, a bag of chips and a Big Gulp.

35-Minute Total Body Dumbbell Tabata

 

  • A Tabata workout is a series of sets (8 in total) of one exercise, with a work time of 20-seconds a set. While the work time is short, it makes up in intensity though.
  • For a true Tabata workout the exercises must be intense (a 9 and 10 out of 10 in the RPE scale).

The science of Tabata.

Research has shown that a Tabata workout can produce the same, and if not better, results for increased fitness, improved heart function and weight loss just the same as longer, less-intense workouts.

This is great news since the number one cited reason for not working out is lack of time.

35-min-dumbbell-tabata-full-workout-blog

 

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Top 10 Tips to Burn Menopausal Belly Fat

Top 10 Tips to Burn Menopausal Belly Fat

Top 10 Tips to Burn Menopausal Belly Fat

Weight gain as we hit menopause seems to be an inevitable part of life. This is due to a number of reasons:

  • Hormones. It’s our bodies way of adapting to our new hormone changes.
  • As we age we become more insulin resistant due to poor food choices through the years. Insulin controls our blood sugar levels and is driven by the foods that we eat. A diet high in breads, pastas, high-sugar coffee drinks, packaged foods and sugar exposes us to higher blood glucose levels, thereby creating an insulin sensitivity and resistance that will cause our bodies to convert the majority of the calories that we eat as fat.
  • We start lose lean muscle tissue, which in turn slows down our metabolism. This lose starts in our early 30’s and starts to pick up steam in our late 40’s, early 50’s. Instead of using more calories to keep our lean muscle tissue warm, our bodies use less because it takes less energy to keep fat warm.
  • Lack of sleep. When we don’t get a good night’s rest our two hormones leptin and gherlin become out-of-balance. Leptin, the hormone involved in regulating our appetite and telling our brain when we are full, becomes elevated with lack of sleep and gherlin, the hormone responsible for telling our brain when to eat, becomes elevated. When we don’t get enough sleep, we end up with too little leptin in our body, which makes our brain think that we don’t have enough energy for our needs. So our brain tells us that we’re hungry, even though we don’t actually need food at that time. It also takes steps to store the calories we eat as fat, so we’ll have enough energy the next time we need it.
  • Stress. With the increased demands in our lives, accompanied by years of yo-yo dieting, binge eating and even undiagnosed food sensitivities, our bodies are under constant stress. If we allow our stress to manifest on a daily basis, over time our adrenal glands (located on the top of each kidney and responsible for releasing a variety of hormones) will reach fatigue and our once efficient adrenals (helping us to us deal with positively to stress responses) will become out-of-balance and will begin storing calories, instead of burning them.

How does stress pack the pounds around the waistline

If your adrenal’s are out-of-balance a common symptom is extra fat around the waistline.

You see, in normal circumstances when we are under stress the brain will signal to the adrenal glands to produce and release cortisol.

It is cortisol’s job to mobilize our glucose, amino acids and fat to prevent our blood sugar levels from going too low. It is making sure that the control centre, our brain, will always have energy/food to keep it going.

After years (or sometimes only months for some women) of long term stress, the cortisol and insulin levels will remain high in the blood and the extra glucose gets stored as fat – and mostly in the abdomen and thighs.

In addition, the fat being stored in the abdomen is the body’s way of protecting the internal organs. Since the body is under constant stress it will work to protect the internal organs, as well as the brain.

How to lose the menopause belly fat

1/ Control your stress.

  • Try meditation, yoga or any mindfulness based activity. Be present and in the moment.
  • Try my favourite meditation app, Headspace
  • Deep belly breathing. Deep breathing can stimulate the vagus nerve, which can calm an overactive central nervous system.

Lie on your back with a book resting on your belly. Inhale deeply and feel the book rise under your belly. Exhale fully and feel the book lower toward the spine.

Repeat for 5-10 minutes daily to improve your vagus nerve function.

2/ Strength train.

  • Build your lean muscle mass with a properly designed strength training workout.
  • Aim for 3 times a week workouts, total body workouts.

3/ Eat regular meals and snacks everyday.

  • No more starving yourself, or yo-yo dieting. These will only damage your metabolism further.
  • You need to keep your blood sugar levels stable to prevent the cortisol from being released.
  • Eat foods lower in the glycemic index. All foods are listed, or indexed, according to their effect on your blood sugars.
    • Unlimited foods at a 55 or less rating (most veggies)
    • Limited foods at 56-69 rating (beets, yams, most fruits)
    • Eliminate foods indexed 70 or higher (donuts, energy bars, bread, potatoes)

4/ Eat more protein.

  • A higher protein diet (meats, beans, legumes) will help support your lean muscle tissue.
  • Protein also helps us feel fuller, quicker and for longer
  • Aim for a 20-30 grams of protein with each meal and 10-15 for your snacks

5/ Move more throughout the day.

  • Make a point of moving as much as you. This has a huge effect on your metabolism. Walk, do exercises while watching TV, be active as often as you can.
  • All this extra movement through the day is called NEAT, non-exercise activity theremogenesis. It is the energy the body uses that is not planned exercise, sleeping or eating. In active people it can account for as much as 50% of your daily calorie burn.

6/ Avoid sugar.

  • Nothing has a greater impact on your insulin levels than sugar.
  • Be wary of artificial sweeteners too. These have been shown to increase our tolerance for the taste of sweet. Meaning in the future it will take a higher dose to satisfy our sweet tooth.

7/ Avoid low calorie, low fat foods.

  • Quite often the food labels are manipulated in a such a way that it makes the food look like it’s low calorie. Read the serving sizes carefully.
  • Studies have also shown that we tend to eat 50-100% more of a food product when labelled low calorie
  • Low fat foods can have a detrimental affect on our brain. The brain is mainly made of fat and cholesterol, and a diet that skimps on healthy saturated fats robs the brain of the raw materials it needs to function optimally. Eat foods such as grass-fed beef, organic dairy products (butter, cream, milk), and coconut oil.

8/ Eat at the right time of day.

  • Cortisol has a natural rhythm, which is highest in the morning, and decreases gradually as the day progresses, and is lowest at night so restful sleep can occur.
  • Eating tends to increase cortisol, so eating the largest meal earlier in the day is the best option for weight loss and maintenance.
  • In addition, our body’s ability to process carbohydrates decreases as the day goes on. We metabolize carbohydrates in the morning better and more efficiently compared to later at night in bed and the more efficiently our body can use the food we eat, the easier it is to lose weight.

9/ Get in 300 minutes.

Aim for 300 minutes of exercise, strength and cardio, a week.

10/ Drink water.

  • The body has no idea whether it is hungry, or thirsty. However, it only has one signal, and that’s the hunger signal. We could actually be dehydrated and masking itself as hunger. Aim for your half your body weight in fluid ounces in water or herbal tea everyday.
  • Keep a 1L re-fillable bottle by you at all times.
  • Start your day with a big glass of water.
  • Increased water is also important if you are increasing your protein for the first time. The water will help flush the kidneys.
  • Water also increases your energy and decreases fatigue.

 

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40-Min Total Body Cardio Weight Loss Workout

40-Min Total Body Cardio Weight Loss Workout

40-Minute Total Body Cardio Weight Loss Workout

Non-stop cardio that you can do at home. A great weight loss workout.

Cardio is always something I have hated to do.

This hasn’t been from lack of trying to love it, though.

Through the years I have competed in 10km runs, half marathons, triathlons and bike races, yet 22 years later I’m still not a fan.

There’s a couple of reasons cardio doesn’t have my heart.

First, I don’t like spending a long time on any one thing. It bores the hell out of me! (With the exception of hiking. I can hike for hours, and maybe that’s because it’s so much fun dragging loving husband up and down mountains.)

I am also adverse to being in large groups of people. I love exercise for it’s solo-ness (Don’t get me going about having participated in the Vancouver Sun Run. The most crowded run on the planet, if not the galaxy, and where you need to train in the art of defense first, then running.).

However,  I do love getting my heart rate up and I love to sweat.

So… through the years I perfected a variety of home cardio workouts that keep my attention, while also improving my fitness – and workouts that don’t leave me with any damn saddle sores (damn you bike seat!).

Total Body Cardio Weight Loss Workout

 

Tools needed:

A mat

Workout best for:

Home

Workout rated for:

Beginner – advanced

  

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