Nutrition:Hormone driven cancers

Friday 04 May 2018

I frequently see visitors with hormone driven cancers who want to know what they can do to help themselves, so I thought I would share my the recommendations that I normally give, with you.

Fruit and veg

I am sure that you are all aware that with any type of cancer a firm recommendation is to increase the quantity of fruits and vegetables that you eat each day. The government recommendations are 5 pieces a day. Well I think that to gain the true health benefits from these foods it should be more like 8 to 10 portions. We touched on some of their health benefits in my first blog and will certainly visit them again at a later date but for now I want to focus on a group of vegetables know as the Cruciferous family (sometimes known as the Brassica family).


These are namely cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, dark green leafy cabbages, kale, cress, bok choy and turnip. Apart from being rich in Vitamin C, vitamin K, calcium, beta carotene and magnesium, which are all important for good health. They also contain these really clever substances that are called glucosinolates.

This is where I am going to get a bit technical, not that you need to get hung up on this but just for interest in case you wanted to know – there won’t be a test at the end of the blog so you don’t need to worry…….

Glucosinolates produce, amongst other substances one called DIM (diindolylmethane) which in turn produces Indole 3 Carbinol (13C). This happens like a chain reaction, like all processes in the body one thing will produce another and another etc. all very clever.

Anyway the end product is 13c which is all you really need to be concerned about.  Since its discovery 13C has been used in many studies that suggest it has quite a few health benefits.

Before going into these it may be a good idea to explain a little more about oestrogen.

Oestrogen  is a little bit like cholesterol there is good and bad cholesterol and there are  good and bad oestrogens. Estradoil is the bad or strong oestrogen and estrone is the good or weak oestrogen. Estradiol (strong oestrogen) can cause havoc inside the cell by lowering oxygen levels, increasing sodium and prompting growth signals. Basically the oestrogen that can drive cancer.  Both male and female bodies have oestrogen receptors. The purpose of these receptors is to receive oestrogen and allow the body to process it. The weaker the oestrogen the less oestrogenic effect it will have on the body and therefore less negative effects on health.

So this is where does indole 3 carbinol (13C) fit in?
Well 13C has the ability to convert the strong estrogen in to the weaker one. It works on a number of levels. It partially blocks the oestrogen receptor sites on the cell membranes, It converts the strong oestrogen into the weaker one and has powerful antioxidant effects which supports the liver in its detoxification process, particularly of excess hormones. So how useful is that.

In one study 13C was given to 25 women for 2 months. Levels of strong oestrogen fell while levels of the weaker oestrogen increased. At the same time levels of a metabolite directly involved with both breast and endometrial cancer fell.

Eat your greens!

So a very simple solution that you can do to help yourself is to eat your greens . A minimum of one to two cups size portions each day, or 200-400mg if in supplement form.  

What makes an oestrogen strong?

As I was typing this a question came into my head, wondering what made some oestrogen strong and potentially harmful and some weak and beneficial. I am sure some of you have thought the same.

Well a great deal of the problem lies with the environment, namely xeno-oestrogens. These are compounds that we absorb into or bodies that have the ability to mimic oestrogen . These are found in plastics, cosmetics, herbicides, pesticides, in the fat of intensively reared animals given hormone treatment and in recycled drinking water.  Other drivers of bad oestrogen can be too much alcohol, coffee and a diet high in refined carbohydrates, which causes high blood sugar levels and an increase in the production of insulin. And finally our body fat stores excess oestrogen. All a bit mind blowing really but not all is lost. It is important to remember here that these are all part of the modern environment and hard to avoid. Some people go through life and have no adverse effects from these while others are affected in some way. All a bit of a lottery.
Reading this we can see that if we make a few simple changes then we avoid some of the problems. i.e. try to buy water  and culinary oils in glass bottles which will avoid the chemicals associated with plastics, cut all excess fat off meats, and try to avoid a diet high in refined carbohydrates like too much sugar or sugary type foods, which will in turn keep insulin levels stable. This I want to elaborate on next week In the meantime I have added a simple soup recipe for you to try which  is rich in 13C. A really simple and easy way to get a good portion.

Cauliflower and Broccoli soup with fresh Rosemary
This soup would be a good addition to a wholemeal sandwich at lunch time. To make it more substantial you could add some cooked brown rice, stir in a tablespoon of natural yogurt just before serving or a sprinkle of hemp or walnut oil or some parmesan cheese shavings.
These ingredients are available all the year around, The soup will freeze well. It is very light.

1 medium cauliflower chopped up , include the tender outer leaves and stalks.
2 large heads of broccoli, chopped and use tender parts of stalks.
1 large onion peeled and finely diced.
1 tbsp olive oil or coconut oil
3 sprigs of fresh rosemary or 1 tsp dried.

1 ½ pts of water or light vegetable stock

  1. Take a large pan and add the olive oil and lightly sauté the onion until soft but not coloured.
  2. Add the cauliflower and broccoli, cover with stock or water, add rosemary, bring to the boil and then simmer until the vegetables are soft. About 15 min.
  3. Cool slightly, remove the rosemary stalks and liquidize until smooth.
  4. Return to the pan and check seasoning.

Ready to serve.
Blog originally written by Caroline May 2012

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