Women are at risk for developing breast cancer if we are exposed to too much estrogen during our lifetime. During the time of perimenopause, women become estrogen-dominant and may not produce enough progesterone in our monthly cycle to offset our estrogen production. Girls, who start menstruating at a young age, are also vulnerable to high estrogen exposure over the course of their lifetime.
“Unopposed” estrogen can create havoc causing sleepless nights, heavy blood flow, irritability, digestive disturbances, fuzzy minds, water retention with other PMS symptoms, sensitive breasts and weight gain. Endometriosis and uterine fibroids are signs that estrogen is out of control and that hormonal imbalances are occurring.
Estrogen is our friend on one hand, lubricating our joints, our vaginal tissues, keeping our minds clear, and our skin moist. On the other hand, estrogen out of balance with other essential hormones, including progesterone and testosterone, becomes destructive, encouraging and feeding the formation of tumors and cancer.
Low Fat Diets, Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Cancer Prevention
We’re not powerless against this natural cycle of the body’s hormonal production, however. It turns out that our diet has a lot to do with how much estrogen is metabolized and excreted naturally. The key is in the fat we consume.
It has been definitively proven that diets high in animal fat and protein have the highest association with cancer occurrence while whole food, plant-based diets, low in fat and protein, have the lowest association with the development of cancer including breast, liver, prostate, and colon cancers. For an in-depth look at this science, I highly recommend reading, The China Study, by T. Colin Campbell.
A number of studies have shown that omega-3 essential fatty acids play an important role in metabolizing estrogen and in preventing cancer. One recent study found that women who ate higher quantities of omega-3 fatty acids combined with a low fat diet excreted more estrogen in their urine than women who ate high fat diets. Another study on mice with the ability to produce omega-3 fatty acids found that they had a 33% lower incidence of cancer than mice without this ability.
Health Benefits of Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids
Omega-3 essential fatty acids are “essential” because our bodies don’t produce them and we have to consume foods rich in them. Found in abundant quantities in chia, flax, hemp seeds, walnuts and oily deep-sea fishes like salmon and black cod (also known as sablefish), omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to have numerous beneficial health effects. A diet high in omega-3 fatty acids helps to prevent heart disease and stroke, lower cholesterol and triglycerides, reduce inflammation, protect the immune system and lower the incidence of auto-immune diseases and inflammatory bowel conditions. With the added benefits of metabolizing estrogen and protecting against cancer, you can see why health professionals advice us to eat more foods with omega-3s in them!
An easy way to increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids is to eat a bowl of TeeChia, my new super seeds cereal. A single serving provides 1100 mg of omega-3 fatty acids. Although there isn’t a recommended daily intake (RDI) set by the FDA, the World Health Organization recommends 800-1100mg of omega-3 fatty acids per day. You can start your day off by meeting that goal when you enjoy a bowl of TeeChia for breakfast!