The recent dramatic increase of hormone dependent cancers in Japan has been speculatively linked to the steroids in meat. The high rates of acne among milk drinkers are likewise thought possibly to be due to the high hormone levels in milk (see herehereherehereherehere and here). Milk intake is also linked to prostate cancer and lower sperm counts in men. Trace amounts of hormones are common in the environment and have been found in the water supply. Best to avoid hormone replacement therapy, (including bio-identical hormones) and if possible, the use of baby formula.

Cancers like breast and prostate are sensitive to growth-promoting steroid hormones like IGF-1 and estrogen. The amino acid profile of animal protein boosts our IGF-1 production compared to plant proteins (see here, here, here and here). Hormones in meat may directly affect a woman’s fertility; eating a single serving of meat may increase infertility risk by 30%. To make matters worse, cooked meat contains PhIP, a heterocyclic amine that activates estrogen receptors almost as strongly as pure estrogen (see also here). Nettle tea and lavender may also have estrogenic effects. And xenoestrogens (industrial pollutants often found in meat and fish), in addition to the hormones found in animal protein and milk, are thought to be in part responsible for early onset puberty in girls. Soy seems to have the opposite effect. Flax seeds (see also here) may extend a woman’s cycle, so they have fewer periods, which lowers their exposure to estrogen and, thus, may reduce the risk of breast cancer. Mushrooms (see also here) may also help prevent breast cancer by blocking estrogen production, thus effectively cutting off the tumor’s growth self-stimulation. In other studies, collard greens and seaweed were associated with the lower breast cancer risk. Plant-based diets seem to provide relief for menstrual symptoms overall (see also here). Certain plant foods high in melatonin may help with insomnia.

One way to decrease levels of steroid hormones in the body is to avoid eating and drinking them in eggs, dairy, and meat. Those eating plant-based have lower levels of IGF-1, yet this does not seem to affect their ability to accumulate muscle mass. They also have lower levels of adiponectin, a hormone thought to contribute to cellulite. The bodies of those eating more plants also hold onto more DHEA, an important hormone associated with increased longevity. A study confirmed that vegetarian women have lower levels of estradiol and therefore presumably a lower breast cancer risk due to their higher fiber intakes and larger bowel movements. In fact, at least half a pound a day is the target fecal output for cancer prevention. In addition, sex hormone binding globulins, which remove excess hormones from our bodies, have been found at higher levels in those eating vegetarian.

Topic summary contributed by Jim.

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