Relieving Yourself of Excess Estrogen

Relieving Yourself of Excess Estrogen
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Women eating vegetarian may have lower breast cancer rates because they have larger bowel movements.

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Earlier this year, a study was published comparing the hormonal levels of women with and without breast cancer. If estrogen makes most breast cancers grow, then one would expect that the level of estrogen would be higher in women who have breast cancer, compared to women who don’t, or at least who don’t yet.

And indeed, no surprise, that’s what they found—significantly more estradiol freely circulating through their bloodstream of those with breast cancer. But the study also looked at diets and hormonal levels. These were all omnivores; the women eating vegetarian did even better.

This may help explain why, in a study of the “Relative Risks for Breast Cancer by Levels of Animal Product Consumption,” there appears to be a trend between lower breast cancer risk the more vegetarian someone eats. And it was researchers at my medical alma mater, Tufts, that figured out why, in a landmark article published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

See, the way our bodies get rid of excess cholesterol is to dump it into the digestive tract, knowing full well that there’ll be lots of fiber in there to grab it, hold onto it, and flush it out of the body (though, hopefully, you chew a little better than that).

We did, after all, evolve quite a long time before Twinkies and Wonder Bread, and the ascension of royal establishments such as Burger King and Dairy Queen. So, our body just expects it; just assumes our intestines are going to be packed with fiber all day long—seven times more than we’re getting now. We did evolve eating some meat, but plants don’t tend to run as fast, and so the bulk of our diets was made up of a lot of bulk.

And that’s how your body gets rid of excess estrogen. Vegetarian women have increased fiber input, which leads to “vegetarian women [having] an increased fecal output, which leads to increased [fecal] excretion of estrogen and a decreased [blood] concentration of estrogen.”

And this just wasn’t in theory; they measured it. “Subjects were provided with plastic bags and insulated boxes filled with dry ice for three 24-hour fecal collections.” You’ve heard of popsicles, well, they had them make more like poopsicles.

And here you go. In any one 24-hour period, the vegetarians were fecally excreting more than twice as much estrogen as the omnivores. And, measuring the estrogen excretion versus the size of the fecal output, you can see: the bigger the better. See the heavyweight Vs versus the welterweight Os? No wonder vegetarian women in the United States have been found to have such lower rates of breast cancer.

It’s great that many women stopped hormone replacement therapy, stopped taking extra estrogens. Well, another way to rid yourself of excess estrogens is in the way nature intended.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Dianne Moore.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Cindi Pierce, Renee Comet at the National Cancer Institute, and Gastrolab.

Earlier this year, a study was published comparing the hormonal levels of women with and without breast cancer. If estrogen makes most breast cancers grow, then one would expect that the level of estrogen would be higher in women who have breast cancer, compared to women who don’t, or at least who don’t yet.

And indeed, no surprise, that’s what they found—significantly more estradiol freely circulating through their bloodstream of those with breast cancer. But the study also looked at diets and hormonal levels. These were all omnivores; the women eating vegetarian did even better.

This may help explain why, in a study of the “Relative Risks for Breast Cancer by Levels of Animal Product Consumption,” there appears to be a trend between lower breast cancer risk the more vegetarian someone eats. And it was researchers at my medical alma mater, Tufts, that figured out why, in a landmark article published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

See, the way our bodies get rid of excess cholesterol is to dump it into the digestive tract, knowing full well that there’ll be lots of fiber in there to grab it, hold onto it, and flush it out of the body (though, hopefully, you chew a little better than that).

We did, after all, evolve quite a long time before Twinkies and Wonder Bread, and the ascension of royal establishments such as Burger King and Dairy Queen. So, our body just expects it; just assumes our intestines are going to be packed with fiber all day long—seven times more than we’re getting now. We did evolve eating some meat, but plants don’t tend to run as fast, and so the bulk of our diets was made up of a lot of bulk.

And that’s how your body gets rid of excess estrogen. Vegetarian women have increased fiber input, which leads to “vegetarian women [having] an increased fecal output, which leads to increased [fecal] excretion of estrogen and a decreased [blood] concentration of estrogen.”

And this just wasn’t in theory; they measured it. “Subjects were provided with plastic bags and insulated boxes filled with dry ice for three 24-hour fecal collections.” You’ve heard of popsicles, well, they had them make more like poopsicles.

And here you go. In any one 24-hour period, the vegetarians were fecally excreting more than twice as much estrogen as the omnivores. And, measuring the estrogen excretion versus the size of the fecal output, you can see: the bigger the better. See the heavyweight Vs versus the welterweight Os? No wonder vegetarian women in the United States have been found to have such lower rates of breast cancer.

It’s great that many women stopped hormone replacement therapy, stopped taking extra estrogens. Well, another way to rid yourself of excess estrogens is in the way nature intended.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Dianne Moore.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Cindi Pierce, Renee Comet at the National Cancer Institute, and Gastrolab.

48 responses to “Relieving Yourself of Excess Estrogen

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  1. Great stuff as always!

    Did the data on the nutritional profile of the paleolithic diet come from one of the cited studies? If not, could you provide the reference.

    Thanks :-)




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  2. I am confused about how this relates to another one of your videos. This implies high estrogen levels coincide with breast cancer. But another video says it’s good to eat soy – which produces estrogen (or does it?) – to prevent breast cancer. Can you please clear this up?




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    1. I agree – I viewed that video and had the same question. I ate foods containing soy before my diagnosis on a fairly regular basis. Now,my Oncologist tells me not to take supplements of soy but okay to eat in moderation or in a protein shake. I had a lumpectomy, radiation and no chemo. YAY for getting it out early! I say listen to your body. eat right and exercise. Live with out worry — If anything stress causes cancer not too much or not enough of something in one’s diet.




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    2. The soy in estrogen is a phytoestrogen, which is 200-400 times weaker than animal estrogen. Forget what you heard about soy and estrogen (; the estrogen in soy is also in all beans and all seeds, and the estrogen in soy (which again is a phytoestrogen) actually has been proven to reverse breast cancer, because it occupies hormone receptors but it is much much weaker




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  3. Soy and all plants have phytoestrogen. Phyto comes from Greek, meaning “plant”. Phytoestrogen doesn’t do anything in the body of anything that is not a plant. The human body DOES detect phytoestrogen and then thinks it has too much and cuts its own estrogen production. That’s why soy and probably most plants can help slow or reverse breast cancer. Dr. Greger can probably clear it more than I can ;)




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    1. “Research on the relative impacts of phytoestrogens and synthetic hormone disruptors.
      Newbold, RR, EP Banks, B Bullock, and WN Jefferson 2001. Uterine adenocarcinoma in mice treated neonatally with genistein. Cancer
      Research 61: 4325-4328. http://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/content/61/11/4325.abstract

      “Newbold et al. report that when neonatal mice are exposed to genistein—a phytoestrogen present in soy—later in life they develop uterine cancer of the same form caused by diethylstilbestrol (DES). The levels of genistein used in these experiments are comparable to those found in infant formula based on soy.”

      Xenoestrogens is a catch-all term for synthetic contaminants like DES, DDT, etc. which interfere with estrogen signalling…

      See more: Arnold, SF, MK Robinson, A Notides, LJ Guillete, Jr. and JA McLachlan. 1996.
      “A yeast estrogen screen for examining the relative exposures of cells
      to natural and xenoestrogens.” Environmental Health Perspectives
      104(5):544-548
      http://www.ourstolenfuture.org/newscience/phytoestrogens/phyto1.htm




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      1. PLease note that as of recent, (after 2006 or so) we know that mice/rats have a totally different metabolism of genestein than humans, so all the studies that looked at mice are really moot. Human studies all indicate that moderate WHOLE soy intake (not powders of pills) actually reduce cancer risks




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    2. Hmm, that logic seems a bit unsubstantiated by research. Anecdotally, my PMS symptoms (cramps, breast enlargement) increase during months I consume a serving of soy daily.




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      1. In theory the soy plant estrogens occupy estrogen receptor sites preventing the stronger human estrogens getting to the sites. I’ve heard Tamoxifen acts similarly.
        Now do note the Orientals from what I can tell eat primarily fermented soy such as tofu, miso, etc. and definitely not edamame. In particular the fermentation process reduces the plant estrogens quite a bit (how much?) from edamame.
        Now we’re vegans eating quite a bit of kale, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, cruciferous vegetables which have a mild estrogen reducing effect. Extracts are available for those who are interested. We tend toward whole foods.




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        1. Sorry, I know I’m a little late on this comment, and maybe I am totally wrong here, but I’ve found random information stating that there are many foods that we commonly eat that contain phytoestrogen – like all nuts and seeds, all beans, and to a lesser degree, all other plant foods. Has anyone else found this?




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  4. First of all this site is awesome, Great job keep it going forever :) , I have a question not about this video i hope you can do another video about grains in general and corn specifically .

    The question is : Is corn good for us? (if so is it very good ,medium ,low ect.)




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  5. Thanks, Jennifer. Am I understanding correctly that you are saying that the higher estrogen levels are naturally produced by the body – and coincide with breast cancer – not added from the soy, and that the soy can reduce those levels (b/c of phytoestrogen detection)? So where did all the talk about soy possibly increasing cancer risk come from due to its causing estrogen levels to rise? Dr. G, are you answering these questions? AND — what about estrogen and ovarian cancer and the connection to eating soy or other food? Thanks, All.




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    1. The “talk” came from mice studies…we know now that humans don’t metabolize the same way. A recent study of over 9000 women confirmed it.




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  6. Dr. G, are you responding to these? I so appreciate this website and all the fabulous info on it, and I am sure you are super busy. But it would be great to be able to get some feedback when there is confusion about the videos since we make important decisions based on them! :-)




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  7. I see the good doctor has not had time to respond. I wonder if someone with expertise in this area can respond. I’ve heard that phytoestrogens are not harmful, but why? The last I heard (10+ years ago) we still have difficulty proving other xeno-estrogens are harmful (i.e. from the pulp and paper industry discharges, etc.). I guess I really should go to pubmed and search for phytoestrogen AND cancer.




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    1. Some of the confusion stems from the fact that the vast majority of studies that initially hinted at potentially harmful effects were conducted on rodents, using dosages well beyond what the average person consumes in a life time. Clinical and epidemiological data, on the other hand, have generally failed to show similar risks.

      In fact, some have shown benefits, such as a 2010 study on menopausal women, who were administered soy isoflavones for two years, which concluded that “soy and soy isoflavones may provide a mild benefit to hot flashes, lipids, and bone health for some menopausal women” (Clinical outcomes of a 2-y soy isoflavone supplementation in menopausal women Am J Clin Nutr February 2011 93: 356-367)

      Another 2009 study of over 68 thousand women concluded that soy foods appear to protect against colorectal cancer risk (Prospective cohort study of soy food intake and colorectal cancer risk in women. Am J Clin Nutr February 2009 vol. 89 no. 2 577-583).

      Similarly, a Japanese population study of over 75 thousand men and women found a decreased risk of lung cancer among people who consumed soy products on a regular basis (Isoflavone intake and risk of lung cancer: a prospective cohort study in Japan. Am J Clin Nutr March 2010 vol. 91 no. 3 722-728 ).

      Given the existence of (weak) evidence that postmenopausal therapy with oral estrogen may increases breast cancer risk, it is recommended that women at risk of, or who already have been diagnosed with breast cancer, should avoid soy products just to be on the safe side. For more information on phytoestrogens and their benefits, see: http://nutritionfacts.org/?s=phytoestrogens




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      1. HI DR GREGER,  MY DAUGHTER GOT BREAST CANCER AT 29YRS OLD AND DIED AT 32YRS LAST YEAR.  SHE WAS INITIALLY TOLD MISDIAGNOSED AND TREATED.  SHE WAS TOLD THAT SHE DIDNT HAVE THE BRCA GENE.  SEVERAL YEARS LATER HER NEW PHYSICIAN SAID THAT SHE  HAD TRIPLE NEGATIVE RECEPTOR GENE AND HAD  THE BRCA GENE.  I HAVE BEEN VEGETARIAN FOR EIGHT YEARS AND IM NOW VEGAN  FOR ABOUT 4YRS.  WE STILL HAVE OTHER DAUGHTERS AND A SON TO BE CONCERNED ABOUT GETTING CANCER TOO.  IS THIS CANCER DESTINED TO EFFECT MY OTHER CHILDREN TOO(SOME EAT MEAT AND DAIRY LIKE THEIR SISTER DID)?  THANKS




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        1. It’s been awhile since you posted I hope all is well. Myself I’m not a doctor but my sister had breast cancer at 24 the first time received a radical mastectomy, chemo and radiation she got it the second time at 35 and had a mastectomy on the other breast (not radical) chemo and radiation as well both time they were very aggressive cancers. When she tested positive for BRCA gene and her oncologist was harassing me that I needed to have mammograms every 6 months for the rest of my life (without even offering a test), I flat out refused. My sister is now 48 and this year voluntarily had her ovaries removed (because of the gene) I don’t let them touch me and I don’t care if I have the “gene” or not and I turn 45 next month with no health issues (even though I’m slightly overweight) I have been vegetarian most of my life (as opposed to my meat and cheese loving sister) and I have been strict vegan going on 2 years now (although I’ve always leaned than way anyway). I don’t think being vegetable based is everything, I think lifestyle and stress are really important too but I think it’s really important to check and know your body. What I feel is most important to not be too paranoid that you jump on every “buzz word” or preventative treatment. I have no proof but who’s to say my sister would have got cancer the second time around if she didn’t go for a mammogram every 6 months – that’s a lot of tissue damage and radiation (that accumulates) and who knows what the latest treatment of removing her ovaries will do?




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  8. would the addition of 2 TB of ground flaxseed be worth adding to a strict low fat(vegetables,fruit,beans and brown rice,air popped org popcorn) vegan’s diet?




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  9. Hi Dr. Gregor,

    Thank you for all the hard work you do and the great DVD’s.  I just received Nutrition Facts 10 and 11, as well as the top diseases. Awesome Presentations! I was wondering if there was a way for me to borrow some of your power point slides for a project I am presenting for a chef program I’m completing at the Nutritional Therapy Institute. I was under the impression they were more plant based program. They are heavily plant based, but have a deep connection with the Weston and Price Foundation. They are into animal products as long as organic and grass finished. As typical, I’m getting a lot of grief for being plant based (I have been taking little bites of what we create so I’m not able to follow true vegan right now) They seem to be able to manipulate studies showing the benefits of meat and are teaching theories that a meatless diet is harmful. I’m presenting on cancer at the end of the semester. I’m using the articles you cite. If you’re able to send me any of your slides, that would be great. I am focusing on breast and colon cancer. They actually made fun of Pritikin dying of cancer and implied he committed suicide because of his low fat plant based diet. I  will be explaining how long he lived with cancer (27 years) and what really made him commit suicide ( experimental chemo leaving him half dead) I’m hoping they don’t hold my presentation against me in final grading.
     




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    1. Please feel free to send me a blank CD-ROM or flash drive and a SASE and I’ll burn any slides you want. Note, though, that you have to have a mac and iWork since they are Keynote files (not powerpoint):

      Michael Greger
      5113 Crossfield Ct. #9
      Rockville, MD 20852

      So glad I can help!

      In health,
      Michael Greger, M.D.




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  10. The Adventist study at 1:00 seems to say that “pure vegetarian women” had 0.34 risk for breast cancer compared to omnivores: does that mean they had 66% less risk for breast cancer? That’s a pretty amazing statistic if i’m reading it correctly!




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      1. Thank you. Then that’s just amazing!!
        Why aren’t women being told this? I bet women that have been vegan for a long time probably have an even lower rate, i remember Dr. Fuhrman saying that adventists that had been vegetarian the longest actually had an even longer average life expectancy (+13 years) compared to the other vegetarians.




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  11. Hello Dr. Gregor, a friend of mine has been diagnosed with premature menopause at 43 yrs old and has very low (33 which apparently should be 600?) levels of oestrogen. I would like to direct her towards a plant-based eating plan. Do you have research that might help her in understanding the need and benefits to adopting this healthful lifestyle?




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    1. the vegan style revivalist:

      I would recommend pointing your friend to Dr. Greger’s year-end summary videos. They are powerful and pack a big punch.

      http://nutritionfacts.org/video/more-than-an-apple-a-day-preventing-our-most-common-diseases/

      http://nutritionfacts.org/video/uprooting-the-leading-causes-of-death/

      For a more mainstream, yet also powerful punch, see if you can get your friend to watch the Forks Over Knives DVD. I bought a copy to lend to friends and family, but it is also on Netflicks and some public libraries have it.
      http://www.amazon.com/Forks-Over-Knives-Colin-Campbell/dp/B0053ZHZI2/ref=sr_1_1_bnp_0_main?ie=UTF8&qid=1393351409&sr=8-1&keywords=forks+over+knives+dvd

      Hope that helps.




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  12. Hi,

    I cured my dyshidrosis, which according to doctors, is an incurable condition, by supplementing with Estroblock. It is a natural supplement helping your body get rid of excess estrogen.

    By the way, I am vegan for the past two years. I got this condition whilst being vegetarian.




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  13. Hi Dr. Greger,

    I’ve been a vegan since 1988. I’ve had terrible periods since the beginning of my cycles. Unfortunately a vegan diet didn’t change that. I finally found relief by taking DIM (Diindolylmethane) to improve my estrogen metabolism. I wonder if this knowledge could help others. Would you consider making a video about any available research about DIM’s effects?

    Thanks,
    Allison




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  14. So love your website and your new book! Thank you so much for all your hard work! Can I ask a question? I’ve been on the bio-identical hormones progesterone, testosterone, DHEA, and estriol since my early 30’s (I am 39 now). It appears chronic stress created an elevated cortisol level that began to rob Peter to pau Paul, so to speak, by using up my other hormones to function. Insomnia ensued and so did the misery that comes with that. Now here’s my question: How long is it safe for me to be taking these hormones? I am trying to get the stress component under control. I hope that they will then regulate on their own, but I feel quite miserable without them currently. I have taken the nutrition course at Cornell taught primarily by T. Colin Campbell so I understand lifetime exposure to estrogen really matters. I would love your thoughts if you have any :) Thank you!! -Teresa




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  15. I have watched your videos for years, and am currently reading your “How Not to Die” book. I am 46 and have been having issues with irregular bleeding for years. My current Gyn. has done US several times along with following my labwork and placed me on progesterone rx. I was having increased problems and she drew a serum estrogen level a week ago, and it was very high. Her only suggestion to me was to cut soy from my diet, and redraw in a month. I have already had a questionable breast MRI recently, due to dense and very fibrocystic breasts. What am I to do? I don’t think soy is the issue. I was vegan for 3 years and currently pescetarian/vegetarian- I try to avoid dairy.




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