(NaturalNews) Women receiving the standard of care for breast cancer are often prescribed one of the aromatase inhibiting drugs as follow-up treatment. Patients are told the drug will prevent a recurrence of their disease. Aromatase inhibiting drugs are usually prescribed for the long term, with some women taking them for up to ten years. There are long lists of frightening side effects associated with these drugs, and eventually they stop working. Unfortunately, women are not told by their oncologists that nature has provided highly effective natural compounds that will also prevent disease recurrence. These compounds have no such side effects and can be used for as long as a woman desires to use them. Many research studies have demonstrated that chyrsin is the most effective of these compounds.
Aromatase inhibitors work by reducing levels of unbalanced estrogen in the body
Aromatase inhibitors are prescribed as follow-up treatment for hormone sensitive cancers of the breast, ovaries or uterus. These kinds of cancers are dependant on unbalanced estrogen in the body to fuel their growth. Aromatase inhibitors reduce levels of unbalanced estrogen in the body.
Excess unbalanced estrogen can be a problem for women of any age. While declining levels of estrogen are generally thought to be the hallmark of menopause, it is actually common for women to experience surges of abnormally high estrogen that is not balanced by progesterone and testosterone during any stage of adult life. For many women, estrogen dominance develops later in life, sometimes as a result of poor diet, liver impairment, lack of exercise, environmental factors, or as the result of menstrual cycles during which ovulation does not occur. When there is no ovulation, less progesterone is produced which can result in estrogen imbalance.
Women with estrogen dominance frequently exhibit unexplained weight gain, fibrocystic breast disease, PMS, migraines, irregular and heavy bleeding, endometriosis, fibroids, and ovarian cysts. Petroleum products, air pollution, plastics, and chemicals in food can make matters worse by acting as xenoestrogens, meaning they are estrogens foreign to the body. Xenoestrogens act like estrogens produced by the female body and can boost unbalanced estrogen levels.
Aromatase is an enzyme produced in the body that is needed for the final step in the production of estrogen as part of the hormonal cascade during which hormones are made from other hormones in a series of conversions. Without the aromatase enzyme, excessive production of estrogen stalls. This process is what makes aromatase inhibitors effective against hormone sensitive tumor growth.
Aromatase inhibitors can be prescribed for a variety of reasons such as the maintenance of healthy breast tissue, as a means of keeping estrogen at a proper level, to promote the development of lean muscle mass, or to counteract uterine fibroids. However, most prescriptions for aromatase inhibitors are written for women as part of breast cancer treatment.
Aromatase inhibiting drugs are toxic to the body
The main problem with aromatase inhibiting drugs is the fact that they are drugs. All drugs have unpleasant side effects and aromatase inhibitors are no exception. One of the most popular, Arimidex, has a list of side effects that includes hot flashes, nausea, weakness or fatigue, headaches, arthritis, general pain, joint pain, sore throat, bone pain, back pain, cough, difficulty breathing, osteoporosis, vomiting, broken bones, insomnia, swelling or water retention in the arms or legs, abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea, high cholesterol, infections, weight gain, breast pain, dizziness, urinary tract infections, and loss of appetite. Some of these side effects such as bone pain and arthritis may not go away even when use of the drug is discontinued.
Drugs are foreign substances that do not occur in nature. As such the body must detoxify them through the liver, placing a huge strain on the liver's detoxifying function. Livers that are stressed from prolonged drug use can become enlarged and even cancerous. And because drugs are foreign substances they are identified by the immune system as invaders of the body, and the immune system mounts a defense against them. Since another dose of the drug is ingested each day, the immune system is continuously overworked and not available to do the job for which it was intended, which is keeping the body healthy and well.
Because aromatase inhibitors are drugs, they do not work indefinitely. Eventually the immune system is able to render them ineffective. Women who have relied on aromatase inhibitors to keep them safe from a recurrence of breast cancer are then left unprotected and uneducated as to what to do to protect themselves.
There is still one more unfortunate effect of aromatase drugs. They take the focus off the real issue which is why a breast cancer developed in the first place. Since cancer is an obvious wake up call that something is radically wrong in the body, this something needs to be addressed. Aromatise inhibitors may keep breast cancer away for awhile, but how about the rest of the body? If the conditions that promoted the breast cancer have not been addressed, there is danger of cancer to other organs and tissues as well as chance for other degenerative disease to get started because this is a body that has already exhibited a willingness to promote disease.
Chrysin found as effective as aromatase inhibiting drug
Chrysin is a flavonoid from Passiflora incarnate, commonly called passion flower. In a study at the University of Minnesota, published in 1993, chrysin and several other flavonoids were compared to an aromatase inhibiting drug used to treat hormone sensitive cancers. Chyrsin was found to be the most effective of all the flavonoids tested, and was found to be equal in potency to the drug.
Chrysin provides several other cancer fighting benefits not found in drugs
Chrysin has additional benefits that aromatase inhibiting drugs do not have. It a potent antioxidant that possesses vitamin-like activity in the body. It is an effective anti-inflammatory through the inhibition of the Cox 2 pathway.
Chrysin has recently been found to block the suppression of natural killer (NK) cells that are seen during surgery. NK cells are part of the immune system. They go after cancer cells and destroy them. During surgery the production of NK cells is suppressed by the body because of the traumatic nature of the event. However, during cancer surgery is the time when NK cells are needed most, so they can go after and kill any cancer cells escaping into the bloodstream that may seed new cancer growths elsewhere in the body. Additionally, chrysin is a potent inhibitor of breast cancer resistance protein, keeping patients who have chosen traditional drug treatments from developing multi-drug resistance.
Since the landmark study published in the September, 1993 Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, many other studies have confirmed the conclusion that chrysin is nature's most effective aromatase inhibitor. A study reported in the May, 2006 Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry studied the effects of several polyphenols on aromatase activity. Again, chrysin was found to be the most capable at inhibiting estrogen production. This study showed red wine, green tea, and black tea also significantly impacting aromatase activity, though to a lesser degree than chrysin.
The ability of chrysin to inhibit aromatization has not been lost on drug companies. Studies have been conducted to determine the effectiveness of altered forms of chyrsin that could qualify to be patented. Because natural substances cannot be patented, drug companies must alter them in some in order to stake a proprietary claim on them. The most recent of these in late 2007 studied methylated forms of chrysin for their effectiveness.
Chrysin should be taken with Piperine for enhanced bioavailability
Piperine is an alkaloid from black pepper that has been shown repeatedly to substantially increase the bioavailability of nutrients from supplements and foods. It has been found to significantly boost the bioavailability of chrysin according to the Life Extension Foundation.
Diet and lifestyle have a lot to do with aromatase
One's chosen diet and lifestyle are large factors in determining the amount of the aromatase enzyme in the body. Although chrysin is found in flowers, many flavonoids with lesser aromatase inhibiting abilities are found in common fruits and vegetables. Apples, cabbage, onions and garlic are good sources of quercetin, a powerful flavonoid. The flavonoid apigenin is found in parsley, celery and chamomile. Genistein and diadzein are isoflavones found in fermented soy. Red wine is still another source of healing flavonoids. Although alcohol may increase aromatase activity, the flavonoid components of red wine more than make up for it. Chrysin and other flavonoids from flowers are found in significant amounts in bee propolis and bee pollen. Any woman with signs of estrogen dominance may benefit from adding these flavonoid containing foods to her diet.
The aromatase enzyme resides in fat cells. This is why overweight and obesity are linked with breast and other hormone sensitive cancers. With fewer fat cells in the body, less unbalanced estrogen is produced. High levels of insulin, a big factor in weight gain and fat mass accumulation, promote production of the aromatase enzyme. Keeping insulin levels under control by avoiding processed and chemicalized foods will result in lower levels of aromatase and as a consequence, lower levels of unbalanced estrogen in the body. Maintaining adequate zinc levels also helps inhibit production of aromatase.
Grapefruit is a special case
A compound found in grapefruit and grapefruit juice produces an amazing effect according to research from the University of Hawaii. This compound, known as cytochrome p450, inhibits an enzyme group in the same complex as the aromatase enzyme. This enzyme inhibited by grapefruit is involved in breaking down and metabolizing sex hormones. If estrogens are not metabolized, excessive levels can accumulate in the body.
This prospective study, reported in the British Journal of Cancer, July 10, 2007, was based on data collected for the Multiethnic Cohort Study that involved 50,000 postmenopausal women spanning five ethnic groups. It found that grapefruit intake was significantly associated with an increased risk of breast cancer. The increased risk was comparable to the increased risk seen in women taking hormone substitution drugs as part of traditional HRT.
DM Beaumont et al, The Effects of Chrysin, a Passiflora Incarnata Extract on Natural Killer Cell Activity in Male Sprague-Dawley Rats Undergoing Abdominal Surgery. AANA Journal, April, 2008.
B Ebert et al, Phytochemicals Induce Breast Cancer Resistance Protein in Caco-2 Cells and Enhance Transport of Benzo [a] Pyrene-3 Sulfate, Toxicology Science, April, 2007.
About the author
Barbara is a school psychologist, a published author in the area of personal finance, a breast cancer survivor using "alternative" treatments, a born existentialist, and a student of nature and all things natural.