Originally published June 29 2009
Natural Aromatase Inhibitors are Best Prevention of Breast Cancer in Postmenopausal Women
by Barbara L. Minton
(NaturalNews) One of the answers to breast cancer prevention has been right under our noses all along. When diets high in natural foods that inhibit the aromatase enzyme are eaten, breast cancers in postmenopausal women don't get a chance to start, according to research from the University of Munster in Germany. Scientists there have found that aromatase inhibitors are what keep normal cells from developing to the point where they can be classified as Grade 1 cancer.
Estrogen receptors (ER) alpha and beta are proteins found inside certain healthy cells of breast tissue. Estrogen binds with these receptors to stimulate tissue growth in young women during normal breast development. As women age these receptors play an important role in the development of breast cancer because they can continue to bind with excessive estrogen produced in breast tissue through the aromatization process, even after the ovaries no longer produce much estrogen. This can lead to the rapid growth and proliferation of mutated breast cells. If the process of aromatization is inhibited, excess estrogen will not be present in breast tissue to stimulate the growth of a cancer.
In a study designed to determine the effectiveness of aromatase inhibitors compared with anti-estrogen drugs, the German scientists analyzed 21 human breast cancer tissue samples for a change in the ER alpha /ER beta ratio during the malignant progression of breast cancers. They found that the transition from normal breast cells to grade 1 tumors was characterized by the down-regulation of ER beta, while the transition from grade 1 to grade 3 tumors was associated with the decrease in ER alpha expression. In stimulation assays they found that anti-estrogen drugs such as tamoxifen increased ER alpha expression and left ER beta unchanged. In contrast, aromatase inhibitors up regulated ER beta, and by doing so, blocked the initiation of cancer. (Anticancer Research, June)
Nature has provided an abundance of aromatase inhibitors
You don't have to take drugs to inhibit aromatase. Nature has provided plants that will get the job done without harmful side effects. In April, Natural News ran an article about the powerful aromatase inhibiting ability of chrysin (http://www.naturalnews.com/026086.html), a flavonoid from the passion flower plant. Research showed that chrysin worked as well to inhibit the aromatase enzyme as a drug designed for that purpose. Chrysin is normally taken as a supplement along with piperine which greatly enhances its bioavailability.
For those who would rather get their aromatase inhibiting flavonoids from whole foods, there are several good tasting choices. Beneficial compounds gotten from food have the added benefits of the perfect synergy found in a whole food as well as the other nutrients and compounds it contains.
Quercetin, naringenin, resveratrol, apigenin, genistein, and oleuropein are all powerful flavonoids from whole foods that inhibit aromatase while at the same time offering a treasure chest of other health benefits. When these foods are organically grown, they are higher in these flavonoids than produce grown conventionally.
Quercetin is the main reason an apple a day keeps the doctor away. It is a major antioxidant with important anti-aging benefits. It fights inflammation and reduces the cellular damage inflammation causes. By fighting inflammation, it also helps decrease swelling and pain, and keeps the circulatory system healthy. Quercetin helps prevent fatigue by helping to decrease damage from heavy exercise, and increase endurance. It is an anti-viral, and an immune system supporter and liver protector. Research has suggested that quercetin has other anti-cancer benefits aside from inhibiting aromatase in breasts and prostates. Cabbage, onions and garlic are other good sources of this powerful flavonoid.
Apigenin is a non-mutigenic flavonoid that has significant chemoprotective action against UV radiation. Research has shown apigenin reduces oxidative damage of DNA, inhibits the growth and induces differentiation in human leukemia cells, inhibits cancer cell transduction, and induces appropriate cell death. Like quercetin, apigenin acts as an anti-inflammatory and as an antispasmodic. Apigenin is found in good supply in celery, parsley, artichokes, basil, and chamomile.
Naringenin, is an antioxidant, free radical scavenger, anti-inflammatory, and immune system modulator. It has been shown to promote proper metabolism of carbohydrates. It was shown to reduce hepatitis C virus production by infected liver cells in cell culture and to inhibit the secretion of very low density lipoprotein by cells. As a cancer fighter, it reduces oxidative damage to DNA. Naringenin is found in all citrus and may be the reason that diets high in citrus are negatively correlated with heart disease. However, naringenin should not be obtained from grapefruit or grapefruit juice, which has an inhibitory effect on the human cytochrome P450 isofrom, another enzyme in the same complex as the aromatase enzyme. This enzyme is involved in breaking down and metabolizing sex hormones and preventing their excess accumulation in the body, so inhibiting it is not a good idea.
Resveratrol is a flavonoid gaining wide respect for its multitude of health benefits. Several recent research studies have revealed that resveratrol is highly effective against breast cancer by inhibiting ER positive and negative cell proliferation, cell cycle progression, and primary breast tumor growth. Resveratrol is protective of the liver even against alcohol. It also keeps the central nervous system strong by protecting neurons from oxidative stress. Resveratrol is found to some degree in the skin and seeds of red grapes. Muscadine grapes have the largest content and are often used to make red wine. Although supplements of resveratrol are popular and widely available, getting resveratrol from red wine allows you to get the entire grape polyphenol group of nutrients, a group that has been shown to work much better synergistically. Breast tumor growth and metastasis to bone and liver were shown to be better inhibited by the complete grape polyphenol complex.
Oleuropein gives olive oil its distinctive flavor and is found in abundance in the leaves of the olive tree. It is one of the reasons olive leaf is such a powerful tool for wellness. Oleuropein helps the body fight off viruses, bacteria, and fungi. It is contained in every part of the olive tree and is the basis of its defense from insects. Oleuropein has been shown to boost the immune defense of people too, as well as fostering a healthy balance between friendly bacteria in the intestinal tract. In animal research, oleuropein was shown to enhance nitric oxide production. It is also a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.
All these foods are prominent features of the Mediterranean diet
Fresh fruits, vegetables, olive oil and red wine are components of the Mediterranean diet, the one and only diet that has consistently correlated with lower death rates from all causes. Flavonoids from each of these foods inhibit aromatase activity to reduce incidence of breast cancer. And when you chose a diet that features these foods on a regular basis, what you are really getting is the best all around prevention plan on earth.
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About the authorBarbara 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.
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