A complex interplay of hormones causes breast tissue to develop, enlarge, and produce milk. Estrogen is the major hormone at play, though, as it causes glandular tissue to grow and develop during different stages of the female menstrual cycle.
Estrogen is a powerful hormone that can inspire a rapid growth of cells. For this reason, women should focus on maintaining healthy estrogen metabolism to protect against unchecked cell growth, which can lead to tumors.
A proactive approach to health and wellness is always your best bet. But how can you be proactive about your own breast health, aside from getting regular exams and eating a healthy diet? Here are two nutrients that you may want to take a look at:
Indole-3-Carbinol (I3C) to Promote Healthy Estrogen Metabolism
As a woman, minimizing cell division is imperative to maintaining breast health. The stronger form of estrogen in your body, estradiol, needs to be managed to slow down its growth signals.
You can accomplish this by helping your body convert estradiol into the weaker form of estrogen called estriol. Estriol can help block estradiol by occupying your estrogen receptors.
Indole-3-carbinol (or I3C) is a phytonutrient that comes from cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, and kale. I3C offers three important breast health benefits worth considering:
- It promotes healthy estrogen metabolism through a process called hydroxylation. This increases the level of estriol and other protective estrogen metabolites.1
- It stopped human breast cells from growing by as much as 90% in culture studies.2
- It has been shown in animal models and in human clinical studies to provoke cancer cells to self-destruct.3 This process of self-destruction is called apoptosis and plays an important role in cancer treatments.4
Although we definitely think you should eat your broccoli, there’s just not enough I3C in one serving to hit the mark. Since a healthy target would be about 100 mg/day of I3C, supplementation is your best bet if you really want to benefit from this amazing nutrient.
Turmeric Inhibits a Powerful Cell Growth Signal
Although the turmeric spice’s remarkable health benefits have been wowing scientists around the world lately, it has actually been used in Ayurvedic medicine in India for over 3,000 years. The active constituent, curcumin, gives the spice its yellowish appearance and power.
Curcumin offers a number of positive biological effects in the body. However, the most exciting is its ability to inhibit tumor development and growth by preventing the development of new blood vessels.5
Curcumin does this by inhibiting the epidermal growth factor receptor. When this receptor is activated, it causes the growth of new blood vessels.
This is an important step in cancer cell growth because it provides oxygen-rich blood to the growing cancer.5 By blocking the epidermal growth factor receptor, curcumin is able to stop new vessel formation by effectively “starving” cancer cells of oxygen and other important nutrients.
Optimize Breast Health by Being Proactive
Although a proactive approach is paramount to almost every health and wellness goal, your breast health really demands a preventive strategy. So what can you do?
As a first step, get well-informed about the factors at play. Talk to your doctor, ask questions, and keep yourself up-to-date on the latest research about how diet and nutrition factor into the breast cancer equation.
Next, consider supplementing daily with a high-quality I3C and curcumin extract. They may very well give you the head start you’re looking for.
- Nutr Cancer. 1991;16(1):59-66.
- J Biol Chem. 1998 Feb 13;273(7):3838-47.
- Proc Soc Exp Biol Med. 1997 Nov;216(2):246-52.
- Apoptosis. 2003 Jun;8(3):263-8.
- Menopause. 2008 May-Jun;15(3):570-4.