When answering the question of what is estrogen metabolism it’s important to focus on what the body does with the hormone.
Estrogen and metabolism; these are not two words that we often hear together but in this new video, An Oasis of Healing’s Dr. Nathan Goodyear explains what it means, especially for cancer patients. The video is part of a weekly in-house staff education initiative wherein the Oasis team tackles cancer-related topics and how this makes an impact on the Arizona-based center’s renowned comprehensive cancer care program.
What is estrogen metabolism?
We know that estrogen is a “group of sex hormones that promote the development and maintenance of female characteristics in the human body.” Estrogen production happens mainly in the ovaries. Aside from its reproductive functions, estrogen also affects other bodily processes in the brain, skin, bones, liver, and heart.
Estrogens “bind to certain receptors,” according to Natural Endocrine Solutions founder Dr. Gary Osansky. The two main types of these receptors are estrogen alpha and estrogen beta. Estradiol and estrone—which are types of estrogen—form estrogen metabolites and these have different biological activities.
The 2-OH metabolite is called the “good” estrogen because it has weak estrogenic activity. The 4-OH and 16α -OH metabolites have a greater amount of estrogenic activity. There is evidence to suggest that those with higher amounts of the latter two metabolites have “an increased risk of developing certain types of cancers.”
Dr. Goodyear explained, “It is because of its high estrogen activity, its high affinity for the receptor, it is very tightly bound, and it is not easily removed. It is a very unstable compound, which then, in turn, causes these, what are called other metabolites, quinones, and semiquinones that damage the DNA that then, in turn, promotes the process that will favor cancer. It’s very anti-apoptotic, which means it’s going to turn off the body’s ability to kill cells.”
Apoptosis is also called programmed cell death or “cell suicide.” In this process, a programmed sequence of events eliminates the cell without releasing harmful substances. This is crucial because it triggers the elimination of old, unnecessary and unhealthy cells.
Estrogen Metabolism must be managed as part of any cancer care program
When this does not function as it should, the cells that should be eliminated may persist, like cancer cells. In some cases, too much apoptosis can also cause grave tissue damage. Dr. Goodyear noted that when it comes to cancer, the problem is not the hormone itself but what the body does with the hormone.
“Everybody talks about metabolism as it relates to weight,” he said. “But metabolism really is the process needed on a daily basis for a cell to survive, to fight infection, to fight off viruses, to heal, to repair, to divide, to grow. Metabolism is a process of the body breaking things down, using things for different processes.”
The good news is that there are ways to “manipulate” estrogen metabolism and a crucial aspect of this is diet. Eating more cruciferous vegetables is a great way to positively influence estrogen metabolism.
Cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, cauliflower, kale, arugula, watercress, and cabbage, among others. They are non-starchy and rich in folate and vitamin K. They are also a good source of phytonutrients which can help lower inflammation and lower the risk of cancer.
Cruciferous vegetables also contain a compound called indole-3 carbinol, which when metabolized becomes diindolylmethane aka DIM. DIM is “well-known for supporting healthy hormone levels in both men and women.”
In the video, Dr. Goodyear reminded the team that cancer is very complex, which is why continuous learning is vital, even for cancer care practitioners and especially for patients.
To gain more insights from an experienced clinician and stay on the pulse of new and long-standing cancer-healing practices, follow this blog. You can also learn more about how this knowledge is applied and used in our comprehensive cancer care program.
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