Dear Living Well Daily Reader,
We’ve all got them. And from time to time, we all suffer because of them.
Imbalanced hormones can lead to health issues like weight gain, hair loss, lack of energy, memory troubles and even mood swings.
But having an increased level of a certain hormone can lead to even more threatening health issues, like cancer.
And not just any cancer — breast cancer — which newly afflicts roughly 300,000 American men and women every year.
Fortunately, a common vitamin may help regulate this dangerous hormone and put your body back into balance.
The cancer-causing hormone is estrogen, and it’s in everyone’s body.
For women, this chemical helps regulate reproductive functions and keep the body in balance. For men, estrogen impacts reproduction and sexual health.
Having too much estrogen increases risk of breast cancer for both sexes.
And being overweight is one of the top ways to raise estrogen in your body. It’s one of the many ways that carrying a few extra pounds can take a toll on your health.
But according to new research from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, in Seattle, there’s a common vitamin that can help reduce estrogen levels, even in folks who are overweight and obese — vitamin D.
[Editor’s note: Before we get into the details of this amazing study, I should mention that only female volunteers participated. This means that these results aren’t proven to translate to men, but it makes sense that vitamin D may have similar effects on estrogen in men. In other words, men shouldn’t skip taking vitamin D while waiting for more research to surface.]
For the study, scientists performed a yearlong, randomized, controlled clinical trial following 218 overweight and obese postmenopausal women who were vitamin D deficient at the beginning of the study.
The women were split into two groups. Half the women were taking 2,000 IUs of vitamin D supplements daily and the other half were given a placebo pill. All of the participants were also enrolled in a weight loss program.
At the end of the study, the researchers discovered that the women who raised their vitamin D levels the most also experienced a significant drop in estrogen levels.
And even after the scientists accounted for weight loss, the numbers remained true independent of pounds shed.
The scientists believe that being overweight or obese can lead to vitamin D deficiency because the nutrient is stored in fat. One theory suggests that as weight is lost, the trapped vitamin D is released from the tissue and into the bloodstream.
But losing weight is easier said than done and is often a long journey. And even if this theory is right, being at a healthy weight doesn’t guarantee that you’re safe from cancer-promoting estrogen.
That’s why the researchers believe that supplementing with vitamin D is a practical, affordable and safe alternative to prescription drugs.
Dr. Anne McTiernan, investigator in the Epidemiology Program of the Public Health Sciences Division at Fred Hutchinson, points this out in the paper:
Medications used to lower blood estrogens, such as aromatase inhibitors, reduce the risk of developing breast cancer in women at increased risk, but those medications are expensive and can have adverse effects. So it’s important to identify other ways to safely lower blood estrogens for all women. We’ve shown in the past that weight loss significantly lowers blood estrogens. Now we know that vitamin D can add to that, but only if a woman takes enough of it to increase her vitamin D blood levels to a normal range.
Vitamin D Is Key to Prevention
Dr. McTiernan is right. Many estrogen-lowering drugs can have devastating side effects like osteoporosis, bone thinning and muscle and joint pain. Not to mention other long-term side effects remain unknown.
That’s why it’s important to talk to your doctor before taking any medication or supplement. Have them explain all of the potential side effects before taking any medication, and always ask if there is a natural solution for your ailment.
Getting 15 minutes of direct sunlight every day is the best way to increase your vitamin D levels. However, this isn’t always an option. So supplementation is the next best way.
Vitamin D supplements work best in your body when they contain vitamin D’s natural form, which is called vitamin D3. So if you’re looking for a supplement, be sure it’s in this form.
As the study mentioned, vitamin D is absorbed in fat. This means getting a supplement that’s oil based will ensure you’re absorbing the vitamin. Also, look for a supplement that uses olive oil, instead of soybean oil, which is often a GMO ingredient.
And lastly, vitamin D3 pairs well with vitamin K2. K2 has been shown to suppress the growth of certain cancers. This means when you take these two powerhouse vitamins together, they give cancer a one-two punch.
Managing editor, Living Well Daily