More than 10 million American women use birth control pills. They are the go-to contraceptive not only for pregnancy prevention, but also for PMS symptoms, heavy periods, and acne. Previous studies have suggested that birth control pills increase breast cancer risk, and the most recent research strengthens this relationship.
Birth Control Pills: A Known Carcinogen
Birth control pills join tobacco, asbestos, plutonium, and diesel exhaust as a group 1 carcinogen according to the World Health Organization. This means birth control pills are “a known and probable cancer-causing agent to humans.”
The latest study published in the August 2014 edition of the journal Cancer Research confirms the finding of past birth control/cancer studies. Researchers studied 1,102 women with breast cancer, along with 21,952 controls, and found that recent oral contraceptive use—particularly high-dose estrogen birth control pills—increased breast cancer risk by more than 50%. Birth control pills with ethynodiol diacetate (a type of progestin) also raised breast cancer risk by more than double, while triphasic birth control pills (pills that deliver different hormone doses over three stages of the monthly cycle) more than tripled breast cancer risk! Not all birth control pills fared so badly, however. Low-dose estrogen birth control pills did not seem to increase breast cancer risk.
Birth control pills block pregnancy by delivering a mix of estrogen and progestin hormones to your body. But these same hormones also over-stimulate breast cancer cells, which increases breast cancer risk. Dr. Angela Lanfranchi writes in her booklet on Breast Cancer Risks and Prevention:
“Estrogen can cause cancers in two ways. First, estrogen acts as a “mitogen.” Estrogen stimulates your breast tissue to increase cell divisions (mitoses). This sometimes results in cancers due to errors in cell division (mutations). Second, certain metabolites of estrogen also act as carcinogen or genotoxins, by directly damaging DNA, thereby causing cancer cells to form.”
Your risk for breast cancer further increases if you have a strong family history of breast cancer, you or a family member have had a biopsy that showed abnormal cells, or you carry an abnormal breast cancer gene.
If you are currently taking birth control pills, consider a safer method of contraception, such as the use of a diaphragm and/or condom. If you insist on taking birth control pills, then make sure you are on a low-dose estrogen pill.
What’s the second most common cancer in men worldwide? Prostate cancer… and it’s much more prevalent in developed countries. Experts believe that higher rates of prostate cancer in industrialized nations are partially due to the Western diet and lifestyle. Researchers from the Universities of Bristol, Cambridge, and Oxford recently identified three dietary components that may help slash your risk for prostate cancer.
Lycopene, an antioxidant found in tomatoes, stood out as the all-star prostate cancer-fighting nutrient.
10 Tomatoes a Week Keep the Doctor Away!
The study, published in Cancer, Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, is the first “dietary index” to track dietary components and their effects on prostate cancer. Researchers compared the diets and lifestyle behaviors of 1,806 prostate cancer patients between the ages of 50 and 69 with 12,005 cancer-free men. They discovered that selenium, calcium, and lycopene effectively reduced prostate cancer risk, with lycopene showing the most influence.
|FACT: Men who consumed 10 portions a week of tomatoes or tomato products (like baked beans or tomato juice) had an 18% reduced risk for developing prostate cancer!|
Lead researcher Vanessa Er, from the School of Social and Community Medicine at the University of Bristol and Bristol Nutrition BRU, explains: “Our findings suggest that tomatoes may be important in prostate cancer prevention. However, further studies need to be conducted to confirm our findings, especially through human trials. Men should still eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, maintain a healthy weight and stay active.”
Researchers also analyzed lifestyle factors, particularly the anti-cancer lifestyle recommendations for diet, physical activity, and body weight set forth by the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) and the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR). While the suggestions of these two organizations are pertinent to overall cancer prevention, they aren’t targeted at prostate cancer prevention, and researchers determined that only dietary recommendations lowered prostate cancer risk. This study confirms that a high intake of fruits, vegetables, and fiber helps lower your odds of a prostate cancer diagnosis.
The Anti-Cancer Effects of Lycopene
Lycopene is a carotenoid found in fruits such as the tomato, apricot, guava, and watermelon. It has been shown to shield against toxins that damage DNA and cells. Previous studies have shown that lycopene suppresses androgen receptor expression in prostate cancer cells in vitro, and decreases prostate cancer cell proliferation. Lycopene has also been shown to protect against cardiovascular disease and macular degeneration (the primary cause of vision loss in people over 60).
To increase your lycopene consumption, add some tomatoes, grapefruit, asparagus, parsley, and carrots to your diet. You’ll notice the results from the inside out, as lycopene also helps your skin maintain a radiant, healthy glow.