Super Poopers Appear To Cut Their Risk Of Breast Cancer In Half

Breast Cancer and ConstipationWhy do constipated women appear to be at higher risk for breast cancer? Results suggest a slight increased risk of breast cancer for both decreased frequency of bowel movements and firm stool consistency, whereas women who have three or more bowel movements a day—super poopers—appeared to cut their risk of breast cancer in half. This could be because constipation means a greater contact time between our waste and our intestinal wall, which may increase the formation and absorption of fecal mutagens—substances that cause DNA mutations and cancer—into the circulation, and they could end up in breast tissue.

This concept dates back more than a century where severe constipation, so-called chronic intestinal stasis, was sometimes dealt with surgically. Figuring the colon was an inessential part of the human anatomy, why not cure constipation by just cutting it out? What they noted, though, was that potentially precancerous changes in the breasts of constipated women seemed to disappear after the surgery.

It would take another 70 years, though, before researchers followed up on the clues by those distinguished surgeons who claimed breast pathology cleared when constipation was corrected. So they investigated the relation between potentially precancerous changes in the breast and the frequency of bowl movements in nearly 1500 women. They found four times the risk in women reporting two or fewer bowel movements a week compared to more than once daily, who had the lowest risk.

We know that even the non-lactating breast actively takes up chemical substances from the blood, so maybe substances originating in the colon might enter the bloodstream and reach the breast. We know there are mutagens in feces, so it is not unreasonable to suggest that potentially toxic substances derived from the colon have damaging or even carcinogenic effects upon the lining of the breast. And those toxic substances may be bile acids.

First shown to promote tumors in mice in 1940, subsequent experiments on rats led to the mistaken belief that bile acids just promoted existing cancers but couldn’t actually initiate tumors themselves. However, there is a fundamental difference between the rodent models and human cancer. Rats only live a few years, and so the opportunity for cancer causing mutations may be at least 30 times greater in humans. Now we have at least 15 studies that show that bile acids can damage DNA, strongly suggesting they can initiate new cancers as well.

Bile acids are formed as a way of getting rid of excess cholesterol. Our liver dumps bile acids into the intestine for disposal, assuming our intestines will be packed with fiber to trap it and flush it out of the body, but if we haven’t been eating enough whole plant foods, bile acids can be reabsorbed back into the body, and build up in the breast.

Carcinogenic bile acids are found concentrated in the fluid of breast cysts at up to a hundred times the level found in the bloodstream. By radioactively tagging bile acids they were able to show that intestinal bile acids rapidly gain access to the breast, where they can exert an estrogen-like cancer-promoting effect on breast tumor cells. This would explain why we see 50% higher bile acid levels in the bloodstream of newly diagnosed breast cancer victims. These findings support the concept of a relationship between intestinally derived bile acids and risk of breast cancer. So how can we facilitate the removal of bile acids from our body?

Well we can speed up the so-called oroanal transit time, the speed at which food goes from mouth to toilet, because slowed colonic transit can increase bile acid levels. We can do that be eating lots of fiber. A diet packed with plants greatly increases bile acid losses.

Fiber can bind up and remove toxic elements like lead and mercury, as well as cholesterol and bile acids. But plants can bind bile acids even independent of fiber. Vegan diets bind significantly more bile acid than lacto-ovo or non-vegetarian diets even at the same fiber intake, which could explain why it appears that individuals eating vegetarian might excrete less mutagenic feces in the first place.

Doctor’s Note

I touched on this in my new live presentation From Table to Able: Combating Disabling Diseases with Food that just came out, but what I didn’t get to discuss is the relative bile acid binding abilities of different foods. I’ll cover that in my next video Which Vegetable Binds Bile Best?

What intestinal transit time should we be shooting for? See Food Mass Transit. That may be why Stool Size Matters. We can improve speed and size by Bulking Up on Antioxidants and eating lots of whole plant foods (Prunes vs. Metamucil vs. Vegan Diet).

Fiber may also help women remove excess estrogen from their body. See my video Fiber vs. Breast Cancer. For more on the wonders of fiber, see Dr. Burkitt’s F-Word Diet.

For more of my latest videos on breast cancer prevention and survival, see:

In health,
Michael Greger, M.D.

Michael Greger, M.D., is a physician, New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous “meat defamation” trial. Currently Dr. Greger proudly serves as the Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture at the Humane Society of the United

Relieving Yourself of Excess Estrogen – Dietary Habits For Breast Cancer Prevention

Vegetarian Diet Helps Prevent Breast Cancer By: Michael Greger, M.D., a physician, author, and internationally recognized professional speaker.

Earlier this year a study was published comparing the hormonal levels of women with and without breast cancer. If estrogen makes most breast cancers grow, then one would expect that the levels of both estrogen would be higher in women who have breast cancer compared to women who don’t, or at least who don’t yet.

And indeed, no surprise, that’s what they found, significantly more estradiol freely circulating through their bloodstream of those with breast cancer. But the study also looked at diets and hormonal levels. These were all omnivores. The women eating vegetarian did even better.

This may help explain why, in a study of the “relative risks for breast cancer by levels of animal product consumption”, there appears to be a trend between lower breast cancer risk the more vegetarian someone eats. And it was researchers at my medical alma mater Tufts that figured out why, in a landmark article published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

See, the way your body gets rid of excess cholesterol is to dump it into the digestive tract knowing full well that there will be lots of fiber in there to grab it, hold onto it, and flush it out the body. (hopefully you chew a little better than that).

We did, after all, evolve quite a long time before Twinkies and Wonder Bread, and royal institutions such as Burger King and Dairy queen. So our body just expects it. It just assumes our intestines are going to be packed with fiber all day long—7 times more than we’re getting now. We certainly did evolve eating some meat, but plants don’t tend to run as fast and so the bulk of our diets was made up, of a lot of bulk.

And that’s how our body gets rid of excess estrogen. Vegetarian women have increased fiber input, which leads to “vegetarian women having an increase fecal output, which leads to increased excretion of estrogen and a decreased blood concentration of estrogen.”

And this just wasn’t in theory, they measured it. “Subjects were provided with plastic bags and insulated boxes filled with dry ice for thee 24 hour fecal collections.” You’ve hear of popsicles, well they had them make more like, poopsicles.

And here you go: In any one 24 hour period, the vegetarians were fecally excreting more than twice as much estrogen as the omnivores.

And, measuring the estrogen excretion versus the size of the fecal output, you can see, the bigger the better. See heavyweight V’s versus the welterweight Os? No wonder vegetarian women in the United States have been found to have such lower rates of breast cancer.

It’s great that many women stopped HRT, stopped taking extra estrogens. Well, another way to rid yourself of excess estrogens is in the way nature intended.

Video Sources

Mills PK, Beeson WL, Phillips RL, Fraser GE. Dietary habits and breast cancer incidence among Seventh-day Adventists. Cancer. 1989 Aug 1;64(3):582-90.

Goldin BR, Adlercreutz H, Gorbach SL, Warram JH, Dwyer JT, Swenson L, Woods MN. Estrogen excretion patterns and plasma levels in vegetarian and omnivorous women. N Engl J Med. 1982 Dec 16;307(25):1542-7.

Aubertin-Leheudre M, Hamalainen E, Adlercreutz H. Diets and hormonal levels in postmenopausal women with or without breast cancer. Nutr Cancer. 2011 May;63(4):514-24.

Michael Greger M.D.About Michael Greger M.D.
Michael Greger, M.D., is a physician, author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous “meat defamation” trial. Currently Dr. Greger proudly serves as the Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture at the Humane Society of the United States.

Related Article:

Estrogen Dominance and Xenoestrogens

10 Ways to Reduce Risk of Breast Cancer

Estrogenic Cooked Meat Carcinogens

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