Insulin Resistance and Breast Cancer

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Dr. Kathy Maupin and Brett Newcomb discuss breast cancer and some of the myths surrounding its correlation with hormone replacement.

Many of the women who contact me about Bioidentical Hormone Replacement want to know about the risk of breast cancer. Breast cancer is a frightening and deadly disease that we all want to protect ourselves from. Some of these potential patients are worried because they have heard that hormone replacement increases the risk of getting breast cancer. I reassure them that those fears are respected but are baseless. At the turn of the century, The Women’s Health Initiative issued a report that claimed that hormone replacement lead to an increase in breast cancer. This conclusion became widely accepted, and spread fear among doctors and their patients. Although the research was discredited almost immediately, the media perpetuated this fear and it still has not gone away. Today, these treatments are safe and are proven to not cause breast cancer. In, fact they never did. More information on this research is available on several of our previous podcasts (link here). This week, we are looking at other aspects of breast cancer that you may not know.

One of the most interesting recent studies I have seen from the Nation Institutes of Health discusses research being done on insulin resistance (also known as pre-diabetes and hypoglycemia). In this research, doctors are focusing on the development of resistance by the cells to accepting blood sugar from the blood. The energy and food that the cells receive from the blood sugar bounces off the cell and is not absorbed. When that happens the body turns it into fat cells.

One of the normal aspects of aging is that our bodies become less efficient at absorbing insulin. This can speed up the process of aging by making us more obese and developing more belly fat. These increases often push us over the line into type 2 diabetes, which is currently at epidemic proportions in our society. We know a lot about this, but what we have not known is that this increase in insulin resistance drastically increases our chances of developing breast cancer. In fact, the risk of developing breast cancer actually doubles.

So the concern about replacing Estrogen that many women have is misplaced. The concern should really be about the increasing level of insulin resistance. The good news is that we can do something about this. We can radically impact our level of insulin resistance through exercise, diet and nutritional supplements, awareness, medicine, and lifestyle changes. Most of these things are habits that can be formed, reformed, and changed with a little effort. The main suggestion I would make is to teach yourself to live on a low carb diet.

The study says that women who are both obese and insulin-resistant have an 84% higher risk of developing breast cancer. Women who are not overweight but have high levels of insulin resistance also double the risk if they don’t do something about it. By living a healthier lifestyle, you can decrease your risks of developing breast cancer. Watch our podcast and find out more about this vital topic.