Maintaining hormonal health is a huge part of preventing and healing Breast Cancer. If you are already a Healing Diva, then you know this well! But how can you tell if hormonal imbalance is occurring in your body? In this article, I will focus on key tests you need to know about to determine if you have a hormonal imbalance and give you some initial first steps you can take to rebalance and heal.
What Does “Hormonal Balance” Mean?
Hormones are the main substances responsible for directing the mechanisms of the body at the cellular, subcellular, and even genetic levels. In other words, hormones are messengers.
Of course, the primary hormone that we zero in on when it comes to healing and preventing most Breast Cancers is estrogen. In reality, however, there are dozens of different hormonal substances (including hormonal precursors) that play a part in breast health and in the health of our body overall. For example, did you know that vitamin D is actually a steroid hormone that affects not only breast health but also cardiovascular health, the immune system, and much more?
When your hormones are in balance, you feel balanced as well. Your inflammation levels are stabilized, your mind is clear, your menstrual cycles are regular and not a source of pain if you are still menstruating. Most importantly, you have vital energy to do all the things you need and want to do in life.
Of course, when your hormones are not in balance, you feel that too, usually in the form of unpleasant and painful symptoms. Hormonal imbalance, especially “estrogen dominance,” is directly linked to a higher risk of Breast Cancer, as well as many other reproductive health issues.
“As a society, we are told as women that PMS is part of being a woman and having your period,” says Magdelena Wszelaki, certified nutrition coach, herbalist, and author of the new book, Overcoming Estrogen Dominance. “It took me a long time to realize that certainly there are changes that happen in the body when we get our period …but it doesn’t mean you have to be in the fetal position on the floor with a bunch of painkillers by your side.”
Wszelaki’s personal story of overcoming estrogen dominance and thyroid issues is truly inspirational. Today she reaches thousands through her practice, Hormones Balance, which is “dedicated to helping women to rebalance hormones naturally.”
Be sure to tune in to the latest Wellness Warrior podcast for an invigorating and highly informative interview I did recently with her.
I Already Got a Genetic Test. Shouldn’t That Be Enough?
It is true that genetic makeup can play a part in how each woman metabolizes, stores, and then utilizes estrogen. Clearly, genetic testing has helped to shed light on certain predispositions and even conditions for women.
For millions of women around the world, however, estrogen dominance is really an indication of toxic overload in the form of xenoestrogens. Xenoestrogens are “chemical mimics” to naturally produced estradiol that can increase the risk of Breast Cancer.
Milder forms of estrogen can actually be cancer-protective. Even estradiol in just the right amount has its important place along the spectrum of health in your body. But an improper amount of estradiol could increase your cancer risk. In addition, high estrogen levels overall may be a sign that your body is not metabolizing or breaking down estrogen. That is where the problem begins.
Whatever the cause, if you are concerned about hormone health and possible imbalance, then getting key tests done to see where you are at just makes sense.
Do you absolutely need to see those test results in order to begin making healthy changes in your diet and lifestyle? Definitely not. But if you are concerned about breast health, are experiencing symptoms, or are just feeling a little “off” lately, then getting at least some key tests done can be a great step in being proactive.
What you discover from your test results is important data that can help you focus on specific protocols and supplements as well as specific dietary and lifestyle changes you need to make.
Testing for Three Main Kinds of Estrogen and Progesterone
Most tests for estrogen just measure the most aggressive form, which is estradiol (E2). In order to get a full and comprehensive understanding of what is going on in your body, it is really important to test the two other main estrogens– estrone (E1), and estriol (E3)– as well as progesterone. Other key hormones to test for are Testosterone, DHEA, and Cortisol.
Checking for the Estrogen Quotient Ratio or EQ ratio, will allow you to see the ratio of aggressive estrogen (estradiol) to milder forms of estrogen in your body. High estradiol levels may be a sign of high toxic load. High estrogen levels in general can be a sign that your body is not metabolizing estrogen well. See this article as well as the information about methylation testing below for more information on estrogen metabolism.
Progesterone is a vital female hormone and recent studies have even found that a balconied progesterone and estrogen ratio may help you prevent Breast Cancer. Getting your progesterone level checked can give you comparison data for estrogen too. Many times, perimenopausal and menopausal women, in particular, will have low estrogen levels, but their progesterone levels will be even lower. The ratio of progesterone to estrogen may let you know if you are estrogen-dominant.
Think of estrogen as the accelerator in a car, while progesterone is the brake. Estrogen increases cell growth while progesterone slows it down. The proper balance is needed for optimal health.
How to Get Estrogen and Progesterone Tests
There are many quality testing companies offering basic hormonal panels, including the three kinds of estrogen and progesterone. They are often quite affordable as well. Some of them require you to go through a qualified health professional to access them. For others, you can order them directly without the help of a doctor or naturopath.
The Female/Male Saliva Profile III from ZRT Labs is a panel that I highly recommend. Be sure to specify that you would like to have the estrogen quotient ratio and the E1 and E3 (estrone and estriol) added to the panel.
Livewell Testing is another quality lab that has a saliva test called the My Health Confirm Hormone Vitality Complete. This panel tests estradiol, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA, and a full day’s worth of cortisol levels. For less than a hundred dollars extra, you can also add Estrone (E1) and Estriol (E3) to the Hormone Vitality Complete panel.
A final top-of-the-line lab is Precision Analytical Inc., which administers the popular Dutch Test. Dutch stands for Dried Urine Test for Comprehensive Hormones. There are many kinds of panels to choose from and you can access all of them HERE. This test must be ordered through your naturopath or integrative physician.
Whether you decide to go with one of the labs mentioned above or with your own doctor to get your hormone panel, make sure to ask specifically for the three kinds of estrogen (E1, E2, and E2) as well as progesterone. In addition, I always prefer to do either a urine or saliva test as opposed to a blood sample. Saliva and urine are collected throughout the day which gives a more accurate picture of the flow of hormones throughout the day. The hormones in the saliva are more bio-available compared to the protein-bound hormones found in the blood at that particular time of day when the blood is drawn.
If you need help interpreting your results, be sure to work with a professional. You can talk to one of our Breast Cancer Conqueror coaches who can help you read your results and guide you with a plan going forward.
Other Important Tests You Should Know About
Estrogen and progesterone, although the most important, are not the only substances and mechanisms that need to be monitored on your health journey. The following are some other tests that you may consider:
Methylation is a complicated metabolic process where, in a nutshell, one substance gets converted to another substance that the body needs. Many women have issues with methylating estrogen
and other key substances necessary for reproductive system health. This is especially true for women who have the MTHFR gene mutation, are dealing with chronic stress, or have other conditions. The test I recommend to determine if you have healthy estrogen methylation is the ZRT Lab Urine Metabolite Kit or the Dutch Test.
Vitamin D is directly connected to mammary gland health. In fact, several studies have confirmed the connection between low vitamin D levels and Breast Cancer.
Research conducted by the consumer health organization Grassroots Health found that when women increase their vitamin D levels from 25 ng/ml to 50 ng/ml, they experience a reduction in Breast Cancer by 83%!
The “Trifecta” tests, a term coined by Dr. Nasha Winters, include key tests that measure inflammation levels in the body. These include C-reactive protein (or simply CRP), Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate (ESR), and Lactic Acid Dehydrogenase (LDH). The Trifecta is a great series of tests to get if you are currently on a healing journey with Breast Cancer or are concerned about other chronic disease conditions as well as hormone imbalance.
You can learn more about the Trifecta tests HERE.
Thyroid Panel and Iodine Loading/Halide Panel
Thirty million people currently suffer from thyroid imbalance. The thyroid is the “master gland” of the endocrine system. When it is off balance or not functioning properly, all hormonal mechanisms can be affected. The Thyroid Panel and the Iodine Loading/Halide Panel can be very informative when looked at together, although they do require separate testing modalities. A thyroid panel is available as a blood draw or a blood draw plus a dried urine test from ZRT Labs. Their test measures Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) as well as Free T4, Total T4, Free T3, and more.
An iodine loading test requires a liquid urine sample and a simple protocol that will determine current iodine levels in your body. Additional and corresponding tests for halide toxicity (bromide, fluoride, chloride) can usually be completed on the same panel. Iodine is the “food” for the thyroid as well as other glands such as the mammary glands. Halide toxins can block the absorption of iodine at receptor sites in these areas.
Both the thyroid panel and the iodine loading/halide panel will give you a great snapshot of how well this “master endocrine gland” is performing and what blocks may be in the way. For the iodine loading/halide panel, I recommend Hakala Labs.
Other Tests to Consider
Other important tests that your health professional may suggest or that you may want to investigate yourself include stress hormones, sleep cycles, neurotransmitters, hormonal precursors, common heavy metals, liver function, a Dental DNA panel (to test for bacterial infections that begin in the oral cavity), mold toxicities, and key vitamins and minerals such as magnesium, iron, and vitamin A.
What Are the Steps I Can Take RIGHT NOW to Balance My Hormones?
The next step is the most important one. If through testing you discover that you have a hormonal imbalance, especially aggressive estrogen dominance, then you are going to want to focus on making serious lifestyle and dietary changes that will move you towards healing and rebalancing and away from toxicity, stress, inflammation, and disease.
The specific protocols you put together either on your own or with the help of a qualified coach or integrative doctor. are going to be unique to you and your situation. Some modalities that you may want to consider, however, include lowering stress, eating for hormonal health, removing toxic xenoestrogen chemicals from your environment and your body, and considering natural bioidentical hormone replacement therapy products like natural progesterone.
All of these foundational factors for rebalancing hormones are also key elements of my 7 Essentials System®. That is why all the blogs on this site can be vital resources for you on your path toward hormonal health. I encourage you to continue to use them as you dive deeper into the healing modalities that will work best for you. Experiment, learn, and don’t forget to use the dozens of yummy, anti-inflammatory, and hormone-healing recipes you will find on this site in your toolbox as well. Food is medicine, but that doesn’t mean it has to taste like it!
In addition, one product I highly recommend to get you started on the right path is the 7 Essentials System® Hormone Clearing Bundle. The Hormone Clearing Bundle included the 7 Essentials System(R) DIM Balance, Estro Clear, and Brocco Power in one convenient package.
DIM Balance features diindolylmethane (DIM), which is a natural compound that provides support for healthy estrogen metabolism. Estro Clear uses d-glucaric acid bound to calcium, which research shows can help defend against toxins and an overabundance of steroid hormones. Finally, Brocco Power utilizes the cancer-busting and immune system-boosting power of sulforaphane (found in broccoli sprouts and other cruciferous vegetables) as the proprietary BroccoRaphanin™ extract.
Brocco Power is truly a powerhouse of breast-protecting phytonutrients. In fact, you would have to eat 500 grams of fresh broccoli to get the same sulforaphane level as one capsule of Brocco Power!
Purchase the Hormone Clearing Bundle TODAY and get 20 % off while supplies last!