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Prevention of Cancer – 6 – Hormones and Cancer

                                                      Prevention of Cancer PART – 6
(All the articles published in past are available at
Question: In last part, we discussed Brain Gut Microbiota axis. And its connection to the Neuro-Endocrine-Immune pathway. Very interesting and profound science, and importance of our ancient wisdom. How gut, bacteria control our health, and mood both. Also how they control response to certain cancer treatment, role in BMT/SCT, in prevention of drug resistant bacterial infections. And how we can improve health of our gut and the bacteria – what we eat, how we eat, hygiene, constipation. Also, role of fecal transplant already in use, including in India. Gut health is important for Holistic Health – not just cancer prevention. Also, how gut health improves our immunity as well – very important point during covid pandemic.
I am intrigued by the word NeuroEndocrineImmune pathway. You mentioned last time that gut and microorganisms inside both produce neurotransmitters, same as produced by brain. Hence we have a second brain in our tummy, so to say. But what about Endocrine part of it? Do they also produce hormones?
Ans: Yes. Very much so. And that is why the word Endocrine. As discussed last time, this is still an early research and available pieces of puzzle are still few. But one can imagine, how hormones are important for our health. We know that hormones affect our health and mood both in a very big way. Much more so for women, as can be understood by PMS (premenstrual phase in every cycle), pregnancy, postpartum phase, menopause. Very substantial changes occur in women body and mind during these phases, and teenage, primarily controlled by hormones. Men also are affected by hormones, but to a lesser degree it seems, as their changes are more gradual. Andropose like menopause affects men too.
And Hormones are very important in Cancer field too. Cancers primarily driven by hormone changes are BREAST, UTERUS, OVARY, PROSTATE. Now you can understand why this is such a big deal.
Que: Does this mean that Obesity and Eating is lot more than just calories?
Ans: Absolutely. This is what I have been talking about, based on current research, and some ancient wisdom. For example, we all know that a woman puts up a lot of weight during pregnancy, and loses most of it during breastfeeding. With food intake same or many times even higher after delivery. Both primarily due to hormone changes. Hormones in pregnancy make you gain weight. Hormones released by breastfeeding make you lose weight! Since these changes are drastic, it is easier to understand role of hormones in weight gain.
Same hormones not managed well over many years is one important factor leading to obesity.
What factors affect hormones? A complex field again. But in our current context, gut health and its microorganisms are one important factor. And something we can control to a good extent.
At this point, I would also like to mention that not just gut but skin is also a large source of hormones. And microorganisms on skin, inside mouth, genital areas also very likely contribute to our health, similar to gut microorganisms. This has not been studied as much as gut so far, but very likely important too. Health of skin, mouth, genitalia is also important for this reason. This is primarily related to Hygiene. We will discuss role of Hygiene in cancer prevention later.
Que: You made a powerful statement in first article of this series: Risk of breast cancer is primarily determined by what the woman did in her life prior to age 30! Does this have anything to do with Hormones?
Ans: Good memory! Yes, this is related to hormones primarily. What we know in Oncology field for over 20 years related to risk of breast cancer. Something we were taught even before year 2000. Factors that increase risk: 1. Early onset of menstrual periods (menarche) and late menopause – suggesting longer exposure to hormones. 2. No children. 3. Late first full term pregnancy – 20 percent lower risk of breast ca (up to age 70) if first delivery by age 20, 10 percent lower if first delivery by age 25. And 4. Small increase in risk from Oral contraceptives, Menopause hormone replacement therapy.
Obvious from above list. In addition, modern research has added important lifestyle related factors that determine breast cancer risk, most of which are more powerful in young age. 1. Adolescent exercise participation, independent of adult exercise, is associated with reduced risk of cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and all-cause mortality. This study was not specific to breast cancer, but all common cancers, as this was a large epidemiologic study in China, following about 75,000 women. Published in 2015. Study again highlights what we discussed last time – Health has to be seen as Holistic – no separate factors for each major diseases. 2. Alcohol intake is a well established risk factor for breast cancer in women. Based on multiple large studies, such as study of 10 lac women in UK. Young people in US, Europe frequently drink and we are fast heading in the same wrong direction. Even weekend drinking or binge drinking increases risk substantially. Many people think that wine or beer is safe. Studies have clearly shown that any form of alcohol, including so called “healthy wine” is also a risk. And that no form of alcohol or no amount of alcohol is safe. WHO and ASCO (American Society of Clinical Oncology) now clearly recommend that NO AMOUNT of alcohol is safe.

June 15, 2022.

Dr Chirag A. Shah; M.D. Oncology/Hematology (USA), 9998084001. Diplomate American Board of Oncology and Hematology. Ahmedabad.

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