Why Women On HRT Should Eat More Parsley and Celery

August 2, 2011 by  
Filed under Natural Medicine, Womens Health

A new study by the University of Missouri has found that a compound in parsley and other plant products can stop certain breast cancer tumor cells from multiplying and growing.

Why is this particularly relevant for women on HRT? Because of the well established research showing that certain synthetic hormones used in HRT (a progestin called medroxyprogesterone acetate (MPA) can accelerate breast tumor development. When tumor cells develop in the breast in response to MPA, they encourage new blood vessels to form within tumors and the blood vessels then supply needed the nutrients needed for the tumors to grow and multiply.

This study was published recently in Cancer Prevention Research and highlights the work of Salman Hyder, Professor of biomedical sciences in the College of Veterinary Medicine and the Dalton Cardiovascular Research Center. This was not a human trial, but exposed rats with a certain type of breast cancer to apigenin, a common compound found in parsley and other plant products. The rats that were exposed to the apigenin developed fewer tumors and experienced significant delays in tumor formation compared to those rats that were not exposed to apigenin.

Hyder found that apigenin not only blocked new blood vessel formation, thereby delaying, and sometimes stopping, the development of the tumors but it also reduced the overall number of tumors. However, this is only an animal trial and while apigenin did delay tumor growth, it did not stop the initial formation of cancer cells within the breast.

If you want to be proactive around breast cancer risk, then there are some simple changes to your diet that can help.

So What Should You Eat?
Apigenin is most prevalent in parsley and celery, but can also be found in apples, oranges, nuts and other plant products. Because apigenin is not absorbed efficiently into the bloodstream at the present time scientists are unsure of how much can or should be taken as there are no specific dosage for humans yet. However, it appears that keeping a minimal level of apigenin in the bloodstream is important to delay the onset of breast cancer that progresses in response to progestins such as MPA so in which case crunch on some celery and start eating the parsley you have been decorating your dinner plates with!

Lower Risk of Breast Cancer Linked to Reduced Hormone Therapy

December 6, 2010 by  
Filed under Health, Womens Health

For the first time scientists can show a direct link between reduced hormone therapy and declines in breast cancer. The researchers saw such a striking decrease, they believe they also have uncovered indirect evidence that hormones promote breast tumour growth. The declines occurred in the age groups that most widely embraced then abandoned hormone therapy.

The use of hormone therapy surged in the 1980s and ’90s but at the same time, there was a steady increase in the rate of breast cancer. In mid-2002, following a landmark report of the Women’s Health Initiative indicating that the risks of oestrogen plus progestin therapy outweighed its benefits, hormone therapy fell into widespread disfavour with millions of women either giving it up or looking for alternatives.

So HRT has long been associated with a high breast cancer risk and the best advice if you are taking it is to use the lowest dose possible for the shortest time you can in order to relieve hot flashes and night sweats. Many doctors assume that women can safely take hormones for four or five years but Dr. Rowan T. Chlebowski, first author of an article published this week in The Journal of the American Medical Association and an oncologist at U.C.L.A. Medical Center said “I don’t think you can say that now. I know some people have to take it because they can’t function, but the message now is that you really should try to stop after a year or two.”

If you are taking HRT for osteoporosis prevention, or want more information on natural hormone alternatives, then can I suggest you study the articles on my other health site at www.bio-hormone-health for a fuller picture.

The study has been published online by the Journal of Clinical Oncology and senior author Karla Kerlikowske, MD said “We show that the incidence of breast cancer decreases if you take the hormones away. The fact that we’re continuing to see a decrease in invasive cancer means that the effects of stopping the hormones may be long-lasting.”
The study uncovered a clear pattern: women 50 to 69 years old had the highest level of hormone usage — and showed the biggest reduction in invasive breast cancer when they stopped, from 40 cancers per 10,000 mammograms in 2002 to 31 cases in 2005, 35 cancers in 2006. There was a parallel drop in cancer among women older than age 70.

Strikingly, the scientists found that among women 40 to 49 years old, who were less likely to have been on hormone therapy, breast cancer rates did not change over the course of the decade studied. The study supports the idea that in giving such artificial hormones it was also promoting tumour growths.

Previous research has found that hormone treatment can cause delays in diagnosis by increasing breast density, making tumours harder to see on mammograms. Delayed diagnosis may increase the risk of successful treatment and it is also possible that hormones may feed the growth of some breast cancers or the blood vessels that tumours need to grow and spread.

US Courts Back HRT and Breast Cancer Risk

March 15, 2010 by  
Filed under Health


It was as far back as 2002 that the link between breast cancer and HRT was first reported and the drug companies have been fighting a fierce rearguard campaign ever since. It was the Women’s Health Initiative study who came to this conclusion after a long term and massive research project and began around 8,000 lawsuits in the US.

Now in a record breaking judgement by a Philadelphia state-court jury, Wyeth, a division of Pfizer, was ordered to pay $6 million in punitive damages to Audrey Singleton, a retired school bus driver from Alabama,who developed breast cancer after taking the company’s menopause drugs. The award included $3.45 million in compensatory damages and $6 million in punitive damages awarded to punish the company for their conduct. Audrey Singleton alleged that Wyeth knew about the risk of breast cancer from Prempro and failed to warn the public about the risk of the drug.

The jury made this award on the basis that the company failed to warn about the risks of the drug and took only minutes to come to their decision. Audrey Singleton began taking Prempro in August 1997 and a mammogram taken at that time was normal, but in January 2004 she was diagnosed with breast cancer and stopped taking the drug. Until 1995, many patients combined Premarin, Wyeth’s estrogen-based drug, with Provera which is high in progestins – synthetic progesterone – and Wyeth combined the two hormones in Prempro.

Despite being diagnosed, her physician suggested she stay on the medicine, which Pfizer seem to think lets them off the hook but this verdict is Wyeth’s seventh loss in ten cases to have gone before juries and the fifth in a row over the drug.

All of the lawsuits focused on allegations that the drug company’s failure to warn consumers and the medical community about the risk of Prempro side effects caused them to develop invasive breast cancer. The company’s attorneys are still continuing to appeal the verdict, as they have in the previous cases, but there can now be no woman who is unaware of the potentially fatal link between HRT drugs and breast cancer.

HRT Linked to 42% Increase in Cataract Risk

March 10, 2010 by  
Filed under Health, Womens Health


The Europeans and the Americans do seem to take a different approach to HRT, with the former being more sceptical and sometimes disagreeing with US findings. This is the case with some new research from Sweden which has reported that women who receive hormone replacement therapy appear to be at a higher risk for developing cataracts.

The research was funded by the Swedish Health Council and is an eight-year study of more than 30,000 postmenopausal Swedish women from 1997 to October 2005. The women initially completed a questionnaire about hormone status, HRT, and lifestyle factors. Lead researcher Birgitta Ejdervik Lindblad, MD, of Sundsvall in Sweden and her colleagues later compared these records with registers of cataract operations.

Compared with women who never had HRT, the risk of needing cataract surgery was 14% higher among those who received HRT at any point their lives and 18% higher for women currently taking hormones. The risk becomes even higher the longer a woman is on HRT, and if you have more than one alcoholic drink a day, then the risk rises to a staggering 42%.

Naturally occurring (endogenous) oestrogen is thought to protect the eyes from cataracts, and oestrogen receptors have been found on the lens, the part of the eye damaged by cataracts. Certainly the prevalence of cataracts is known to be higher in postmenopausal women compared with men of equivalent age. One reason why this research contradicts that in the US, which found that HRT lowered cataracts or had no influence, depending on the type of cataract, is that HRT dosages and types of oestrogen used vary in different countries, so comparison between the studies is difficult. Also the oestrogens in HRT are not natural but chemical and this again is probably an influencing factor.

If you are taking HRT it is advisable to have regular check ups with an optician as cataract screening is normally an automatic part of the process, but do mention it just in case.

HRT & Cancer confirmation

April 13, 2009 by  
Filed under Medical Research & Studies, Womens Health


HRT is a thorny subject, with its advocates and detractors in equal numbers. I have been on HRT for 6 months many years ago, and know what it can do, but I also have seen much research on the damage it can wreak. New studies in recent months had pointedout the dangers of side effects such as strokes, blood clots, brain shrinkage, dementia, and even gallbladder disease, but the greatest danger comes from its role in promoting cancer.

The New England Journal of Medicine recently reported that when women are taken off HRT their cancer risk is dramatically reduced. A new study was conducted by UCLA oncologist Dr. Roman Chelbowski, and he found that the rate of breast cancer in postmenopausal women dramatically dropped in the first two years after they stopped using HRT, and then continued to reduce each year afterwards. Women in the study who also took hormone supplements of oestrogen and progestin had double the chance of developing cancer over five years, compared to women who weren’t on any form of HRT.

My view is that if you take HRT knowing the risks that is your business, but I do urge you not to fall into the trap of taking HRT long-term, which is what many doctors advocate. The risks increase, and the benefits decrease, the longer you are on it so make sure you have a definite schedule. Menopausal symptoms may be alleviated, but the menopause itself can’t be avoided, HRT or not.

Osteoporosis drugs questionmark

Some years ago I set up the Natural Progesterone Information Service to provide women with the latest news on natural hormones rather than synthetic ones such as HRT. One of the things that John Lee talked a lot about all those years ago was how in his opinion the biphosphonate drugs given for osteoporosis were actually weakening the bone rather than helping to build it. He had seen great results with women using natural progesterone to build bone density, though the medical profession did not accept that progesterone could work more effectively than the drugs. Now after all these years, more questions have emerged about whether long-term use of bone-building drugs for osteoporosis may actually lead to weaker bones in a small number of people who use them. Case reports show an unusual fracture pattern in people who have used bone-building drugs, the biphosphonates, for five years or more.

If you are taking such drugs please ensure you are also having regular bone scans to check your progess and it would be worth looking at your diet and natural supplements that can help build bone such as horsetail and silica. If you would like information on natural progesterone for osteoporosis and HRT replacement (I no longer have any connection with the service since I gave up running it) you can obtain a booklet from the Natural Progesterone Information Service, tel: 07000 784849 or visit their website at www.npis.info.
Wellspring Trading in Guernsey also have an excellent free booklet on natural progesterone cream which is written by my good friend and colleague, Dr Shirley Bond – a private GP who specialises in hormone therapy for women. Wellspring’s telephone number is – 01481 233 370.

HRT and cancer again

March 29, 2008 by  
Filed under Medical Research & Studies, Womens Health

It was widely reported in March 2008 that breast cancer survivors, who were afterwards treated with HRT, had a more than two-fold increased risk of a recurrence. According to long-term follow-up data from a randomised clinical trial, after five years women with previous breast cancer had a recurrence rate of 22.2% compared with 8% in women who received no hormone therapy. The study was undertaken at King’s College London, and scary though it is, I would suggest any woman with follow up care for breast cancer examines her options carefully.

This study does not, sadly, stand alone as more recently, data from the Women’s Health Initiative and the Million Women Study provided additional compelling evidence of an increased risk of breast cancer among HRT users, according to the King’s College researchers and authors of the above study.

It is the oestrogen in HRT that is the problem, as it causes proliferation of the cells, so investigate alternatives such as natural progesterone. An excellent book on this is the one by the late John Lee, MD called ‘What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Breast Cancer’, and the straightforward book I co-wrote with Dr Shirley Bond on the applications of the hormone and called simply ‘Natural Progesterone’ and which is available from the website at www.catalystonline.co.uk