According to the World Cancer Research fund breast cancer is the most commonly occurring cancer in women, with over 2 million cases reported last year. And around two out of three breast cancers are hormone receptor-positive, according the American Cancer Society. This means the cancer cells grow in response to oestrogen and/or progesterone.
Should your daughter take the contraceptive pill?
Understanding the relationship between our genes and hormones, not only helps us make better decisions for ourselves, but also for our daughters. Our genes are responsible for how we process hormones, and increased ingestion of hormones – often through the contraceptive pill – can have a devastating effect on young women’s bodies. This interplay between genes and daily lifestyle choices may escalate the risk of breast and ovarian cancers.
Making smart choices for your child
Many teens are prescribed contraceptive pills, either as a medical treatment or because they are sexually active. For example, a 17-year-old girl may be prescribed the contraceptive pill by her dermatologist, to manage acne. Many parents wouldn’t give this a second thought, because the contraceptive pill is safe, right? For some of us yes, but for many of us this is most certainly not the case.
Both breast and ovarian cancers are hormone-driven and our risk for these cancers is caused by a combination of genetics and the diet and lifestyle choices we make. Every day we are putting more and more hormones into our bodies, ranging from the foods we eat to the contraceptive pills we take.
The co-founder of 3X4 Genetics, an internationally-renowned frontrunner in developing advanced genetic tests, Dr Yael Joffe explains that our unique DNA is at play here. This is due to the fact that our genes impact on hormone production and metabolism.
“When it comes to hormone metabolism, it is our genes that determine how balanced our hormone metabolism is. This is why some women may suffer more from PMS, while others may have fertility battles. Our genes determine how our bodies deal with hormones,” she explains.
Our bodies are made to metabolise anything that arises in or enters them. Whether that’s spinach or cigarette smoke, a slow release of estrogen or a burst of adrenalin, all molecules need to be processed and all toxins excreted.
“Some of us are highly effective at processing hormones such as estrogen, and can more easily prevent a build-up of hormone metabolites. Others may be less efficient, and you’re only going to know this about your own body by unlocking the information from genetic pathways in your body that govern the production and metabolism of your hormones,” explains Joffe.
In addition to this, modern life has been messing about with our hormones for quite some time. A vast number of mature women today have been ingesting hormones for decades – first as contraception in their youth and then as hormone replacement therapy (HRT) during menopause – with no knowledge of how their bodies will use these hormones.
So going back to the story of the teen who was prescribed the contraceptive pill for her acne, if her concerned mother was to insist on a genetic test, such as those provided by a 3X4 practitioner, it would indicate whether or not the teen has gene variants that make it very difficult for her to metabolise estrogen and that adding extra hormones to her body is not a good idea. One simple genetic test could make a fundamental difference to her future health and help her to live a longer, healthier and better life.
New heights for hormones
And if our medical interventions aren’t enough, there are serious environmental factors impacting on hormone levels. The modern farming of animals has pumped growth hormones into the chickens, pigs, sheep and cattle that we’ve been eating for decades. We’ve also been drinking water and other beverages out of plastic bottles that release molecules of an industrial chemical, bisphenol A (BPA) that acts like a hormone inside our bodies.
“There’s this overwhelming deluge of hormones finding their way into our bodies, both women and men, that has nothing to do with the natural production inside our bodies,” says Joffe.
“We’re living lives focused on wellness, making good choices; but what we don’t know about may well be compromising our chances of achieving optimal health. This is the great advantage of using sound, advanced genetic testing to provide deep insights to guide your lifestyle decisions and daily health choices.”
For more mature women who may have been ingesting hormones for extended periods of time, the information can be used to help you clean up what’s already been happening in the body and restore balanced functioning. “There is no easier or more effective way to gain insight into your hormone metabolism than by doing a genetic test,” explains Joffe.
Where genes and lifestyle meet
In addition, scientifically valid tests, such as 3X4 Genetics, which includes testing the gene pathways that metabolise hormones, could now be the starting point for the next generation who are about to become sexually active.
Joffe says: “If I know that my daughter metabolises hormones less effectively than the norm; that we have some history of breast cancer in our family, and I also take our ethnicity into account because it’s a risk factor for cancer, then I am empowered to ensure that she takes a different birth control path. There are other actions that we can take too, such as being careful to only use BPA-free food and drink containers and only consume meat products free from growth hormones. We don’t need to wonder, guess or fear anymore about our personal risk factors, because we’ve got real, clinically useful insights we need to identify the best diet and lifestyle decisions, and the daily choices that will help ensure our optimal health.”
Joffe is clear that from DNA testing to putting results and recommendations into action, it is best to work hand in hand with a trained healthcare practitioner who has specific genetic expertise and experience in tailoring sustainable solutions that help you meet your health goals in the context of your lifestyle.
“Cancer is one of the greatest disease risks we face in our modern lives. You want a complete solution; that is access to the best, most advanced genetic testing combined with the advice and support of specially trained health care practitioners who understand the clinical usefulness of the scientifically valid results and can help you make the best decisions.”
3X4 Genetics only makes its ground-breaking testing available through its network of accredited practitioners for this reason.
For more information, visit 3X4 Genetics.