Your body–whether male or female–makes estrogen (of course women make a lot more of it than men!) There are three main kinds of estrogens that are made: estradiol, estriol, and estrone. Each one varies in how potent they are, i.e. how much they stimulate the estrogen receptors. Estradiol is the most potent and estriol is the weakest.
All hormones, including estrogen, are eventually broken down in the liver by enzymes (metabolized). A healthy metabolism of hormones is critical for keeping you in optimal health. You can affect this metabolism by what you eat, your environmental exposures, and your lifestyle choices. The right choices help your body to metabolize estrogen down a non-cancer pathway, while the wrong choices can encourage cancer growth. Estrogen is not a bad hormone, it is an excess amount of the wrong type of estrogen that promotes cancer.
Eating a healthy diet full of cruciferous vegetables (kale, broccoli, brussel sprouts, etc) is one way to shift your body to promote estrogen metabolites that actually help to prevent cancer. Interestingly, it will also help improve your libido! This is also true when it comes to avoiding chemicals that can be found in the following products: herbicides, pesticides, plastics, household cleaning products, solvents, skin care products, etc. Many of the chemicals used in common products enter your body and can alter your hormonal activity and balance–potentially starting in-utero from the mother’s exposure!!
Using synthetic hormones such as birth control pills also affect the way that your body processes estrogen (among other things) and can potentially promote cancer cells. This is one of the reasons why there is so much controversy surrounding the use of hormones and cancer risk. Utilizing bio-identical hormones when your body needs additional hormonal help avoids this problem. Bio-identical hormones are a carbon copy of what your body naturally makes—your body knows how to utilize them properly.
Optimizing a woman’s hormones may involve the use of bio-identical estrogen and when done under the guidance of a properly trained physician it is safe and has not been shown to promote cancers. In fact, proper use of bio-identical hormones have been shown in many instances to decrease your risk of certain cancers.