by Dr. Veronique Desaulniers
The worldwide low thyroid function epidemic is getting more and more press these days. But adrenal fatigue and its connection to major disease like cancer? Not so much. Research says there is definitely a link.
What are the Adrenals?
The adrenals are glands that rest just above the kidneys. They are the main production center for stress hormones, namely cortisol and adrenaline. What a lot of people don’t know, however, is that the adrenals also produce the reproductive hormone progesterone. According to many studies including a 2007 Italian investigation published in the journal Breast Cancer Research, progesterone is not only responsible for reproductive health. It is also a powerful cancer-protector.
What happens during chronic stress
You may have heard of the “flight or fight” response. In fact, you have probably experienced it yourself (maybe even quite recently!). You may also know that when the body goes into this mode, it pushes out cortisol and adrenaline at a high rate, diverting energy and blood flow from processes like digestion to the extremities so you can run from that tiger (or your boss).
When you are “stressed out,” the body amps up production of cortisol and adrenaline in the adrenals to give you the best “chance of survival.” In the process, however, the adrenals also turn production of progesterone way down. When this occurs, a woman’s body doesn’t produce enough progesterone for puberty if she is growing nor lactation if she is pregnant.
Being in constant stress mode, also called chronic stress, can also lead to adrenal fatigue or “burn out.” Adrenal fatigue and burn out occur when the adrenal glands are unable to keep up with the demands for what it produces. It is estimated that in today’s stressed world, upwards of 80 percent of Americans may have adrenal fatigue. Many may not even know it.
When stress is chronic and adrenal fatigue sets in, this also means a greater cancer risk for any woman, regardless of her age.
Three things you can do to heal your Adrenals, increase progesterone production and prevent cancer!
A joint study conducted by Cambridge University, the University of Texas and others found that progesterone inhibited estrogen-mediate cancer cell growth. An important first step for balancing progesterone naturally is to heal your adrenals. Here are a few simple ways to do this:
#1. Reduce stress. This is perhaps the most important thing you can do to heal and restore your adrenals. Remember that stress makes them work harder, pumping vast amounts of cortisol and adrenaline into your body. When you reduce stress through meditation, walking, laughing or simply changing your perspective and slowing your pace, you put both your mind and body into the relaxation response. This is when healing hormones like progesterone can be produced.
#2. Get plenty of sleep. Right along with lowering stress in general is taking advantage of the restorative properties of quality sleep. According to the Mayo clinic, cortisol surges after 11 pm so it is vital for individuals who want to heal their adrenals get to bed before then. Also take time for short rest periods during the day as needed. This could be a 20-minute power nap at lunchtime, a restorative yoga class after work or a relaxing bath or sauna session right before bed (or any time!).
#3. Flood your adrenals with essential nutrients. The best vitamins to help restore your adrenals are the “B’s,” especially B12 and B6. Other key nutrients that you may be deficient in are selenium, magnesium, zinc, iodine and vitamin D. All of these are important for proper adrenal function as well as thyroid function.
Adrenal fatigue can leave you feeling worn out, tired and zapped of energy. There is a solution, however. Reduce stress and give your body the nutrients it needs. Then it can balance itself and help you prevent and heal breast cancer naturally!