fibroids, er+ bc - any connection and what foods should be avoided

Hi

Really hope some of you informed women out there can help me with this one.

I was dx’d with fibroids three years ago and i had surgery to have them removed. I was dx’d with breast cancer in september last year and now i’ve also just found out there are three benign fibroids in the womb again. I am her 2+ and er+. What I am wondering is whether the fibroids were caused by over production of oestrogen and if this is also related to me getting bc. Also, i have a theory that i am over producing oestrogen, i am 39 and still have periods those these have been erratic since i started chemotherapy. Does anyone else have fibroids and have er+ bc, also what foods should I avoid - i am unsure as to what foods contain oestrogens and phyto oestrogens. I would like to eliminate oestrogen from my body and wondering the best way to go about this. Has anyone ever voluntarily elected to go through early menopause/stop their ovaries in order to reduce the amount of oestrogen in the body?

Any theories and or experiences would be so gratefully received right now.

Thanks for reading, Carrie x

I developed fibroids after taking tamoxifen and my gynaecologist seemed to think the two might be linked. Apparently mine are in a good place to have them whatever that means and they aren’t very big. They get smaller at menopause so i’ve decided to live with them. I was diagnosed with bc four years ago.

Mole

Dear Carrie,

I have a similar problem to yours. I was diagnosed with er/pr positive dcis last year. I have a uterine fibroma, and simple endometrial hyperplasia (thickening of the lining of the womb), caused by unopposed estrogen. Tamoxifen is known to cause the latter, but in all likelihood mine was there before I started taking it. I also had an endometrial polyp, it’s been very recently removed.

Fibromas are fed by estrogen, and even my gynaecologist seemed stunned and asked where all this estrogen was coming from - I wish I knew but I am on the quest. My main symptom is extremely heavy bleeding (no wonder really, as those other two conditions also cause it.)

I think you will find some people here who have elected to have their ovaries removed to stop the estrogen circulating. Though I seem to be in total estrogen overdrive I don’t really feel that I want to do that just yet. I am 36, and it seems a very radical step for a benign condition and a non-invasive form of bc. I am due to see a gynaecologist (again) soon, and if I learn anything more I’ll make sure I post it.

As for foods containing estrogen, I am sure you will find a lot of threads here about it. I avoid dairy as much as possible - I went off it completely about 4 years ago (that’s three and a half before being diagnosed with bc), then reintroduced it in very small quantities later. When I say as much as possible, I don’t want it to run my life, but if I can have a non-dairy choice I’ll take it. As for phytoestrogens, they are absolutely everywhere and would be impossible to avoid. Some oncologists seem to recommend avoiding soy as it is very high in phytoestrogens and those present in soy seem to mimic the estrogen produced by our bodies most closely. This is what I have been able to synthesize from a myriad of often conflicting information out there. I remember stumbling upon a website which listed phytoestrogen content and type in various foods. If I find it again I’ll post it.

Hope this helps, for me it’s great to know I’m not alone,
Take care
Jelena

Hi Carrie

I too am ER+/HER2+++. I had a uterine polyp removed a few years ago and never thought there may be a connection between oestrogen, polyps/fibroids and BC untill now. I am post menopause but in the years running up to the menopause I had very heavy and erratic bleeding. I am taking Femara which is supposed to suppress oestrogen production. It makes sense if you are taking something to stop oestrogen then you don’t overload your body with natural or synthetic oestrogens. I have read that oestrogen is not only produced by the overies, it is also produced in a smaller amount by the adrenal glands especially in times of upset or stress (the fight or flight response). I am thinking about buying a book “Oestrogen: The Killer in Our Midst” by Chris Woollams for some info. I’m wary about doing so in case it’s a “preying on our vunerabilities” type book. It would be interesting to know if anyone else has read it.

Take care

Jibby X

Hi Jibby and Jelena

It is good to read your stories and know i’m not alone. I look back today and wonder if id’ had my ovaries removed when i had my fibroids removed three years ago - would I be in a different situation today. I worry the over production of oestrogen (and lack of progesterone) may be at the cause of my bc diagnosis. I definitely need to get it under control as my fibroids have come back. i think i’ll make an appointment with my GP and see if I can get a referral to a gynae. Or I wonder whether my onc would be a better person to go through. Anyway, just wanted to say a huge thanks for your responses. Carrie x

p.s. also interesting to read that the stress hormone also produces oestrogen as so many women prior to dx have had some kind of trauma. i have had awful family tragedies to deal with and now also wonder about the role stress and hormones may have played!

That’s interesting, whilst I’m obsessively wondering HOW I came to have BC, can stress really factor into it?

I’m reading two books at the moment. Oestrogen, The Killer in our Midst by Chris Woollams and Choosing to Heal by Janet Edwards. I’m very interested in the role of the food we eat and our lifestyle in relation to BC. There’s obviously something going on. I’m reading the Janet Edwards book, not so much because of her choosing to shun most of the conventional treatment, but because I’m interested to know what lifestyle changes she has made and why. The chapter “Getting to the Heart of Cancer” I found thought provoking. I don’t have as strong a disposition as this lady and doubt I could cope mentally let alone financially throughout such a strict regime. But, there are useful chunks of information that I intend to try to implement. Take care.

Love
Jibby X

I had at least 5 x D & C’s in my 30’s and 40’s for fibroids and heavy periods which made me anaemic. I eventually had a hysterectomy, both ovaries removed, in 1991 when I was 46 yrs. I was dx with idc at 58 yrs. It has never occurred to me that there may be a connection between the two. I was on HRT after the hysterectomy, and think this is more likely to have fuelled the breast tumour. My bc surgeon and onc have never mentioned any connection, but there again, they are not gynae’s.

Liz.

I had my hysterectomy at 36, retaining my ovaries. At the time I was considered young and therefore i might need HRT later.
I had suffered with very heavy bleeding and painful periods from age 11 and eventually had very large fibroids, which grew in size very quickly after the birth of my second child. I also had endimitriosis.

I was dx with IBC when I was 44, oestrogen positive and HER2.

I have always felt there is a connection between the two and my onc agrees, in fact he was impressed (!) at how quickly I made the connection.
I had a recurrence 3 months after my mastectomy, very common with IBC, so was taken off tamoxifen and put on Femera. This was also to shut out the oestorgen produced in the adrenal glands. I had a second recurrence, skin mets along my scar line, so began zoladex implants 6 months ago.

Had I been advised of this connection at the time of my hysterectomy i would have had my ovaries removed. However i don’t think it would have changed the outcome as I would have been put on HRT. The first question i was asked at dx, when they knew i’d had a hysterctomy was ‘Are you on HRT?’ If the answer had been yes I would have been told to stop taking it immediately.

Jackie x