Women’s Health

Research indicates estrogen is a key factor in 60-65% of breast cancer cases.

What a betrayal! It seems that our “special” hormone . . . the one associated with womanhood . . . responsible for steering us through so many of life’s cycles and stages – has turned against us.

But it gets worse . . . If estrogen plays a role in breast cancer, is it safe to consume foods like pomegranate that have plant estrogens or phytoestrogens?

Do these plant forms of estrogen increase our risk for breast cancer?

Well, in the case of the pomegranate –  the answer is clear. No they don’t.

In fact it’s the opposite. Pomegranate can actually help fight off cancer. Over a dozen compounds in pomegranate have been associated with warding off cancer.

But even more intriguingly, these special plant estrogens found in pomegranate may help specifically in fighting estrogen positive cancer.

The Journal of Natural Biochemistry published initial but tantalizing research conducted by a team from The Integrated Cancer Research Program at the Rajiv Gandhi Center for Biotechnology in India.

In this study, the researchers administered pomegranate peel extract to several different breast cancer cell lines in petri dishes. For comparison’s sake they also treated the same cell lines with 17β- estradiol, the form of estrogen produced by your body that’s associated with breast cancer. And they treated the same cell lines with ICI, an anti-estrogen compound often used to treat estrogen positive breast cancer in conventional medicine.

The results were telling:

When the cells were hit with 320 μg/ml of pomegranate peel extract, only about 30% of the cancer cells survived. This is in contrast to the cells treated with the more standard anti-estrogen drug, ICI. One hundred μg/ml of ICI still allowed close to 60% (two times the number!) of breast cancer cells to survive.

But here’s where pomegranate really stands out when it comes to contending with estrogen positive breast cancer. . .

They also applied the pomegranate peel extract to cell lines that had been given a dose of the 17β- estradiol. (Remember? The estrogen in your body associated with promoting breast cancer?)

Pomegranate peel extract cut the number of cancerous cells down by half – even when they were souped up on this powerful form of estrogen, estradiol.

It’s important to note that while research using other pomegranate extracts have shown positive effects in slowing a wide variety of cancers, in this study, the same dramatic results were not observed with cancer cell lines that were not associated with estrogen positive breast cancer.

As the researchers point out, many plant forms of estrogens act as what’s called a selective estrogen receptor modulator (SERM).

Essentially, this means that they fit into the estrogen receptor spot on cells. But unlike strong estrogens like 17β-estradiol, they don’t spark any response from the cell.

And because they occupy this receptor spot, the more powerful estradiol can’t slip in and trigger the receptor.

  • You can learn more about how weaker, plant-based estrogens can help counter the negative effects of stronger estrogens in this article on hormonal balance.

Now of course, this research is preliminary. It hasn’t even made it to the animal testing level yet, let alone a clinical trial.

It’s a big step to move from test tube to human body.

Nonetheless, the results are promising . . . And so comforting as well.

There are plenty of things to fear when it comes to your risk for breast cancer.

Now you know the pomegranate (and its forms of natural estrogen) isn’t one of them.



Sreeja et al. Pomegranate extract demonstrate a selective estrogen receptor modulator profile in human tumor cell lines and in vivo models of estrogen deprivation. Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry.  August 10, 2011.

One of my best friends (let’s call her Sophia because she’d kill me if I used her real name) really suffers with menopause but she’s too embarrassed to let even her doctor know.

She wakes up at night and can’t get back to sleep but it’s not the night sweats that bother her.

Bike riding and even just walking can be torture.

Intimacy is dicey but it’s not because of mood swings.

Sophia, like many midlife women, has a bad case of vaginal dryness. It’s the very common result of the changes we go through in menopause but no one really talks about it. Unlike hot flashes and roller coaster mood swings, it’s hard to laugh this symptom off.

Many of us keep silent because it’s all caught up in “sexual problems” that many women can’t bring themselves to discuss even with their gynecologists. It’s true that vaginal dryness can interfere with intimacy and disrupt relationships, but it’s worse than that.

For my friend Sophia, even when she’s not in a romantic relationship, vaginal dryness is a real, every day, constant itching, burning and even pinching that wakes her up out of a sound sleep at night.

Why do we get vaginal dryness?

Vaginal dryness can often be attributed to fluctuating hormone levels associated with peri-menopause and menopause. Prior to menopause, estrogen stimulates moisture and keeps the vaginal lining thick. But when estrogen drops, the vaginal walls can thin and dry out.

This condition can be exacerbated by:

• adrenal fatigue;
• too much caffeine, alcohol and sugar;
• use of steroids or cortisone;
• some prescription medications for cancer, ulcers and high blood pressure; and
• antihistamines and antidepressants.

Is lubricating jelly the answer?

Some women, coping on their own, try lubricating jellies to relieve their symptoms. It’s true that lubricating jellies relieve vaginal dryness for a short time but they do not thicken the vaginal tissues and prevent them from cracking. And sometimes such lubrication can block pores or cause allergies.

How is vaginal dryness treated?

Whatever the cause, a doctor will usually treat vaginal dryness with topical estrogens applied to the vagina. Estrogen applied to the delicate vaginal tissue, however, quickly makes its way into the blood stream. For many women concerned with breast and ovarian cancer, this option is worrisome.

Is there a natural treatment for vaginal dryness?

The good news for my friend Sophia is that there are effective and natural solutions for her painful itching and burning. In a clinical study conducted at the University of Arizona’s College of Medicine, Dr. Earl Surwit found that applying an extract of pomegranate to vaginal tissue successfully restored lubrication.

The natural pomegranate extract was as effective as estrogen cream with the additional benefit of not raising estrogen levels. This remarkable pomegranate extract is the main ingredient in MoisturePom Vaginal Ointment. You can learn more about this product at www.MoisturePom.com.

Almost half of menopausal women will experience vaginal dryness at some point. Why suffer in silence when something as simple as pomegranate can return your vagina to its natural juicy state?

Author Bio:

Margie King is a holistic health coach and graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition®. A Wharton M.B.A. and practicing corporate attorney for 20 years, Margie left the world of business to pursue her passion for all things nutritious. She now works with midlife women and busy professionals to improve their health, energy and happiness through individual and group coaching, as well as webinars, workshops and cooking classes. To contact Margie, visit www.NourishingMenopause.com.

Modern women at midlife have many options when it comes to dealing with those nasty menopausal symptoms like mood swings, depression, bone loss, and fluctuating estrogen levels. But their most surprising source of natural relief may come from an ancient food: the juicy pomegranate.

Pomegranates have been cultivated for over 4,000 years. Our word pomegranate dates back to around 750 B.C. and comes from the Latin “Punicum malum” meaning “Phoenician apple.” Today the fruit is often called a “Chinese apple.”

Despite its frequent comparison to an apple, the pomegranate bears a striking resemblance to the female ovary. It is not too surprising, then, that it served as a symbol of fertility for the Zoroastrians and other ancient cultures.

Fruits in general are defined as “the developed ovary of a seed plant” but in the case of the pomegranate fruit, the physical resemblance to a human female ovary is striking. Looking at a cross section of each reveals how similar are the containers for the pomegranate’s seeds and the ovary’s eggs.

But the pomegranate’s resemblance to the female ovary goes beyond its physical similarities. The fruit also provides the very same estrogens as the female ovary – estradiol, estrone and estriol.

What does this mean for a menopausal woman? It may very well mean relief from depressive moods and a lower risk of osteoporosis, breast cancer and heart disease.

Bone Loss Reversed

In a 2004 study in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, rats who had their ovaries removed suffered accelerated bone loss, a typical symptom of menopause. When they were fed an extract of pomegranate juice and seeds for just 2 weeks, however, their bone mineral loss reverted to normal rates.

Mood Improvement

The same Japanese researchers in the 2004 study also found that the rats given pomegranate extract measured lower levels of depression indicators. Based on their results the authors found it conceivable that pomegranate would be clinically effective for women exhibiting a depressive state.

Heart Health

The rate of death from coronary heart disease in women after menopause is 2 to 3 times that of women the same age before menopause. Here again, pomegranates provide proven healing benefits:

  • Lowers Cholesterol – A 2000 study found that pomegranate juice is rich in antioxidants which prevent LDL (bad) cholesterol from oxidizing and leading to atherosclerosis.
  • Lower blood pressure – A small 2004 clinical study by Israeli researchers concluded that drinking one glass a day of pomegranate juice may lower blood pressure, reduced cholesterol oxidation, and reversed the plaque buildup in their carotid arteries by up to 29%.
  • Blood clotting – One study in the Journal of Medicinal Foods showed that pomegranate juice slows down platelet aggregation and thins blood, preventing clotting.
  • Improves coronary heart disease – Several different studies have found that cardiovascular health is improved with the use of pomegranate juice since it reduces plaque, increases nitric oxide, and may prevent plaque from building in the arteries in some patients.
  • Increases oxygen flow – A 2007 study showed that drinking eight ounces of pomegranate juice daily for three months increased oxygen flow to the heart muscle in coronary patients.

Breast Cancer

Lab studies have shown pomegranate anthocyanidins (sugarless plant pigments), flavonoids, and oils exert anticancer effects against breast tumors.

Although some women worry that foods with estrogenic properties may increase the risk of breast cancer, that isn’t the case. In fact, pomegranate is a natural adaptogen, increasing levels of estrogen when the body is low but blocking stronger estrogens when levels are too high. This innate intelligence to adapt its function to the body’s needs is an incredible benefit that natural foods have over pharmaceuticals.

In fact, pomegranate extract was compared to the drugs Tamoxifen and Estradiol in a 2011 study in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry. The researchers suggested that the pomegranate extract may potentially prevent estrogen dependent breast cancers.

How do pomegranates work their magic?

An 8 ounce glass of pomegranate juice contains about 40% of the RDA of vitamin C, and also is rich in vitamins A and E and folic acid.

The pomegranate fruit contains antioxidants called phytochemicals, which protect plants from harmful elements in the environment. These same phytochemicals, when ingested, protect the cells in our body. The juice has been found to contain higher levels of antioxidants than most other fruit juices, including cranberry or blueberry, and more even than red wine or green tea.

Drink the juice or eat the seeds (yes, they are edible) to reap the benefits of this menopause miracle.

Source: GreenMedInfo, “Amazing Fact: Pomegranate Can Serve as a Backup Ovary”

Author Bio:

Margie King is a holistic health coach and graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition®. A Wharton M.B.A. and practicing corporate attorney for 20 years, Margie left the world of business to pursue her passion for all things nutritious. She now works with midlife women and busy professionals to improve their health, energy and happiness through individual and group coaching, as well as webinars, workshops and cooking classes. To contact Margie, visit www.NourishingMenopause.com.


My mother recently suffered a stroke. It was quite a shock to us even though she had been on blood pressure medication for years.

She’s not alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 1 in 3 U.S. adults—an estimated 68 million—has high blood pressure. And that means they’re at higher risk not just for stroke but also for heart disease and kidney disease.

My mother gets that. For years she’s been watching her sodium just as the doctor orders. She’s never been a junk food eater, and she’s learned to pass up ham and canned soups, and rinse her canned beans. But she’s pretty attached to bread, bagels and pasta which can be sneaky sources of hidden sodium.

But in watching her salt, my mother may have only gotten it half right. Because lower blood pressure is not just about lower sodium, it’s also about higher potassium. As with so many things in our bodies, balance is everything.

What’s the vitality ratio?

The balance between sodium and potassium is so critical to our wellbeing that it’s been dubbed the “vitality ratio.”

Here’s why. Potassium and sodium work together to maintain your body’s optimal fluid levels. When your sodium levels drift up, your body retains fluid putting pressure on your blood vessels. Potassium operates to help excrete the excess sodium in your urine.

Potassium also relaxes blood vessel walls helping to relieve blood pressure.

A Netherlands study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine looked at potassium consumption in 21 countries and concluded that increasing potassium in your diet could contribute significantly to improving blood pressure.

But most of us don’t get enough potassium. The Netherlands study found that average potassium intake varies between 1.7 and 3.7 grams a day. That’s significantly less than the recommended 4.7 grams.

At the same time, it’s estimated that 98% of Americans take in twice the recommended amount of sodium. You can see how your vitality ratio could get way out of whack.

The researchers in the study claim that increasing our potassium to 4.7 grams per day would have the same effect on blood pressure as decreasing daily salt consumption by 4 grams. That’s huge.

How do you get more potassium into your diet?

Potassium is widely available in our food supply and can be found in whole grains, dairy products, meat and fish.

Fresh fruits are excellent sources of potassium. The highest levels are found in melons (cantaloupe, casaba and honeydew) which have almost 500 mg in a cup. Pomegranates are also a good choice with about 533 mg in a cup of the juice. Other excellent sources include apricots, bananas, nectarines, oranges, prunes and papayas.

When it comes to vegetables, the best sources are avocados, artichokes and leafy greens like spinach, Swiss chard and beet greens. Other sources include beans, beets, bok choi, Brussels sprouts, Chinese cabbage, mushrooms, potatoes (skin on), squash, tomatoes and yams.
Add more of these potassium-rich foods to your diet for a better vitality ratio.

Reference: Wageningen University and Research Centre (2010, September 13). Consumption of ‘good salt’ can reduce population blood pressure levels, research finds. ScienceDaily.

Author Bio:

Margie King is a holistic health coach and graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition®. A Wharton M.B.A. and practicing corporate attorney for 20 years, Margie left the world of business to pursue her passion for all things nutritious. She now works with midlife women and busy professionals to improve their health, energy and happiness through individual and group coaching, as well as webinars, workshops and cooking classes. To contact Margie, visit www.NourishingMenopause.com.

We’re all used to the idea that a drug may have some side effects. And sometimes we’re willing to trade off some risks for the potential results.

But when a drug’s “side effects” actually causes the exact harm that the drug is supposed to protect against – we need to take this issue seriously.

Just last week (October 13), 2 years after research indicated that this was a concern, the FDA finally required the makers of osteoporosis drugs Boniva, Actonel and Fosamax to place a warning that these drugs have been linked to an increase risk for hip fractures among the listed side effects.

Granted, the numbers are not overwhelming – but they are significant. Women taking these drugs have experienced femur bone fractures just below the hip joint in disproportionate numbers. . . from just walking around!

The fact of the matter is . . . this is just a smidgen of the larger misperceptions surrounding bone health and aging. We’re warned to take our calcium, get on these drugs . . . or face the consequences in the form of osteoporosis.

But really for most women this is not necessarily the case. For over 2 decades, I’ve studied bone health across cultures and made some very interesting discoveries. Discoveries that contradict much of what we’re told to do to build and keep healthy bones.

Did you know . . .

  • Osteoporosis is not the result of aging.
  • Osteoporosis is not a disorder of the elderly.
  • Women are not more physiologically predisposed to osteoporosis.
  • Osteoporosis is not caused by low estrogen or low calcium intake.
  • Osteoporosis is not common around the world.
  • Osteoporosis is not caused by faulty bone metabolism.
  • Osteoporotic fractures do not occur because of low bone density.
  • It is always possible to rebuild bone.
  • Osteoporosis is not an isolated condition.

Get the facts about osteoporosis.

Bone loss is not a “mistake” made by your body. It is, in fact, the long-term end result of a protective mechanism developed to maintain balance in the short term. Bones only become fragile if they haven’t been given the nutrients and support they need.

If you eat an imbalanced diet and live an imbalanced lifestyle, you’ll get imbalance in your body, and osteoporosis will develop as your body looks to your bones to supply the minerals and other nutrients it needs to sustain life.

And the opposite is true as well: the more balanced your diet and lifestyle, the more balanced your body will be, resulting in a decreased need to sacrifice bone for the maintenance of critical chemical homeostasis.

Please leave your comments and questions below. Your input is what helps me create the resources we need to develop stronger bones through the right information.

About Dr. Susan E. Brown, Ph.D.

Susan E. Brown, PhD, is a medical anthropologist, a New York State Certified Nutritionist, and the author of Better Bones, Better Body — the first comprehensive look at natural bone health. To find more information about her alternative approach to fighting osteoporosis, go to her website: www.Betterbones.com.

Dr. Brown is one of 7 natural health experts who are participating in a special FREE hormone health teleseminar series produced by Pomegranate Health and WomanWise International.

History is written by the winners. When it comes to the history of women’s health issues, hindsight has revealed that economic interests and unfounded medical biases have encouraged women to use dangerous and unproven treatments. As a result, drug companies and the medical profession have reaped great financial rewards. W omen, however, have suffered and even died as a result.

We so easily forget history as it fades into the mists of time. The history of treating women with unproven and dangerous drugs and procedures is rarely remembered these days. But the wounds remain.

The anti-morning sickness drug, thalidomide, still conjures up images of deformed children. The first synthetic estrogen called DES used from 1940-1970 to prevent miscarriage was used on 10, million American women without adequate testing. It was discovered to cause breast cancer in the women and aggressive cancers and reproductive abnormalities their offspring. Sadly, it never prevented miscarriage. (It was known in 1938 that DES could cause breast cancer.)

HRT, the supposed salvation of menopausal women, is a more recent historical footnote of medical mistakes. We’ll never know how many women died of HRT- induce breast cancer. However, the latest report has shown that the incidence of breast cancer has fallen dramatically is the past 4 years. This directly coincides to the decline in HRT use after a major study, the Women’s Health Initiative in 2002, found direct correlation with breast cancer and HRT use.

It seems that there is long history of women becoming unwitting guinea pigs for the medical/pharmaceutical interests.

More recently, a great deal of media attention is being focused on the development of the new MERCK vaccine, Gardasil, to prevent cervical cancer. Through Merck’s extensive and expensive national lobbying campaign, many states are being persuaded to mandate this vaccine to all 6th grade girls. T he vaccine addresses four viruses. Two of them are for genital warts that are not associated with cervical cancer. The other virus strains are causative factors for an estimated 70 percent of cervical cancer cases

The cost of the vaccine is $360 and delivered in three injections. It is the most expensive vaccine in history.

Prepubescent girls are the recipients of this vaccine because it is most effective when given to girls before they have been sexually active and exposed to the sexually transmitted virus, the human papillomavirus (HPV)

A vaccine that supposedly prevents cervical cancer evokes a tremendous amount of emotion. After all, who wouldn’t want to prevent their daughters from getting cervical cancer?

As with most “miracle” cures, however, there is more going on than meets the eye.

First, lets look at cervical cancer statistics. Cervical cancer has been declining in the last decade. The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2006 there were only be 9,710 new cases of cervical cancer, and only 3,700 deaths.

The prevailing theory is that the HPV virus causes cervical caner. There are over 100 strains of HPV. Fifteen of those strains have been associated with cervical cancer. Ninety percent of women will spontaneously clear HPV within 2 years.

With a total female population of just over 147,000,000, that translates to only about one in 2,500,000 women dying of cervical cancer.

How deadly is cervical cancer? The vast majority of cervical cancer deaths are in women who have never had a pap test. Not ever. Even one lifetime pap reduces the already very small chance of dying of cervical cancer from tiny to ridiculously miniscule. Those who die are those who do not get screened (for whatever reason, be it financial, cultural, socioeconomic, or other access issues.)

Even ignoring the limited incidence of cervical cancer, the facts are worrying. The vaccine is very new with only 3 1/2 years of testing, a very small sample of only 1,184 preteen girls was studied and there is a disturbingly short guarantee of immunity.

The vaccine has been on the market for only eight months, not nearly enough time to discover the range of adverse effects before administering it to millions of little girls.

Not surprisingly, Merck cannot guarantee there will be no long term health consequences, as have occurred with other vaccines. They also cannot guarantee long term protection (a “booster” shot may be required after five years).

Since it’s approval 8 months ago, there have already been 82 adverse effects reported including asthma, arthritis and auto-immune diseases

Barbara Loe Fisher, co-founder of the National Vaccine Information Center is very concerned. “That’s a thin base of testing upon which to make a vaccine mandatory,”

All of these questions should be considered against the backdrop of Merck’s financial position. The Wall Street Journal says mandatory vaccination would be an “automatic blockbuster” for the pharmaceutical company, at a time when its patents on other bestselling drugs are expiring. . If Gardasil is mandated throughout the U.S, Merck could expect a windfall of over a billion or more in profits.

By the way, because Gardasil is a CDC “blessed” vaccine, you can’t sue Merck for injuries sustained because of Gardasil. They’re given immunity

Considering all the facts, do you really want your 11 and 12 year old daughters to be the next generation of guinea pigs?

Dr. Sherrill Sellman, a naturopathic doctor, psychotherapist, best-selling author, and international lecturer, can be contacted though her website: www.whatwomenmustknow.com