Estrogen is essential for the female body to mature and prepare for reproduction. Estrogen hormones regulate breast development as well as the menstrual cycle. Women also need estrogen to help strengthen their heart and bones.
Although estrogen plays an important role for women during their childbearing years, lifetime exposure to the hormone has been linked to an increased risk for breast cancer. Estrogen levels can be reduced if women make certain lifestyle changes, according to Cornell University. To produce less estrogen, women should watch what they eat and drink, avoid certain methods of contraception, and stay active.
Eat low fat foods. According to Cornell University, foods that are low in fat and rich in fiber can help decrease estrogen levels. Phytoestrogens, which are estrogens that come from plants, may also help control estrogen hormones. Cornell University notes research which suggests that women who eat a lot of food containing phytoestrogens are at a reduced risk for breast cancer. Estrogen is broken down and secreted in larger quantities in women who regularly consume phytoestrogens, according to the research. Good sources of phytoestrogens include fruits and vegetables, whole grains, tofu and soybeans.
Maintain a healthy weight. Excess body fat increases a woman's estrogen levels, especially during the years right before and after she reaches menopause. The ovaries no longer produce estrogen after menopause. At that point, a body fat is a woman's primary source of estrogen. Women should consult with a physician to discuss their ideal body weight.
Stay physically active. Regular exercise can help decrease estrogen levels because it helps reduce body fat. Also, regular physical activity can cause women and young girls to have longer menstrual periods. Women who have longer menstrual cycles will have fewer periods throughout their life. This will reduce their lifetime production of estrogen hormones.
Stop taking birth control pills. This form of contraception is associated with an increased risk for breast cancer. Estrogen contained in the pills may consist of a dose that is high enough to raise a woman's hormone levels.
Tips & Warnings
- Pregnancy and breastfeeding lower a woman's estrogen levels.
- Alcohol consumption may increase a woman's circulating estrogen levels.
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