The unfortunate reality is that one in eight women will get breast cancer at some point in their lifetime. Although there are few factors that a woman can control when it comes to breast cancer risk; lifestyle habits, particularly diet; appear to play an important role in prevention. You may have been told to eat more fruits and vegetables to reduce the risk of cancer, but have you discovered the anti-cancer benefits of sea vegetables? According to a study conducted at the University of California at Berkeley, natural sea kelp may help to naturally lower breast cancer risk.
Natural Sea Kelp to Lower Breast Cancer Risk: The Study
In this study, rats were fed either a low dose of kelp powder, a high dose of kelp powder, or no kelp at all for a month. At the end of the four week period, it was noted that the rats that were given kelp had longer menstrual cycles and lower levels of estradiol, one of the most potent forms of estrogen, than the rats who received no kelp. Longer menstrual cycle lengths have been correlated with a lower risk of breast cancer, as have lower estradiol levels. A similar study was conducted on human ovarian cancer cells which also showed a reduction in levels of estradiol associated with exposure to kelp.
What Does This Study Mean?
From this study, it appears that some chemical in natural sea kelp has an anti-estrogen effect and could play an important role in lowering breast cancer. It’s unclear what component of natural sea kelp is responsible for its anti-estrogen properties. Kelp is a source of iodine, a mineral important for normal thyroid function, as well as anti-oxidants which help to fight free radical damage. Researchers hope to identify and isolate the chemicals in natural sea kelp that help to lower estradiol levels. Interestingly, kelp makes up more than ten percent of the Japanese diet, a country that has one of the lowest breast cancer rates in the world.
Should You Take Natural Sea Kelp to Lower Breast Cancer Risk?
Even though natural sea kelp may play a role in lowering breast cancer risk, excessive use of kelp and other seaweed products should be avoided. Some kelp samples have been found to contain high levels of heavy metals. In a study carried out at the University of California at David, eight out of nine kelp samples tested from health food stores contained varying levels of arsenic. Kelp is also rich in iodine which in high doses could cause the thyroid to become overactive. For these reasons, kelp shouldn’t be consumed in large quantities.
Hopefully, researchers will isolate the component of natural sea kelp that makes it so effective at lowering estradiol levels. This might provide a natural way for women everywhere to lower their risk of breast cancer.