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Topic: OMG Cinnamon has estrogenic properties

Forum: Hormonal Therapy - Before, During and After — Risks and benefits, side effects, and costs of anti-estrogen medications.

Posted on: Apr 11, 2008 01:17PM

LizM wrote:

I consulted a natural health nutitionist shortly after my diagnosis and she told me to eat 1/2 tsp of cinammon a day to lower glucose levels.  I have been adding 1/2 to 1 tsp of cinnamon a day to my yogurt.  I was just reading on the Sloan Memorial and Kettering integrative medicine and herbs site and they noted that cinnamon has estrogenic properties and caution should be used for those with hormone driven disease.  I cannot believe I did not know this.  I thought I had researched all foods and herbs with estrogenic properties.  Look like I missed one.  Hope I haven't done myself harm.

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Apr 11, 2008 01:23PM Harley44 wrote:

Liz,


That is news to me!  Cinnamon is also good for lowering our cholesterol levels...

Gee... now what?

Harley

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Apr 11, 2008 01:42PM gsg wrote:

I read somewhere that the combination of cinnamon & honey was supposed to help prevent cancer, so i've been adding it to my oatmeal each day.  i never know what to believe or eat anymore.

Pardon me if I repeat myself. Can't remember jack.

Dx 3/2006, IDC, 3cm, Stage IIa, Grade 2, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Apr 11, 2008 01:44PM, edited May 8, 2008 12:02PM by AlwaysHope

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Apr 11, 2008 01:48PM TenderIsOurMight wrote:


Liz, here's something good cinnamon does in the presence of breast cancer:

Cinnamon extract improves insulin efficiency and glucose uptake by muscle cells

I haven't heard anything about cinnamon regarding estrogen, but insulin plays a role in bc, so maybe you did your body good by using it.

Don't worry too much,
Tender

It cannot be emphasized too strongly that treatment of each patient is a highly individualized matter. (FDA-approved labeling for warfarin (Coumadin) NDA 9-218/5-105)

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Apr 11, 2008 02:05PM jpann39 wrote:

Wow,

I had no idea cinnamon had such an impact on things!!!! its one of my favorite spices so Im going to do a little reading and if it really doesnt have any effect on estrogen Im going to start adding it more in my diet as well..

'Gain strength by the positive and don't be sapped by the negative"

Dx 11/4/2006, IDC, 2cm, Stage II, Grade 1, 0/9 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Apr 11, 2008 02:17PM, edited May 8, 2008 12:02PM by AlwaysHope

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Apr 11, 2008 02:47PM Harley44 wrote:

Yes, I hope that cinnamon isn't going to be another thing I have to avoid, 'cause I like it!

Harley

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Apr 11, 2008 03:07PM mkl48 wrote:

Tender,

Did you mean that effect is demonstrated for non- diabetics. It was thought to be a meaningful intervention for glucose control in diabetics, but the most recent studies refute that. Beth 

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Apr 11, 2008 03:23PM, edited Apr 11, 2008 03:25PM by TenderIsOurMight


Yes, in non-diabetics. Wow, glad you clarified that. Thanks Beth! Can't treat true diabetes with cinnamon.

LizM, I do appreciate the shock you felt upon learning this about cinnamon. It may be similar to how I felt after finding a list of foods which apparently are high in phytoestrogens, like peanuts and sesame. I recall bemoaning it shouldn't be so hard to do this right.

Now, more months out, I still on occasion have some peanuts and I had a plain seseme bagel, my favorite the other day. I knew the white flour would raise my insulin, and the sesame seeds do who knows what, but truthfully, I enjoyed ever bite. Then it was back to my majority day non-phytoestrogen diet.That's what I meant when I suggested not to worry too much.

Someday we might all talk about insulin and breast cancer, as I still am not clear about glucose, insulin and their actual relationship to insulin growth factors (IGF's) which I read about. Maybe someone can clarify this relationship for me, knowing ahead that the best cancer diet is a low sugar (low glycemic index) diet.

I do understand your concern, and hopefully the small amount was just that: insufficient to do harm, and maybe by helping body insulin control, did some good.

All the best,
Tender

It cannot be emphasized too strongly that treatment of each patient is a highly individualized matter. (FDA-approved labeling for warfarin (Coumadin) NDA 9-218/5-105)

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Apr 11, 2008 05:45PM LizM wrote:

here is the link:

http://www.mskcc.org/mskcc/html/11570.cfm

click on c for cinnamon

Contraindications

  • Patients taking blood glucose lowering or blood-thinning medications should use cinnamon extract with caution (4).
  • Cinnamon was shown to have estrogenic activity in vitro (19). Patients with hormone sensitive disease should use caution.
  • top

    Dx 9/19/2005, IDC, 2cm, Stage II, Grade 1, 1/8 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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    Apr 11, 2008 08:31PM mkl48 wrote:

    Liz,

    Let's ask Tender or BBScience to check the cite. It is about an extract of cinnamon. I wonder if that is the same as ground ordinary cinnamon. Edge said not to drink the juice of wild grapes, but Welch's cultivated was fine so extract may indeed be different. Beth 

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    Apr 11, 2008 09:19PM, edited Apr 12, 2008 11:32PM by AnnNYC

    Edited on 4/12/08 to correct information about cinnamon species: 

    LizM and Beth/Kmb50 -- the second reference from the Sloan-Kettering website (#19, about estrogenic properties) reported a study that used an alcohol extract of cinnamon bark, applied to cells grown in culture in a laboratory, compared to untreated control cells.  It sounds like a study aimed at finding a new drug to treat/prevent osteoporosis.  When I searched PubMed for "cinnamomum" and "estrogen", only 6 references came up.  This is a TINY number on PubMed, suggesting very little evidence of estrogenic properties. I also searched "cinnamon" and "estrogen" -- yielding only 2 references, which had both been among the previous 6.

    The scientific name of the cinnamon species tested is Cinnamomum cassia.  This is the source of the cinnamon you find in the supermarket in North America.  In Europe, it is usually called cassia. It is also called "Chinese cinnamon" (an ingredient in Chinese 5-spice powder).

    There is a species known as "true" cinnamon -- Cinnamomum zeylanicum -- which is apparently used in Europe. 

    Dx 3/9/2007, IDC, <1cm, Stage I, Grade 2, 0/5 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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    Apr 11, 2008 09:24PM AnnNYC wrote:

    BTW, that Sloan-Kettering herb info site had this disclaimer:

    "Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center makes no warranties nor express or implied representations whatsoever regarding the accuracy, completeness, timeliness, comparative or controversial nature, or usefulness of any information contained or referenced on this Web site. Memorial Sloan-Kettering does not assume any risk whatsoever for your use of this website or the information contained herein. Health-related information changes frequently and therefore information contained on this Web site may be outdated, incomplete or incorrect. Statements made about products have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Use of this Web site does not create an expressed or implied physician-patient relationship."

    Dx 3/9/2007, IDC, <1cm, Stage I, Grade 2, 0/5 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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    Apr 11, 2008 09:32PM LizM wrote:

    Ann, thank you so much for easing my concerns.  I was really surprised when I read the warning about cinnamon being estrogenic because I really thought I had figured out the majority of estrogenic foods.  I was concerned because I was eating cinnamon daily.  I would not have given it a second thought if I was just eating it once in a while.  Guess I probably wasn't doing myself much good by eating it so often but at least I'm glad I probably did myself no harm either.  I really appreciate you researching it for us. 

    Dx 9/19/2005, IDC, 2cm, Stage II, Grade 1, 1/8 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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    Apr 11, 2008 09:42PM AnnNYC wrote:

    Liz, I was kind of halfway on it already, because I'd been researching ways to stabilize my blood sugar Smile.

    Dx 3/9/2007, IDC, <1cm, Stage I, Grade 2, 0/5 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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    Apr 12, 2008 08:55AM Popsg1rl wrote:

    Couldn't believe it when I read this header! I enjoy a natural peanut butter sandwich with honey and cinnamon. The natural peanut butter for protien, and the honey and cinnamon due to what I have read about the health benfits. I usually eat that for breakfast before work with some fruit. It is so hard to keep up with what you THINK you are doing right with your nutrition! 

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    Apr 12, 2008 09:01AM, edited May 8, 2008 12:03PM by AlwaysHope

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    Apr 12, 2008 09:29AM wallycat wrote:

    I think I am going to take the approach that food as food won't harm me; that supplements of any one type of food may pose the issue.  This is purely to keep my sanity.

    Red wine (resveratrol) also is said to be estrogenic, but I drink red wine with dinner.

    If I am going to die, I want as much wine ingested before going as possible SurprisedTongue out .


    I did find this on the Linus Pauling (nobel prize winner) institute website regarding antagonist and agonist effects for resveratrol and how it acts in the body in terms of estrogenic effects.  I suppose all foods have these properties...

     Estrogenic and Anti-estrogenic Activities

    Endogenous estrogens are steroid hormones synthesized by humans and other mammals that bind to estrogen receptors within cells. The estrogen-receptor complex interacts with unique sequences in DNA to modulate the expression of estrogen-responsive genes (15). A compound that binds to estrogen receptors and elicits similar responses to endogenous estrogens is considered an estrogen agonist, while a compound that binds estrogen receptors but prevents or inhibits the response elicited by endogenous estrogens is considered an estrogen antagonist. The chemical structure of resveratrol is very similar to that of the synthetic estrogen agonist, diethylstilbestrol (see figure 2), suggesting that resveratrol might also function as an estrogen agonist. However, in cell culture experiments resveratrol acts as an estrogen agonist under some conditions, and an estrogen antagonist under other conditions (16, 17). In estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer cells, resveratrol acted as an estrogen agonist in the absence of the endogenous estrogen, 17beta-estradiol, but acted as an estrogen antagonist in the presence of 17beta-estradiol (18, 19). At present, it appears that resveratrol has the potential to act as an estrogen agonist or antagonist depending on such factors as cell type, estrogen receptor isoform (ER alpha or ER beta), and the presence of endogenous estrogens (15).

    Here is the website I found this on:  http://64.233.169.104/search?q=cache:ydHZ4zVCbgQJ:lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/phytochemicals/resveratrol/+peanuts+estrogenic&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=8&gl=us 

    Dx 4/07 1 month before turning 50; ILC 1.8cm, ER+/PR+, HER2 neg., Stage 1, Grade 2, 0/5 nodes. Onco score 20, Bilateral Mast., tamoxifen 3-1/2 years, arimidex-completed 4/20/2012

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    Apr 12, 2008 10:52AM jpann39 wrote:

    I must say that I agree with AlwaysHope!!!!

    Food is food....Im not a fancy eater, Im not a big appetite eater, but I do try to eat healthy....

    Sure Im just as scared of recurrence as anyone else here, but unless someone can show with without doubt, proof positive that a food I have eaten my entire life is what cause my cancer or will make it come back then Im going to continue down the path I have always lead with foods...since bc is the only illness I have ever had so I figure I must be doing something right!!!!

    And I am determined that having had er/pr+ breast cancer IS NOT/WILL NOT control my life to that degree!!!!!

    Jule

    'Gain strength by the positive and don't be sapped by the negative"

    Dx 11/4/2006, IDC, 2cm, Stage II, Grade 1, 0/9 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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    Apr 12, 2008 11:06AM, edited Apr 12, 2008 11:33PM by AnnNYC

    I agree with jpann, wallycat and AlwaysHope.

    And the short version of my long post is:

    • The Sloan-Kettering "warning" about cinnamon being estrogenic is based on ONE paper.
    • That paper studied an alcohol extract of cinnamon bark for its effect in cell cultures ("test tubes").
    Dx 3/9/2007, IDC, <1cm, Stage I, Grade 2, 0/5 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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    Apr 12, 2008 11:23AM FEB wrote:

    I saw my holistic doc yesterday and asked her about the cinnamon issue. She said to take into account the basis for the study and how in-depth in is. She also said that since a low glycemic diet helps to control estrogen levels, and cinnamon helps to regulate blood sugar, she feels their is no problem with taking it. I like to take it with my supplements because if I burp a little after swallowing all of them, it tastes like cinnamon! Plus,  I don't feel so guilty about the piece of chocolate I just ate!LOL

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    Apr 12, 2008 02:18PM BlindedByScience wrote:

    I've been following this thread and did some checking. What I found repeated frequently is that true cinnamon (C. zeylanicum) does not have the coumarin content of Cassia cinnamon. The coumarin phytoestrogen is the component the researchers blame for stimulating the growth of a particular bc cell line by attaching primarily to the ERbeta receptor. Cassia is the source of the extract in the paper referenced in the Memorial Sloan Kettering Paper. Cassia cinnamon encompasses the following: C. armaticum, C. loureiroi, C. burmannii.

    I'm not ready to worry about Cassia cinnamon just yet. I think the results are highly preliminary and may not have a large impact in real life if the spice is used as a spice--not a supplement. And as mentioned above, the bc cells were given an extract, not the whole ground cinnamon. Previous research on phytoestrogens have already pointed to coumarin as a potential problem so this isn't a surprise. However, cinnamon taken as a spice contains many other compounds, some of which may counteract the effect of coumarin (this remains to be shown). The researchers were not looking to test for this effect as they were likely banking on the purified coumarin having estrogenic properties to test their hypothesis that it may strengthen bones.

    Now, if you DO choose to avoid Cassia cinnamon you should be aware that it is almost certainly the cinnamon in your kitchen. McCormick, a popular vendor for spices, says 'true cinnamon' is hard to find in the US:

    "Cinnamomum zeylanicum, grown in Sri Lanka, is actually "true Cinnamon" but is not widely used in the United States due to its unique flavor. "

    Another couple of web checks say McCormick cinnamon is Cassia as is almost all cinnamon sold in the US.

    If you'd like to buy true cinnamon, there are a couple of places I've found:

    The Spice House

    this link takes you to the C. zeylanicum page as the vendor also sells Cassia. 

    Penzey's Spices 

    (I have ordered from this shop many times) 

     The discussion that might follow this one is on phytoestrogens in specific. For example, all polyphenols (like those found in green tea) are phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens are grouped into multiple categories and these categories are ranked by how closely the phytoestrogen can simulate mammalian estrogen. Much of it has to do with how tightly it can bind to the ER receptor as well as which receptor it binds to most frequently. The two receptors are ERalpha and ERbeta. 

    Whole foods containing multiple phytoestrogens can have a different effect than single compounds which have been isolated & concentrated. But, having said that, I'd stay away from alfalfa and clover (sprouts, dried, and any supplements) as they are best known for having excellent estrogen mimics.

    This subject is rather lengthy, but I have one reference below for anyone who wants to read a bit more: 

    Phytoestrogens Induce Differential Estrogen Receptor Alpha- or Beta-Mediated Responses

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    Apr 12, 2008 04:10PM LizM wrote:

    Ok Ladies, I checked my cinnamon which I have been adding to my hot cereal and/or yogurt DAILY.  Brand is simply organic and the incredient is c. burmannii.  That doesn't make me too happy. 

    BBS I have a question.  When you consume phytoestrogens are we worried about an increase in circulating estrogen.  The reason I ask is because I had my estradiol checked a few months ago (I'm on Femara) and my estradiol was < 7pg which is quite low.  Should I assume that since my estradiol was so low that eating the cinnamon had no affect OR do phytoestrogens affect estrogen sensitive bc in a different way other than increasing circulating estrogen levels?  If that makes any sense.

    Dx 9/19/2005, IDC, 2cm, Stage II, Grade 1, 1/8 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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    Apr 12, 2008 04:39PM snowyday wrote:

    I have nothing really serious to say about cinnamon, but when I use it I usually use alot, love it.  But one thing I noticed was that it always put me in a better mood. Probably just the smell, but thats what if does to me.  So I should start adding more in my fav foods again.

    PN

    Dx 5/24/2007, ILC, 5cm, Stage IV, Grade 3, 0/2 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2+
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    Apr 12, 2008 05:00PM Jenniferz wrote:

    Oh heavens above!!  Well, I've been using the heck out of cinnamon (because I love it), and I take the supplement.  And they both contain cassia.  And, it did keep my sugar stable.  So, what is one to do? 

    Here's another bottle of "stuff" that will remain in my cabinet taking up space I suppose.

    I'll be glad when I reach the point where I eat what I want, take what I want, and not worry.

    Jennifer

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    Apr 12, 2008 05:21PM mkl48 wrote:

    Some women who have BC also take coumadin-warfarin- for either a heart or BC related problem. Are they also ingesting a significant phytoestrogenic compound? A quick google also suggests that coumarin has been investigated for its cytoxic properties.

    I am beginning to wonder even more, "What is so different about our bodies that we react differently to the multiple phytogenic fooods that are routinely eaten. Most of the world eats a fairly high, if non processed, carb diet and yet we have higher BC rates. Beth 

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    Apr 12, 2008 05:32PM LizM wrote:

    What is the difference between taking cinnamon extract in a supplement or 1/2 tsp of cinnamon with food?  I looked up cinnamon supplements and some are 1,000 mg or 1 gram.  How many teaspoons equal 1 gram?  Is the potency different? 

    Dx 9/19/2005, IDC, 2cm, Stage II, Grade 1, 1/8 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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    Apr 12, 2008 07:14PM, edited Apr 12, 2008 07:15PM by leaf

    According to this website, 1 tsp ground cinnamon = about 2.5 grams. http://www.onlineconversion.com/weight_volume_cooking.htm

    If you're going through hell, keep going-Winston Churchill

    Dx 12/8/2005, LCIS, Stage 0, ER+/PR-Hormonal Therapy 07/15/2006 Tamoxifen
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    Apr 12, 2008 07:38PM BlindedByScience wrote:

    Liz, some phytoestrogens are currently considered beneficial for ER+ breast cancer. The polyphenols in green tea would be one example of this, as well as quercetin commonly found in apples and onions and kaempferol found in leeks, endive & kale. We get phytoestrogens from many plants. 

    The phytoestrogens in food vary in their ability to bind to the estrogen receptors.  But the effects of phytoestrogens go beyond binding to the ER receptors. They can have other effects. From the article I cited above, these include: "modulation of cell-signaling pathways, regulation of the cell cycle, stimulation of apoptosis, and antioxidant activities, [which] may occur independently of ER binding." 

    I don't think anyone has a lock on the whole picture but as evidence builds, it seems like eating whole foods is good, or at least less harmful, than taking certain supplements. The cinnamon extract is not the same as the cinnamon in your spice rack. BTW, my kitchen scale measures 1 tsp of ground cinnamon as a little less than 3 g.

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    Apr 12, 2008 07:41PM TenderIsOurMight wrote:



    Good sluething everyone, and especially BBS, thanks for your clear explainations and input.

    Tender

    It cannot be emphasized too strongly that treatment of each patient is a highly individualized matter. (FDA-approved labeling for warfarin (Coumadin) NDA 9-218/5-105)

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