xenoestrogens, phytoestrogens, estrogen dominance, and breast cancer

ESTROGEN   ESTROGEN   ESTROGEN
IT’S EVERYWHERE!

Xenoestrogen Xenohormones

ATDSPHOTO – Versailles/France – Pixabay

“Xenoestrogens are chemicals that imitate estrogen.  Synthetic xenoestrogens are widely used industrial compounds, such as PCBs, BPA and phthalates [plastics], which have estrogenic effects on living organisms.”   Wikipedia

“The burden of environmentally induced cancers has been grossly underestimated.”    The conclusions of the 240 page President’s Cancer Panel Report (2010) titled Reducing Cancer Risks; What We can do Now.  One of the worst offenders of the all the chemicals that were looked at?  Benzene.

Do you like swimming?  Although I don’t enjoy swimming laps or anything like that, I can spend days on end swimming / snorkeling / boating on the CURRENT RIVER.  Now; take just a moment and imagine that each and every day of your life, you are swimming in a sea of artificial estrogen — the female sex hormones.  Unfortunately, this is what is happening with many Americans — both male and female.  There is estrogen in the foods we eat (estrogen is the hormone farmers give cattle to make them fat).  It’s in the scents we wear (perfumes, colognes), as well as the soaps and shampoos we clean ourselves with.  It’s in the foods we eat (soy is one of the worst offenders), the pesticides / herbicides that we spray our food supply with, as well as the containers we put the leftovers in (plastic baggies, plastic containers).  It’s in the gasoline we spill on our clothes as we fill up, and the cleaners we use to get them clean (and let’s not forget the dryer sheets).  Estrogen is even ‘out gassed’ from the carpets, furniture, and materials used in our houses — particularly true if you happen to live in a mobile home.  The truth is, artificial estrogens are everywhere — and I do mean everywhere.  Fail to understand this, and you could wind up on the MEDICAL MERRY GO ROUND.

We will get to the reasons that this is such a big health concern in a moment, but I want to first talk for a moment about where this flood of estrogen-like chemicals (Xenohormones / Xenoestrogens) is coming from.  A simple way to think of this is by likening the relationship between estrogen and xenoestrogen, to the relationship between Gluten and Gluten Cross-reactors. Over the past several decades, GLUTEN (Wheat Protein) has, for a NUMBER OF DIFFERENT REASONS, been technologically altered until it is a very different product than the Gluten our forefathers consumed.  Because of this, many people have Immune System reactions to it, and are considered to be “sensitive” to it.

Because your body recognizes various substances according to their molecular shape (example below), foods that have a close enough molecular structure / shape to Gluten will be recognized by certain people’s bodies as Gluten —- even though it is not Gluten.  One of the more common of these is coffee.  This phenomenon is known as GLUTEN CROSS-REACTIVITY.  It’s almost like a skeleton key that fits in any number of different locks.  Unfortunately, the very same principle can be seen with certain synthetic or petro-chemicals as well — particularly a chemical called Benzene.

ESTROGEN

BENZENE

Estrogen is chemical compound made up of six-sided rings.  Benzene is a very simple six sided ring.  When you look at the two side by side, you can begin to see how the body could be fooled.  This is particularly scary considering that Benzene is known to be one of the most toxic, widely used chemicals on the planet.  When you smell glue, paint, gasoline, detergent, automobile exhaust, cigarette smoke (50% of America’s exposure comes from cigarette smoke), or almost anything else with a chemical or artifical smell (even a pleasant chemical smell), you are likely inhaling Benzene.  Benzene has been associated with a wide array of illnesses and cancers, as well as being a known “ENDOCRINE SYSTEM DISRUPTOR“.  When you ‘disrupt’ the ENDOCRINE SYSTEM, there can be hell to pay in practically every different system in your body.  Remember this when you look at the list below.

ESTROGEN DOMINANCE: WHAT IS IT?

Estrogen Dominance is a term every woman should be familiar with. PMS, infertility, post menopausal symptoms, and breast cancer often relate to Estrogen Dominance.  Estrogen Dominance doesn’t mean that a woman is high in estrogen. Rather, it means that the estrogenic effects are stronger than the (counterbalancing) progesterone effects. If we think of the analogy of the body as a car, the estrogen would be the accelerator (stimulant) and the progesterone  (calmer) would be the brakes. We could have too little ‘accelerator’ function and still be crashing into cars because our ‘brakes’ are even weaker.   Bruce Rind M.D., National Integrated Health Associates
Estrogen Dominance describes the state of women who have too much estrogen in their system in relationship to the amount of Progesterone they have.  This means that Estrogen Dominance is not necessarily predicated on having too much estrogen (although that is the most common scenario), but in having a ratio of estrogen to progesterone that is out of kilter.  Truth be known, even women with low levels of estrogen can suffer from Estrogen Dominance if there is not enough Progesterone present in their bodies to balance it out.   When you read the list below, I want you to notice that the symptoms of Estrogen Dominance are ridiculously common here in America.  In fact, many experts estimate that as many as 1 in 2 women (and an untold number of men) suffer from the effects of this all too common, but poorly understood health problem.  Here are a few of the more common signs / symptoms of Estrogen Dominance.

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DEALING WITH ESTROGEN DOMINANCE NATURALLY

The first rule of thumb is to stay as far away as possible from Xenoestrogens.  Unless you are living in the Alaskan wilderness in a homeade log cabin you built yourself, this will be all but impossible.  Xenoestrogens are literally everywhere.  But, with a little bit of knowledge, you have the ability to significantly limit their effects on you and your family.  First, you must realize that anything that is made from petroleum, or anything that has an artificial or chemical smell (even if it is a “good” smell) is very likely to be a Xeno-estrogen.  Secondly, whether it is real estrogen, artificial estrogen, or substances that simply mimic estrogen (the ‘Xeno’ family, you need to avoid excess estrogen whenever possible.   Again, be aware that the hormones given to beef cattle to make them gain weight are synthetic estrogens.  Other things you can do include…. (this list is by no means comprehensive).

  • DON’T HEAT PLASTIC SUBSTANCES, RUBBER, OR CELLOPHANE-LIKE WRAPPERS IN YOUR MICROWAVE OVEN:
  • BEWARE OF COMMERCIALLY RAISED MEAT OR POULTRY PRODUCTS:
  • USE SOMETHING OTHER THAN “THE PILL“:
  • BEWARE OF PERFUMES, SCENTS, AND VIRTUALLY ALL BEAUTY PRODUCTS:
  • BEWARE OF HOUSEHOLD CLEANING PRODUCTS THAT HAVE “NICE” SMELLS:
  • AVOID HERBICIDES AND PESTICIDES:
  • AVOID PHTHALATES & METHYL PARABEN:
  • KNOW YOUR SUNSCREENS:    Five specific chemicals to avoid here include benzophenone-3, homosalate, 4-methyl-benzylidene camphor (4-MBC), octyl-methoxycinnamate and octyl-dimethyl-PABA.
  • REMEMBER THAT SUGAR TURNS MEN INTO WOMEN AND WOMEN INTO MEN (HERE)

Let me throw you one more ‘bone’ in your fight against Xenoestrogens.  For decades, soy has been promoted as a this fantastic “health food” — a “super food” if you will.  Unfortunately, this is a complete and total myth. Nothing could be farther from the truth.  You should never consume soy unless the soy has been fermented.  Why?  Because soy is a Phyto-Estrogen (plant-based Estrogen).  For more information, you can read Dr. Tim O’Shea’s paper called The Magic Bean.

Beyond simple avoidance of Estrogen and Xenoestrogens, there are some other things you can do if you believe you are suffering from Estrogen Dominance.  Finding a Functional Medicine practitioner can be helpful, but there are some things you can do for yourself in the meantime.  The first thing I would suggest is to follow some GENERIC RECOMMENDATIONS that are true for almost anything that ails you.  Now let’s tackle some of the recommendations specifically for use by the Estrogen Dominant person.

  • STUDY THE ISSUE:  As I have always said, knowledge is power.  Do not blindly listen to any doctor — including myself.  Several hours of studying this issue on the internet, and you will likely know more about this common problem than your doctor.  Speaking of your doctor; don’t be surprised if you get a deer-in-the-headlights look or eye-roll if you mention ‘Estrogen Dominance’ in their presence.  There are lots and lots of great websites on this topic.  Beware of sites whose sole goal is to sell you something.  There are many good sites with information concerning specific foods to add to or remove from your diet, or specific chemical products to really watch out for.  After you have studied, sit down and create a written outline of how you are going to tackle your Estrogen Dominance.  Wouldn’t hurt you to have an accountability partner as well.  Odds are, you know several women (and probably some men) with this problem.

  • MAKE SURE YOU ARE GETTING LOTS OF FIBER:  When my family juices, I usually eat the pulp on my lunchtime salad.  Fiber is critical for dealing with Estrogen Dominance because it binds to the Estrogen and facilitates your ability to excrete it from the body —- instead of reabsorbing it over and over again.  Word of warning here:  DO NOT buy into the myth that Whole Grains are a good source of fiber (I personally prefer ground Flax Seeds, although some will tell you to steer clear).  If you are dealing with very many of the symptoms of Estrogen Dominance, you can almost assure yourself that you are GLUTEN SENSITIVE as well.  This not only means that you are almost surely dairy-sensitive also, but that you are probably AUTOIMMUNE on top of everything else.  Again, the PALEO DIET is the best way to deal with this entire scenario.

  • DETOX YOUR LIVER:  When it comes to Estrogen Dominance, dealing with your liver is critical.  This is because your liver is the organ that essentially filters / removes / breaks down excess Estrogen in your body so that you can get rid of it.  One of the best resources for learning about liver detox is Dr. Sandra Cabot (MD) of Australia.  You can also read a SHORT ARTICLE I wrote on the subject.

  • TAKE THE CORRECT SUPPLEMENTS:  The link I left you under “Generic” above is going to give you some of the generic supplements you’ll need to take for inflammation (the two biggies are PFGO for INFLAMMATION, and PROBIOTICS for GUT HEALTH).  However, there is at least one other supplement that I would highly recommend taking specifically for Estrogen Dominance.    Vitex / Chaste Tree is one of the best and most popular supplements for this problem, although there are a slew of others; all different from each other depending on who you read.  The truth is, the supplements are not nearly as important as is your diet.

  • RELAXATION TECHNIQUES AND DEEP BREATHING:  Exercise will get you breathing hard.  However, once you read the next section on Breast Cancer, you will see why good breathing habits / PROPER OXYGENATION are absolutely critical for properly dealing with Estrogen Dominance.

TREATING YOUR PROBLEM WITH
NATURAL PROGESTERONE CREAMS?

WARNING   WARNING  WARNING   WARNING  WARNING

Progesterone Creams have long been used to improve the ratio of Progesterone to Estrogen, thus, diminishing the effects of Estrogen Dominance.  For many women, these work like magic.  Although I have previously given the nod to over-the-counter Progesterone Creams for women suffering from a variety of Estrogen Dominance-related symptoms (even at times suggesting them to patients), as of 2011, I no longer do so.  Although these products can certainly (temporarily) relieve the symptoms of Estrogen Dominance, Dr. Kharrazian showed us research saying that Progesterone tends to be broken down by your liver into —– you guessed it —- estrogen.  From there it is stored in the fat cells.  The end result of this cycle is increasing Estrogen Dominance!  But unfortunately, that’s not where it ends.

Did you notice the last bullet point on the first list above?  It is ‘Weight Gain’.  Let me tell you why this presents such a dilemma when it comes to Estrogen Dominance.  Not only does estrogen cause weight gain via an increase in fatty tissue (this is why beef farmers give “hormones” to their cattle), but the real bite-in-the-hind end that few people talk about is the fact that fat cells, right along with the ovaries, actually manufacture —- correct again —– estrogen. 

ESTROGEN AND BREAST CANCER

The statistics on American Breast Cancer reflect everything you have learned thus far concerning Estrogen, Xenohormones, and Estrogen Dominance.  According to MedlinePlus (a service of the National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health), one in eight American women will get Breast Cancer at some point in their livesAnd each year, nearly 40,000 of them die. 

There is an overwhelming amount of information on Breast Cancer online.  The truth is, if you want to make yourself an expert on the subject (if you are at risk, you should), there is so much information online that you could never possibly wade through it all.  I am going to keep this section brief by spending only two or three paragraphs talking about the Estrogen / Breast Cancer link.

Because the majority (over 3/4) of Breast Cancers in America are fueled by Estrogen), your lifetime exposure to Estrogen, whether natural, synthetic, or pseudo (Xenoestrogens) play a huge part in determining whether or not you will get Breast Cancer over the course of your lifetime — or whether or not you will relapse after taking the “cure”.  This is why women take drugs like Tamoxifen and Femara to “block” Estrogen for several years after successful treatment of their CANCER

All Cancers, including cancer of the breast, tend to develop in similar fashion.  Firstly, the body becomes oxygen deprived, toxic, and acidic — usually due to a poor diet.  The breast tends to act as a magnet for Cancer because of the close proximity of glandular tissue (the milk glands are highly responsive to estrogen) to fat cells (fat cells tend to accumulate toxins).  As the cells in the glandular tissue of the breast struggle to survive in this increasingly acidic and poorly oxygenated environment, they begin to mutate.  This allows them to produce energy from SUGAR (fermentation), instead of using oxygen.  The whole process continues to feed itself as well as increasing the rate of cell replication (already a problem in Cancer — read the articles in the link from the preceding paragraph on “Sugar Feeds Cancer”).

Although I do not claim for one moment to be any sort of expert on Cancer, I do know that the vast majority of disease processes START IN SIMILAR FASHION.  Who would I trust to take care of me if I had Cancer?  That’s an easy one to answer.  One of the most brilliant minds on the subject is Dr. Kevin Connors of Minneapolis, Minnesota.  He is on the cutting edge of Functional Neurology / Functional Medicine.  Hopefully you will never need his expertise in this area.

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