Monday, December 1, 2008

Estrogen dominance and environment

the following is an excerpt from an article written by doctors at the Women to Women web site (link below).

"Of all women experiencing symptoms of estrogen dominance, some with low levels of progesterone may do very well with progesterone supplementation, whereas others with normal progesterone levels may be better off focusing on changes that can normalize their estrogen or testosterone levels. How do you know where you fit in? The only way to really tell is to have your hormone levels checked and take action from there.

It is true that estrogen is often too high relative to progesterone. Most of us who have had PMS are familiar with this temporary form of excess estrogen. You can see by the chart above how progesterone levels gradually fall during the course of a regular menstrual cycle. In some women this drop may be more precipitous and cause symptoms of PMS.

During pre-menopause it’s common for estrogen levels to decrease slowly while progesterone levels plummet — a natural result of fewer ovulations, fewer burst follicles and less progesterone. This can cause many of our worst symptoms. (See our articles on menstrual cycles to learn more.)

Calling this state “estrogen dominance” is catchy but misleading. It implies there is one problem, which isn’t true; and not all women experience the condition anyway. And it implies there is one solution, which also isn’t true. Most of the tens of thousands of women we have treated for pre-menopause symptoms have suffered not from simple estrogen dominance but from a more fundamental disruption of the body’s ability to maintain hormonal balance. There are usually multiple causes, including stress, emotional factors, and the estrogen-like chemicals in our environment called xenoestrogens.

The truth is, healthy hormonal balance is complicated. It isn’t just a matter of not enough progesterone.

There’s no simple test for estrogen dominance. But if you have severe symptoms of PMS, pre-menopause or menopause that don’t respond to a program of increased support for your body within a month or two, you may have persistently higher than normal levels of estrogen. Let’s talk about why it’s important to pay attention to these symptoms.

What are the health consequences of estrogen dominance?

Another of Dr. Lee’s contributions was to raise women’s awareness of the profound connections between hormonal imbalance and health.

When estrogen levels are high in relation to our progesterone we experience many severe symptoms, among them anxiety, breast tenderness, cyclical headaches or migraines, irregular bleeding, water retention, weight gain and more. (Note that a number of these symptoms are also indicative of the exact opposite condition — a deficiency of estrogen — another example of why the concept of estrogen dominance is too simplistic.)

If estrogen levels stay unopposed, women may develop infertility, endometriosis, amenorrhea (skipped periods), hypermenorrhea (heavy bleeding), fibroids, uterine cancer, heart disease and stroke, and decreased cognitive ability, among other conditions.

And while we share many of the precepts set forth by Dr. Lee, we are less inclined to think of estrogen, even high levels of estrogen, as universally harmful. We believe every woman is unique, and what may cause harm in one may be fine for another. There have been studies and speculation for example about the connection between high levels of estrogen and breast cancer.

Estrogen has many wonderful qualities. It creates our fertility, protects our health in myriad ways, and serves as a powerful anti-inflammatory. But we are very concerned about environmental estrogens. They’re another story entirely.

Awash in a sea of xenoestrogens
For the most part, our bodies are amazingly resilient. We are hard-wired to resist threats to our equilibrium. What our bodies are not designed for is exposure to the many endocrine disruptors in our environment, among them the family of chemicals known as xenoestrogens.

Many of these xenoestrogens are proven carcinogens. They are also well known for their ability to damage the immune system and interrupt hormonal balance. Our cells can’t always distinguish fully between our own estrogen and xenoestrogens. Every cell has estrogen receptors that recognize and open to the shape of an estrogen molecular chain, regardless of where it comes from.

Pesticides are perhaps the biggest source of xenoestrogens. Most bioaccumulate, meaning they are stored in fat cells of fish, poultry and other food sources in increasing concentration until they reach the top of the food chain — where you and I consume them! They are highly estrogenic, and some experts estimate that the average American ingests over a pound of pesticides a year.

A second major source of xenoestrogens is the many growth hormones given to livestock and poultry, most of which contain fat-soluble estrogens. When we consume those animals or their milk, we ingest that estrogen. Organochlorides like dioxin (a by-product of chlorine when it is burned or processed), PCB’s, PVC’s, and some plasticizers are just a few of the many manmade chemicals that act like estrogen in our bodies. Many others have the effect of interrupting our normal endocrine function, hence the term “endocrine disruptors.”

Mainstream medicine is finally paying attention because xenoestrogens not only affect the cells of women, but those of men and children. Sperm counts have dropped by 50% in some studies, a significant factor in the epidemic of infertility. The age at which girls develop secondary sex characteristics (breasts and pubic hair) is also dropping. It is not exactly clear what role endocrine disruptors as a whole have in the steady rise of chronic diseases in children (at earlier ages!), but studies are underway to evaluate this.

taken from artile on Estrogen Dominance


Jacqueline said...

Yes, I've read this article too and found it to be excellent advice. That link didn't work for me -- is it this one:

Also, this one on endocrine disruptors (from women to women) is worth a read:

I'll be on the look out for your book!

-- Jacqueline

Tina said...

Thanks for sharing this post to us. This helps the people to be aware on this kind of illness. Keep posting.

Anna said...

This post is really informative about estrogen dominance. Thanks for sharing.


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