Some of the results of our increased exposure to exogenous estrogens are seen in scary health trends:
- hormone-dependant cancers (ovarian, breast, uterine, prostate) have risen exponentially in the past several decades
- sperm counts continue to drop: they’ve lowered by 50% since the 1940s
- menarche (onset of menstrual cycle) is happening an average of 2 years earlier for women, compared to twenty years ago
Exogenous estrogens are thought to do this by having the following actions in the body:
- directly producing an estrogen effect
- causing more estrogen receptors to form
- inhibiting the liver’s ability to metabolize and eliminate estrogens from the body, and
- blocking the effect of our own body’s estrogen at the receptor site
Exogenous sources of estrogen include herbicides, pesticides and petroleum byproducts. They are fat soluble, therefore they accumulate and are stored in our fat tissue. They also bioaccumulate as you go up the food chain. For example, chicken and cattle eat grains that are sprayed with herbicides and then humans consume the exogenous estrogens when they eat poultry and beef, or when they eat dairy products.
When we eat fish we’re ingesting an accumulation of petrochemicals that have been dumped in the water. Another common way we come into contact with exogenous estrogens is through heating and storing foods in plastic containers, in which chemicals leach into the food.
What to do about this? Protect yourself! Avoid sources of exogenous estrogens – purchase organic dairy and produce, never heat plastics in the microwave, and in fact, chuck out the microwave and plastic containers with it! (Okay, preferably, you’ll recycle the microwave at the proper electronic depot). 🙂 Use glass containers to store foods and be choosy about what type of fish you purchase. Once you have decreased the amount of exogenous hormones coming in the body, now it’s time to upreguate the detox pathways to help the body eliminate stored estrogens – namely working with the liver, colon, lungs, and skin. I love doing cleanses with patients – especially first time detoxers as they generally don’t realize how fabulous they can feel after cleaning out their body!