We know environmental toxins contribute to climate change and the disruption of the delicate ecosystems on our planet. What is less well known, is that these same chemicals in our environment (air, water and food) and common household products (cleaners, cosmetics) can also mimic our body’s natural hormones and cause endocrine disruption in our body’s finely tuned systems.
These synthetic chemicals and toxins are called xenoestrogens.
Over time, an accumulation of xenoestrogens (from the common everyday sources below*) block or bind to hormone receptors in our tissues and upset our bodies balance of natural estrogen and progesterone.
- The fine balance of our reproductive hormones is essential for normal functioning of sensitive tissue like the breast, uterus as well as the immune and reproductive system in both women and men.
- The disruption of hormone balance and function can result in a condition of estrogen dominance.
Estrogen Dominance occurs when the body does not have enough progesterone to balance out the influence of estrogen.
How does estrogen dominance present?
- For women: symptoms: PMS, mood swings, fatigue, tender or fibrocystic breasts, weight gain (especially around the hips and waist, headaches, heavy or irregular bleeding, decreased libido, thinning of scalp hair. conditions: endometriosis, uterine fibroids, infertility, breast cancer, ovarian cysts.
- For men: imbalances in testosterone (decreased energy, motivation, low libido), problems concerning fertility (low sperm count), prostate and testicular disease.
How do we assess estrogen dominance and hormone status?
The most effective way to assess hormone status is to test saliva for the appropriate hormone levels. Saliva is the best method for testing “functional” or “active” tissue levels of hormones. We work with a number of labs that offer these hormone tests.
Doing a proper individual evaluation of your unique hormone levels before embarking on a supplementation program is most advantageous. The naturopathic doctors at Connect Health specialize in this type of testing and prescribing designed to effectively treat individuals who are experiencing conditions that arise from estrogen dominance.
How do we encounter xenoestrogens? Common everyday activities like:
- using antibacterial soaps and wipes (parabens)
- drinking unfiltered water
- industrial pollutants: eg: atroxine, perchlorate, arsenic
- pharmaceuticals: eg. birth control pills , HRT -Hormone Replacement Therapy
- drinking and eating from plastic bottles, containers and cans (BPA- Bisphenol-A)
- eating food grown with pesticides, herbicides and contaminated soil (organophosphates, perchlorate, dioxins)
- eating milk products and meat treated with growth hormones
- eating food with added flavours or colour (FD and C Red Dye #9, ) preservatives (BHA)
- using cosmetics and skincare (parabens, acetone, phthalates etc. )
- using sunscreen (4-MBC- 4-Methylbenzylidene camphor and benzophenones)
- using conventional cleaning products (glycol ethers)
- using non-stick pans and having upholstery, electronics and automobiles treated with fire-retardants(PBDE)
For a comprehensive list of endocrine disrupting chemicals, see the EWG (Environmental Working Group) website and download their pdf.
How do xenoestrogens accumulate?
The liver is one of the key organs designed to clear toxins from the body and is also responsible for metabolizing hormones. However, when there is a heavy load of chemicals that is more than the body can process OR a detoxification and elimination pathway is blocked, the result becomes a burden on the liver. This pile up becomes more than the body can remove and is how an accumulation of toxins and imbalances ensue.
How to prevent estrogen dominance?
There are many ways to prevent estrogen dominance. These include:
Avoiding xenoestrogens in your environment (see list above)
- Managing stress (high cortisol withdrawls can steal your progesterone “building blocks”!)
- Maintain a healthy weight- keeping weight gain in check (toxic chemicals are stored in our fat cells),
- Supporting detoxification pathways (lighten the chemical load)
- Supporting your endocrine (hormone) system.
Naturopathic Medicine is well equipped to provide evaluation and guidance for stress and weight management, cleansing/detoxification and endocrine support. We support hormone balance using with diet and lifestyle counseling, nutrients (supplements, minerals, vitamins) and herbs, and if indicated through testing, bioidentical hormone supplementation.
*Connect will be offering a special women’s health program with a focus on these specific issues. Please email our centre at firstname.lastname@example.org and use the subject line “Hormone Health”. A member of our client relations team will be happy to answer any questions you may have, as well as provide the brochure, and pricing information for this program.*
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