The other day, while grabbing a few items from my local health food store, I over heard a woman say, “Do I want more Xenoestrogens in my diet or Phytoestrogens…What is the difference?” Thankfully she did have a health representative helping her understand them. There is a big difference between the two and it is important you are aware of what they are and what they do in your body. This is a three part article, examining what Xenoestrogens and Phytoestrogens are, which ones to avoid and how to get rid of the more toxic ones in your body.
What are Xenoestrogens and Endocrine Disruptors?
Endocrine Disruptors are a category of chemicals that alter the normal function of hormones. Normally, our endocrine system releases hormones that signal different tissues telling them what to do. When chemicals from the outside get into our bodies, they have the ability to mimic our natural hormones; blocking or binding hormone receptors.
Xenoestrogens are a sub-category of the endocrine disruptor group that specifically have estrogen-like effects. Xeno literally means “foreign estrogens” Estrogen is a natural hormone in humans that is important for bone growth, blood clotting and reproduction in men and women. The body regulates the amount needed through intricate biochemical pathways. When Xenoestrogens enter the body they increase the total amount of estrogen resulting in a phenomenon called, estrogen dominance. Xenoestrogens are not biodegradable so, they are stored in our fat cells.
What Can Estrogen Dominance Lead To ?
1. Precocious Puberty/ Early Puberty: When children develop secondary sexual characteristics before the age of eight for girls and nine in boys, they are said to have precocious puberty. This can cause a serious condition resulting in a significant reduction in adult height. Precocious puberty is also linked to several gynecological conditions including infertility, endometriosis, adenomyosis and polycystic ovarian syndrome.
2. Estrogen Dominance in Women: Too much estrogen can cause irregular menstruation as well as some very serious physical affects such as uterine fibroids, and infertility as well as psychological damage.
3. Estrogen Dominance in Men: A high level of estrogen can have a dramatic effect on the male reproductive system such as low sperm count and low testicle weight. It is also associated with an increased incidence of testicular cancer, abnormal or deformed reproductive organs and undescended testes.
Estrogen Dominance can cause many other conditions such as, Fibroids, Fibrocystic Breasts, Endometriosis, Autoimmune disorders, including Lupus and Thydroiditis. As well as, Migraines, Infertility, Type 2 Diabetes, Prostate cancer, Uterine cancer, and other types of glandular cancers. Estrogen Dominance can also play a huge role in hair loss, low sperm count, weight gain, and depression.
Where Do Xenoestrogens Come From?
Byproducts of the plastic and pesticide industries – called organochlorines – are one of the largest sources of Xenoestrogens. These compounds – used in dry cleaning, the bleaching of feminine hygiene products, and during the manufacture of plastics ranging from yogurt containers to baby bottles – have been shown to exert hormone-disrupting effects.
Some of the most common products they are found in are:
- Skin Care products, Sunscreen, Nail Polish, Shampoo, Hair products
- Various types of Plastics ( BPA- free doesn’t mean anything, they have replaced BPA with a “slightly harmful” hormone disruptor called BPS.
- Laundry detergents, Dryer sheets, Fabric softeners, anything heavily scented with synthetic perfumes
- Commercialized and Processed Meat and Dairy products, MSG and Artificial Sweeteners
- Insecticides and pesticides
- Feminine Hygiene products- (cotton is covered in nasty chemicals unless it is certified organic, not to mention the gels, nylons, and scents they add to tampons and pads)
- Printer ink, Copiers, carbon paper/receipt paper
- Tap water (hormones and pharmaceuticals are excreted into our water systems and no matter how clean your city’s tap water is, Xenoestrogens are difficult to remove)
It is clear that Xenoestrogens are not substances you want in your environment, on your food or in your body. Now that you have a clear understanding of that, stay tuned for part two, where we will discuss how to limit your exposure to Xenoestrogens and how to detoxify them from your body. In part three, we will take a look at Phytoestrogens.
For a more extensive list on ingredients and chemicals that produce xenotestrogens, click here.
Photo Cred: Here