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May 19 2012

Fake Estrogen – a modern health epidemic

Xenoestrogens are molecules that fake estrogen and have estrogenic effects in the body. What are some of these fake estrogen molecules and what is your probable exposure like?

  • Plastics – Probably the most famous source of these estrogen mimicking compounds. Almost all our food comes wrapped in plastic, is processed using plastic equipment and is often heated in plastic containers. Our water, juice, soda drinks, coffee and even tea often come in plastic bottles/containers. Our tooth brushes are plastic. BPA is probably the most famous xenoestrogen but even if a plastic is BPA free it likely has Pthalate esters and PCBs which are both equally dangerous endocrine disrupters. Needles to say our society is inundated with plastics. What is particularly concerning is how closely plastics are associated with our food.
  • Insecticides/Herbicides – Do you ever eat non-organic food? If so then you probably have gotten another good dose of xenoestrogens from these sources. The whole point of insecticides and herbicides is that they are toxic to organic life, thus consuming them brings those same toxins into you.
  • Lotions/Makeup/Creams – Parabens are probably the most famous here and there has been quite a bit of buzz around them. Also noted is 4-MBC a primary ingredient in sunscreens.There is a gazillion other chemicals in these products with unknown effects.
These are a very short list of Xenoestrogens. There are a lot more out there under various names, however these are the primary ones to be concerned about. Others include food colouring Red#3 (often used in dental dyes), BHA an antioxidant & food preserver, accutane, propyl gallate, alkylphenols and nonylphenols.

Effects of Xenoestrogens:

  • Decrease in quality of life – see symptoms further down
  • Causes Endometriosis, Uterine Fibroids, miscarriages, infertility
  • Male animals lose interest in sex, and/or to actively undergo sex reversal (these effects have most commonly been seen in fish and birds)
  • Sperm count lowered in both Animals and Humans
  • Xenoestrogens have been implicated in a whole range of cancers. Most famously breast cancer, but also prostate cancer. Is it any surprise a fake hormones have negative effects in sex organ areas!?
  • Cause disruptions in fetal development
  • “A 2008 report demonstrates further evidence of widespread effects of feminizing chemicals on male development in each class of vertebrate species as a worldwide phenomenon.” (source)
  • Since women have higher % of fat than men (on average about 10%) increase levels of estrogen and therefore xenoestrogens are linked to fat retention

What is really concerning about Xenoestrogens is that they get stored in fat. So yes while your exposure may come in small miminal quantities, as they get stored in your body the effects start to become more pronounced. If you are carrying around extra weight chances are you are also carrying around an extra dose of fake estrogens. As  you begin to lose weight these are released into the body.

Personal un-scientific Theorizing, Hypothesis & Conjecture

Xenoestrogens cause major effective hormonal imbalances in the body. HOWEVER IF YOU GET YOUR HORMONES TESTED BY A DOCTOR THESE EFFECTS WONT SHOW!!! Xenoestrogens are biochemically NOT estrogen. They mimic and act like estrogen. When a doctor does blood-work on you the lab tests for REAL estrogen, not the fake stuff! So your hormone tests, male or female, may come back as normal, and yes your real hormones may appear in the blood at normal levels, however what about the fake estrogen hormones that weren’t tested for?

Thus blood work, specifically hormonal tests can be incredibly misleading about the state of your hormone/endocrine system. Your body could be loaded with fake estrogen’s and yet your blood serum estrogen levels according to the doctor and the lab are perfectly normal. Now these fake estrogen’s floating around in your body, going largely undetected will cause the effects of elevated estrogen levels by binding to the hormone receptor sites. It’s the binding of these fake estrogen’s that causes hormonal effects. So thus you can have hormonal abnormalities WITHOUT the level  of your perosnal body created hormones being abnormal. This distinction here is key and appears to be entirely missed by the medical establishment at large.

The body’s endocrine system is concerned with keeping blood levels of testesterone and estrogen at normal homeostatic levels. It is very good at this. However what your endocine dose not do, is check to see if there are elevated levels of Xenoestrogens.

Thus the case for a males or females might be:

  • Normal Real Estrogen levels
  • Normal Real Testosterone levels
  • Abnormally HIGH Xenoestrogen levels (undetected by standard blood work)
What this means for males particularly is they may be producing testesterone just fine, however all the Xenoestrogens consumed are having the effects of what would appear to be lower testosterone and/or high estrogen in the body.

Male Symptoms:

  • Loss of ability to concentrate
  • Moodiness/emotionality
  • Touchiness/irritability
  • Great timidity
  • Feeling weak
  • Inner unrest
  • Loss of ability to concentrate
  • Memory failure
  • Reduced intellectual agility
  • Passive attitudes
  • General tiredness
  • Reduced interest in surroundings
  • Hypochondria
  • Plus many more……

Female Symptoms:

  • Thyroid Dysfunciton
  • Weight Gain
  • Low Sex Drive
  • Fluid Retention
  • Breast Cancer
  • PMS
  • Migraines
  • Mood Swings
  • Cramps
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Osteoperosis
  • Insomnia
  • Allergies
  • Memory Loss
  • Acne
  • Hot Flashes
  • Thinning Hair
  • Dry Skin
  • Plus many more……
Genetic Predispostion to Xenoestrogen problems

The Liver is the primary source of detoxification of Xenoestrogens in the body. It does this in Phase 1 detox utilizing enzymes. There is a genetic test offered by Genovations that allows you test for the genes that code for the specific enzymes in your liver that assists in the breakdown of xenoestrogens. One gene is called CYP1B1. If you have the variation of that gene it could impair your ability to detoxify xenoestrogens.

Another gene is CYP3A4. This is a major one, in that if this gene is down-regulated (estimated at 40% down with gene variation) it impairs your ability to breakdown cortisol, estrogen, progesterone, most prescription meds and presumably xenoestrogens as well. Supplement/diet support would be very beneficial here. Yet another gene may be COMT as well.

If you have the regular version of the above genes, your bodies ability to detox xenoestrogenes will be better/enhanced. In fact it may be so good, xenoestrogens may not be a problem for you at all. Because xenoestrogens are seemingly so closely related to breast cancer, and the global rate for breast cancer is about 25%, it is quite probable about ~25% of the global population may have the variation of the above genes. This is just a theory however, it will likely be decades before enough genetic tests can be done to establish a causative correlation. In any case it’s good to be prudent.

The above genetic test is expensive ~ $600 – $900 and most doctors/specialists won’t know about it. This is the cutting edge of medical research and most likely won’t be standard for another 20 years.

Xenoestrogen Reduction Strategies:

  • Minimize plastic use with food, especially heating foods or liquids in plastic
  • Drink out of glass or Stainless Steel containers such as KleanKanteen; store food in glass containers
  • Eat Organic Food
  • Eat lots of Broccoli and Juice Broccoli + all Cruciferous vegetables

Supplements:

Broccoli has some amazing detox phytonutrients in it that specifically help in the metabolization/break-down of  estrogen like compounds. Broccli and its subcomponents are currently the best way to rid the body of xenoestrogens. Ideally eat lots of broccoli whole or juiced plus you can take some of the components in supplement form:

Male & Female Primary Estrogen Detox Supplements: 

  • Diindolylmethane (DIM)
  • Calcium D-Glucarate
  • Myomin (herb)
Secondary supplement supports are:
  • L-5-methyltetrahydrofolate (L-5-MTHF)
  • Zinc – 30- 90mg a day
  • Magnesium – 300-600+ mg a day
  • Other Aromatase inhibitors? (Agaricus bisporus -mushrooms)
  • Bacteria – Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium infantis
  • Insoluble dietary fibers such as lignin
  • Fish Oils
  • MSM & Trimethylglycine
  • Rosemary oil
  • Vitamin D
  • Sulforaphane which you can buy here (general detox….however down-regulates CYP3A4…..this might be bad if your trying to breakdown estrogens)
  • Other Antioxidants – Vit E & C, NAC, Lipoic, Selenium, Green Tea Extracts, flavanoids, pycnogenol,
  • Resveratrol? – Antioxidant….but also phyto-estrogen?
  • D-limonene
Male specific:
  • Chrysin – research on this has it at questionable absorption; combine with Piperine (CYP3A4 inhibitor though..)
  • Stinging Nettle Root (Urtica Dioica)
  • Tribulus Terestris ? ….does it even work?
  • Saw Palmetto?
  • Maca

Notes: 

  • Some Xenoestrogenes have a half-life of 25-100 years in the environment.
  • There is a possible negative feedback loop that my be established with the ingestion of xenoestrogens whereby large exposures can increase sensitivity to estrogen like substances thereby ever increasing estrogenic effects.
  • There are no know side-effects of taking any of the Broccoli based supplements. These supplements have NO EFFECT on REAL levels of  estrogen, progesterone, or testosterone. This is very different than taking the pill or steroids, which are real, and affect levels of hormones in the body in real ways.
  • Some supplements like EstroBalance are marketed towards women, however if you read the label it says men should take twice as much!
  • Some supplements for women try to raise estrogen with phytoestrogens while decreasing xenoestrogens. Men should probably not take these.
  • Phytoestrogens and Xenoestrogens fundamentally work very different. Phytoestrogenes may help decrease xenoestrogen levels by competing for binding sites and they breakdown considerably faster. Xenoestorgenes are always bad.
  • However phytoestrogens may actually have a negative effect on pre-menopausal females with the genetic variation of CYP3A4, in that high levels of xenoestrogens + phytoestrogenes may elevate the effective level of estrogen in females far beyond the normal range. For those females it may be best to avoid flax & soy as well as other phytoestrogen rich food —this is just a theory.
  • It has been hypothesized that phytoestrogens may help curb the negative effects of menopause, however research so far remains inconclusive.
  • A lot of controversy exists in the medical literature on the effects of phytoestrogens on Males. If your Male and want to play it safe try to minimize Flax, Soy and Tofu. Quantity of phytoestrogens for various foods linked here.
  • Indole 3-carbinol (I3C) – Is often marketed as well, however research shows it has a conversion rate of only 10% into the active form DIM, and I3C also breaks down into numerous toxins potentially doing more harm than good. (source)
  • A lot of supplements marketed towards Males are trying to raise testosterone. The important thing is HOW they work. You can raise testosterone binding capability in the body, by ridding the body of xenoestrogens. This is ideal. However some supplements add plant based phyto like testosterone molecules that may then compete with xenoestrogens for binding. This is less ideal, however may still be beneficial. Supplementing in hope of raising real body testosterone levels is in all likelihood a fruitless endeavor. Your body self-regulates real testosterone very well. How all these things bind and their mechanism of action is important to study and differentiate.
  • Eliminating Xenoestrogenes obviously may have very beneficial implications for Athletes and Bodybuilders looking to maximize performance
  • Personal Account – I have yet to go for the genetic test, however taking the above listed broccoli based supplements have virtually nixed the above Male symptoms I had experienced for the last 15 years of my life. I suffered from what I deem misdiagnosed Chronic Fatigue & Fibromyalgia. I sleep deeper now, have considerably more energy and vitality, strength and endurance have improved and I have gained greater mental clarity. For me these have been as close to a miracle supplement as possible. I should note the fatigue symptoms started shortly after I did a accutane stint in highschool, which may have created a negative feedback loop early on.
  • If there is a history of cancer, thyroid issues, prostate issues in your family, you may want to take a closer look at xenoestrogens.

 

Sources:

Appendix: The real complicated/fun stuff
Genetic Implication Overview
General Overview of Detoxification via Liver
 Overview of all Detoxification via Liver
Estrogen Specific Detoxification Pathways
Estrogen Metabolism Pathway that I3C and DIM support

General Supplement Support for Estrogen Metabolism

Specific Supplement Support for Estrogen Metabolism

 

Four prong approach via Liver
  • Phase 1 – Support breakdown of Estrogen via the primary CYP Enzymes
    • DIM supports these enzymes
    • Adequate Protein Intake
    • Rosemary Oil promotes 2-hydroxylation of estrogen
  • Support Intermediate Step between Phase 1 and Phase 2 detox with Antioxidants
    • vitamins E and C, a-lipoic acid, N-acetylcysteine, the mineral selenium, curcumin, and green tea.
  • Phase 2- Support methylationvia COMT
    • Magnesium is an essential cofactor
    • B-Vitamins especially L-5-methyl tetrahydrofolate
    • Support “S-adenosylmethionine” (SAM)….
    • Trimethylglycine
  • Phase 2 – Support Sulfation (SUT) and glucuronidation(UGT) for water soluble elimination
    • Calcium D-Glucarate supports glucuronidation
    • Magnesium also support glucuronidation
    • MSM supports sulfation – (always supplement with molybedenum)
Intestinal Support 
  • Insoluble dietary fibers such as lignin – prevents re-absorption of estrogen, plus more fiber in general
  • Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium infantis prevent glucuronidase from being created by other undesirable bacteria
Sources: