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Estrogen Dominance


Introduction

Estrogen dominance is a metabolic state where the level of estrogen outweighs the level of progesterone in the body. This state of imbalance results from either a decrease in available progesterone or an increase in estrogen. Progesterone levels may drop when the body is under stress as the adrenal glands sequester progesterone. This state of low progesterone will automatically cause the body to perceive a higher estrogen level which may trigger a state of estrogen dominance. Estrogen levels may be exacerbated by hormone disrupters which affect the entire endocrine system. They alter the production and breakdown of your own hormones, and the function of your hormone receptors - disrupting hormone balance at its developmental core. They can compete for hormone receptor sites in the body and bind to them in place of natural hormones, causing major fluctuations in hormonal levels in the body. Compounding the problem, these chemicals increase in potency 160 to 1600 times when they're combined inside your body from several different sources, such as hormone-injected meats and pesticide-sprayed produce.

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Common Causes

One of the biggest health threats facing women today is the excess estrogen assault from our environment. Man-made estrogens or xenoestrogens are in pollutants, hormone-injected meats and dairy, plastics, pesticides and drugs. Man-made estrogens can stack the deck against women by increasing their estrogen levels hundreds of times over normal levels. Although many scientists still believe that there is no significant difference between man-made and natural hormones, it is apparent from the evidence of thousands of women, that even if a lab test cannot tell the difference, their bodies can. Nearly half of African-American girls and 15% of Caucasian girls now begin to develop sexually by age 8, a clear indicator of hormone disruption.

Hormone disrupters are so commonplace in modern society that there is no way to completely avoid them. Hormone disrupters come from pollutants, drugs, hormone-injected meats and dairy products, plastics, and pesticides, and hormone replacement drugs for both sexes. Only in the last five years has anyone realized how common environmental estrogens are in today's world. Nearly 40% of pesticides used in commercial agriculture are suspected hormone disrupters. All of the Earth's waterways are connected, so chemical pollutants containing environmental hormones reach your food supply wherever you live. The problem is so huge that in September 2009 the Environmental Protection Agency began implementing a congressionally mandated plan to test 87,000 compounds to determine their effect on the reproductive systems of humans and animals.

Estrogen-mimicking pollutants may even be changing the face of human evolution. New reports show the devastating effect of hormone disrupting pollutants on our wildlife and human health. Pallid sturgeons, found only in the Mississippi river, are now condemned to extinction as decades of exposure to pollutant PCB's (polychlorinated biphenyls) and DDT (dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane) have resulted in no new species birth for the last 10 years. Studies done on turtles at the University of Texas find that even when environmental factors (like heat) are controlled to determine a male outcome, females or intersex turtles are hatched from just a small amount of PCB's that are painted on the eggs.

There is a link between pesticides and breast cancer. Pesticides, like other pollutants, are stored in body fat areas like breast tissue. Some pesticides including PCB's and DDT compromise immune function, overwork the liver and affect the glands and hormones the way too much estrogen does. One study shows 50 to 60% more dichloro-diphenyl-ethylene (DDE) and polychlorinated bi-phenols, (PCB's) in women who have breast cancer than in those who do not. The quantity of DDT in body tissues is also higher. In fact, some researchers suggest that the reason older women are experiencing a higher rate of breast cancer may be that these women had greater exposure to DDT before it was banned. The dramatic rise in breast cancer is consistent with the accumulation of organo-chlorine residues in the environment.

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Common Symptoms

Breast tenderness, decreased sex drive, depression with anxiety or agitation, early onset of menstruation, menopausal symptoms, endometrial (uterine) cancer, fat gain, especially around the abdomen, hips and thighs, fibrocystic breasts, hair loss, infertility, irregular menstrual periods, insomnia, magnesium deficiency, mood swings, polycystic ovaries, PMS

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Natural Treatment

Natural treatment of estrogen dominance involves identifying dietary and environmental culprits and cleansing the body to get rid of the toxins that create the imbalances. A detoxification diet includes natural and organic foods free of pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics as well as a therapeutic supplemental regimen to support liver health, adrenal function and the immune system. In more advanced cases of xenoestrogen exposure or chemical overload, diagnostic testing may be recommended. Male/Female Hormone panels, thyroid testing, vitamin/mineral testing, adrenal stress testing and heavy metal toxicity are often helpful in further exploring the effects of estrogen dominance. The Nutraprint Online Evaluation can be a helpful tool in determining the specific approach that is best suited for your individual.

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References

Isaac S. Hormonal Balance: Understanding Hormones, Weight, and Your Metabolism. Boulder: Bull Publishing Company; 2007: 185.

Hormone. Wikipedia. 2009. Available at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hormone. Accessed October 8, 2009.

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