This post is part of a series on estrogen dominance. If you missed part 1, which explains what estrogen dominance is and how it is diagnosed, start HERE.
So what exactly is causing the common estrogen dominance phenomenon, you may wonder?
There are two primary factors that are responsible for excess estrogen in our bodies; we either acquire it from our environment or produce too much of it.
- Oral Contraceptive Pill (OCP) – The pill disrupts a woman’s hormone balance by suppressing the production of progesterone, hence causing a relative estrogen dominance. It also eventually causes a sluggish liver, which has a harder time clearing all the estrogen metabolites, which end up circulating back into the body.
- Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) – This is synthetic estrogen, which has very potent estrogenic effects and is especially harmful if there is no balancing progesterone given at the same time, and can result in an increased risk of breast and/or endometrial cancer.
- Xenoestrogens – ‘Xeno’ means foreign, so they are man-made synthetic chemicals that mimic estrogen and impact hormone balance. When xenoestrogens enter the body, they are stored in our fat cells, and contribute to estrogen dominance. We are constantly exposed to these substances in the world we live in today.
Here are some of the most common xenoestrogens:
- Lining of tin cans (BPA)
- Plastics – bottles, containers, soft plastic our food is wrapped in
- Pesticides, Herbicides, Fungicides, Insecticides
- Non-stick cookware
- Non-organic livestock
- Soaps, detergents
- Dry cleaning chemical
- Cleaning supplies
- Nail polish and polish remover
- Bleached feminine hygiene products
- Spermicidal lubricants
… And the list goes on and on.
- Chronic Stress – When the adrenals glands are stressed, there is an increased need for cortisol production, which in turn decreases the amount of progesterone produced. The more progesterone is shunted to make cortisol, the less is available to balance off the estrogen.
- Obesity – Fat cells have an enzyme called aromatase, which converts androgens (i.e. testosterone) to estrogen. The greater the percentage of fat, the more this conversion occurs.
- Coffee – Drinking more than 2 cups of coffee daily can increase estrogen levels in women. Caffeine intake, regardless of the source, can deplete nutrients like Magnesium, Vitamin C and B Vitamins, which play an important role in neutralizing bad estrogen metabolites in the liver.
- Liver Disorders – The liver detoxifies our bodies and protects us from harmful effects of chemicals, environmental toxins and by-products of our metabolism, like excess estrogen. The liver’s detoxification process has two phases. In Phase One, also known as Oxidation, toxins become more water-soluble so that they can be easily excreted from the body by the liver and kidneys. Most environmental toxins are fat-soluble, so they need liver’s help to exit the body. Chemicals produced in phase one are actually more toxic than when they originally entered the body. Hence, the importance of Phase Two liver detoxification, or Conjugation, which is responsible for excreting these toxins in bile and urine. Both phases of liver detoxification need to function optimally so that no harmful toxins are left to circulate in the body. Anything that hinders liver function will result in excess estrogen, whether it is a physical cause (i.e. liver disease) or an external one (i.e. drugs, environmental toxins).
So what can you do if you have estrogen dominance? Stay tuned for Part 3 in our estrogen dominance series to learn about natural ways that will help you address estrogen dominance, minimize related symptoms and hopefully prevent estrogen related diseases.
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