Reducing Harmful Environmental Estrogen

Estrogen Dominance: A Cultural Condition
Part 1: Estrogen Dominance & Environmental Estrogens
Dr. Summer Swanick, N.M.D.

Are you one of the millions of women that suffers from:

  • PMS?
  • Adult acne?
  • Menopausal symptoms?

Most people know that estrogen and progesterone are the main female hormones. Some people know the basics of how these hormones regulate the menstrual cycle. The first half of the menstrual cycle is controlled by estrogen. During ovulation, estrogen decreases dramatically while progesterone increases. Progesterone drops off, which initiates menstruation and the cycle begins again. Not too many people know the specific roles of estrogen and progesterone, and how the balance between these two hormones is crucial for proper hormone functioning. Imbalances in these hormones are often the cause of PMS (premenstrual syndrome) and menopausal symptoms such as bloating, breast tenderness, mood swings or irritability, acne, and night sweats. 

These hormonal symptoms are commonly accept in American culture, but are virtually unheard of in other indigenous cultures. One study of Mayan women in Yucatan, Mexico showed no hot flashes, fractures, or other menopausal symptoms in women with the same hormonal changes as women in the United States. The Japanese language didn’t even have a term for “hot flash” in their language until recently. The main suspected factors for these cultural differences are diet and weight.

So, how are our hormones getting so out of balance?

There are many health conditions associated with “estrogen dominance,” a hormonal imbalance where women’s bodies are overwhelmed with estrogen. Part of this is due to the increased levels of hormones we are introduced to by eating meat that has been hormonally treated. Another contributing factor is the growing exposure to xenoestrogens (pronounced zee-no-estro-jen), which are foreign compound that act like estrogen in your body. Virtually all Americans ingest xenoestrogens daily by drinking from plastic water bottles, topical application of cosmetic products, and eating nonorganic foods.

What it’s called (other names) Where it’s found Effects on your body
Phthalate (dibutyl phthalate, diethyl phthalate, butylbenzyl phthalate, butyl ester, plasticizer, “fragrance”) Plastic food containers, beauty and personal care products including nail enamels and hardeners, shampoos, conditioners, lotions, hair growth formulations, antiperspirants, sunscreen, vinyl flooring, air fresheners. Causes birth defects & reproductive impairment in men by damaging testes and reproductive system. Causes loss of pregnancy in women by preventing implantation of the egg. Can also cause deformities including cleft palate.
Paraben (methylparaben, butylparaben, propylparaben) Shampoos, conditioners, soaps, shaving gels, hair gels, pre-packaged foods, lotions, creams Disrupts normal hormone functioning, possible effect on reproduction and development, possible link to breast cancer.
Bisphenol A Lining of canned goods Is associated with breast cancer, prostate cancer, infertility and birth defects

Symptoms of Estrogen Dominance
Some common symptoms of estrogen dominance include acne, especially along the jaw line, heavy menses, and being overweight. Medical conditions including insulin resistance, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), and uterine fibroids are also related to estrogen dominance.