I recently discussed xenoestrogens and their effects on our lives. With their great impact on our overall health, one of the biggest reasons my clients want more information is because of their impact on our waistlines. It’s true, xenoestrogens play a large role in the numbers on the scale. Yes, our standard American diet is mostly to blame; however, if you have up’d your exercise and changed your diet, and still feel bloated, with scale numbers plateauing, your quality of foods can be to blame. Processed foods, meats and dairy fed with estrogen-filled grains, pesticide sprayed vegetables, and toxin-filled by-products are all hormone-disrupting. These not only cause long-term problems to you, but they can make you fat.
Even if you are not over-weight, eliminating endocrine disruptors should rank high on your priority list. Lowering your cancer risk, balancing your hormones, increasing your fertility, and balancing your thyroid all include taking a look at how your body is consuming and absorbing xenoestrogens.
While there are unavoidable environmental xenoestrogens that we breathe in daily, there are also so many ways we can avoid and protect ourselves from consuming them. Educate yourself and invest in yourself; by spending a little more time on reading labels, menu planning, and choosing products, you will lead a healthier life. (You can also help prevent early puberty for your children by eliminating as many of these endocrine disruptors as possible.)
What To Eliminate From Your Life
There are natural, effective birth control alternatives without the side effects of the pills. While preventing pregnancy may be your top concern, these chemically toxic, hormone disruptors can slowly pass poisons into your body, causing the potential risk of cancers and chronic health problems.
Menstrual Pads and Tampons
Avoid tampons and sanitary napkins that contain chlorine, fragrances, wax, surfactants, rayon, etc.
Your average coffee maker leeches xenoestrogens into your morning Joe through the plastic that makes up its beautiful design. Switching to a stainless steel or glass French Press will eliminate this risk; however, make sure you are not pouring your coffee into a plastic or Styrofoam cup, as the hot coffee will then absorb the xenoestrogens from these cups and allow you to ingest them.
Synthetic pesticides and insecticides also contain xenoestrogens, so eating organic really is the best way to avoid endocrine-disrupting chemicals in your food.
Non-Organic Meat and dairy
Industrially raised dairy and meat tend to have a lot of xenoestrogens, as they are often given exogenous hormones. You may also limit naturally estrogenic foods, particularly soy, as it can increase the total estrogen levels in the body (and cause an imbalance in your thyroid).
Plastic Food Containers
Replace your plastic containers with glass, stainless steel, and ceramic ones. Unfortunately, BPA-free plastic is not safe in most cases, as BPA is only one of the chemicals in plastic known as a xenoestrogen.
Skip the plastic and invest in a canteen or a thermos made out of 100% stainless steel.
Fabric Softener and Dryer Sheets
There is not one fabric softener on the market that does not contain endocrine disruptors. While those soft sweaters and even softer sheets feel good, that softer feeling is killing you.
Standard Cosmetics, Toothpastes, and Deodorants
You want to look for products free of aluminum, parabens, and phthalates. Many brands of toothpaste have parabens and fluoride in them, so look for items that avoid these chemicals.
Most hair, body, and hand soaps all have endocrine disruptors within them. Read labels carefully to avoid these toxins. You want to find something natural and organic.
The chemicals used to create perfume also act as chemical estrogens. They are absorbed into the skin as well as through the nose.
Scented Home Products
Fragrance-filled candles, air fresheners, potpourri are all majority man-made with toxic hormone disruptors. These products are not naturally derived and contain the same chemicals as perfumes, which you will absorb throughout your day – every day after they are used inside your home.
Does a clean house smell really mean clean? The short answer is no. There is a much longer answer here, of course, but those smells are chemically derived and harmful to you and your family. Eliminate the harsh chemicals and use natural alternatives instead.
From www.kidshealth.com (Yes, you read that right: KIDShealth) about birth control pills:
“Hormones are chemical substances that control the functioning of the body’s organs.”
Where do I even start? There is absolutely nothing okay with this statement. How are women, and TEEN women, still given these pills daily?
The birth control pill was approved by the FDA in 1960. Regarded as a hero drug among women, the pill gave women the freedom to have sex without worrying about becoming pregnant. Very few people questioned the side effects and risks of hormonal birth control, and still today, the pill is given as a “right of passage” to most teens. Yet, study after study leads us down a road of questions and worry.
The quote above is completely accurate. Hormones ARE chemical substances. The body produces them regularly and maintains a natural balance that allows the organs to function as they are meant. Estrogen and progestogens are essential steroid hormones. In women, they are required for normal development of female sex organs and secondary sex characteristics, regulation of the menstrual cycle and reproduction, and many other essential physiological functions in the bones, brain, breasts, adipose tissue, and uterus. Synthetic versions of these hormones (estrogen and progestogens) placed in the body then overthrow the natural balance and take control of the organs, tricking and manipulating them into functioning in different ways than they should.
All hormonal contraceptives have at least three mechanisms of action. Artificial female hormones are the active ingredient in all hormonal contraceptives (estrogen and progestin). Some products contain both hormones and others progestin only (Mini-Pill). Using both hormones together is somewhat more effective than progestin alone, but the estrogen component is responsible for most of the serious health hazards associated with hormonal methods. Hormonal contraceptives prevent ovulation, meaning no egg is released so sperm cannot fertilize it.
There are several forms of hormonal birth control, all with similar risks and side effects. Remember that none of the hormonal contraceptive options protect against sexually transmitted diseases or HIV.
Birth control pills: The most well-known and common form of contraceptive. Oral birth control contains both forms of female hormones, estrogen and progestin. They must be taken daily and at the same time to be considered affective. Most brands include a week of sugar pills after the first 21 pills, allowing the body to still have a period. However, “The Pill” can differ not only in the number of active ingredients, but also in the way ingredients are dosed by brand. Monophasic birth control pills contain the same amount of ingredient in each active pill, while multiphasic birth control pills contain varying levels of hormones through the month. These were designed to minimize side effects such as breakthrough bleeding. There are also low-dose oral contraceptives that contain less estrogen than other types of birth control pills. They contain 20 micrograms of estrogen, compared to 30 to 50 in other birth control pills. Studies are now linking oral contraceptives to cervical, breast, and liver cancer. (www.cancer.gov)
Mini-pill: These are like conventional oral contraceptives, but contain no estrogen, making them safer, but also less effective. Often recommended to women who are breastfeeding, the mini-pill may effect milk supply and can still produce many side effects.
Depot medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA): An injection, the “depot shot” was approved by the FDA in 1992 and quickly became popular due to its non-daily methods. An injection is administered once every 12 weeks and contains medroxyprogesterone acetate, polyethylene glycol, sodium sulfate anhydrous, and myristyl-gamma-picolinium chloride (as a preservative). http://www.rxlist.com/depo-provera-drug/patient-images-side-effects.htm
NuvaRing: A combined hormonal contraceptive, this vaginal ring is inserted once a month and removed to bring on a menstrual cycle.
Contraceptive Implant: An implant the size of a matchstick can be placed under the skin of the upper arm. It releases progestin slowly. It can be left in place for three years.
Contraceptive Patch: Ortho-Evra is the only FDA approved hormonal contraceptive patch. It contains the hormones estrogen and progestin, and is applied to the skin once a week for three weeks. On the fourth week, no patch is used, allowing menstruation to occur. Recent studies have shown that Ortho-Evra causes a higher level of estrogen to circulate in the body than do combination birth control pills. As a result, you may have a slightly higher risk of estrogen-related adverse events.
Synthetic Estrogen Problems Include:
- Breast swelling & tenderness
- Vaginal discharge
- High blood pressure
- Decreased libido (sex drive)
- Mood swings
- Fluid retention
- Permanent dark patches on face
- Drug interaction problems
- Eye or vision problems
- Gallbladder disease
- Tumors of the liver
- Breast Cancer and/or tumor growth
- Cervical cancer
- Deep vein thrombosis (blood clot)
- Pulmonary embolism
- Heart attack
Synthetic Progestin Problems Include:
- Weight gain
- Bone loss
- Fatigue and tiredness
- Acne and/or oily skin
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Insulin resistance
- Irregular menstrual bleeding
- Breast tenderness
- Suppression of immune system
- Heart attack
- Breast tumor growth
Other possible side effects to the above mentioned forms of contraceptives:
- menstrual periods that are heavier or longer than normal
- sudden numbness or weakness
- sudden severe headache, confusion, problems with vision, speech, or balance
- chest pain, sudden cough, wheezing, rapid breathing, coughing up blood
- pain, swelling, warmth, or redness in one or both legs
- nausea, upper stomach pain, itching, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes)
- swelling in your hands, ankles, or feet
- symptoms of depression (sleep problems, weakness, mood changes).
Types of Estrogens Will be Listed As:
- ethynil estradiol
Types of Progestins Will be Listed As:
- ethynodiol diacetate
Many epidemiological studies have shown that prolonged exposure to estrogens may increase the risk of breast cancer.
Hormonal birth control and breast cancer: A recent study compared 1,102 women between the ages of 20 and 49 diagnosed with breast cancer, whose birth control pill usage histories (including does information) were obtained using electronic pharmacy records. The study showed that current and recent pill use increased the relative risk of breast cancer by 50% overall. The risk was highest with high (170%) or moderate doses (60%) of estrogen and certain formulations of progestogen (up to 210%) SOURCE
A few recent studies have also explored the risk of different sub-types of breast cancer with use of birth control pills. Alarmingly, the studies have shown that use of birth control pills increases the risk of a type of breast cancer called triple-negative, which is more common in younger women and is aggressive and difficult to treat. A study from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Institute in 2009 showed that use of birth control pills for more than one year increased the risk of triple-negative breast cancer four-fold in women younger than 40. SOURCE and SOURCE
The study also showed that the risk conferred by longer duration of use and by more recent use was significantly higher for triple-negative breast cancer. Several other studies have shown similar results. SOURCE and SOURCE
Since women taking the pills tend to be younger, the combination of findings that the pills increase breast cancer risk with current and recent use and increase the risk of triple-negative breast cancer make it more troubling, especially with the increase in breast cancer diagnoses in young women.
Estrogen in Our Water: Even if you are not taking hormonal birth control, there is still cause to worry. Over the past decade, we have learned about the increasing percentage of hormones being found in our water supply. Studies have found that women on hormonal contraceptives are urinating estrogenic compounds into the water, ans these hormones are not then filtered out. The cycle is as you think: we all then consume these. Estrogenic compounds are part of a larger category of chemicals known as endocrine-disruptors (EDCs), chemicals that can alter the hormonal and homeostatic systems enabling an organism – like a human being or other animal – to communicate with and respond to its environment. We are witnessing puberty beginning younger and younger in our children, and watching cancer rates increase. Hormones in our water are playing a role in this.
Better options for your health: Non-Hormonal Contraceptives:
- Vaginal Spermicides
- Female Condom
- Lea’s Shield
- Intra-Uterine Device (IUD)
- Natural Family Planning