Xenoestrogens are found in everyday synthetic materials. These materials were previously thought to be inert. Cut out the xenoestrogens from your life.
by Elizabeth Smith, M.D.
Xeno literally means foreign. So xenoestrogens means foreign estrogens. Some of the 100,000 registered chemicals for use in the world have hormonal effects in addition to toxic and carcinogenic effects. Also the synergistic effects are known to occur but also are largely exactly unknown. The field of xenohormones is new, and only been in existence since about 1991.
Critics have proclaimed that these chemicals are for the most part "weak". The body's hormones are at levels of parts per trillion. However, many of the chemicals that affect the hormone systems are routinely found in the serum after sauna at parts per billion. In other words, these chemicals that affect the hormone systems of the human body occur at 100 to 1000 times greater concentration than that of the normal human hormones. One researcher demonstrated that two "weak" estrogens may act synergistically to give a strong estrogen response. Some of these Xenoestrogens like DDE (a metabolite of DDT) may persist in the body fat for decades. Many of these mimicking hormones were previously thought to occur in pesticides. However, many of the newly discovered xenoestrogens are found in every day previously thought to be inert materials.
Some of the following is information taken from Our Stolen Future by Theo Colborn:
A study published in the Proceedings of the Society of Experimental Biology and Medicine in 1950 by two Syracuse University Zoologists Lindeman and Burlington described how doses of DDT prevented young roosters from developing normally. They injected DDT into roosters by injecting the pesticide into forty young roosters for a period of 2 to 3 months. The daily doses of DDT did not kill the roosters or even made them sick. It made them look weird; they looked like hens. The birds testicles were only 18% of normal size. Their combs and wattles remained stunted and pale. The roosters were chemically castrated. Micheal Fry, a wild life toxicologist, at the University of California at Davis injected eggs from western and California gull colonies with DDT and a breakdown product of DDT, DDE, and methoxychlor (another synthetic pesticide known to bind to estrogen receptors). He found the feminization of the male's reproductive tracts. Typical female cells were found in the testicles, and in cases of higher doses, the presence of an oviduct, the egg-laying canal normally found only in females. Despite all this internal disruption, the chick looked completely normal.
"The roosters were chemically castrated by DDT."
DDT was found to bind to the estrogen receptor sites. It is now considered one of the classic xenoestrogens.
DDT was banned in the United States. However, world wide production of DDT has never been higher. In fact, DDT is manufactured in the United States and shipped to third world countries. DDT is metabolized to DDE in the human body within a few months. DDE then may last in the human body for several decades. However, some medical doctors occasionally find DDT in the serum routinely following intensive sauna. So where is this new exposure to DDT coming from? The United States ships DDT to third world countries that spray it on vegetables and fruits. This agricultural produce is shipped to United States supermarkets where Americans consume it. In 1991, the United States exported 96 tons of DDT.
Another source may come from your living area. If your house is near or built upon old agricultural land, DDT will persist in the soil for several centuries.
Plastics, Spermicide, Detergent, and Personal Care Products
At Tufts Medical School in Boston in 1987, Soto and Sonnenschein serendipitously discovered that plastic test tubes thought to be inert contained a chemical that stimulated breast cancer cells to grow and proliferate wildly. They were experimenting with malignant breast cancer cells that were sensitive to estrogen. When exposed to estrogen the cells would grow and multiply, and when isolated from estrogen, the cells would stop multiplying. During the course of their experiments, they found that the test tube manufacturer changed the formulation of the plastic test tubes that they were using. The manufacturer had used p-nonylphenol one of the family of synthetic chemicals called alkylphenols to make these plastics more stable and less breakable. Manufacturers routinely add nonlyphenols to polystyrene and polyvinyl chloride (PVC). These new plastic test tubes caused their estrogen sensitive breast cancer cells to proliferate, multiply and grow. Thus, they concluded that p-nonylphenol acted like an estrogen.
These new plastic test tubes caused their estrogen sensitive breast cancer cells to proliferate, multiply and grow"
One study showed that the food processing industry and packaging industry used PVC's that contained nonlyphenols. Another reported contamination of water that had passed through PVC tubing. Even a compound found in contraceptive creams nonoxynol-9 breaks down inside the animal's body to produce nonylphenol. Breakdown of chemicals such as those found in industrial detergents, pesticides, and personal care products give rise to nonylphenol. Global production of alkylphenols polyethoxylate was 600 million pounds in 1990. Although the products purchased by the consumer are not themselves estrogenic; studies have found that bacteria in the animal's bodies, in the environment, or in sewage treatment plants degrade these alkylphenol polyethoxylates, creating nonylphenol and other xenoestrogens.
Plastic Drinking Bottles and Plastics used with food
In 1993, at Stanford University School of Medicine, Dave Feldman, professor of medicine was experimenting with a yeast estrogen protein that binds to estrogen. They found that the polycarbonate bottles used to hold drinking water contained bisphenol-A. They used the polycarbonate lab flasks to sterilize the water used in their experiments. Bisphenol-A nicely bound to the estrogen protein found in the yeast. This polycarbonate plastic is routinely used for the giant jugs used in shipping water. The manufacturer was aware that the bottles would leach particularly if exposed to high temperatures and caustic cleaners and so developed a washing regimen that they thought would solve the problem. However, the researchers discovered that the manufacturer could not detect samples sent from their lab, samples that were causing proliferation of estrogen responsive breast cancer cells. This proved to be a detection limit in the manufacturer's lab equipment. The Stanford team found that 2-5 parts per billion of bisphenol-A was enough to cause the breast cancer cells to proliferate. Professor Feldman noted that though bisphenol-A is 2000X less potent than estrogen, "it still has activity in the parts per billion range."
One Dartmouth University Study showed that plastic wrap heated in a microwave oven with vegetable oil had 500,000 times the minimum amount of xenoestrogens needed to stimulate breast cancer cells to grow in the test tube.
Detergent Breakdown Products
John Sumpter a biologist from Brunel University in Uxbridge began to study sexually confused fish reported from anglers fishing in English rivers. Many fish caught in the lagoons and pools just below the discharge from sewage plants looked quite bizarre. Even experienced fisherman could not tell if a fish was male or female. The fish showed male and female characteristics at the same time. They were perfect examples of intersex where an individual is stranded between both sexes. Sumpter used a marker that helped identify female fish. Normally in females a special egg protein is made called vitellogenin, in response to estrogen from the ovaries. On the estrogen signal from the ovaries, the liver produces vitellogenin and the protein is incorporated into the eggs. Since the response is dependent on estrogen, vitellogenin levels found in male fish would be a good indication of estrogen exposure. Caged fish raised in captivity and then kept in the contaminated pools made 1000X to 100,000X more vitellogenin than control trout kept in clean water. 15 sites were sampled with soaring vitellogenin levels. It was a national problem. Alkylphenol levels from detergent breakdown products are high on the suspect list. However, Sumpter suspects that it is the synergistic qualities of several xenoestrogens acting together.
Two Spanish Scientists at the University of Granada decided to investigate the plastic coatings that manufacturers use to line the metal cans. The coating is added to avoid the metallic taste of metal in the food from the cans. These linings are present in about 85% of the cans. Fatima Olea and Nicolas Olea, an M.D., specializing in endocrine cancers worked with Soto and Sonnenschein. In a study analyzing twenty brands of canned foods purchased in the United States and in Spain, they discovered bisphenol-A, the same chemical that the Stanford researchers discovered, in about half of the canned food up to levels of 80 parts per billion. This is 27 times greater concentration of bisphenol-A needed to cause the breast cancer cells to proliferate in the Stanford Study.
Commercially raised Beef, Chicken and Pork
Commercially raised livestock are routinely given xenoestrogens to fatten them up, grow quickly, and cause them to retain water. This results in greater profits for the farmer. It is an effective, cheap, quick way to fatten them up. In the 1970's and 1980's there was an epidemic in Puerto Rico of early puberty in girls as young as a year old and even young boys who developed breasts caused by meat and dairy products containing high levels of estrogen. In the United States, the use of estrogen compounds is now slightly better regulated, but it is still very much used and abused.
"Young boys developed breasts."
John Lee, M.D.
DES (diethylstilbestrol), a type of synthetic estrogen, was the first hormone to be used by the meat industry to fatten up livestock until it was discovered that it causes cancer even in extremely minute amounts.
Birth Control Pills
Birth Control Pills contain a synthetic estrogen and a synthetic progestin to force the body to cycle in a normal manner even though conception may have occurred and different hormones levels are supposed to occur. Is it really nice to fool mother nature? Many times what we see clinically is that it takes one year or more for a woman's period to become normal after stopping birth control pills. This is because the synthetic estrogens and progestins in the birth control pills are oil soluble and difficult for the body to get rid of.
Why not use a simpler method of birth control such as condoms? Use one that does not use a spermicide such as nonoxynol-9. Researchers found that once nonoxynol-9 gets into a rats body it breaks down into nonylphenol - a known xenoestrogen.
Preservative Methyl Paraben in Skin Lotions and Gels
For many years, parabens were considered among those preservatives with low systemic toxicity, primarily causing allergic reactions. However, as we have become aware that some synthetic chemicals mimic the female hormone estrogen, our understanding of the toxic effects of both synthetic and natural substances has changed. Now, John Sumpter from the Department of Biology & Biochemistry, Brunel University, Uxbridge, Middlesex, have found that alkyl hydroxy benzoate preservatives (namely methyl-, ethyl-, propyl-, and butylparaben) are weakly estrogenic. In an estrogen receptor-binding assay, butylparaben was able to compete with the female hormone estradiol for binding to estrogen receptors with an affinity approximately 5 orders of magnitude lower than that of diethylstilbestrol (a highly carcinogenic synthetic estrogen), and between 1 and 2 orders of magnitude less than nonylphenol (an estrogenic synthetic industrial chemical).
Although it is reassuring to note that when administered orally, the parabens were inactive, subcutaneous administration of butylparaben produced a positive estrogenic response on uterine tissues. Although approximately 100,000 times less potent than17 beta-estradiol, greater exposure to the parabens may compensate for their lower potency. The researchers conclude that, "Given their use in a wide range of commercially available topical preparations, it is suggested that the safety in use of these chemicals should be reassessed . . ."
The European Union has asked the European Cosmetics and Toiletry industry about these new findings and the implication for breast cancer. These preservatives are found in the vast majority of skin an body lotions, even in natural progesterone creams. Generally, for the sterol hormones, taken orally the hormones are 90% first pass metabolized by the liver. Thus, taken orally only 10% reaches the body. In contrast, anything absorbed by the skin is directly absorbed. In other words, anything absorbed through the skin may be as high as 10 times the concentration of an oral dose.
Unfortunately, some natural progesterone creams were found to contain methyl and propyl parabens as a preservative.
Unfortunately, some natural progesterone creams were found to contain methyl and propyl parabens as a preservative.
Shampoos that Purposely Contain Very High Amounts of Estrogen
African Americans favored shampoos with clinically active high doses of estrogen. They also used them on their children. In 1998 Tiwary, now retired, published a study of four girls - including a 14-month-old - who developed breasts or pubic hair months after beginning to use such products. The symptoms started to disappear when they stopped using them. The year before, he published a study showing that some of the products used by his patients contained up to one milligram (1 mg) of estradiol per one ounce of shampoo. By comparison a normal adult topical skin dose for estradiol is 0.02-0.05 mg/day. This means that one ounce of shampoo contains 50 times the daily ADULT dose of estradiol. A small handful of this shampoo on your child every day may give her OR HIM breasts!
Tyrone B. Hayes of the University of California at Berkeley found that atrazine, the most commonly used weed killer in North America, affected frogs at doses as small as 0.1 part per billion. As the amount of atrazine increased, as many as 20 percent of frogs exposed during their early development produced multiple sex organs or had both male and female organs. Many had small, feminized larynxes. See Plastic IV Bags
The United States FDA warns that prolonged fluid exposure in IV bags may affect testicle development in young boys. The chemical, called DEHP, can leach from the plastic into certain liquids, especially fat-containing ones like blood. Studies of young animals show the chemical can affect testicle development and production of normal sperm. Some companies already label that their products contain phthalates (DHEP), and the FDA soon will issue a recommendation — not a requirement — that more companies do so."FDA's public health notification falls far short of what is needed to protect patients," said Charlotte Brody of Health Care Without Harm, a group working to reduce the amount of phthalates — the family of chemicals that includes DEHP — in a variety of products, from plastic toys to cosmetics.
5 Out of 6 Chemicals Used to block UV in Sunscreen are Estrogenic
Margaret Schlumpf and her colleagues (Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Zurich, Switzerland) have found that many widely-used sunscreen chemicals mimic the effects of estrogen and trigger developmental abnormalities in rats. (Schlumpf , Margaret; Beata Cotton, Marianne Conscience, Vreni Haller, Beate Steinmann, Walter Lichtensteiger. In vitro and in vivo estrogenicity of UV screens. Environmental Health Perspectives Vol. 109 (March 2001) pp 239-244) Her group tested six common chemicals that are used in sunscreens, lipsticks and facial cosmetics. Five of the six tested chemicals (benzophenone-3, homosalate, 4-methyl-benzylidene camphor (4-MBC), octyl-methoxycinnamate and octyl-dimethyl-PABA) behaved like strong estrogen in lab tests and caused cancer cells to grow more rapidly. Only one chemical - a UVA protector called butyl-methoxydibenzoylmethane (B-MDM) - showed no activity. Uterine growth and endometriosis :One very common sunscreen chemical, 4-MBC, was mixed with olive oil and applied to rat skin. This caused a doubling of the rate of uterine growth well before puberty. "That was scary, because we used concentrations that are in the range allowed in sunscreens," said Schlumpf. Three of the six caused developmental abnormalities in animals. The major cause of sterility in women in the USA is endometriosis, a condition afflicting 5.5% of American women. Exposure to excessive estrogen, that may have come from such sunscreens, is felt to be the primary cause of endometriosis. Perhaps a sunscreen using zinc oxide is a better choice.
Common Chemical in Personal Care Products, Fragrances, Paints, Plastics and Cosmetics May cause Testicular Defects in Boys
For the first time, scientists have shown that pregnant mothers exposed to high but common levels of a widely used ingredient in cosmetics, fragrances, plastics and paints can have baby boys with smaller genitals and incomplete testicular descent. Previous work had shown that prenatal phthalate exposure in rodents can critically affect male hormones, resulting in impaired testicular descent and smaller genital size. The Swan study is the first to look at effects in humans.While none of the boys showed clear malformation or disease, in the 25% of mothers with the highest levels of phthalate exposure, the odds were 10 times higher that their sons would have a shorter than expected distance between the anus and the base of the penis. This so-called AGD measurement is a sensitive indicator of impacts on their reproductive system.
From a strictly research point of view there may not be enough evidence to create public outrage and shift public opinion. It is a known medical fact that estrogen stimulates breast cancer. However, it is disconcerting to note that the breast cancer rate is now 1 out of 8 women where before breast cancer in the 1950's was 1 out of 20. Dr. Lee believes that overdose of estrogen leads to PMS. The hallmark of PMS is a few pounds of weight gain just before your period. So what do we do?
The very important changes to make are do NOT eat food with HOT plastic. Change your laundry detergent, no fabric softener, no dryer sheets, change your lotions, soaps, shampoos, and makeup to avoid parabens. Avoid coffee.
The following compounds can enter your body by ingesting foods that were sprayed with them or somehow came into contact with them. They can also be inhaled, or they can even find their way into water. And, it’s actually been found that floors of households that have cats or dogs are veritable hotbeds of pesticides as the little furry beasties track the stuff in on their paws.
DDT — While this chemical has been banned for a while in the US, its ability to be stored in body fat has caused some concerns as even small amounts can still have detrimental effects. So what can this compound do? Well, a metabolite of DDT can inhibit androgens from binding to the androgen receptor, thus preventing androgen-induced transcription. (Again, the chemical can take Testosterone’s, or any steroid’s, parking spot.) This could mean a decreased effectiveness with any androgen that exerts its effects via the AR.
Procymidone — Another common pesticide that’s also able to prevent androgens from binding to the AR.
Vinclozolin — same as above
Dimethoate — This insecticide has been shown to lower T4 and negatively affect thyroid metabolism in general. It can also cause sperm and testicular damage. It also lower Testosterone levels.
Trichlorfon — This is yet another organophosphate insecticide like Dimethoate. It has been shown to damage immune system function in men.
Metiram — This pesticide can reduce thyroid hormone levels.
These compounds can be found in detergents, surfactants, paints, shampoos, spermicidal lubricants (nonoxynol-9), cosmetics, drinking water, and can enter the body via inhalation and even ingestion from pesticide sprays.These compounds were shown to be estrogenic long ago. They’ve also been shown to cause growth of cultured breast cells taken from humans.
These compounds can be found in many things, but are mostly associated with plastics. Common culprits include plastic food wrap, ink on plastic, vinyl floors, emulsion paint, cheese, milk, eggs, meat, water, baby teethers. Not that any of us use them. If this class of chemicals wasn’t bad enough on its own, they’re also lipophilic, which makes them great candidates to be stored in fatty foods as well as in your own body fat. They’ve been shown to activate protein transcription after first binding to the estrogen receptors in breast tissue. That means they’re great for growing breasts, regardless of whether you’re a man or a woman. They also posses potent anti-androgenic activity and are toxic to testicular cells.
This compound can be found in cans used for foods and infant formulas, plastic storage containers, and even baby bottles. Actually, it can be found in most plastic bottles and even dental sealant. As far as negative effects go, it’s been shown to cause the growth of MCF-7 human breast cancer cells, and that means it’s estrogenic. It’s also demonstrated potent anti-androgenic activity similar to that of phthalates.
Brominated Flame Retardants
These chemicals can be found in many household appliances such as televisions, computers, and other electrical devices that are prone to causing fires. While they might have a hard time getting into your system, it still makes you wonder. As far as effects go, they can negatively affect thyroid hormones and can even impair memory and learning. They’ve also been shown to cause growth of cancerous breast cells.
Polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, can be found in fire retardants, adhesives, waxes, and as heat transfer fluids in large transformers and in capacitors. They remain in our environment a long time because they’re very resistant to breakdown and are very soluble in fat. That means our fat, too. These substances have been shown to be very effective at mimicking estrogen. Not only that, but they’ve even been tied to reduced IQ and development in children.
These chemicals are used in perfumes, toothpaste, and certain cosmetics. They even seem to exist in air fresheners. Like the others, they’re estrogenic.(37)
If all this wasn’t bad enough, all of these xenoestrogens can activate the ER alpha, and that could cause breast tissue growth, in addition to cancer.(38-46)
We’ve talked about how estrogen-like compounds can find there way into our bodies via inhalation, ingestion, absorption, etc. However, is it possible that actual estrogens like estradiol could find their way into our food or drinks? The answer appears to be yes.
Numerous studies have found estrogen and progesterone to be present in dairy products, including milk. Even though most of the estrogens were bound, there’s still enough free hormone present that could possibly have some adverse effects on the body. However, you’d probably have to drink at least a few gallons of milk before you’d have to worry about it. So unless you’re a milk freak, I doubt there’s any real worry. Also, it appears that the higher the fat content, the higher the hormone concentration. So, it might be a good idea to stay away from hormone induced whole milk and full-fat cheese.( milk that is raw or unpasteurised and have not been giving hormones is a healthy alternative)
WATER, It turns out that conjugated estrogens excreted by women in their urine are "reactivated" by bacteria in sewage. Both natural and synthetic forms of estrogen and progesterone have been found in drinking water.
The last thing to discuss, of course, is how to minimize or eliminate exposure and if exposure is impossible to avoid, a way to reduce the negative effects.
As far as the drinking water goes, there are a few options. It seems that regardless of which type of water you drink, you’re going to get some type of estrogen or estrogen mimicking compound in it. For instance, reverse osmosis will remove cadmium (also a xenoestrogen). Conventional water treatment, however, did not remove estrogens found in drinking water. But, chlorine and ozone treatment did mitigate the problem. For the most part however, conventional treatment will not remove most of these chemicals. So, water treated through reverse osmosis or via ozonation or activated carbon, which is probably the best treatment, may be better in most cases.
Some bottled waters might be better, but unfortunately, they come in plastic bottles, many of which contain Bisphenol A. CONTACT THE MANUFACTURES AND SEE IF GLASS CAN BE USED IN THERE PRODUCTS
Here are some tips on how to avoid exposure to the compounds mentioned earlier:
• Use water-based paints to avoid alkylphenolics
• Make sure that the teething toys you have are PVC-free. Otherwise, they could contain phthalates.
• If you’re really concerned with certain fruits or vegetables being contaminated with pesticides, opt for organic food instead ( THEY HAVE CONSIDERABLY LESS THEN THE STORE BOUGHT STUFF, USUALLY ABOUT 30-50%LESS). Other than that, washing the fruit or vegetable thoroughly can help too. Still it doesn’t guarantee complete elimination.
• Plastic utensils, baby bottles and even things like beakers that are scratched can leak chemicals like Bisphenol A. Replace those that are damaged with new products. USE GLASS WHEN FEEDING OFFSPRING
• Perfumes and air fresheners, along with other scented products may contain parabens. Fortunately, perfumes should list their ingredients, so you can check for parabens and choose a product that doesn’t contain them.
• One last thing that may work would be to use some type of anti-estrogenic compound like clomiphene or tamoxifen.
Something along the lines of 25 mg of clomiphene every day to every other day might well do the job. In other words, it wouldn’t require a very large dose. Besides, clomiphene would help to combat not only the risk of breast tissue growth and cancer, but it can help prevent the xenoestrogen-caused reduction in Testosterone.
1. Avoid using plastic with food and water whenever possible. Especially avoid heating food or water in plastic. When food and or water is heated with plastic, the diffusion of plastic into the food and water is much worse. Heat up food in the microwave using ceramic plates and bowls.
2.Do not use pesticides or herbicides on the lawn or in your house. Eat Organic food. Organic food is grown without pesticides, herbicides and synthetic fertilizer. Minimize canned food. ( read labels to valid this just because it says organic does not mean it is free of all the xenoestrogen causing elements)(Organic in some countries where we get our foods can mean nothing more then carbon based, and as a result they can spray chemicals or other substances that can still cause a imbalance in you hormonally,OR EVEN CANCER, OR OTHER HEALTH ISSUES. IF YOU ARE NOT CERTAIN THEN PEEL ALL YOUR FRUITS AND VEGES, OR DON'T EVEN PURCHASE THESE PRODUCTS UNLESS THEY ARE SPECIFIED DIRECTLY NO PESTICIDES, HERBICIDES OR SYNTHETIC CHEMICALS OR FERTILIZERS OF ANY KIND)
3. Change your laundry detergent to powdered detergent from the health food store without additives. Use Simple Soap as a shampoo and bath soap. Use dish washing liquid from the health food store. OR USE A SIMPLE CASTILLE...OR A VINEGAR BAKING SODA MIX
4. Do not use Birth Control Pills. CONDOMS HAS LATEX WHICH IS A XENOESTROGEN AS WELL AS OTHER TYPES OF BIRTH CONTROL.....IF YOU ARE GOING TO USE A CONDOM THEN USE THE ONES MADE OF SHEEP SKIN Do not use HRT.
5. Eat meat grown without hormones. Commercial lamb and fish usually are hormone free. ) AGAIN READ READ READ YOUR LABELS!!!!!
6. In general, the hormones taken orally are first pass metabolized by the liver 80%-90%. However, when these hormones are applied to the skin, the hormones are directly absorbed by the body. Thus, any application via the skin will be 10 times the concentration of an oral dose. The vast majority of skin lotions and creams use the parabens as a preservative. Avoid them at all costs. Instead apply a SEED OIL right after a shower to hydrate the skin and lock in the moisture.
7. Avoid Coffee, Beer, Sunflower Seeds, Red Clover Tea, Chamomille Tea. Pomegranate, Licorice, Red Clover, Yucca, Hops and Motherwort, Bloodroot, Ocotillo, Mandrake, Oregano, Damiana, Pennyroyal, Verbenna, Nutmeg, Yucca, Thyme, Calamus rt., Goldenseal, Licorice, Mistletoe, Cumin, Fennel, Camomille, Cloves, Queen Anne’s lace (wild carrot), Fennel, Alfalfa Sprouts.