Avoid Chemicals, Foods and Herbs that Act as Estrogens

Phytoestrogens, Naturally Occurring Plant Estrogens Plants produce chemicals that mimic estrogen, and block progesterone. In general, it is thought that they tend to wash out of the body within several days in contrast to months or decades that the xenoestrogens take to be excreted. Whole grains, fruits, seeds, beans and herbs all are know to have estrogen and/or progesterone activity. In general, any food that has been eaten by a culture or people group for centuries is probably all right to eat if the people group in question is relatively free from these estrogen related diseases.

When referring to phytoestrogens, it is generally thought that a “weak” estrogen may actually be protective against cancer causing xenoestrogens. The best example, is Lilian Thompson PhD’s work that showed that oral ground flax seed reduced breast cancer size to one half between the time of diagnosis and surgery. A strong phytoestrogen may actually make the disease worse. Again the list that follows is incomplete because of the lack of research money and interest:

Coffee is a known phytoestrogen. Coffee is commonly known to make fibrocystic breast disease worse. It is not thought to be the caffeine, but coffee itself mimics estrogen strongly. Thus, decaffinated coffee still may be estrogenic.

Clover, Red Clover tea, Alfalfa Sprouts. Australian sheep grazing on imported European clover developed still births and sterility 3 years later. Finally, formononetin was determined to be the culprit. Formononetin mimics estrogen.

Sunflower Seeds. Coumestrol found in sunflower seeds when fed to the mother rat caused permanent reproductive problems in the rat pups: female pups when grown did not ovulate, and the male pups had altered mounting behavior and fewer ejaculations. Neonatal rats and immature rats exposed to coumestrol had premature estrous cycles. Flax seed oil and Soy oil are known NOT have the active phytoestrogens. Sunflower oil MAY or MAY NOT have active hormone components in it.

Queen Anne’s lace (wild carrot) During the fourth century B.C., Hipocrates noted that Queen Anne’s Lace prevented pregnancies. It is now know that that seeds contain a chemical know to block progesterone needed to maintain a pregnancy.

Pomegranate The Greeks used this plant as a contraceptive. Modern research confirms strong estrogen activity.

Fennel Used in the ancient world to prevent pregnancy and precipitate abortions.

Licorice, Red Clover, Yucca, Hops (Beer) and Motherwort David Zava, PhD showed that these herbs stimulated estrogen receptor positive breast cancer cells to grow. Red Clover and Yucca were found to be equal in potency to estradiol at the same concentrations. Women who harvest hops for beer begin menstruating 2 days later anecdotally. Zava has confirmed that beer has a significant amount of phytoestrogens that have moderate estrogen activity from hops used in the flavoring of beer.

Bloodroot, Ocotillo, Mandrake, Oregano, Damiana, Pennyroyal, Verbenna, Nutmeg, Tumeric, Yucca, Thyme, Calamus rt., Red Clover, Goldenseal, Licorice, Mistletoe, Cumin, Fennel, Camomille, Cloves. There are separate estrogen and progesterone receptors. Zava, PhD was able to show that the above herbs are able to bind to the progesterone receptor. These herbs would compete against any natural progesterone taken and should also be avoided.

Interestingly enough all the progesterone binding herbs were antagonists or neutral meaning they competed against progesterone and worked against it or blocked progesterone. None of them were progesterone stimulators.

Bloodroot, mandrake, pennyroyal, yucca, and mistletoe all have very strong progesterone binding activity and are used as abortifacents (create an abortion), and to bring on menses. Bloodroot was used in England to treat breast cancer 100 years ago, and was used by Native Americans to treat surface tumors. Herbalists today use it to treat breast cancers, nasal polyps, and cervical dysplasia. Mistletoe has been used for 100 years in Europe to treat breast cancer and leukemia.

Herbs that Suppress Breast Cancer Cell Growth Zava, PhD also found that Mandrake, Bloodroot, and Juniper stunted the growth of BOTH estrogen receptor positive breast cancer cells and estrogen receptor negative breast cancer cells. Saliva estradiol results also showed very low estradiol in women taking the Chinese herb Dong Quai. It is thought that Dong Quai suppresses estradiol synthesis.

Chemicals that Mimic Estrogens (Xenoestrogens) In last decade, new research has come to light that demonstrates that synthetic chemicals that are very different in structure to estrogen may act as an estrogen. The Xenoestrogen in question may either bind to the receptor strongly or weakly. It may also stimulate the receptor strongly or weakly to imitate the effect of estrogen, or it may elicit a response that is an abnormal estrogen response. Thus, these chemicals can cause breast cancer, uterine cancer, fibrocystic breast disease, ovarian cysts, endometriosis, premature sexual development and uterine fibromas. Some have hypothesized that since the prostate and uterus are embyrologically the same, xenoestrogens may also cause benign prostatic hypertrophy and prostate cancer. Critics have proclaimed that these chemicals are for the most part “weak”. However, they exist in the body in concentrations 100’s to 1000’s of times of the natural body hormones; also 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. Since this is a new field of research only a few chemicals have been tested (this by definition is an incomplete list), and are listed below:

Pesticides & Herbicides such as DDT, endosulfan, dieldrin, methoxychlor, kepone, toxaphene, chlordane, and other chlorinated hydrocarbons. DDT is banned in the U.S. Baby roosters exposed to DDT grew up looking like hens. The U.S. produces it and ships it to other countries. However, it is present in imported produce. DDT found in the fat of U.S. citizens is traced to imported produce. Combinations of the other pesticides above are found on U.S. produce that exceed FDA safe levels, and are typically greater on U.S. produce compared to imported produce. Synergistic effect is know to occur between pesticides yielding greater toxicity and estrogen effect. However, exact combinations and levels are unknown. Farms, lawns and golf courses use pesticides and herbicides that easily enter the body through the skin and lungs. Golf courses use 7 times the amount of pesticides than farmers use.

Products associated with plastics such as bisphenol A and pthalates. Bisphenol-A was originally designed for use a synthetic estrogen replacement. It was found to work quite well as an antioxidant to prevent plastic from breaking down in the sunlight. Bisphenol-A is used in drinking water bottles, plastics used in baby bottles, plastics used to pack food, and some dental composites. Pthalates along with excess estrogen given to chicken used as food were suspected to cause girls as young as 18 months to begin to menstruate in Puerto Rico in the ‘70’s and ‘80’s.

In one Dartmouth University study, the researchers found that plastic wrap with olive oil heated in a microwave produced a concentration of xenoestrogens 500,000 times the minimum amount of estrogen needed to produce breast cancer cell proliferation in a test tube.

Bishphenol-A contamination was also found in the majority of canned food as high as 27 times the minimum amount of estrogen needed to stimulate breast cancer cells to grow in the test tube.

Pharmaceuticals such as drug estrogens (Prempro, DES, and Premarin), Cimetidine( Tagamet), Marajuana, and Birth Control Pills. The Physician’s Desk Reference (PDR) lists gynecomastia (breast enlargement in men) as a side effect for Tagamet. Many of the synthetic estrogens are chemically modified to be different from naturally occurring estrogen to increase profits from a patented drug. Thus, they may have grave side effects. Also there is some evidence that they may be stored in the fat for months.

Ordinary Household Products such as breakdown products from laundry detergent and dish detergent that include nonylphenol, octylphenol and spermicide. Laundry detergent persists in the clothes even after washing gets on the skin and is broken down by bacteria. It is then absorbed by the skin. If an estrogen is taken orally it is 80-90% first pass metabolized by the liver before entering the body. In other words, the body only gets 10% of the estrogen when taken orally. By contrast anything absorbed by the skin goes directly into the body. Looked at another way, anything on the skin has an effective concentration that is 10 times that of an oral dose.

Industrial chemicals such a PCB’s (polycholrinated biphenyls). This is an industrial oil used in electrical transformers that is now banned in the U.S. However, it persists in the environment and the fat of animals for decades. It bioaccumulates in the fat and of course, top of the pyramid predators such as polar bears. PCB’s been implicated in dropping polar bea fertility in Greenland.

Commercially raised meat such as pork, chicken and beef. Industry supporters claim that the estrogen in estrogen supplemented feedlot meat washes out of the animals’ system in several weeks. However there is some evidence to suggest that the estrogens persist in the fat for several months. Europe has refused to import American and Canadian beef because of this issue. This bone of contention has been the basis for a trade war for several years.

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