While estrogen levels decline with age, the amount of estrogen in your body is influenced by a range of other factors, including diet and environmental toxinsa topic that has not received sufficient attention to date.
Meat, poultry, and dairy foods contain estrogens that have been injected into the animals to fatten them for market. One of the synthetic estrogens routinely given to livestock was DES (diethylstilbestrol). DES was also given to women to prevent miscarriages and symptoms of menopause, until it was associated with birth defects in their offspring and was finally banned in 1979. However, today poultry and livestock, especially dairy cows, are still given other forms of estrogen compounds. Hormones such as estrogen accumulate in fatty tissue in the animals we eat as well as in us, and high-fat diets have been associated with changes in human estrogen levels.
Caffeine and alcohol consumption can also influence estrogen levels. Excessive alcohol intake can affect the livers ability to break down estrogen for excretion, thereby elevating the bodys blood estrogen levels, particularly of the more chemically active forms of estrogen. Even public water supplies may contain estrogens, if that water is recycled at treatment plants and still contains traces of excreted synthetic estrogens, such as those contained in birth control pills and excreted from the bodies of women using these products.
Additionally, pollutants that have estrogen-like activity when they are taken into the body (xenoestrogens) are found in an enormous range of products for the home and workplace. They are present in cosmetics, detergents and dishwashing liquids, and bug spray. Pesticides and industrial chemicals such as organochlorines, dioxins, and PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) also contain substances related to estrogen.
There are many suspected health consequences of our wide exposure to xenoestrogens, including an increased risk of PMS and breast cancer. This problem has also affected male reproductive health, and has been implicated in lowering sperm counts in men all over the world.
To avoid these dangers, be sure to take the following precautions:
- Eat organic as often as possible, especially when it comes to animal-based products such as meat, eggs, dairy, etc.
- Limit (if not avoid) caffeine and alcohol consumption. Aim for no more one or two caffeinated or alcoholic beverage per week.
- Use natural beauty care products.
- Choose natural, chemical-free household products as often as possible.
For more information on estrogen levels or other issues related to female hormones, visit Dr. Larks Web site.