08 Oct Estrogen Dominance – Symptoms, Causes and steps to reverse it
There is a very delicate balance to hormones in the body. If any hormone becomes in excess or deficient, it will affect the other hormones in the body. Today, I am going to discuss excess of estrogen, also known as estrogen dominance. Excess of estrogen can happen in two ways. A person can either have more estrogen than normal. Or a person can have decreased levels of progesterone. Either way, the gap between these two hormones has increased, changing their ratio.
Functions of Estrogen
Estrogen has many healthy effects on the body when at the optimal level. Estrogen is best known for preparing the uterus for pregnancy or menstrual cycle. Other functions of estrogen include body temperature regulation, memory function, protects heart from cholesterol, helps liver regulate cholesterol production, and increases bone density and strength.
symptoms of estrogen dominance
Estrogen dominance symptoms in women include weight gain especially around hips, waist and thighs, irregular menstrual cycles, increased symptoms of PMS, depression, fibrocystic breasts, and fatigue. Men can have estrogen dominance as well. The symptoms for estrogen dominance in men includes enlarged breasts (gynecomastia), sexual dysfunction and infertility.
conditions correlated with estrogen dominance
There are numerous conditions correlated with estrogen dominance. Research is showing that estrogen, especially excess estrogen, may increase the severity of these conditions.
The increase in incidence of hormonal cancers has been astounding. These include breast cancer (in both men and women), endometrial (1), uterine and ovarian cancer in women, as well as prostate cancer in men.
One in eight women will get breast cancer in her lifetime. In 2011, there were 283,000 new breast cancer tumors. Using nationally representative cancer surveillance data, it is estimated there will be 441,000 new tumors in 2030. Estrogen receptor positive tumors (tumors that grow and thrive on estrogen) are expected to increase from 81.7% to 91.5%. (2)
Hashimoto’s & Thyroid Dysfunction
Excess estrogen causes the liver to make more thyroid binding globulin (TBG). TBG is a protein that allows thyroid hormones to travel through the bloodstream. When thyroid hormones are attached to the TBG they are inactive and unable to be converted or stored. So this stimulates the body to make more thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). (3) In simple terms, high levels of estrogen suppresses thyroid hormones.
Increased estrogen enhances the inflammatory response of the immune system. Specifically the T-cell mediated response. Just like the tumor cells, T-cells have an estrogen receptor site. When estrogen connects at this receptor site it tells the T-cell to activate and multiply.(4) Since women have more estrogen, this is one reason scientists are theorizing that there is a higher incidence of autoimmune disorders in women.
Candida albicans is a natural yeast found in everyone. It is when it grows out of control that it becomes a problem causing fungal infections. Research shows that exposing Candida albicans to estrogen increases it’s ability to grow and cause damage.(5) This is one reason why many women on birth control pills (which contain estrogen) have a higher incidence of yeast infections.
Causes of estrogen dominance and what to do about it
Estrogen is produced mostly in the ovaries of women. A small amount of estrogen can be produced from the adrenal glands, fat tissue and testes in men. Estrogen is broken down for removal from the body in the liver and excreted in the urine and/or feces. There is still research going on as to why the body may be producing more estrogen than needed. But there are a few ways that estrogen gets into us from our environment.
There very first thing I said in this blog post is that there is a very delicate balance to our hormones in our body. Commercially raised animals are injected with growth hormones to help them grow bigger, faster. Hormones are found in all tissues of the body. When we eat these animals we are ingesting those hormones causing our natural hormone balance to be unbalanced. Also pesticides, herbicides and fungicides that are used on produce are known endocrine disruptors. Even though they may be in very small amounts, it can add up very quickly. Also causing interference with our own hormone balance.
Opt for grass-fed, pasture-raised, and organic whenever possible for your meats, dairy and produce to avoid exposure to the extra hormones and fertilizers found in commercial foods. If you are unable to afford to go completely organic, check out the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen to see which produce has the highest levels of pesticides even after being thoroughly washed.
Personal Care Products
Cosmetics, lotions, shampoos, deodorants, soaps, toothpaste, and other body products contain parabens, phthalates and other compounds with estrogenic activity. Even though we are not ingesting most of these, we do absorb them through our skin into our bloodstream. There are over 80,000 chemicals on the market today and many of them do not have any safety data. And what is worse is that the Food and Drug Administration (the agency that regulates cosmetics in the United States) does not have the authority to remove harmful ingredients from the products we use every single day on our bodies and our kids’ bodies.
There are two great resources you can use to find safer products for you and your family. The first is the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database. Use this database to to search for safer skin care, make up, sunscreen, shampoos, and men’s and children’s products and to learn more about a specific chemical. The second resource is Healthy Child Healthy World. If offers parents and caregivers information and easy steps on how to reduce exposure to toxic chemicals in every room in your home. I use and recommend Beautycounter products for most of my personal care products.
Your microbiome produces an enzyme called beta-glucoronidase. Beta-glucoronidase changes the estrogen into its active form so that it can be used. When your microbiome is healthy and balanced, just the right amount of beta-glucoronidase is created to keep your estrogen levels perfect. When your microbiome is imbalanced either too much or not enough beta-glucoronidase is made. Therefore, you can have either an excess or deficiency of estrogen in your body.
To help keep your microbiome healthy I recommend eating fermented foods daily including sauerkraut, kimchi or organic yogurt. I also recommend a daily probiotic. If you want to take a closer look into your microbiome to treat any opportunistic bugs you may have, contact me for testing that can be done to find out what bugs you may have and to create a protocol to eradicate them and bring balance back to your microbiome.
BPA & Other Plastics
BPA is a type of plastic found in water bottles, food wrap and storage containers that contain hormone mimicking xenoestrogen. These xenoestrogens leach into your food and water. Even those these are not real estrogens, they are so similar in their formation that your body does not know the difference. Be careful of plastic products marked “BPA free”. They often contain chemicals that have not been deemed safe. (6). Did you know that many receipts you get from stores have BPA. (7)
Switching all of your water bottles and food storage containers to glass or metal is the best way to reduce your exposure.
Fat tissue absorbs, stores, and makes estrogen. Estrogen is a hormone that promotes fat production. This becomes a vicious cycle. As your estrogen levels increase, your body creates more fat cells, which then creates more estrogen, and so on and so forth.
Making sure to make healthy food choices every day and moving your body throughout the day will help to keep your fat levels in check. One of the best types of exercise for estrogen dominance is HIIT (Hight Intensity Interval Training). It is where you do an exercise hard for a minute and then rest for 30 seconds, then repeat.
Hormone Replacement Therapy & Oral Contraceptives
Most hormone replacement therapies and oral contraceptives contain estrogen without progesterone to maintain your body’s balance. Also, synthetic hormones are not easily metabolized by the liver and can continue to circulate throughout the bloodstream for longer periods than your own. Each time you take another dose, you just “add on to the pile”. Also oral contraceptives can disrupt your gut microbiome. Read or re-read gut dysbiosis section above if you don’t remember why this is not good for estrogen dominance.
When you are stressed your body uses cortisol to combat that stress. You use progesterone to make cortisol. When you are chronically stressed and constantly needing cortisol, you will deplete your progesterone levels causing an imbalance in your estrogen-progesterone balance.
Try adding just 5 minutes each day to sit quietly. You can focus on your breathing, think about and write down 5 things you are grateful for, meditate, pray or a mixture of any of these. As you go along you can slowly increase the time to 10, 15, even up to 20 minutes. Another way to combat chronic stress is to make sure you are getting 8 hour of sleep every night. Sleep is when your body repairs itself. Stop using any blue screen devices (tv, computer, phone) an hour before bed. Do something that helps relax you. Perhaps an epsom salt bath, read a book, or trade massages with your significant other.
detox your body
To help your body get rid of any excess estrogen or toxins make sure that you stay hydrated and are taking in enough fiber. Both of these help your body’s elimination system and will reduce any of the estrogen or toxins from re-circulating through your body.
Acupuncture and nutritional therapy are great ways to help your body rid itself of excess estrogen and restore your delicate hormone balance. Check out my website or call 720-767-2213 to learn more. For those of you not in teh Denver area, I offer nutritional therapy via telehealth.
(1) American Cancer Society. (2019, March 27). Endometrial Cancer Risk Factors. Retrieved from https://www.cancer.org/cancer/endometrial-cancer/causes-risks-prevention/risk-factors.html
(2) Rosenberg, P., Barker, K., & Anderson, W. (2015). Estrogen receptor status and the future burden of invasive and in situ breast cancers in the United States. Journal of National Cancer Institute, 107(9). doi: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093%2Fjnci%2Fdjv159
(3) Wentz, I. (2019, September 6). Estrogen dominance as a trigger for Hashimoto’s. Retrieved from https://thyroidpharmacist.com/articles/estrogen-dominance-as-a-hashimotos-trigger/
(4) Mohammad, I., Starskaia, I., Nagy, T., Guo, J., Yatkin, E., Vaananen, K., Watford, WT., & Chen, Z. (2018) Estrogen receptor alpha contributes to T-cell mediated autoimmune inflammation by promoting T-cell activation and proliferation. Science Signaling. 11(526). doi: 10.1126/scisignal.aap9415.
(5) Cheng, G., Yeater, K., & Hoyer, L. (2006). Cellular and molecular bioogy of Candida albicans estrogen response. Eukaryotic Cell. 5(1). doi: 10.1128/EC.5.1.180-191.2006.
(6) Bittner, G., Yang, C., & Stoner, M. (2014). Estrogenic chemicals often leach from BPA-free plastic products that are replacements for BPA-containing polycarbonate products. Environmental Health. 13(41). doi: 10.1186/1476-069X-13-41.
(7) Schlanger, Z. (2014, February 25). You’re absorbing BPA from your receipts, study shows. Retrieved from https://www.newsweek.com/youre-absorbing-bpa-your-receipts-study-shows-230178.