ESTROGEN DOMINANCE- A HIDDEN DANGER
Although it is a hormone of youth and femininity, estrogen becomes our enemy when unbalanced.
Estrogen dominance is an important cause of many bothersome and dangerous conditions confronting modern women, which is often not acknowledged by the conventional medicine. Estrogen dominance means that Estrogen hormone is relatively higher in relation to other reproductive hormones.
Inability to lose weight (especially below the waistline, Pear shape, Saddlebags), hormone-sensitive cancers such as breast cancer, premature ovarian failure (infertility that is becoming an epidemic) fibroids, PMS are just a few between the spectrum of conditions typical for Estrogen dominance.
From the integrative medicine point of view, we always identify the cause of a disease and start with addressing the cause and not the outcome.
Understanding cause complexity of estrogen dominance:
Chronic stress – During continuous stress, production of Cortisol becomes a priority for the organism to survive. Because the body increases Cortisol production, it sacrifices production of other hormones, mainly Progesterone, which leads to relatively higher Estrogen – called unopposed Estrogen. Women usually have prolonged and heavier menstrual bleeding, shorter cycles, but, if this continues, it increases the risk for hormone-sensitive cancers. Adding bio-identical Progesterone in this situation can improve the ratio between Estrogen and Progesterone and regulate the cycle, but the real cure would be to apply various interventions against a chronic stress.
Overloading body with Xenoestrogens and toxins – We are seldom aware that almost everything we touch on a daily basis contains Xenoestrogens which are mimicking estrogen activity in our body. There are about 70,000 registered chemicals having hormonal effects. Mounting evidence associates Xenoestrogens in a wide range of human health problems.Many of our lotions and potions, plastic bottles, plastic containers used for packing food, Organ chlorines used in pesticides, food cans, food that is wrapped in plastic foil, water, soil, the air we inhale, cosmetics, make-up, and so on, contain Xenoestrogens. In other words, we are “soaked” in them. Toxins and heavy metals, such as cadmium, aluminum, mercury, fluoride and smoking cigarettes, in particular, are all affecting estrogen detoxification.
There are a few mechanisms that these toxins add to estrogen burden: overwhelming detoxification pathways dedicated to detoxifying our estrogens, blocking some metabolic pathway, especially Methylation which is essential to metabolize estrogens, mimicking estrogen on a receptor level, etc. The situation is worse for women who have limited liver detoxification capacity, due to genetic “weakness”. Premature ovarian failure, early puberty, endometriosis, PMS and breast cancer are all in upsurge due to our toxic lifestyle and, conventional medicine seems to be indifferent to that failing to encourage research in that field. However, results that came after introducing medical interventions for liver detoxification of Xenoestrogens and methylation support speak for itself.
Excess body fat – High BMA and Insulin resistance increase aromatase activity (one really “mean” enzyme) that converts Testosterone into Estrogen, mostly Estrone.Estrone has the much higher tendency for the estrogen receptors in a Breast tissue (increasing breast cancer risk!). This situation of Estrogen dominance body sees as a dangerous event, and that is the way it increases sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG). Elevated SHBG makes Testosterone unable to do its function hence muscle mass, libido, energy level and stamina decrease. But this also further increases body fat and inability to lose weight.
Genetic weakness – E strogen dominance hugely depends on how good is a phase I and II Liver Detoxification. The presence of COMT and MTHFR genetic variations are well-recognized factors for estrogen dominance. Recent data suggest that COMT increases a risk of Breast cancer four times and that MTHFR mutation is involved in Estrogen dominance, infertility, clothing problem, prolonged and heavy bleeding, fibroids, endometriosis, PCOS, etc. That is the reason why we do a Genetic test – to identify whether Estrogen detoxification is favorable or not. Sometimes, even presence of these genes just from one parent become a problem in the case of women having low Magnesium, Zinc, Selenium, deficiency or lack of supplementing with an adequate form of B12 and Folic acid.
External sources of hormones – Animal protein, especially fatty meat of non-grass fed animals and non-organic dairy products, are a major contributor to extreme Estrogen dominance. Birth control pill and conventional HRT both contain synthetic Estrogen foreign to our body. They create Estrogen dominance, decrease Progesterone production, increase SHBG, which all affect Testosterone and get metabolized into dangerous Estrone metabolite.
Signs and symptoms of Estrogen Dominance:
Irritability, mood swings
Weight gain and inability to lose weight
Prolonged and heavy menstrual bleeding
Water retention, bloated feeling
Short term memory loss
Painful and swollen breasts
When Estrogen dominance has such an adverse effect on weight loss, we can say with certainty that you are simply not able to lose weight
Estrogen dominance decreases metabolism by reducing Thyroid activity by 25%, reduces energy production, increases Cortisol and inflammation and increases all binding globulins dedicated to carrying other hormones that get blocked. Under Estrogen dominance, these hormones are preserving fat and working against weight loss, despite dieting and exercise.
But more than anything, if prolonged, Estrogen dominance can become very dangerous because women are often not aware that they have it. Integrative medicine can easily check for this to avoid any guessing: by monitoring blood hormone ratios, urinary metabolites that precisely illustrate hormone status and different metabolites, genetic testing, detailed history, etc. – only then can we address the cause of Estrogen dominance successfully.