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  • Writer's pictureCarla Allison, CHHP

What Is Happening to Our Hormones?



I listened to the experience of a physician in Texas a couple of years ago who said he would never forget the moment he walked into the exam room to find a 2-year-old female who had already started her menstrual cycle and was growing breasts. He was so stunned that he began inquiring of other physicians and pediatricians as to whether they had ever seen this before. Many of them confirmed that they were indeed routinely seeing girls between the ages of 2-4 entering puberty.

100 years ago, the average age of puberty in girls was 16 or 17. Today, in the U.S., about 16 percent of girls enter puberty by the age of 7, and about 30 percent by age 8. This is diagnosed as "precocious puberty." So, what is affecting the hormones of these girls?


After further investigation into the case of the 2-year old in Texas, it appeared to be the impact of xenoestrogens (estrogen mimics) in the food and products that the mother had been heavily exposed to during her pregnancy. Xenoestrogens are chemical compounds that act like steroid hormones and can alter puberty timing. And, more than likely, the child was continuing to be exposed to these endocrine-disruptors after birth.

Synthetic estrogens affect boys as well, but in their case, it can cause late puberty as they become estrogen-dominant with a reduction in testosterone. Even prenatal exposure can prevent a boy’s testicles from developing correctly which can interfere with his hormonal balance throughout his life. Delayed puberty can reduce a boy’s adult height and bone mineral density. It can also affect a boy’s performance in school since much brain development occurs during puberty.

These synthetic estrogens are not only altering the timing of puberty in children, they are contributing to a rising incidence of female reproductive problems, including endometriosis, PMS, infertility, fibroids, and difficult menopause. Exposure to estrogen-like contaminants also increases the risk of breast cancer and cancer of the reproductive system. Thyroid issues are rampant as well, not to mention allergies, autoimmune diseases, Parkinson's symptoms, insomnia, migraines, weight gain, anxiety, depression, and mood swings which have all been connected to xenoestrogens creating a state of estrogen dominance.

Testicular cancer is the most common type cancer among men ages 15 to 35, and it has quadrupled in worldwide incidence since 1940. During this same period, since the introduction of synthetic estrogens into the environment, the incidence of undescended testicles in young men has doubled and sperm counts have dropped by 50 percent. In addition to diet, researchers have also identified xenoestrogens as a cause of prostate enlargement, prostate cancer, and other male reproductive cancers. They are also responsible for gynecomastia, or the dreaded “man boobs.”

Not only does xenoestrogens increase your risk of cancer as an adult, early exposure (such as with the 2-year-old who had been exposed in utero) can be even worse. It is possible that the effect of hormone disruptors on early physical development could permanently increase the child’s risk of developing estrogen-sensitive cancers.


Synthetic estrogens can be found in our food and environment, including in our personal care and household products. We are being exposed daily to dangerous levels of toxins which are wreaking havoc on our hormones. We put these poisons in our mouth, on our skin, or spray them in our homes which then penetrate our skin or mucous membranes and enter our bloodstream.

So, how can we protect ourselves and our children (including our unborn) from these endocrine-disruptors? While there are many things to consider, let’s just focus on 5 things that you can start doing today to eliminate some of these toxins from your body and personal environment.

1) MEAT AND DAIRY – Always choose organic, grass-fed meat and raw dairy. Livestock are routinely given hormones to bulk them up and to stimulate milk and egg production in dairy cows and chickens. Estrogen-like chemicals from pesticides also contaminate their feed. These artificial estrogens do not break down easily and collect in fatty tissues of animals and humans, unlike natural estrogens.

2. PERSONAL CARE PRODUCTS - Choose nontoxic, plant-based personal care products and cosmetics. Use naturally based fragrances such as pure, therapeutic essential oils from a knowledgeable and experienced company. Essential oils are perfect for making some of your own DIY personal care products such as deodorants, facial cleansers and scrubs, moisturizers, bath salts, etc. Avoid products that contain toxic chemicals and estrogenic ingredients such as parabens, sulfates, phthalates, propylene glycol, petrochemicals, aluminum, triclosan, and silicones.

3. HOUSEHOLD CLEANING PRODUCTS – Choose plant-based cleaning products or make your own using essential oils such as Thieves and Lemon. There are many DIY recipes for household cleaners, scrubs, linen sprays, dusting sprays, laundry soap, etc. Avoid dryer sheets. Instead, use organic wool dryer balls sprinkled with your favorite essential oil. Get rid of any air fresheners, plug-ins, and toxic candles and use diffusers with therapeutic essential oils to fragrance your home which will also get rid of odors, not just mask them with artificial fragrance.

4. PLASTIC – Skip drinking from plastic water bottles and choose glass or stainless-steel containers. Avoid plastic whenever possible as chemicals such as Bisphenol-A (BPA) can leach from them into your food and drink even at room temperature. A recent study showed that almost 90% of teenagers were found to have the BPA chemical in their bodies. Beware of plastics labeled "BPA-free," because manufacturers are simply replacing BPA with other chemicals from the bisphenol family that are equally hormone-disrupting.

5. SOY – Avoid soy-based products. If you love soy sauce, substitute with coconut aminos (unless you can find fermented soy sauce). Be aware that soy is hidden in many food products. Read labels carefully, avoiding anything containing hydrolyzed vegetable protein, lecithin, starch, and vegetable oil. Soy is a source of phytoestrogens, and we have been overexposed to it in processed foods (and even health and beauty products) which has led to it becoming an endocrine-disruptor. On the other hand, fermented soy can be a beneficial part of your diet.

When it comes to choosing personal and household products, think plant-based for the best health. Take it one step at a time and start ditching the chemical products and switching to safe, plant-based products that will support your health, not destroy it.

With a bit of education and awareness, we can reduce health risks and choose what kind of body we want for ourselves and our children. Read labels, understand ingredients, and choose health and wellness for you and your family.

References:

The Detox Book by Bruce Fife, N.D.

International Journal of Andrology, Apr 2010, 33(2):346-359, "Hypothesis: exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals may interfere with timing of puberty"

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 57: 255 - 263 (2013) doi: 10.1387/ijdb.130015fg, "Effect of endogenous and exogenous hormones on testicular cancer: the epidemiological evidence"

The American Academy of Pediatrics, Aug 2010, doi: 10.1542/peds.2009-3079, "Pubertal Assessment and Baseline Characteristics in a Mixed Longitudinal Study of Girls."

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