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What are Xenoestrogens?

By Michele Kralkay, DNM RHN

Not found in nature, man-made toxins are estrogen imposters that mimic the effects of real hormones but overstimulate cellular activity to an uncontrollable extent. These xenoestrogens wreak havoc on internal balancing mechanisms of the body, raising the estrogen burden and with it, potential risks for cancer. Xenoestrogens are found in: • imported feedlot beef and dairy that is pumped up with synthetic growth hormones • household cleaners • personal care products that contain toxic chemicals • plastics • acetones (e.g., fingernail polish and removers) • pesticides, fungicides, herbicides • industrial pollutants • cosmetics and lotions • hair dyes – especially those that are dark • bleached feminine hygiene and incontinence products • some prescription drugs • dry cleaned clothing and dryer sheets • teflon-coated non-stick pans, which if overheated can release endocrine-disrupting perfluoroalkyl compounds • some plastic cling wrap is made from PVC (polyvinyl chloride), which contains several types of xenoestrogens and other endocrine disruptors (most butcher's paper has a shiny, waterproof PVC coating) • tap water can contain xenoestrogens from medications and agricultural and chemical pollution • nonoxynol-9 spermicide (birth control) breaks down in the body into xenoestrogenic nonylphenols The xenoestrogens are ten to a hundred times more potent than hormones occurring naturally in the body. Once xenoestrogens settle in, they are not easily removed. Xenoestrogens tend to accumulate in body fat such as breast and prostate tissue, and play a dangerous role in the initiation and progression of breast and prostate cancer. They mimic the actions of estrogens by barging in and knocking naturally occurring estrogens right off the receptor sites of the cell. They are directly toxic to our DNA and are widely acknowledged to be contributing to the rising rate of breast cancer in western countries. After the 1976 banning of organochlorine pesticide use in Israel, breast cancer rates have come down. No matter how diligent you are in removing xenoestrogens from your home, you'll still encounter them in the outside world. Meanwhile, you've certainly been exposed to xenoestrogens sometime in your life. The task, then, is to protect the body from their harmful effects. Certain foods and herbs can shield estrogen receptor sites so xenoestrogens can't attach, help the body metabolize and excrete harmful estrogen, and protect the body from xenoestrogen damage. To reduce your exposure to xenoestrogens: • insist on certified organic fruits, vegetables, dairy, meat and wild caught fish and seafood • cruciferous family vegetables; broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale and brussels sprouts (lightly steamed or pickled is the best way to eat them) contain indole-3-carbinol and sulphoraphan, known breast cancer inhibitors • include high fiber in your diet • include pomegranates • reduce your intake of white sugar as it suppresses the immune system • never microwave food in plastic or cover with plastic wrap (this releases the xenoestrogens in the plastics) • store foods in glass or pyrex containers • ensure that the fats you eat are those that are rich in essential fatty acids including those found in seeds • eat high lignan flax seeds (ground and sprinkled on your cereal everyday) which have been shown to reduce the risk of breast and other cancers • avoid bleached paper such as toilet paper, coffee filters, tissue paper, napkins, etc. • avoid the use of household chlorine containing bleach or use disposable gloves and ventilate if working with chemicals • switch to organic sanitary napkins, tampons and incontinence products • reduce use of solvents like nail polish, nail polish remover, etc. • buy staple foods in bulk as much as possible and store in glass or stainless steel containers • use HDPE and LDPE (high- and low-density polyethylene) plastics, (Nos. 2 and 4 are hard plastics that are used to make milk jugs and some water bottles are generally safe and do not react with the contents of the container) • buy your (organic) cheese cut to order from the deli, and have it wrapped in plain, uncoated paper • use only personal care products (including toothpaste and hand soap) and nail polishes that are clearly marked "paraben free" References: (No More HRT – Menopause Treat the Cause, Dr. Karen Jensen, ND & Lorna R Vanderhaege, BSc)


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