During the January 23, 2021 program, we got a wakeup call from Anthony G. Jay, PH.D. about a class of chemicals that are assaulting our bodies and brains. Dr. Jay is a Mayo Clinic researcher and the author of Estrogeneration: How Estrogenics Are Making You Fat, Sick, and Infertile. The quick review below is not a substitute for listening to that show and certainly not for reading his book.
What Xenoestrogens are. There are an increasing number of toxic “endocrine-disruptor” chemicals in our air, food, water, consumer products and environment. The chemicals can mess with any of our hormones (messengers in the body)—for example, the very important thyroid hormone. The specific category of toxins that we discussed was xeno-estrogens. “Xeno” means “foreign”. As you likely know, “estrogen” is a hormone that is commonly thought of as female. Actually, there are several varieties of estrogen and during most of the month, men have about the same blood levels as women. When hormones get out of balance, bad things can happen. As the name of Dr. Jay’s book implies, these chemical impersonators can cause many more problems for both genders. The toxic xeno-estrogens can settle into receptors intended for the natural hormones and block the person from having the normal benefits such as fertility. Remember that birth control pills are hormones used to upset the woman’s hormone balance on purpose. Conversely, they can latch onto and stimulate other binding sites causing big trouble. Hormone-dependent breast cancer is perhaps the best-known example of that effect.
The problems xeno-estrogens cause. We could start with the big picture, the environment. Xenoestrogens are making whole communities of certain wildlife infertile and killing coral reefs. In humans, the chemicals are linked to Alzheimer’s, cancers (breast cancer up 250% since 1980), depression, diabetes, early-onset puberty, endometriosis, infertility (fertility down 50% since 1960), “man boobs” (even in toddlers), miscarriage and obesity (doubled since 1980).
Testosterone supports cardiovascular health and muscle strength in both genders and improves libido (sex drive). It appears that high estrogen levels (even if from toxic chemical sources) reduce testosterone. These toxic compounds affect the way our genes behave. That process is called “epigenetics”. It is shocking and very worrisome that those altered actions cause by xenoestrogens can be passed down to many future generations.
Sources of xeno-estrogens. Common sources that we discussed on the show are the plastics in water bottles, the linings of cans and paper cups and packaging. BPA is a well-known member of this class and it is also sprayed on the paper used for register receipts. Beware of products claiming to be “free of BPA because they may have simply substituted BPS or one of the other BP line that have the same effects. Look at the recycling codes for a clue. Avoid #1. Better numbers are 3, 4 and 5. Do not store foods and beverages in plastic and certainly don’t microwave food in plastic because heat increases the leaching into food.
Food additives like red food color and food contaminants such as many pesticides (especially on grains) and herbicides (think Roundup) have estrogenic effects. Therefore, whole, natural, organic food is best. Dr. Jay says to avoid soy foods (unless fermented) because they are too strong a source of plant estrogens. Body care products (e.g., sunscreen, shampoo, and creams) with fragrances, parabens and other additives have estrogenic effects. Topicals are a big problem because they absorb directly into circulation with no chance of being detoxified in the gut. Also, watch out for laundry detergent and household cleaning products. Wash new clothing because it might have been treated with xeno-estrogenic chemicals. Interestingly, marijuana smoke is estrogenic, but not the edibles. This website has a list of sources of toxic estrogens (and it is where I borrowed the graphic). Here is another site.
Detoxing xeno-estrogens. The best place to start, of course, is to avoid taking more in. We should also remember that fat cells make estrogen which, even though natural, adds to the estrogen load. Eating a lot of good green foods is a positive start on detox (and weight loss). Dr. Jay says that the Far Infrared Sauna is a big help in detox. Use a water filter because the compounds are now in tap water. Exercise regularly.