Continuing on with Breast Cancer Prevention Month, today I would like to talk about xenoestrogens. As my last blog post stated, Estrogen Dominance is one of the main causes of breast cancer and xenoestrogens are a main contributor to the problem.
What Are Xenoestrogens?
Xenoestrogens, also known as environmental estrogens and endocrine disrupters or as I will refer to them xenos, are chemicals from outside of the body that act like estrogen inside the body. The amount of products that contain xenos has significantly increased in the last 70 years and, as a result, so has breast cancer and other estrogen related cancers. Xenos can be absorbed in the body by inhalation (lungs), ingestion (GI tract) and topical absorption (skin). Xenos not only threaten our species with medical issues and cause feminizing effect, but the ecological effects may threaten the survival of species world wide.
Organochlorines are one class of xenoestrogens that have been raising the most attention in relation to breast cancer. They are the chemical byproducts of industrial products that involve chlorine and the heating of organic matter (carbon), for example they come from bleaching paper and burning of hazardous and medical waste. They are often found in chlorinated water, pesticides, pharmaceuticals and PVC plastics and are so dangerous because they don’t break down easily in the environment and accumulate in the fat and breast tissue of humans. Their ability to stay in the body is proved by recent samples of breast and fat tissue that were collected from women in the
. These samples reveled the presence of organochlorines banned over 30 years ago, including DDT. US
Another common group of xenoestrogen is Nonphenol ethoxylates (NPEs). These are a common detergent for industrial products and can be found in latex paints, cosmetics, plastics and pesticides. One form of NPEs is the active ingredient in spermicide where is can enter the female body and be easily absorbed. Organochlorines and NPEs are just 2 groups of xenoestrogens. There are tons more and the more we have an affinity to developing new chemicals, the more xenoestrogens will continue to be a problem.
What kinds of Products contain Xenoestrogens?
- Hormones found in Meat and Dairy: hormones added to commercially raised beef, chicken and pork to help the animals “bulk up” can be found in the meat and hormones given to cows to increases dairy production can be found in milk.
- Pesticides and herbicides: non-organic fruits and veggies contain the residue of agricultural pesticides and herbicides but also products that you use in your own garden to get rid of bugs and weeds are dangerous.
- Plastic and Styrofoam food and drink containers
- Household detergents and Cleaners
- Paints and solvents: including nail polish and remover.
- Cosmetics: we must remember that anything we put on the skin is absorbed into the blood stream and these xenoestrogens are 10 times more dangerous than xenos that enter through the GI tract. This is due to the fact that ingested xenos must pass through the liver, where as topical xenos are absorbed directly into the tissue.
- Artificial scents: like air fresheners and perfumes.
Other Conditions Linked to Xenoestrogens
Breast cancer is just one of the problems associated with xenoestrogen exposure. Other issues include:
- Early puberty
- Other female cancers like ovarian and cervical cancer
- In men xenoestrogens cause: decreased sperm count, mobs (man boobs), prostate cancer and testicular cancer
- In children, xenoestrogen exposure may be linked to: thyroid issues, diabetes and behavioral issues
How to Limit your Exposure to Xenoestrogens
The bottom line is that each product that contains a xenoestrogens may only contain a miniscule amount, but most people use so many different products, each containing xenos. The effect in the body is accumulative and can be the cause of many of the conditions listed above. So here are some guidelines to follow to limit your exposure to xenoestrogens:
- Say “No” to Plastic and Styrofoam: do not buy, store or reheat food or drinks in plastic or Styrofoam. I know how easy it is to bring to your lunch in tubaware and just throw it in the microwave but it is also very dangerous. Use glass instead.
- When it comes to water:
- Use a food grade stainless steel or glass water bottle.
- Do not leave plastic drinking containers in the sun.
- Don’t refill plastic water bottles.
- Avoid freezing plastic water bottles with the intention of drinking later.
- Avoid chlorinated water and instead drink filtered or spring water.
- Natural Cleaning products: natural cleaning products can be expensive, that’s why I’m an advocate of making your own cleaning products. It is cheap and takes no time at all. I suggest getting the book “Clean House, Clean Planet” by Karen Logan. Her cleaning recipes are safe and easy, costing only pennies to make.
- Buy hormone free meat and dairy and organic produce: This can be expensive but I look at it as an investment in your health. Also take advantage of local farmers markets. You can purchase organic products at a fraction of the supermarket price, plus you are supporting local farmers which is important. There are some produce that are heavily sprayed with pesticides, so if you can’t afford to fully go organic, at least buy organic strawberries, spinach, cabbage, pineapples, green beans, asparagus, apricots, raspberries, cherries, apples, peaches, grapes and peppers.
- Avoid processed food and drinks: Processed food and drinks contain many different additives, preservatives and artificial colors that are xenoestrogens.
- Use Natural, Chemical-free Cosmetics and fragrances: anything you put on your skin is readily absorbed into the blood stream. Avoiding these products all together is the best way to decrease you exposure to them.
I hope this has brought some awareness to the dangers of xenoestrogens and how they relate to Estrogen Dominance and breast cancer. Thank you for reading The Verbal Herbal and supporting Breast Cancer Prevention Month. These are very important topics this month and I encourage you to share them with as many people as possible. Information this month could help to save lives and beautiful boobies.
Weed, S. S. (1996). Breast cancer? Breast health!: the wise woman way.
: Ash Tree Pub. Woodstock, N.Y.