One of the big health problems affecting women over 40 is unbalanced hormones as they enter menopause. Now guys before you tune out and say this doesn't relate to me, think again. This information will help you to understand and assist the women in your life just as it has helped me. Did you know that a major source of acne is too much testosterone in the body? This goes for males and females and can be helped with natural zinc, vitamins A and C complexes. If your wife or girlfriend is gaining weight in spite of constant dieting, it can be from an excess of estrogen or insulin, which also inhibits the thyroid gland. By the end of this newsletter you will be able to spot the effects of estrogen excess and other hormone imbalances. Did you know your body takes progesterone and turns it into testosterone? So keep reading and don't think this information is only for women.
When we talk about xenohormones we aren't talking about what makes a warrior princess kick-butt. We are talking about the foreign (xeno) hormones that are prevalent in our environment from the petroleum-based products and plastics that are found in our food supply and our homes. I could spend an entire newsletter on xenohormones so this is just a quick overview.
Hormones are messengers in the body that have specific functions to perform. Your body is told what to do mostly by the nervous system and hormones. All the hormones work together in the endocrine system to balance the actions of each other. These hormones are very specific in their function but may be almost identical in structure. For instance the difference between testosterone and estradiol (an estrogen) is one hydrogen atom and a double bond. Yet the function of these two hormones are very different. Hormones act as metabolic keys with two ends. The receptor end fits into a site on a cell that is made specifically for that hormone. This initiates the action the hormone is designed to create. The other end of this key is the enzyme end that will be connected to a specific enzyme. That enzyme will change this hormone into another hormone or break it down to be excreted.
Xenohormones are synthetic hormones like birth control pills, Premarin and Provera, the pesticide residues on non-organic foods and meats, the plastics used in our food storage, the plasticizers in our cosmetics and perfumes as well as building materials. The list is long and Dr. Lindsey Berkson fully documents the harmful effects in her book, Hormone Deception. These xenohormones are similar enough in structure to our natural hormones that they jam the key into the receptor site and give strange commands to that cell. The enzyme end is not configured for any circulating enzyme to transform or metabolize it, so this foreign hormone lingers in the body for months and years rather than for minutes or hours. The result has been skyrocketing reproductive-site cancer rates in both men and women, decreased fertility, sperm count and penis size, increased PMS and an epidemic of female disorders like fibroids, cervical dysplasia, ovarian cysts, etc..
Relax guys this has nothing to do with being henpecked husbands or dominated by a strong mother. This is a serious hormonal imbalance that is affecting most of the women in this country and is making their life and yours very difficult at different times of the month or during various periods in their life. Estrogen has to be in balance with progesterone to keep the body in harmony. In actual numbers, the amount of progesterone should be 30-100 times higher in the body than estrogen. With the environmental xenohormones, the use of oral and injected contraceptives and synthetic hormone replacement therapy (HRT), progesterone levels have fallen dramatically. This creates a lower progesterone to estrogen ratio and can create the following problems: irregular periods, heavy bleeding and cramping, fibrocystic breasts, enlarged breasts, ovarian cysts, uterine fibroids, infertility, cervical dysplasia, headaches, weight gain, emotion hypersensitivies, decreased sexual response, gallbladder problems, hypothyroid symptoms, depression, anxiety, insomnia, fibromyalgia, muscle tension, blood sugar problems, polycystic ovaries, breast, endometrial and uterine cancer to name just a few.
This explains why so many women in their late 30's and into their early 50's have had gallbladder surgery, are on thyroid medication, anti-depressants and suffer from weight gain that can't be controlled.
Natural progesterone is a bio-identical molecule to the progesterone in your body and is made from plant sources. By law, anything made from natural sources cannot be patented. Progestins are synthetic progesterone molecules that have been chemically altered so that they no longer resemble the natural molecule and can be patented. Unfortunately, these two vastly different hormones are frequently misnamed in the literature. Tests done on progestins show that it increases breast cancer yet it is written in the media as progesterone or progestogens. Progesterone and progestins pretty much work in opposite ways. Progesterone (pro-gestation) is vital to carrying a pregnancy to full term. Progestins cause birth defects and early abortion. Birth control pills are made mostly from low-dose synthetic estrogens and progestins or just progestins. If you look up Provera (a commonly used progestin) in the PDR, all of its side effects are the exact opposite of what real progesterone does. But progestins bind to the same receptor sites as progesterone and decrease the body's production of progesterone. If you have been on the pill or used the Depo-Provera shot, your progesterone levels have been suppressed for a long time. Use of these contraceptives before age 18 has recently been linked to an increase in breast cancer. The Pill does not fix a hormone imbalance, it only suppresses the normal hormones and forces your cycle to seem normal. It has also been blamed as one of the causes of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. So guys, asking your lady to get on the pill because it seems easier than using condoms, can be very dangerous to her health!
Estrogen is a combined term for at least 3 different hormones. Estradiol (E2) has the greatest effect on breast tissue and cell proliferation, than estrone (E1) and estriol (E3) has the least effect. Estriol is produced in large quantities during pregnancy by the placenta while estradiol and estrone levels are very low. A report in JAMA in 1996 showed that women with breast cancer produced 30-60% less estriol than non-cancer controls. After menopause, estrone is made in the fat cells of a woman's body. A very heavy postmenopausal woman can actually produce more estrogen than a thin premenopausal woman can.
Recently a study was published that showed that synthetic hormone replacement therapy caused a greater incidence of breast cancer. Unopposed estrogen is the only known cause of endometrial cancer. This caused a panic in women across the country because they didn't know where to turn. Rapidly falling estrogen levels are believed to be the cause of hot flashes. One of the myths of menopause is that your estrogen levels dry up. But really they only drop by about 40-60%. HRT was also touted as a great cure to osteoporosis but the studies show that the bone sparing effect is for the first 5 years after menopause but by year 7, the bone density is no different than without HRT. Estrogen doesn't build new bone it just stops the breakdown of the old bone. Your bones appear dense but the quality of the bone is not that good. Here is something to consider; if a lack of estrogen causes osteoporosis then why does the bone loss start when a woman is still 10-15 years from menopause and the estrogen levels are high. Maybe the answer is because it is really a progesterone deficiency. Studies have shown that natural progesterone can actually increase bone density in pre and postmenopausal women. We have natural sources of estrogen and progesterone available at the office that don't have all the side effects found in the previous studies and are not prescription items.
I have just scratched the surface of this subject but to get an in-depth understanding you need to read Dr. John Lee's book, What your Doctor May Not Tell You About Menopause. He is an outspoken advocate of using natural hormones to help women stay healthy. C-sections and hysterectomies are the top two surgeries performed in this country. Over 90% of the hysterectomies are unnecessary castration of our women and should only be performed in the event of uterine cancer. By using natural hormones like progesterone, most of those cancers can be prevented. We also have some great handouts available at the office covering all of the conditions mentioned above developed by Dr. Janet Lang. She is a researcher and instructor who teaches around the country on the subject of women's health.