Early Rates of Puberty: Obesity or Estrogen Dominance?

Heavier girls are hitting puberty at younger ages in the US.  Rising rates of obesity seems to be a contributing factor.  A small, long-term study of 1,200 girls ages six to eight years old have been followed annually or semi-annually and assessed for signs of breast development.  A summary of findings is noted below:

Breast development* (average age)
African American 8 years, 10 months
Hispanic 9 years, 4 months
Caucasian 9 years, 6 months
Asian 9 years, 8 months

* As measured by Tanner stages of breast development

We all are aware of the rising rate of childhood obesity and the correlative increased rate of type 2 diabetes.  But is this the primary cause?

Dr. Anders Juul, MD head of the Department of Growth and Reproduction, located at Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen, Denmark doesn’t necessarily agree that obesity is the primary factor in early breast development.  His research indicates that obesity among Danish girls is not a contributing factor to early breast development and suggests an environmental component known as xenoestrogens

Xenoestrogens are “foreign” estrogens that are consumed through environmental means and best defined as “hormone disruptors.”  They act at the same site as natural hormones and exert the same effects of estrogen:  cell growth and increased cell division.
Xenoestrogens can create an estrogen dominant scenario.  Estrogen dominance is the greatest risk factor for the development of breast, ovarian, and endometrial cancers. 

Estrogen Dominance, a term coined by John Lee, MD and is defined as any amount of estrogen NOT off-set by an adequate amount of progesterone. As a woman transitions into menopause, progesterone production declines nearly twice as fast as estrogen.  Xenoestrogens are found in foods treated with pesticides and insecticides as well as any products that are petroleum-based.  This list may include:  lotions, soaps, shampoos, hair spray, cosmetics, room deodorizers, solvents, cleaning products and plastics (water bottles, food storage containers, etc). 

Other causes that can lead to estrogen dominance include: 

  • Excess body fat (greater than 28%)
  • Excessive stress, leading to increased cortisol, insulin and norepinephrine (leading to adrenal exhaustion)
  • Excessive refined carbohydrates, devoid of fiber and beneficial nutrients
  • Excessive chemical exposure (xenoestrogens)

So, with decreasing progesterone production plus foreign estrogen consumption, we can therefore see how easily it can be to create an estrogen dominant picture. 

The good news is that estrogen dominance is modifiable.  Here are a few steps you can take to decrease estrogen dominance:

  • Increase nutrients in the diet through high-quality, food-based supplements
  • Consume fresh (organic) vegetables, adequate protein, and moderate amounts of healthy fat.
  • Talk to your health practitioner about adding bio-identical progesterone cream to your regimen
  • Lose excess body fat and get regular exercise—especially strength training
  • Detoxify your liver.  Healthy estrogen metabolism is dependent on healthy liver function
  • Decrease stress.  Learn your limits; take care of yourself by allowing time for what is important and necessary for your mental, physical, and spiritual health

As 2013 comes to a close, we want to thank you for allowing us to be part of this empowering journey to health and wellness.  We watch you make necessary lifestyle changes that dramatically (and positively) impact your health.  We hold you in gratitude and look forward to serving you in 2014. 

In appreciation,
Brenda and Lynda Witt