Estrogen Dominance: Definition
The subject of Estrogen Dominance, a phrase coined by John Lee, MD, is so important because of the powerful, yet detrimental, role it plays in the development of cancers found in women (breast, ovarian and endometrial).
Estrogen dominance is defined as any amount of estrogen not offset by an adequate amount of progesterone. It’s not an exact amount of estrogen that creates an estrogen dominant scenario, but rather, the amount of estrogen relative to the amount of progesterone. For example, a menopausal (or peri-menopausal) woman may have very little estrogen. However, if she is not producing an adequate level of progesterone to offset the estrogen, she may be (or may become) estrogen dominant.
As a woman transitions into menopause, progesterone production declines nearly twice as fast as estrogen. This unstoppable, natural process of our biology only partly contributes to an estrogen dominant scenario.
Not All Estrogens are Created Equal
Other common contributing factors to creating estrogen dominance are those “consumed” through environmental means called xenoestrogens. “Xeno-“is the Greek word for foreign. Thus, xenoestrogens can be thought of as foreign estrogens.
Xenoestrogens are best defined as “hormone disruptors” in that they act at the same site as natural hormones and exert the same effects as any estrogen; cell growth and increased cell division. Therefore, estrogen receptors in breast tissue that are occupied by xenoestrogens and not offset by progesterone can lead to several breast conditions including breast cancer.
Thus, estrogen dominance puts us at risk for future disease like breast, ovarian and endometrial cancers.
Xenoestrogens are found in foods treated with pesticides and insecticides as well as any products that are petroleum-based (called petrochemicals). This list may include: lotions, soaps, shampoos, hair spray, cosmetics, room deodorizers, solvents cleaning products and plastics (water bottles, food-storage containers, etc) are all examples of petrochemicals and therefore foreign estrogens. Of course, not all products are petroleum-based. It is imperative that we read the labels of what we consume, choose non-petroleum based products and limit (ideally, entirely remove) the use of plastics.
Other Contributing Factors to Estrogen Dominance
Stress taxes our adrenal glands which then contribute to decreased progesterone production.
Healthy estrogen metabolism – “Estrogen” is actually a combination of three hormones working together to exert their effects. These hormones include Estrone (E1), Estradiol (E2) and Estriol (E3). Estrogens are metabolized through the liver and when hydroxylated, are considered protective (or healthy) and sometimes called our “good” estrogens. End products of this “healthy” arm of estrogen metabolism includes hydroxylated estrone (2-(OH)-estrone) and hydroxylated estradiol (2-(OH)-estradiol).
Healthy estrogen metabolism is favored by adequate Vitamin D levels, adequate Vitamin B6 and Magnesium levels as well as consuming foods high in indol-3-carbinol such as cabbage, broccoli, collard greens, kale, turnip root and rutabaga as well as other cruciferous vegetables.
Some practitioners may request that you add Di-indolylmethane or DIM as this is the beneficial ingredient found in cruciferous vegetables that supports healthy estrogen metabolism.
Another end-product of estrone metabolism is 16-alpha-hydroxylated estrone (16α-(OH)-estrone) or “bad” estrogen. The ideal situation is to have a higher ratio of healthy metabolites to unhealthy metabolites. This ratio can be measured through blood or urine. Recommendations are then made to alter the ratio if necessary via diet, supplements and/or adding natural hormone support. Other beneficial modalities may be considered (yoga, meditation, acupuncture, etc) too.
Estrogen dominance and thermal imaging – Thermal imaging cannot “diagnose” estrogen dominance. However, as a powerful tool for preventing the development of disease, thermal imaging can be your best ally in monitoring for any changes related to your breast health. For example, let’s say you’ve maintained stable thermal patterns for several years. At your annual appointment, the thermogram indicates a change from your previous stable thermal patterns. The risk for developing breast cancer is increased with estrogen dominance. Thus, it is prudent to make an appointment with your physician to rule out estrogen dominance. Talk to your nutritionist or physician about dietary changes that can benefit the healthy arm of estrogen metabolism. If stress may be a contributing factor, consider what changes can be made to manage the situation better.
If you plan to make lifestyle modifications for the New Year I hope you will become more aware of environmental estrogens that may be feeding an unhealthy process and resolve to live healthfully in 2013 and beyond!
Estronex Urine Test
A urine sample can measure your estrogen metabolites and determine the ratio of “good estrogen” to “bad estrogen” in your body.
Studies have shown this ratio provides an important indication of risk for future development of breast cancer. A low 2:16 ratio can indicate increased long-term risk for breast cancer as well as other estrogen-sensitive cancers including uterine, ovarian, cervical, prostate, and even head and neck cancers.
One of the best features of this test is that the metabolites can be measured and lifestyle changes can be modified to favor a healthier ratio. To find out more information about this test please click here.
Consider asking your health practitioner for more information about his test and if there are any drawbacks to requesting this test.