Xenoestrogens - "Endocrine Disruptors"
- “Endocrine Disruptors”
On this Page:
do Xenoestrogens exert their effect?
For a chart showing where xenoestrogens
are typically found:
What are Xenoestrogens ?
(sometimes referred to as
are molecules with a structure very similar to that of natural
Our modern day environment is rife with
estrogen “look-alikes”, which demonstrate an
estrogenic effect in the body, by:
affecting the body’s
estrogen levels by disrupting the way
produced or used in the body.
“In the Columbia River, a recent study found
that about 25 percent of the otters and muskrats were anatomically deformed.
Estrogenic pollution kills birds, panthers,
alligators, old men, young women, fish, seals, babies, and ecosystems.
Some of these chemicals are sprayed on forests by the
Department of Agriculture, where they enter lakes, underwater aquifers, rivers,
and oceans. Private businesses spray them on farms and orchards, or put
them into the air as smoke or vapors, or dump them directly into rivers.
Homeowners put them on their lawns and gardens.”
Dire Effects of Estrogen Pollution” by
Ray Peat, PhD.
The extent to which
have infiltrated our lives is nothing short of
They are found in fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, insecticides, dairy
products, meat, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and personal products (a major source
for women, especially in things that touch the skin i.e. lotions, shampoos,
soap), squeezable toys, baby bottles, industrial effluent and by-products, car
exhaust and more. They are leaching into canned foods and many foods packaged in
plastic, and they exist in water, soil and air.
havoc with the Body’s delicate hormonally balanced Endocrine System
are subtly balanced and need only miniscule amounts to function
is delicately opposed by
in the body
- natural PROGESTERONE is no match for
invading synthetic, foreign estrogens.
are not identical to natural
and have a
different effect - a hormone binds to its associated receptor on a target cell (much
like a key in a lock) to do a specific and complex job. If the molecular
structure is different, even by one atom, the instructions given to the cell are
are not easily broken down -
and can accumulate and be
stored in the body’s fat cells, including breast fat. The daily intake
of even small amounts of
xenoestrogens accumulate and bind to estrogen
receptor sites, unbalancing the
endocrine system with devastating health consequences.
are implicated in numerous
health problems –
due to high
estrogen levels in
both sexes, reduced testosterone/sperm counts
(Viagra is a $1 billion business)
Deformed reproductive organs
Male breasts -
other reproductive abnormalities
Cancer of the breast, uterus, testes and
Xenoestrogens exert their effect?
can mimic or block hormone
messages with the same, weaker, or stronger responses – by docking (binding) to an
estrogen receptor and mimicking or
(by operating independently of the hormone receptor):
They can prevent or promote
being made, broken
apart, or carried in the bloodstream
attaching to estrogen
transport proteins (Sex Hormone Binding Globulins or SHBGs) - and pushing off
the natural estrogen
so it doesn’t reach its target).
They can change hormone production and disposal – by interrupting enzyme relay systems inside cells or by
stimulating or slowing CYP enzyme production, to change the natural
Cytochrome P450 enzymes (CYPs) are
involved with the production and breakdown of all steroid hormones (e.g.
Read on to see the shocking number of
sources of estrogenic endocrine disruptors
now present in our diet and environment:
Sources of Xenoestrogens
Our food is a significant source of xenoestrogens - Food eaten by fish, poultry, animals or humans may contain
- stored in their fat, flesh, and milk
in increasing concentration, as
they are stored in the body faster than they are broken down or excreted, until
they reach the top of the food chain – i.e. Us !
Commercially raised meats and dairy introduce large amounts of xenoestrogens –
Estrogenic growth hormones are commonly injected into and fed to livestock
Dairy industry –
rBGH (recombinant bovine growth horomone) or rBST forces cows to produce more
Meat production - makes animals grow
faster and gain weight by retaining water;
Livestock feedlot effluent -
another source of aquatic hormonal contamination.
Estrogenic insecticides - are
applied directly to the animals, often automatically.
Pesticides /herbicides on plant food -
Pesticides/herbicides sprayed on grain, vegetables and fruit
(sometimes many times /season) contain
xenoestrogens, E.g. dioxin (an organochloride - a by-product of
chlorine processing); DDT and Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs); Although now
banned, DDT and PCB residues still persist in soils.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that ~50% of U.S. Sewage
sludge is recycled onto the land for fertilizer
“Biosolids” (the PR version) - are what’s left over after sewage is treated
and processed, not just from human waste, but from every time a paintbrush gets
rinsed, an old bottle of medications is flushed, or solvents are hosed off a
factory floor. Ironically, this
recycling into food crops began when it was realized that dumping them into
rivers, lakes and bays was an environmental hazard! As a poignant example of
contamination via this route, consider that
excretions of women using birth control
pills and hormonal replacement therapy can “recycle” back to us in our food and
water. Effluent from sewage plants are returned to the environment, where,
through run-off, they end up back in our water supply
(water treatment plants are not designed to remove hormones).
Also, sewage spillage directly into waterways is not uncommon -The
New York Times
reported that in the last three years more than
9,400 of the 25,000 U.S. sewage systems have violated the law
untreated or partially treated human waste, chemicals and other hazardous
materials into rivers, lakes and other waterways.
In 1988, an Environmental
Working Group analysis of sewage sludge found >100 synthetic organic compounds (E.g. phthalates, toluene,
chlorobenzene), 80% of systems contained dioxins, 42 different pesticides
(averaging 2/sample), 9 heavy metals (often high concentrations) [http://www.ewg.org/reports/sludgememo]. Sewage sludge was more recently blamed for some of the lead
contamination of the White House lawn and Michelle Obama’s organic veggie
The Center for Food Safety
(CFS) has petitioned the city of San Francisco to stop distributing sewage
sludge (PR-presented as “organic compost”)
to homeowners and
schoolyards - given that in 2008, its sludge was
found to contain industrial chemicals, disinfectants, phenol, pesticides and
Water from Sewage
treatment plants is tainted -
with cleaning solutions, personal care
products, and natural and synthetic hormones.
Birds, panthers, turtles, fish, alligators
have shown alterations in sex
For more than 10 years, researchers worldwide have observed that fish in our
lakes and rivers are actually switching gender due to their high levels of
xenoestrogens - The most publicized study concerned alligators in Lake Apopka,
Florida, after a pesticide, now known to be a powerful
xenoestrogen, was spilled into the lake. The
male gators’ gonads shrank and there was a marked decrease in the local gator
population because of their inability to reproduce. Even more shocking - in the
Potomac River, and many other areas in the U.S. male smallmouth bass have
been found laying eggs!
A staggering HALF of all male fish in British lowland rivers
have been found to grow eggs in their
2009 ChemTrust report.
“I want to say one word to you. Just one word… Plastics!”
when this one word of career advice was given to “The Graduate” in the classic
1963 movie, no-one could have imagined the impact plastics were going to have on
our world . . .
Different types of plastics are identified by number
to enable you to make better
choices when shopping:
(PET or PETE)
Soft drink bottles, medicine containers, cooking oil bottles, peanut
High density polyethylene
Toys, bottles/jugs for milk, water, detergent, shampoo, motor oil
(V or PVC)
common in plastic pipes, meat wrap, cooking oil bottles, outdoor
furniture, siding, floor tiles, shower curtains, clamshell packaging;
Low density polyethylene
Wrapping films, grocery bags, Some bread and frozen food bags and
squeezable bottles, produce bags, trash can liners, dry-cleaning bags.
Syrup bottles, yogurt containers, diapers, some ketchup bottles and
margarine tubs, bottle caps, drinking straws;
Products: Coffee cups, clam-shell take-out containers, packing peanuts,
plastic cutlery, meat trays; BTW,
there is no such thing as a “Styrofoam cup”- Styrofoam is a
trademarked material made by the Dow Chemical Company, but they do not
make cups, plates, egg-cartons or any food packaging from it.
Medical storage containers, some Nalgene water bottles, Tupperware, baby
Unfortunately, along with their benefits, plastics have also introduced
us to some seriously harmful xenohormones, especially
To soften #3 PVC plastic into its flexible form, and to add transparency,
durability, and longevity, manufacturers add various toxic chemicals known as
"plasticizers" during production. One of these chemicals is a
known as phthalate, and can leach out of PVC in trace amounts, even more so in
the presence of heat. On contact or
when heated, trace amounts of phthalates can leach into food from PVC-based
containers and wrap, particularly when the food is oily or has a high fat
content. Of considerable concern, studies have revealed that phthalates exposure
can also be via the skin or mouth through dust and air.
been found at high concentrations in human plasma and urine
et al. 2005.
Phthalates are released from source by heat, agitation,
and prolonged contact/storage
Phthalates can cross the placenta
is the most
abundant environmental phthalate. Chronic exposure to low, environmentally
relevant DEHP levels increased serum concentrations of
by >50% -
by inducing high levels of gonadotropin
LH (luteinizing hormone).
Benson T et al, Phthalate-induced Leydig cell hyperplasia is associated with
multiple endocrine disturbances, PNAS, 2004.
were originally PVC-based, but due to health concerns, brands including Glad
Cling Wrap, Handi-Wrap and Saran Premium Wrap (newer version of Saran
Wrap) are now LDPE.
HOWEVER, food caterers still
prefer to use PVC-based wrap - since it is generally more clingy, not so
permeable to oxygen, aroma, and flavor, and more resistant to freezer burn.
found in - PVC plumbing pipes,
irrigation systems, PVC-based cling wrap, flexible plastic kitchen utensils and
microwave ovenware, medical tubes and devices, processed food packaging, plastic
shower curtains, vinyl flooring and wall coverings, nail polish, hair spray,
shampoo, deodorants, fragrances, toys;
A (BPA) -
A building block of rigid #7 plastic polycarbonates and epoxy
resins. BPA is a xenoestrogenic
chemical invented during the search for synthetic
estrogens in the 1930’s. Many
studies confirm BPA as a hormone disruptor, even though it has a potency ~
10,000 times less than pure
Some examples of
BPA health effects
Adverse effects on pregnancy -
A 2009 in vitro study on
cytotrophoblast cells has
found cytotoxic effects in exposure of BPA doses from 0.0002 to 0.2 µg /ml and
concluded this finding "suggests that exposure of placental cells to low doses
of BPA may cause detrimental effects, leading in vivo to adverse
pregnancy outcomes such as
intrauterine growth restriction, prematurity and pregnancy loss"
Neonatal Exposure to Bisphenol A on Steroid Regulation of Vascular Endothelial
Growth Factor Expression and Endothelial Cell Proliferation in the Adult Rat
Low doses promote breast cancer cells in vitro -
in 1993, a
university school of medicine team found that 2-5 parts per billion of BPA was
enough to cause breast cancer cells to proliferate in vitro.
In 1998, an Environmental Health Perspectives
(EHP) study found that BPA simulates the action of
when tested in human breast cancer cells -
A more recent study published in EHP
shows a significant decrease of testosterone in male rats exposed to low levels
BPA has more potent effects at certain times in
the life of an organism and lower doses
produced greater effect than low doses - A study in
Environmental Health Perspectives reveals that BPA is particularly potent in mice exposed near the time
of birth. Pregnant female mice exposed to low levels of BPA near the time of
birth produce offspring that gain excessive weight early in life and maintain
excessive weight thereafter. This effect does not occur in mice fed BPA as
adults. (The study also found that low doses of BPA produced a greater effect
than higher doses). According to the authors of the study, their BPA data
"suggest the need for careful evaluation of the current levels of exposure [of
humans] to this compound."
EHP Vol. 109, No. 7 (July 2001), pgs. 675-680].
Estimated DAILY intake of
BPA by U.S. Dept of Health and Human Services
Adult 0.008–1.5 μg/kg
(135# adult intakes an average 46 μg BPA/day);
(1½-6 yrs) 0.043–14.7 μg/kg;
humans ingest ~ 6.3 µg / day of BPA just from the linings of food cans!
In 2009, more than 6
billion pounds of BPA was manufactured -
nearly $7 billion in sales. US companies that make
BPA are Bayer Material Science, Dow Chemical Company, SABIC Innovative Plastics
(formerly GE Plastics), Hexion Specialty Chemicals, and Sunoco Chemicals.
”Mercola.com Article - FDA Shifts Position—Now
Has Concerns about BPA Risks”
What products contain BPA?
clear and nearly shatter-proof, polycarbonate is used to make:
Baby bottles, large water bottles
(used in dispensers), drinking glasses;
Medical and dental devices, dental fillings and
sealants, eyeglass lenses;
DVDs, household electronics.
Type 3 PVC –
can contain BPA as
an antioxidant in plasticizers.
BPA-containing epoxy resins coat the inside of almost
all food and beverage cans and boxes - Acidity
increases BPA-leaching into food.
E.g. canned tomatoes have higher BPA levels than other non-acidic foods. The
linings of canned food-linings are our largest exposure source.
BPA contamination researcher Laura Vandenberg, PhD, postdoctoral fellow in
biology at Tufts
University in Boston
Types 1, 2, 4, 5 and 6 plastics do
NOT use BPA during production
What are metalloestrogens? -
Metalloestrogens are organic
xenoestrogens, which can affect the gene expression of human cells
responding to estrogen. Metalloestrogens have
shown affinity for estrogen receptors, and
can thus mimic estrogen activating the
receptor. They are considered harmful and potentially linked with breast cancer.
antimony, arsenite, barium, cadmium,
chromium (Cr(II)), cobalt, copper, lead, mercury, nickel, tin, and vanadate.
(Nonylphenol ethoxylates) –
in many common household products, (carpets, furniture, drapes)
commonly used as detergents in many industrial processes (E.g. Production of
oil/pulp/paper, synthetic/natural textiles and leather), additives in latex
paints and cosmetics, antioxidants/stabilzers in some plastics and pesticides.