The Hormonal Nightmare

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Hormone Disruptors and Their Effect Upon Women’s Health

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More and more concern is arising regarding hormone disruptors. Hormone disruptors are also called exogenous estrogen or estrogen, which is not produced in a woman's body, but rather comes from outside sources. Common sources of exogenous estrogens are pesticides, beef, dairy products, cosmetics, plastic, cleaning chemicals, dryer fabric softener sheets and liquid fabric softeners, farmed fish, bleaching chemicals and pharmaceuticals such as spermicidal agents.

The following illustration shows molecules of estrogen [red shapes] and estrogen receptor sites:

Estrogen and Estrogen Receptor Sites

Normally, some estrogens [red shapes] in a woman's body can be inactivated by a substance produced in the body called either steroid hormone binding globulin [SHBG] or sex hormone binding globulin [purple shape]. This is shown in the following illustration.

SHBG Effect

Unfortunately, steroid hormone binding globulin or sex hormone binding globulin [purple shape] cannot inactivate exogenous estrogens [red & yellow shape] as can be seen in the following diagram.

SHBG and Exogenous Estrogens

The two most common sources of exogenous estrogens are pesticides and plastic containers. Both are made from petroleum products.

No matter what her age, unless a woman eats organically grown fruits and vegetables, she will be exposed to exogenous estrogens. Also if a woman is pregnant, her developing baby boy or girl, will also be exposed to exogenous estrogens in the foods that she eats. For example, if a pregnant woman eats fruits and vegetables which have been sprayed with pesticides, the developing baby [fetus] in her uterus will be exposed to these estrogens at a time when baby’s body is still developing. It is still not known what the long–term problems this could cause either the pregnant woman or the baby.

Plastic containers are used by many women for either storing foods in or for use in microwave cooking. Exogenous estrogens leech from the plastic containers into the foods, especially if the foods are acidic, such as tomato sauce. More and more convenience foods in microwavable plastic trays are being put out on the market. Not only are men and women exposed to the exogenous estrogens, but also children and teenagers, whose bodies are rapidly growing.

Other sources of exogenous estrogens are plant estrogens [also known as phytoestrogens], soaps, wood paneling, furniture, car exhaust, carpeting and industrial waste products.

The web page www.foodnews.org, produced by the Environmental Working Group, allows women to see which are the best and the worst foods in terms of their absorption of pesticides. This information assists women in better selecting which foods they should buy organically if they're only able to afford to buy some of them organically. The web page www.ewg.org is an excellent source of information about environmental toxins and hazards.

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