According to the World Health Organization (2012), nearly 800 chemicals are known to disrupt the endocrine system by interfering with hormone synthesis, conversion, or receptor binding. One category of these, xenoestrogens, mimics the action of estrogen.
Estrogen is an essential hormone for the development of sexual characteristics, reproduction and prevention of bone loss; however, abnormally elevated levels can have detrimental effects. Estrogen dominance—a high estrogen to progesterone ratio—contributes to weight gain, irregular menstruation, fibrocystic breasts, polycystic ovarian syndrome, endometrial cancer, blood clot formation, and infertility in both men and women.
Xenoestrogens are a possible source of excess estrogen. These foreign chemicals lodge into fat cells, which makes them difficult to eliminate from the body. Xenoestrogens are found in food additives, commercially raised meats, plastics, pesticides, personal hygiene products, birth control pills, tap water, and more. Natural estrogen may accumulate from sluggish digestion or poor liver function, which can prevent proper detoxification or elimination.
Fortunately, naturopathic doctors are educated and trained to interpret hormonal panels, improve liver function, and optimize digestion. They can also provide lifestyle modifications to decrease estrogenic load and balance the estrogen-progesterone ratio.