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Estrogen, The Catabolic Stress Hormone
by Guy Schenker, D.C.
Excerpt from The Nutri-Spec Letter, Vol. 11 No. 11
The health damaging consequences of excess estrogen seem to be almost limitless…
The truth of the matter is that many men and almost all women are suffering to some degree from an excess of estrogen (or a deficiency of the hormones such as testosterone, progesterone, or thyroid which oppose estrogen – which still gives the same clinical picture). Adding to this sad state of affairs is the fact that so many women are either on birth control pills, or on estrogen replacement therapy, both of which provide dangerously destructive doses of this devastating hormone.
To begin by giving you a general over-view of where estrogen fits into the whole scheme of things, let us first consider the hormone changes characteristic of a normal, healthy woman (an endangered species). There is much misinformation about estrogen promoted by the pharmaceutical industry; and there is almost total ignorance of the role played by the other critical hormones – progesterone, testosterone, pregnenolone and DHEA. The levels of all five of these hormones peak during a woman’s early thirties. From that point the hormone levels begin a slow (almost imperceptible) decline which has minimal impact on healthful physiology.
At some point in the early 50’s menopause is reached. All this means is that the hormone levels have declined to the point at which a monthly cycle is no longer stimulated. There is no sudden drop of hormones as menopause is reached. Physiology continues normally with the exception that the woman can no longer conceive.
The same slow, steady drop in hormones continues throughout the remainder of a healthy woman’s life. For years even after menopause is reached the woman can maintain excellent physical, mental, and emotional health. Libido and sexual performance can be maintained for many more years. Bone density can be maintained for decades. Muscle tone and neurological performance decline very, very gradually. (This minimization of the aging process assumes that she maintains the dietary and exercise habits that got her this far in such good shape.) The actual symptoms of menopause – the hot flashes, mental and emotional instability etc. are mild in these woman – consisting of transient minimally distressing symptoms. Such a woman lives a long, happy healthy life.
In contrast, consider what typically happens to some degree in almost all women these days. In association with inadequate exercise and especially with an unhealthy diet, a girl experiences adolescence accompanied by extreme physical and mental trauma. The problem is her hormone levels are out of balance right from the start. The estrogen levels are very high relative to her progesterone levels. (The most important dietary causative factors here are excess intake of vegetable oils and refined carbohydrates, along with inadequate intake of trace minerals.) Most women maintain this unbalanced ratio of estrogen to progesterone from adolescence through menopause and beyond.
Associated with this excess estrogen to progesterone ratio are symptoms such as anxiety, mood swings, food cravings, fluid retention, and all the physical and emotional symptoms associated with premenstrual syndrome. Dysmenorrhea, uterine fibroids, and cystic breast disease are also associated with this hormone imbalance. Most women suffer the effects of this hormone imbalance to some degree.
Beginning in the 40’s, about 10 years before menopause, the hormone system begins to fail. The levels of progesterone, testosterone, pregnenolone and DHEA take a precipitous drop at this time. Many women go through a decade or more of severe physical and emotional symptoms, for what has happened is that the already high estrogen to progesterone ratio has gotten worse as progesterone levels have dropped. Many women resort to taking Prozac or similar “feel good drugs” for 10-15 years. (If they needed pharmacological intervention at all what they would have really benefited from was natural progesterone.)
After ten or more years of misery, the woman’s symptomatic picture is compounded by the arrival of menopause. At this point the estrogen levels also begin to drop and she experiences hot flashes and everything that goes with it. Typically at this time the woman runs to her Prozac doctor for a prescription for estrogen to relieve her hot flashes. Since the estrogen relieves the hot flashes, the woman thinks she is “better,” not realizing that all the hormone replacement therapy has done is further exacerbate the already high estrogen to progesterone ratio. In other words, all the estrogen does is maintain her in the same unhealthy state of mind and body she has already been in since puberty.
It is no exaggeration to say that half the health problems that men have, and nearly all the health problems that women have, can be exacerbated by estrogen. Here is a preview of some of the facts you will discover (fully referenced from the scientific literature) in the next issue or two of this Letter:
- Estrogen causes seizures.
- Estrogen causes allergies.
- Estrogen causes cancer (not jut the obvious breast cancer, uterine cancer and cervical cancer, but many forms of cancer, in both men and women).
- Estrogen causes anxiety.
- Estrogen causes cystic breast disease.
- Estrogen causes uterine fibroids.
- Estrogen causes endometriosis.
- Estrogen causes dysmenorrhea.
- Estrogen causes premenstrual syndrome.
- Estrogen causes prostrate disease.
- Estrogen causes gall stones and gall bladder disease.
- Estrogen causes fluid retention.
- Estrogen causes weight gain.
- Estrogen depresses thyroid function.
- Estrogen causes osteoporosis (and you will learn how the deceitful lie that estrogen protects against osteoporosis was fabricated on a half-truth).
- Estrogen causes hypoglycemia and associated food cravings.
- Estrogen increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes.