Last updated Tuesday, September 02, 2014 05:03pm

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 19 — Most people know about estrogen as the female hormone but the fact is that estrogen is also present in the male body albeit in much lower levels.

 It is a proliferative hormone (that means it encourages cells to multiply) and plays a major role during the development of the female body. 

Beyond its function in the development of female characteristics, estrogen has a diverse range of functions including influencing digestion by affecting bowel movements and cholesterol in bile, protein synthesis in the liver, lung function and even cardiovascular health.

In fact, estrogen levels can affect how “sticky” your blood is and its clotting behaviour — a clear reason why women are at a relatively lower risk of cardio vascular disease compared to men, until post-menopause.

That sounds highly encouraging but it has a dark side.

All hormones exist in balance in the body and estrogen is balanced against other hormones such as testosterone and progesterone.

 In women, when estrogen becomes excessively dominant, menopausal symptoms arise such as insomnia, water retention, irritability and mood swings. More on these symptoms can be found in an earlier article.

Polycystic ovarian syndrome is a condition where women present with both high levels of circulating estrogen AND testosterone which has consequences on weight gain, mood swings and blood sugar balancing. 

A common symptom is also the growth of facial hair due to the abundance of testosterone! In men, estrogen as a proliferative hormone, can affect prostate enlargement and hardening; frequent in the middle of the night urination is one of the most common symptoms.

Because of its function in encouraging cells to divide and grow, the estrogenic pathways have a role to play in cancer as well — breast cancer in particular. About 80 per cent of all breast cancers require estrogenic effects for the cancers to grow, including xeno-estrogens.

Xeno-estrogens

But how do these hormonal imbalances come about?

Xeno-estrogens refer to chemicals and substances that are similar to estrogen and thereby mimic its activity and function in the human body. 

These xeno-estrogens have contaminated the human food supply chain and beyond — they are well-known to be abundantly present in every facet of our planet!

They are found in fast food burgers, shampoos, soaps, canned beverages, farmed animals; commonly found excessively in the Malaysian scene in tap water, chickens, cows, fish etc. 

One of the most wide spread use of such xeno-estrogenic chemicals is a group collectively known as parabens. They can come in various forms such as ;

  • Methyl paraben
  • Propyl paraben
  • Isobutyl paraben
  • Ethyl paraben
  • Butyl paraben
  • E216

Parabens are typically used to inhibit the growth of yeast and molds and as such, are frequently found as preservatives in both food and other cosmetic products. 

Besides parabens, animal products these days already contain a certain amount of xeno estrogens. Just ask any farmer how long it takes to rear a fully matured chicken ready for slaughter in this day and age and how it compares to traditional timelines of animal growth and you will get an idea of just how saturated the food chain is with xeno estrogens and other hormones.

It is also known that parabens can accumulate within the breast tissue. Going back to breast cancer — a study noted that in a sample of 40 women who were being treated for primary breast cancer, 60 per cent of them had different parabens present in breast cancer tissue. 

So where did it come from? Parabens can infiltrate the body through:

  • Shampoos and conditioners
  • Shaving gel
  • Tooth paste
  • Lotions & sunscreens
  • Make-up and cosmetics
  • Pharmaceutical drugs
  • Food additives

Metals: The other “fake” hormones

There is extensive evidence arising that heavy metals toxicity is also linked to xeno estrogenic activity and common culprits to avoid include:

  • Aluminum
  • Antimony
  • Arsenic
  • Barium
  • Cadmium
  • Chromium
  • Cobalt
  • Copper
  • Lead
  • Mercury
  • Nickel
  • Selenite
  • Tin
  • Vanadate

Cadmium is especially worrying as it can leach into crops from fertilisers, rainfall and sewage. Cadmium can also be inhaled through air pollution from the burning of fossil fuels.

On top of all these unwanted exposures, humans tend to add more into their lives in the form of contraceptives, plastics in hot food packaging, excessive solvents, and unfiltered tap water.

So, how does one test for metal toxicity in the body? Hair tissue analysis provides insight as to what metals are present in the body and by doing so, identify key sources of them in the human body. 

By far the single most widespread exposure to heavy metals comes from  dental amalgam. Your regular dentist will claim it's completely safe until you insist you want yours taken out, he will then tell you that it's not safe to just drill and dispose.

No wonder that men with larger boobs are becoming a regular sight these days and it does not end there. Subsequent generations become affected through such estrogenic effects in pregnant women. 

* Philip Yiin is a LivingWell certified wellness consultant and a cancer coach. The co-founder of the Institute for Functional Health Malaysia, he is also certified in anti-ageing medicine and a LivingFood specialist. He can be reached at [email protected]

** This is the personal opinion of the writer.