Estrogen is the stuff that women’s health is made of. Some women may have health issues related to “estrogen dominance” ranging from increased breast cancer risk to weight to fibroids. However, the truth is that estrogen is a marvelous substance with many health properties and it is actually the essence of femininity.
Estrogen is not a singular substance, but a group of hormones that are collectively referred to as “estrogen.” Each substance is similar, yet unique, and it is important to know the difference.
Estrogen is primarily formed in the ovaries (although it is also produced by the adrenals and fat cells). It is a combination of three compounds: Estrone (E1), Estradiol (E2), and Estriol (E3). The strongest and most influential of the three estrogen hormones is Estradiol (E2), next in strength is Estrone (E1). These are the so-called aggressive estrogens. At high levels, they are thought to be associated with increased risk of breast and uterine cancers. The two substances tend to convert back and forth into one another, so for that reason, standard blood tests tend to measure estradiol only.
Generally speaking, estrone and estradiol are the most influential estrogens in creating the qualities of femininity, the qualities that turn a girl into a woman and affect and protect the mind, the bones and the cardiovascular system. Estradiol prevents the loss of old bone tissue. Estrone is thought to perhaps promote the growth of new bone tissue.
Estriol (E3), the third major type of estrogen, is the more “benign” compound. It contributes to healthy and youthful skin, keeps the vagina moist and lubricated, prevents hot flashes and night sweats, and probably has a major anticancer role. It exerts a protective and counterbalancing effect against estrone and estradiol, its more powerful sister compounds. In some women increased estriol levels improve mental clarity. But estriol does not appear to benefit the bones or cardiovascular system the way estradiol and estrone do.
Estriol (E3), the weak estrogen, is only 1/1000, the strength of estradiol. That means that for every 1000 cells that divide and grow in response to the stronger message of estradiol, only 1 cell will divide in response to estriol’s weaker message.
These estrogens are endogenous estrogen, in other words, that which is produced by our own bodies, however, there are also some other kinds of estrogens.
Phytoestrogens are plant-based estrogens. The 2 most prominent sources are soy and flax, although there are some herbs that act as SERMs (Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators) these include Red Clover, Black Cohosh and European Rosemary. Phytoestrogens have a weak estrogenic effect. They are thought to benefit breast health by locking onto estrogen receptors in breast tissue and thus preventing the stronger and more dangerous estrogen compounds from entering.
Remember how we said that estriol (E3) is only 1/1000 the strength of estradiol. Well, remarkably, genistein and diadazen, the isoflavone or phytoestrogen compounds in soy are 1/1000 to 1/100,000 weaker than human estrogen. So that means that the phytoestrogen in soy can have the same protective, benign effect that estriol has.
In Bob Arnot’s book The Breast Cancer Prevention Diet, he sites evidence-based analysis that countries where soy is part of their daily food diet, the incidence of breast cancer is far less than in America. However, these same women when compared to their counterparts in the US, the incidence of breast cancer rises.
Finally, a word about Xeno-Hormones. These are toxins. They are pesticides and herbicides sprayed on our food (always go organic!), they are solvents in paints, nail polish and remover, fumes at the gas station, off gasses from many carpets and foam products, they are in the sprays we use around the house and the beauty products we use. They are everywhere! EXCEPT, of course, if you are using Shaklee Healthy Beauty or Shaklee Green Living; THEN you are not exposing yourself or your family to harmful toxins that you breathe or put on your skin. But back to Xeno-Hormones. They are chemicals, which are so close in their molecular structure to estrogen that they are able to lock on to estrogen receptors in breast tissue. They then enter the cell and begin to damage the structure and function of the cell, often damaging delicate DNA, which can lead to cell mutations and cancerous tumors. Fat tissue stores toxins at much higher levels than other tissues in the body (up to 700 times the levels found in the bloodstream!), and sadly, the breast is mainly composed of fatty tissue, so toxins accumulate at a much higher concentration in the breasts than other places. In the toxic world we live in, it is no wonder breast cancer has become an epidemic! Much of our recommendations focus on not only raising your resistance with nutrition and wise supplementation, but also lowering your exposure to dangerous xeno-toxins and clearing them from the body.
Finally, due to the medical considerations, I want to mention synthetic estrogens or Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) and tell you to “google” 2002 Women’s Health Initiative study. In summary, this study was originally designed to be an 8-year study; however, the HRT portion of the study was halted 3 years early due to a 41% increase risk of stroke, a 29% increase risk of heart attack, a 50% increase risk of blood clots, a 22% increase risk of cardiovascular disease and a 26% increase in risk of invasive breast cancer to the women being given HRT in the study.
In 2008, the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium confirmed that the “cessation of HRT use is associated with a rapid reduction of breast cancer incidence.” Taking HRT for 2 years significantly increased the risk of breast cancer, but the risk rapidly diminished returning to a normal risk level roughly two years after quitting.
Your doctor may be resistant to face the health risks of HRT and will “ease” your conscience by assuring you that the “raw numbers” aren’t all that bad. However, these synthetic estrogens, although touted as a cure-all for menopausal and post-menopausal women, have the potential to be very dangerous and harmful to health. The risks are too great for women to continue to take these drugs. If a woman does choose to take synthetic hormones, it should be for the briefest possible time, not as a lifetime program. There are safer, more natural ways for women to enjoy the benefits of heart protection, prevention of bone loss and prevention of Alzheimer’s disease.
Our Women’s Wellness Plan offers a much better and wonderfully safe and effective alternative to achieve estrogen balance in the body. We offer a variety of delicious soy protein shakes, as well as fiber products that will also enhance your body’s ability to keep estrogen levels in check.
Visit us at http://kathyandkaren.myshaklee.com/us/en/about_women-and-health.html or contact us directly and we will be happy to help you.
Women’s Wellness Guide Menopause without Medicine Guide
NOTE: Remember that when estrogen binds to an estrogen receptor, it “turns it on”. A turned-on receptor causes cells to start dividing. Estrogen receptors don’t turn on like a simple on/off switch. Instead, they turn on like a rheostat, a light switch with a dimmer. Or you might say that it’s the difference between a rock concert and a whisper. So the rate at which cells divide depends on the strength of the estrogen. There are strong estrogens (ESTRADIOL, ESTRONE, XENOHORMONES) and weak estrogens (ESTRIOL, PHYTOESTROGENS). Strong estrogens speed up cell division and therefore, increase the risk of cancer and other health issues. Weak estrogens slow down cell division, therefore are protective and build health.