Xenoestrogens are often confused with the common and important hormone Estrogen.
In females, healthy and normal estrogen levels play a critical role in a variety of functions; however, xenoestrogens do the opposite and can cause issues with your hormones, health and maybe even interfere with your physique efforts when you become highly advanced.
In this brief article, I’ll discuss what xenoestrogens are and how you can avoid them in your life for a healthier you.
Xenoestrogens Affect Us In Different Ways
In females, estrogen affects us in the following ways:
- Acts as a cortisol antagonist, helping to control cortisol levels (1).
- Stimulates growth hormone production (2).
- Helps protect the bones, joints and even tendons from injury (3).
- Is anti-catabolic and helps preserve muscle (3).
- Aids in muscle repair and recovery (4).
- Helps control and can even increase your metabolism (1).
- Influences mood disturbances and eating problems / disorders (5).
In fact, a large variety of research has shown normal estrogen levels in women to be anabolic and almost act in a similar fashion to the male master hormone, testosterone! (5)
So, while natural and normal levels of estrogen can be helpful to men and particularly women, xenoestrogens are a totally different matter.
We Are Exposed to Xenoestrogens Everyday
Xenoestrogens can be synthetic or natural compounds, often summarized as environmental toxins which are found in a vast array of everyday products.
A few of the main culprits that you may be using everyday include (6):
- Facial / Skin beauty products
- Hair products such as shampoos and sprays / male hair products
- Perfume or Cologne
- Pesticides on / in foods
- Canned or plastic-wrapped foods, such as canned vegetables or meats
- The use of certain kitchen equipment like a microwave
- Chemicals from basic household cleaning products or industrial products
- Meats / fish / vegetables that have absorbed toxins
- Modified plant products such as soy and flax oil
- Plastic containers, utensils, cookware, cups, shakers and bottles,
- Certain medical and cancer-related drugs
- Other hormone replacement drugs
- Toothpaste / dental products
- Emissions from electronic devices such as cell phones and computers
There’s a pretty good chance you or your family use more than one of these products on a daily basis.
If you do, you could be increasing the amount of xenoestrogens you’re exposing yourself to, which could be damaging your health and physique progress.
Although these may not cause an issue in moderation, some people absorb high amounts daily, which could cause the following problems over months or years:
- Increased cancer risk, particularly breast cancer (7).
- May promote blood glucose issues and insulin resistance (8).
- Altered cell function including Cell Proliferation (cell death) (9).
- Unnatural disruption and alterations to many tissue types within the body.
- Alteration in normal estrogen levels.
- Reduced ability to lose body fat or add muscle.
- Altered fat disruption patterns or excessive fat storage in one area.
- Accumulation of stubborn Fat (the type of fat that won’t go away no matter how hard you try!).
- Alteration and negative adjustments to other hormones within the body.
So, as you can see, xenoestrogens are lurking in everything. While you may not be able to avoid every product which has some form of environmental toxin, you can take easy and sensible steps to reduce xenoestrogens exposure AND storage within the body.
Taking the following steps may help improve your health, reduce your risk of disease and improve your hormones. While the long-term research is still developing, the main point is these xenoestrogens certainly provide no benefits so avoiding them seems to be a sensible move.
Best Practices To Avoid Xenoestrogens
While xenoestrogens are unfortunately lurking in many different products, there are various steps you can take to minimize exposure.
- Switch your healthcare products to toxin-free, natural products, found in many local shops or online.
- Avoid purchasing low cost, intensively farmed meats and fishes.
- Opt for organic products such as dairy, fruit and vegetables.
- Cook with healthier oils that have fewer xenoestrogens and a TON of health benefits, such as coconut oil and olive oil.
- Head to your local store and purchase some new kitchenware, such as glass pans, baking dishes, trays and cast iron skillets – a very easy and basic step that can really help.
- Switch your usual household cleaning products to toxin-free, natural products.
- Using specific antioxidants and minerals.
- On a more basic level, daily exercise and sweating can help reduce toxin levels
- Specific “Detoxes”, which are not your typical juice diet or magazine detox.
- Consuming plenty of fruits and vegetables high in minerals and antioxidants
- Washing all your fruit and vegetables extremely well, but, as mentioned, try to opt for organic produce wherever possible.
- Switching to a high quality BPA-free shaker / water bottle and food containers.
- Finally, most simple of all, staying hydrated! Plenty of water is linked to a ton of health benefits and can help you excrete toxins.
As you can see, there are many methods you can use to take defensive/preventative action. Simple lifestyle changes, alterations to your diet and regular exercise can all help.
Are Xenoestrogens Ruining Your Physique?
In short, probably not.
While the hormone estrogen is certainly beneficial, xenoestrogens on the other hand are not beneficial and may cause long-term health issues if you are exposed to very high amounts on a consistent basis.
Despite some research linking them to cancers and other illnesses, I would say they aren’t a major issue or concern like some coaches or gurus tend to preach. For most people, who still have a long way to progress with the basics of dieting and exercise, I advise initially placing your time, focus and efforts there instead.
With that being said, if you are in a scenario where you get an extremely large exposure daily because of your job/lifestyle, it would obviously be wise to reduce this where you can. Secondly, taking the steps to reduce exposure may be more important for advanced bikini competitors etc who are already mastering all the basics and need that 1% edge.
Finally, daily exposure doesn’t promote your health, so it would seem logical to reduce exposure where you can, without becoming overly obsessed with this.
- Velders, M., & Diel, P. (2013). How sex hormones promote skeletal muscle regeneration. Sports medicine, 43(11), 1089-1100.
- Effects of sex and age on the 24-hour profile of growth hormone secretion in man: importance of endogenous estradiol concentrations. Ho KY, Evans WS, Blizzard RM, Veldhuis JD, Merriam GR, Samojlik E, Furlanetto R, Rogol AD, Kaiser DL, Thorner MO. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1987 Jan;64(1):51-8.
- Hansen, M., & Kjaer, M. (2014). Influence of sex and estrogen on musculotendinous protein turnover at rest and after exercise. Exercise and sport sciences reviews, 42(4), 183-192.
- Melanson, E. L., Gavin, K. M., Shea, K. L., Wolfe, P., Wierman, M. E., Schwartz, R. S., & Kohrt, W. M. (2015). Regulation of energy expenditure by estradiol in premenopausal women. Journal of Applied Physiology, jap-00473.
- Brown, M. (2013). Estrogen Effects on Skeletal Muscle. In Integrative Biology of Women’s Health (pp. 35-51). Springer New York.
- Olea, N., Pazos, P., & Exposito, J. (1998). Inadvertent exposure to xenoestrogens. European Journal of Cancer Prevention, 7(1), S17-S24.
- Davis, D. L., Bradlow, H. L., Wolff, M., Woodruff, T., Hoel, D. G., & Anton-Culver, H. (1993). Medical hypothesis: xenoestrogens as preventable causes of breast cancer. Environmental Health Perspectives, 101(5), 372.
- Nadal, A., Alonso-Magdalena, P., Soriano, S., Quesada, I., & Ropero, A. B. (2009). The pancreatic β-cell as a target of estrogens and xenoestrogens: Implications for blood glucose homeostasis and diabetes. Molecular and cellular endocrinology, 304(1), 63-68.
- Brotons, José Antonio, María Fátima Olea-Serrano, Mercedes Villalobos, Vicente Pedraza, and Nicolás Olea. “Xenoestrogens released from lacquer coatings in food cans.” Environmental Health Perspectives 103, no. 6 (1995): 608.
- Toppari, J., Larsen, J. C., Christiansen, P., Giwercman, A., Grandjean, P., Guillette Jr, L. J., … & Leffers, H. (1996). Male reproductive health and environmental xenoestrogens. Environmental health perspectives, 104(Suppl 4), 741.