Estrogen can be dangerous stuff. Sure, it’s an important hormone, responsible for the development of the fetus in the womb, the growth of connective tissue and the development of female sexual characteristics. Though it's the most ancient of all of our hormones (it’s been around for 450 million years), it’s also associated with a wide range of health problems including fibroids, weight gain and cancers. It is pro-inflammatory, initiates the production of stress chemicals, and it’s linked to various particularly dangerous cancers including breast, uterine, colon and prostate cancer.
Even worse, there are certain chemicals, natural and synthetic, that, while not exactly estrogen, can act like it, throwing off the delicate balance of the body’s endogenous hormones. These so called ‘estrogen mimics’ or non-biological estrogen-like substances called xeno-estrogens (xeno meaning “foreign”) include birth control pills, hormone replacement therapy (HRT), as well as fertilizers and pesticides, all of which all have estrogen or estrogen-like activity. The levels of these xeno-estrogens have increased dramatically in our environment over the last 60 or 70 years.
One of the most significant causes of xeno-estrogen exposure occurs through foods. Over the past 60 or so years, the FDA has approved xeno-estrogenic substances for use in livestock. As a growth substance, estrogen is used to fatten farm animals. It increases the animals’ growth rate and the efficiency by which they convert the feed they eat into meat.