Thursday, February 13, 2014

Xenoestrogens, gynecomastia and feminization of men

The material is aimed at a male audience. The main idea is that xenoestrogens are a major reason for the development of gynecomastia, or in other words, enlarged mammary glands in men, which can sometimes look like small female breasts.

What are Xenoestrogens?

Xenoestrogens are a sub-category of the endocrine disruptor group that specifically have estrogen-like effects. They are estrogen mimickers that are similar enough to human estrogen that they fit into the same cell receptor sites. 

Those who read my blog know that development of gynecomastia  or man boobs is caused by increased amounts of female hormones (estrogen) in the male body. High amount of estrogens also leads to reduced amounts of male hormones (testosterone, dihydrotestosterone).

Where the xenoestrogens come from?

We live in the petrochemical era. This era dates from the forties, as a result of technological advances in oil, and its processing. In 1940, one billion pounds of synthetic chemicals were produced. By 1950, the amount had increased to 50 billion, in the late '80s, we produced 500 billion a year. Many of these compounds are toxic, mutagenic and carcinogenic. Some of these chemicals such as pesticides, fuels and plastics act as xenoestrogens. They may do so in different ways. Some enhance the production of bad estrogens. Others bind to estrogen receptors, inducing signals for increased cell growth. In our case we are interested in the increased growth of mammary glands, which are one of the tissues with large amounts of estrogen receptors, which automatically makes them very threatened by the bad effect of xenoestrogens.

Real stories about xenoestrogens

In 1938 British scientists synthesized the first xenoestrogens. This is diethylstilbestrol, also known as DES. At that time, DES is considered a miracle drug. It was administered to all women, who have had problems with the pregnancy, because of lack of estrogen. This lack really caused abortions in the first 3 months of pregnancy, but it was too naive to prescribe synthetic hormones, without long-term effects having been tested. Scientists already know that such effects exist. Guess which country has the world's highest percentage of men who suffer from gynecomastia? Exactly - England!

In 1938 Switzerland, another scientist discovers dichlorodiphenyl trichloroethane, or DDT. This is a great xenoestrogens insecticide. At that time, it began to be widely applied in agriculture, and public health programs. Indeed, DTT has saved millions of lives, since it was discovered that it is the most adequate tool against malaria. A study in Israel showed that mortality from breast cancer (according to many researchers, this is the equivalent of gynecomastia in men. Mechanisms of the two diseases are almost identical) sharply decreased, since 1978 in Israel is prohibited the use of pesticides carrying xenoestrogens, including DDT.

Estrogenic effects of xenoestrogens continue to emerge, and in 1980 Tower Chemical Company near Orlando, Florida had an accident in which a large amount of DDE (a product based on DDT) flows into the stream, which flows into Lake Apopka. Soon after the incident, a team of people was called in, to investigate the reduced number of alligators in the lake. One of the investigators describe what we see, as a reversal in sexual development. Not only that male alligators were very few, but at least 25% of them had a deformed penis, in most even having been reduced in size. 25 years later 75% of the eggs flow into the sea dead, or not fertilized. This is pretty convincing evidence, that there is a strong estrogenic effect of this insecticide. Males that used to be muscular find themselves with less muscle mass. They were so affected that their endocrine system began to produce estrogen instead of testosterone. And that's not all, researchers found that 20% of all animals in the lake have some kind of disease associated with gender confusion! I advise you, if you ever go on a trip there not to drink water :)

In 1992, specialists in reproductive medicine from Copenhagen University in Denmark, published in the British women medical journal, reports that sperm counts in industrialized countries has decreased by nearly 50% since 1938. It was big news, but xenoestrogens were again the main suspect.

Since then there has been a tremendous amount of research on rats, which deals with the effects of xenoestrogens. In one such study, pregnant mice were given DES, and then only for 2 days. The effect was that the newborn mouse was a hermaphrodite. When, during pregnancy, the fetus was exposed to xenoestrogens, it was feminized. At the molecular level, males produce female reproductive proteins in their systems. Also, these mice developed prostate cancer.

Another noticeable effect of the impact of xenoestrogens, occurred in Guatemala. This time, it was connected with people. Guatemalan girls entered puberty at the age of only 3-4 years old. This was attributed to the effects of xenoestrogens.

Did you start to see the whole picture?? Xenoestrogens make us feminine. There is research evidence! I'm sure gynecomastia and xenoestrogens are closely related. The problem is, that many men have this problem, but suffer in silence. They hide gynecomastia, and learn to live with it. Not enough noise is being made about gynecomastia, and not enough studies are closely targeted on gynecomastia and xenoestrogens. Almost all the attention is focused on breast cancer, prostate cancer and infertility. Gynecomastia should be added to these diseases. Things that cause them are the same, and are estrogenic chemicals in our daily lives, and the environment!

Until now, I spoke about xenoestrogens and pesticides. Plastics are another great source of xenoestrogens. I will write about them in my next article. Until then, I expect your comments and questions!

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