Effects of estrogen mimics are concerning per - "The Role of Environmental Factors on the Timing and Progression of Puberty"; the workshop was initiated due to the need for more study with regard to the effects of estrogen mimics that we are all exposed to in daily living. The workshop consensus is that there is an identifiable trend of earlier puberty onset.
The majority of the panelists concluded that the girls' data are sufficient to suggest a secular trend toward earlier breast development onset and menarche from 1940 to 1994 but that the boys' data are insufficient to suggest a trend during this same period. The weight-of-the-evidence evaluation of human and animal studies suggest that endocrine-disrupting chemicals, particularly the estrogen mimics and antiandrogens, and body fat are important factors associated in altered puberty timing. A change in the timing of puberty markers was considered adverse from a public health perspective. The panel recommended research areas to further our understanding of the relationships among environmental factors, puberty-timing outcomes, and other reproductive and adult disease at the individual and population levels.
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It seems reasonable to at the very least hypothesize that the estrogen mimics' effect on girls would be more identifiable than on boys. Concern with regard our modern food chain, the genetic modifications that have transpired - and the possible health affects that might arise have piqued a lot of interest.
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A discovery that commonly used food additives are estrogenic has led scientists to suspect that many ingredients added to the food supply may be capable of altering hormones. One expert states that “We’re dealing with this chemical mixture, a cocktail effect, and I would say that if you look at a single compound then you might underestimate the exposure to these environmental estrogens”. This was with regard to research that indicated people are exposed to more environmental endocrine disruptors than what was previously thought. (link)
University of Wisconsin - Madison is in the process of evaluating the effects of endocrine-disrupting chemicals that mimic estrogen, the primary female sex hormone. These chemicals act like estrogen, bind to the estrogen receptors in normal cells, and trigger some — but not necessarily all — of the functions in cells that true estrogen initiates.
Estrogen effects are complex.
In one review on brain chemistry of reproductive hormones, in women the following estrogen effects were described:
- an increase in brain norepinephrine levels
- a decrease in dopamine release
- multiple effects on serotonin, and even an effect on blood tryptophan levels (the amino acid from which serotonin is made)
- protective effects on acetycholine systems (possibly thereby protecting against Alzheimer's disease)
- effects on the production of neurotrophic factors, the brain's own cell fertilizers, now known to be very directly involved in the mechanism of depression
- an increase in endorphin levels in the brain as well as the bloodstream
- a possible relationship with melatonin, the sleep-regulating hormone (complex relationship, different in different animal species)
- promotion of the production of allopregnanolone, a "neurosteroid" with strong antianxiety effects
- a complex relationship, but clearly affecting the levels of DHEA, another neurosteroid with mood effects.
The moral of the story: there is no simple way to explain... (how estrogen affects mood).
Per the above linked source, a very small sample of women (UCLA) using Premarin found that if their levels of estrogen became too high it actually caused worsening anxiety. Additionally, more research by Schmidt et al. identified that women with severe premenstrual dysphoria developed anxiety and other mood symptoms when treated with estradiol in combination with leuprolide, an agonist analog of GnRH.
On July 29, 2010 the FDA issued a warning to keep children away from Evamist, an estrogen spray used for treatment of menopause...
Adverse events reported in unintentionally exposed children include
- premature puberty, nipple swelling, and breast development in girls
- breast enlargement in boys
FDA has also received reports of inadvertent exposure in pets. Pets exposed to Evamist may exhibit signs such as mammary/nipple enlargement and vulvar swelling.
Combinations of estrogenic sunscreens and other pollutants may act together to intensify overall health effects. One source points out that researchers at Tulane University in New Orleans believe that a mixture of estrogenic toxins -- such as sunscreens, PCBs, DDT, etc., are more harmful if mixed together. The Tulane researchers found one mixture of estrogenic toxins to be 160 to 1600 times more toxic than the individual chemicals in the mixture.
Effects of Estrogen-Serotonin Interactions on Mood and Cognition addresses known and emerging data about the various estrogen receptor effects on mood. There are so many variables with regard to how estrogen presents in each individual's system; much is dependent on stage in life and other health factors.
Some have presented estrogen mimickers as a general answer for those who have had problems with obesity. There is some indication soy acts as a natural estrogen supplement for postmenapausal lab rats that lost weight while partaking of a soy diet... Soy naturally contains estrogen-like compounds called phytoestrogens, and so dietary soy may provide an alternative to typical estrogen replacement therapies. (link) Others point to the fact that while there are some studies to promote the advantages of soy... there is growing evidence that, under certain conditions, estrogen mimickers may do just the opposite. Certain isoflavones, including soy and black cohosh, were found to induce an estrogenic effect that may actually accelerate the problem (of an existing estrogen disorder) by increasing an already elevated level of excess estrogen in the body. (link)
With regard to soy infant formulas, research is ongoing even as soy formula is what many babies continue to derive their first and only source of nutrition from. The National Toxicology Program (NTP) expresses minimal concern about infant ingestion of soy based formulas. Kristina Thayer, Ph.D., acting director of the NTP... emphasized that infants fed SIF (Soy Infant Formula) are exposed to significantly higher levels of genistein, the main phytoestrogen present in SIF, compared to those fed breast milk or cow-milk formula. While the minimal concern rating by the NTP was given due to the need for more study on humans, the individual concerns by the panel rated anywhere from 1 (neglible) to 5 (serious).
The basis for this conclusion stemmed from a combination of insufficient information from studies in humans to reach a conclusion on potential adversity, coupled with findings from laboratory studies demonstrating clear adverse effects on the female reproductive system in rodents exposed to genistein. Extrapolation of these results to human infants is complicated because the animals were treated with only one component of SIF.
As far as sources for information on soy based formulas and their possible effects - Jill E. Schneider, Ph.D., points out that... the information in the popular press is biased, both pro-soy and anti-soy. There are very dramatic anti-soy websites and publications, and these can be traced, usually, to meat and dairy industry/lobby types. The vast majority of what you see in the popular press is the positive spin on soy promoted by the soy lobby/industry and all the natural food industry people who benefit from selling soy products and selling you their own version of a "healthy" life style... (link)
Obviously lobbies have multifarious influence on our media, and on governmental agencies; agencies that are supposed to be in place for purposes of protection. Lobby influence leaves most of us with versions of truth as far as questionable conclusions from parts of the data that are given too much emphasis and other parts of the data that are given negligible attention. In the end it is up to each individual to seek all the data and try to make sense of it.
My opinion would be that estrogen mimics are affecting overall health in our society due to the increasing onslaught of them. Exposure to various estrogen mimics seems to have increased and therefore, is no longer minimal. With regard to soy; it makes sense to lessen the amount of soy product that we are all ingesting. Soy products are hidden in much of what we are picking up on the grocery store shelves. Too much of anything - is not a good thing.
From Jill Schneider:
Lots of natural things are harmful (apple seeds, poison ivy, belladonna (deadly nightshade)). More important, soy milk and soy infant formula are about as natural as Coca Cola. The soy beans and the bean plants are "natural," but the products are unnatural. To make soy milk and formula, the beans are processed chemically to extract and concentrate the protein and fat components, which are then mixed with lots of sugar (quite often it's high fructose corn syrup, a whole other story). Soy milk and infant formula are more calorically dense than any "natural" food, including breast milk. When our pre-agricultural ancestors ate various beans and plants, they probably never experienced soy isoflavones at the high concentration of soy milk, nor did they consume liquid drinks with the high caloric value of soy milk. Soy milk, soy infant formula, tofu, tempeh, etc. are not natural, they are highly processed food products made from a natural bean.
Of course it isn't just too much of one thing. It is too much of too many things that affect estrogen levels...One Ventura, California physician points out the harm of BPA, an estrogen mimic that is found in plastics and even store receipts. As a family physician, I, along with a growing number of researchers, am concerned about the role that hormone-disrupting chemicals play in the health of our most vulnerable citizens, says Dr. Robert Dodge.
Going completely to the birds...Neural development is thus susceptible to exposure to chemicals which mimic estrogen, or to enhanced estrogen levels. The results also confirm the plasticity of the adult songbird brain. (link) It appears some birds who were exposed to high levels of estrogen mimics experienced identifiable changes in brain development.
Is there any question that many health complaints, and even autism can be implicated with regard to estrogen mimics huge presence in the environment?