5 Things You Didn’t Know About Estrogen Dominance [+ 7 Easy Fixes]

This week, I’m diving into estrogen dominance and how it affects the health of both women AND men. As America’s Gut Doctor, you know I’m going to talk about how everything goes back to the gut, too. I promise I won’t leave that out!

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and that means you’ll be seeing a lot of pink ribbons, reading quite a few breast cancer facts, and witnessing a lot of people celebrating survivors and honoring those that we’ve lost to this highly prevalent disease.

For any of our readers that have gone through breast cancer treatments and survived, I know what a fighter you are. Thank you for continuing to share your light with the world.

We’ll also be thinking and talking a lot about women’s health in general, especially women’s hormone health. What you won’t see as much of is content that dives into the link between breast cancer and the hormone estrogen; more specifically, the link between breast cancer and “estrogen dominance.” But, this topic is even broader than just the female sex, because it can also affect men.

Keep reading for a totally fresh perspective on estrogen.

What is estrogen dominance?

Estrogen is often thought of as the main female reproductive hormone; and in some ways, that’s a good manner in which to think about it! More specifically though, estrogen is actually a family of hormones that is present in the body of all humans, regardless of gender. The different types of estrogen, which include estrone (known as E1), estradiol (or E2), and estriol (E3) play a role in much more than a woman’s monthly hormone cycle, too. These hormones play a role in blood sugar balance, mood, skin health, urinary tract wellness, pregnancy, mucous membrane functioning, cognition, and even heart health. Increases and decreases in estrogen are what cause the bodily changes that occur with puberty and the symptoms that women experience while they transition to menopause.

As you can probably guess from reading the above, there are quite a few important reasons to keep estrogen levels in a healthy place. Should estrogen levels get too high or too low, you’ll experience a wide range of symptoms.

What are the symptoms of estrogen dominance?

Estrogen dominance in women occurs when estrogen levels are too high relative to the counterbalancing hormone — progesterone. This is important to understand, because you can be estrogen dominant without having a high estrogen blood test.

In women, the symptoms may include the following:

  • Water Retention
  • Breast Tenderness
  • Fibrocystic Breasts
  • Heavy Periods
  • Worsening PMS
  • Mood swings
  • Depression / anxiety
  • Dysmenorrhea
  • Fibroids (this can can lead to really heavy and painful periods, anemia, and chronic fatigue)

And in men, estrogen dominance is often characterized by:

  • Male Breast Tissue Growth
  • Weight Gain (especially an apple-shaped belly)
  • Low Testosterone / low libido
  • Brain fog
  • Fatigue
  • Mood swings
  • Depression / anxiety

As you can see, there is some overlap in the symptoms of estrogen dominance between men and women. High estrogen levels are also linked to an increased risk in breast cancer. For example, one study showed that the excessive expression of aromatase — the enzyme responsible for the synthesis of estrogen that causes increased estrogen in the body’s tissues — can be linked to breast cancer as well as endometriosis and endometrial cancer.

So, how does estrogen become dominant in the first place? The answer might surprise you. In fact, when I explain the root cause of estrogen dominance to my patients, they’re often shocked and surprised!

5 Things You Didn’t Know About Estrogen Dominance

1. Estrogen dominance is linked to processed meats and red meat consumption

​​Studies have shown that consuming high levels of processed meats and red meat can be linked to an increase in circulating estrogen levels. Interestingly, red meat consumption is also linked to breast cancer. In fact, one study even showed that a serving a day of red meat intake during adolescence was linked to a 13 percent higher risk of developing breast cancer in one’s lifetime.

2. Estrogen-mimicking chemicals almost always play a role

Estrogen is produced naturally in the body, but there are chemicals found in our environment that are a lot like estrogen, too.  Some of these chemicals, called “xenoestrogens,” are found in everyday products — anything from makeup and sunblock to cleaning products, furniture, and pesticides used on vegetables. These chemicals can overload the body and contribute to the overall estrogen burden. 

3. Men can have estrogen dominance, too

I know we already covered this a bit, but it’s worth repeating and elaborating upon. Estrogen dominance is becoming increasingly common in men. In fact, I had a male patient in his 30s that was experiencing symptoms of estrogen dominance. So what was the cause? As it turns out, he was consuming GMO soy products nearly every single day. A type of compound found in soy, called isoflavones, are also similar to estrogen and can have the potential to cause estrogen-like effects in the body. That’s not to say that all soy is unhealthy — in fact, in some cases it can have anti-estrogenic effects — but when eating soy, it’s best to consume it in moderation and always organic whenever possible.


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