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Adenomyosis and Estrogen Dominance – Is There a Link?

Today I would like to delve into the links between estrogen dominance and adenomyosis. I have written previous posts on the subject, but in the past couple of days, I have seen things posted on a site regarding this subject that are misleading. I find this tremendously concerning because it is imperative that the correct information be available to all women who suffer from adenomyosis. Misleading or inaccurate information can do tremendous damage to the cause of education of the disorder.

The following is a portion of a discussion that I had with a member of the group (names excluded):

1.”*** posted a comment in a response to a post that estrogen dominance caused the adenomyosis. I stated it was not; could bring out symptoms for sure, no disagreement there.”

2. “I have yet to see any information which would indicate that estrogen dominance causes the endometrium to invade the myometrium. If it exists, I am open to reading it.”

3. “But linking an Amazon page doesn’t actually benefit the conversation that was taking place…” (this was the Amazon link to my book which discusses estrogen dominance in women with adenomyosis at length).

4. “Our admin, *** explained that the apparent disagreement was really a case of semantics: what causes adeno to occur vs. what makes adeno symptoms present themselves.

5. A different person told me that estrogen dominance and it’s role in adenomyosis was “controversial”.

I am going to address these statements one by one.

  1. Is estrogen dominance the cause of adenomyosis?The short answer is that we don’t know. The statement that it was not the cause is false. It very well may be the cause, but enough research hasn’t been done yet to actually prove it. However, many studies have been done that point to the role of estrogen dominance in reproductive disorders and endometriosis, and many studies have been done on xenoestrogens and how they adversely impact the reproductive system. Margaret Schlumpf et al. found that the xenoestrogen 4-MBC applied to rat skin doubled the rate of growth in uterine tissue before puberty. Tyrone Hayes from the University of California at Berkeley found that with increasing exposure to atrazine (a xenoestrogen), some frogs began to show both male and female sex organs. Toxicologist Michael Fry found female cells in the reproductive tracts in male gulls after they were injected with DDT, DDE and methoxychlor (all xenoestrogens). These are just some examples. But the most relevant and damning study was done by Upson et al. in 2013. β-HCH, a xenoestrogen, was studied, and the women in the study with the highest levels of β-HCH in their blood serum were 30 to 70 percent more likely to have endometriosis than the women with the lowest levels of this chemical in their blood. This evidence should lead you to the logical conclusion that these dangerous chemicals may in some way be involved in adenomyosis. Also, please remember that very little is known about adenomyosis. If we only accept what is scientifically proven about adenomyosis, we pretty much wouldn’t have anything to help with the symptoms right now. In order to help women who are suffering now, it is advisable to come to some logical conclusion based on the very limited information that we do have. As far as the statement “could bring out symptoms for sure” while stating the estrogen dominance is not the cause, I would just like to see some studies that show that viewpoint (there are none).
  2. This issue is addressed in #1. I did send her a list of several studies and urged her to research this topic on PubMed through the NIH. I didn’t receive a response of any kind.
  3. If the topic was on estrogen dominance, the link to my book is quite relevant to the topic as I have written a chapter on it which includes research of actual scientific studies.
  4. “What causes adeno to occur vs. what makes adeno symptoms present themselves” – this really makes no sense. Adenomyosis is a collection of symptoms. If the symptoms are there, then adeno is occurring. Maybe she meant what causes adeno to occur vs. EXACERBATION of the symptoms?? That would make some sense. But as you can see, her wording is quite ambiguous and confusing.

Here is what we know for sure through scientific studies:

  1. Both adenomyosis and endometriosis are both estrogen-dependent disorders. This is a known fact. These two disorders cannot progress unless estrogen is present.
  2. Xenoestrogens are dangerous man-made chemicals that are known to be endocrine disruptors. What does that mean? Basically, it means that these chemicals mess with your hormones. The following chemicals are just a few of the known endocrine disruptors: 4-MBC (banned in the U.S. and Japan), alkyl phenols (restricted in Europe), atrazine, BPA (debates persist on safety – banned from use in baby bottles in Canada and Europe), BHA, DDT (banned), dieldrin (banned), endosulfan (use currently being discontinued), hepatachlor (restricted in the U.S.), methoxychlor (banned), parabens, PBBs, PCBs,  and phthalates (restricted use in children’s toys in the U.S. and Europe). As you can see, the regulatory authorities are very much aware of the dangers of these chemicals as many of them are restricted or banned. It is important to look at these chemicals as many of them do not break down easily and are still prevalent in the environment even though their use has been restricted/banned. So, the point is that the estrogen-like activity is well-known and very well-documented. We know these chemicals to be very dangerous and have estrogen-like activity in the human body.
  3. Estrogen dominance does appear to occur in a lot of women with adenomyosis and endometriosis. Estrogen dominance DOES NOT mean that you just have a high estrogen level. I have seen quite a few women say that they are not estrogen dominant when talking about adenomyosis, and they seem to immediately come to the conclusion that since they are not estrogen dominant, it can’t be the cause of adenomyosis. Two things here: First of all, to be truly estrogen dominant, you must have a special test run – not one that is readily available at your OB/Gyn office. A ratio of Pg/E2 must be calculated (progesterone to estrogen ratio). It is possible to have estrogen and progesterone levels that fall into the normal range but have an abnormal Pg/E2 ratio. My levels were a perfect example of this. I always had normal estrogen levels and normal progesterone levels each time my OB/Gyn tested them. When I finally sent out my saliva to have the ratio calculated, it came back abnormal and indicated estrogen dominance. My estradiol was 2.3 (normal is 1.3-3.3), my progesterone was 154 (normal is 75-270). My Pg/E2 ratio was 67 (normal is 100-500). As you can see, the ratio was abnormal. Anything under 100 indicates estrogen dominance. The second thing – please remember that medicine is not black and white. When these studies show links such as estrogen dominance with adenomyosis, that does not mean that all women will be estrogen dominant. It only means that there is a significant link between the two. Think of it this way – there is a very clear link between smoking and lung cancer. Does that mean that every single person who smokes will get definitely get lung cancer? Of course not! There are many other factors at play with genetics being one of the big ones. Also this disorder could very well be multifactorial. There are many gray areas in medicine – it is not black and white.

In conclusion, it is imperative that correct information is given to the women who suffer from this disorder. I urge everyone to do their own research and read up on the actual studies. If someone makes a claim but can’t back it up, question it!! In particular, I do not like the term “controversial” when discussing estrogen dominance and adenomyosis. As you can see from the above information, the role of xenoestrogens and their effect on the reproductive system is well-documented and known. It is not controversial. Presently, physicians are prescribing progesterone for women with adenomyosis and other disorders such as fibroids because they are increasingly becoming aware that estrogen dominance is playing a role in these disorders. “Controversial” is very misleading and highly inaccurate.

Bulayeva and Watson stated their concerns over xenoestrogens in a study done n 2004. “These very low effective doses for xenoestrogens demonstrate that many environmental contamination levels previously thought to be subtoxic may very well exert significant signal- and endocrine-disruptive effects, discernible only when the appropriate mechanism is assayed.”

 

 

Bulayeva and Watson (2004). Xenoestrogen-induced ERK-1 and ERK-2 activation via multiple membrane-initiated signaling pathways. Environmental Health Perspectives, 112(15), 1481-87. Retrieved from http://www.bvsde.paho.org/bvsacd/ehp/v112-15/p1481.pdf

Fry, M. (1995). Reproductive effects in birds exposed to pesticides and industrial chemicals. Environmental Health Perspectives, 103 (Suppl 7), 165-171. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/PMC/articles/PMC1518881/pdf/envhper00367-0160.pdf

Hayes, T. et al. (2003). Atrazine-induced hermaphoroditism at 0.1 ppb in American leopard frogs (Ranna pipiens): Laboratory and field evidence. Environmental Health Perspecives, 111(4), 568-575. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/ PMC1241446

Schlumpf et al. (2008). Developmental toxicity of UV filters and environmental exposure: A review. International Journal of Andrology, 31(2), 144-51. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2605.2007.00856.x

Upson et al. (2013). Organochlorine pesticides and risk of endometriosis: Finding from a population-based case-control study. Environmental Health Perspectives, 121, 11-12. doi: 10.1289/ehp1306648

 

 

 

 

 

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