If you want to learn how artificial estrogens may be contributing to low testosterone, then you want to read this article.
Testosterone in humans has been declining for thousands of years.
And yes, you read that correctly: thousands of years. At least that’s what research into human facial skull bones indicates through a phenomenon called “craniofacial feminization.”
But here’s something even more telling: even though human testosterone has been diminishing for thousands of years, in recent history, though, this drop has accelerated dramatically. A truly massive drop, approximately 40% lower than 1940 levels.
I document this drop in my book, Estrogeneration, which I obviously recommend as a “must read.” This major testosterone decline occurred around the same time modern artificial estrogen chemicals were introduced, “coincidentally.”
Wait, artificial estrogen chemicals? Is that something that should be on your radar?
Indeed, it should. In discussions of ever-lowering testosterone, artificial estrogen chemicals have been overlooked “bigly” but they are finally beginning to receive well-deserved national attention.
Of course, plenty of excellent articles have been written about the specific health problems associated with low testosterone–in men and in women–so I don’t want to further focus on those health issues.
Today, I only want to focus on a major solution to this growing issue of low testosterone: the low-hanging fruit and practical steps you can take to increase your testosterone levels. As you may have already guessed, this readily available “hormone fix” centers around artificial estrogen chemicals.
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- The Top 10 Sources of Artificial Estrogens
- How Artificial Estrogens Cause Low Testosterone
- What's your take on estrogens and testosterone? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!
Table of Contents
Track your blood work and you’ll see for yourself (although it may take a few months because estrogen chemicals are stored in fat cells). If you’ve been consistently exposed to artificial estrogens, then your blood levels of estrogen will be higher than normal.
In many of the cases I see, it’s that simple.
The unfortunate problem is that very few people have been discussing artificial estrogen chemicals even though they’ve become extremely pervasive.
What do I mean when I say “artificial estrogen chemicals,” though?
I’m referring to chemicals in personal care products like parabens and phthalates. I’m also referring to chemicals in plastics which also includes phthalates (yes, phthalates are also in plastics) as well as bisphenols like BPA.
I’m even referring to birth control estrogen that makes its way into the drinking water in highly populated areas, atrazine herbicide that ends up in the water in rural farming regions, and artificial red food dye often intentionally added to drinks to enhance their visual appeal.
I hope you noticed a lot of dollar signs within that list and a ton of healthy habits being sacrificed in the pursuit of those dollar signs. I didn’t even mention soy (although I should have).
After extensive research to make things easier, I came up with a top 10 list of artificial estrogen chemicals (aka “estrogenics”). These chemicals literally act like high-dose estrogen in our bodies, so pay attention and even consider printing this list and tacking it to your fridge until you have a good sense of these chemicals and their sources.
The top 10 list includes:
- “Phytoestrogens,” found in some plants
- Mycoestrogens, found in many kinds of mold
- Atrazine, an herbicide
- Triclosan and alkylphenol chemicals, often found in soap
- Benzophenone (including oxybenzone) and 4-MBC [4-methylbenzylidene camphor], often found in sunscreens
- Red No. 3 and Red No. 40, often used as colorings in food
- Paraben estrogens, found in discount personal care products listed on labels as “perfume” or “fragrance”
- Phthalates, generally found in plastics but also in fragrances
- Bisphenol estrogens such as BPA, BPS, BPF, BPAF, which are often found in plastics
- Ethinylestradiol, which is used in birth control
It’s worth noting that this list is not exhaustive. Other industrial chemicals also have been scientifically shown to act like estrogen in humans. Most are unique and our gut bacteria have never “seen” these so why list only these 10?
Well, all 10 artificial estrogens listed here are pervasive–we frequently are exposed to these particular ones every day.
Actually, I should qualify that statement: if you hail from Europe, you are exposed to far lower levels because about half of these chemicals are illegal in the EU. Americans, on the other hand, are hit especially hard in the estrogen department because we are exposed to most of these top 10 estrogenic chemicals every single day.
What happens as a result of our daily estrogen exposures?
The biggest issue with these artificial estrogen exposures is that these chemicals are additive.
In other words, they all act like estrogen in our bodies. Overall, this dramatically increases our body’s effective estrogen activity and lowers our testosterone activity.
At this point, it’s important the note that estrogen levels are naturally around 20ng/L (nanograms per liter) in men and 20 to 400ng/L in women (depending on the time of the month).
One nanogram, by the way, is 10-9 grams of natural estrogen. That’s minuscule, as in 0.000,000,001 grams of estrogen in an entire liter of liquid. Did I mention how tiny that is?
The reason these numbers are important is because the artificial estrogens come in tiny doses but usually enter our bodies in doses well above our natural estrogen levels. This wallops our natural, delicate hormone balance, as you can imagine.
Let’s investigate a few specific examples. Water stored in plastic bottles made from BPA-Free plastic (BPA-Free is healthy, right?) has been found to harbor 1,680ng/L of phthalates. Compared to 20ng/L of natural estrogen, that’s substantial.
Alkylphenols, which are petrochemicals frequently overlooked and seen in a variety of cost-effective soaps, were found in conventional milk at 17,000 ng/L. Obviously, these cheap soaps are also used to clean dairy cow udders.
As you can imagine, the list goes on and on, with high-dose estrogens entering our bodies from both our foods, drinks, and skin.
Throughout all our estrogen chemical exposures, here’s the most important question: how do all these exposures cause low testosterone?
Listed simply, artificial estrogens influence our testosterone in 3 ways: (1) they lower total testosterone, (2) they lower free testosterone, and (3) they block the binding of your testosterone to the receptor, making testosterone even less effective in your body.
Let’s briefly discuss this menage a trois of testosterone annihilation.
1. Studies have clearly shown that artificial estrogen chemicals lower total testosterone.
This leaves your body with less testosterone and steamrolls your health and strength.
“Estrogens act through specific receptors and regulate testes development and spermatogenesis” is how one scientific journal puts it, a good indication that estrogen and testosterone are inseparably connected.
More specifically, an excellent example of total testosterone lowering due to artificial estrogen can be found in a Pediatrics International Journal study on dairy. In this experiment, both boys and men drank standard grocery store derived whole milk.
The boys and men in the study saw a drop in their total testosterone of more than 16% within 90 minutes.
Don’t forget that standard grocery store milk is stored in plastics which contain alkylphenols from soap, although these researchers only discussed bovine (cow) estrogen that is mixed into milk from pregnant cows being milked.
Milking pregnant cows, by the way, is a common and standard practice in America today, despite being widely recognized as unnatural.
2. Studies have clearly shown that artificial estrogen chemicals lower free testosterone.
This means that even if you have plenty of total testosterone, your body is left with less usable testosterone.
To understand this issue, you need to realize that testosterone, like estrogen, acts like oil.
The molecules float on water. Keep in mind that our blood is aqueous–it is like water and is not oily–so testosterone and estrogen both need to travel through the bloodstream on “the limo service of sex hormones,” sex hormone-binding globulin protein (SHBG).
How does SHBG work? Well, the short version is that if testosterone or estrogen are “in the limo” riding the bloodstream inside SHBG, they cannot be utilized by your body. Testosterone needs to be ejected off SHBG in order to be utilized.
Here’s the catch: in the presence of artificial estrogen chemicals, ejection doesn’t take place because SHBG levels become increased.
In other words, there are more available “limos” which retain more testosterone “riders” tucked away inside (rather than outside, where your cells can use the testosterone).
Look at studies of oral contraception as proof: “Conventional oral contraception causes a decline in androgens [i.e. testosterone] because of higher levels of SHBG.” That’s blunt.
3. Studies have clearly shown that artificial estrogen chemicals block the binding of testosterone to the testosterone receptor.
This is an additional insult to an already injured hormonal system. Even if your total testosterone and free testosterone levels were perfect (which they probably aren’t), whatever testosterone you still have around is being blocked when artificial estrogen chemicals are present.
I discussed an example of this relatively new scientific finding on my health science YouTube channel.
In the specific example in that video, the common sunscreen chemical, 4-MBC, was discovered to be a testosterone receptor “antagonist.” This means 4-MBC can block testosterone from binding to the testosterone receptor, which is a necessary action for testosterone to function in the body.
A simple analogy was used in the video to further illustrate this idea. It’s like blocking a hockey net, completely covering the net, during a hockey game.
No matter how many offensive hockey players you put on the ice (testosterone levels), if you are blocking the net, nobody can score. In other words, no matter what level your testosterone is, if the receptor (“the goal”) is blocked, nothing can happen, nothing will happen, testosterone can’t “score.”
So, the higher your levels of artificial estrogen, the more you block your testosterone receptors. And you can’t determine if this is a problem using standardized blood tests of testosterone levels, which makes it more subversive to your health and muscle-mass.
So, you’ve now seen the lowering of total testosterone, free testosterone, and blockage of testosterone resulting from artificial estrogens.
Clearly you understand why scientific studies say things like this: “Phthalates have been shown to possess estrogenic activity and display anti-androgenic [testosterone-lowering] effects.”
This is a problem of growing concern and artificial estrogen chemicals are lowering your testosterone levels irrespective of your age. Eliminate them!