Endometriosis 101

What causes endometriosis?
Research by Elizabeth Smith M.D. shows that the likely cause of endometriosis is actually chemicals in our environment that act like or mimic estrogen. She states:
"It is quite possible that xenoestrogens (chemicals that act like estrogen) are the root cause behind the endometriosis that we are beginning to see in young women today. Gerhard and Runnebaum (1992) first brought to our attention the link between the high levels of dioxins in blood and endometriosis. Scientific research done on female rhesus monkeys that were fed different amounts of dioxin in their food supply supports epidemiological studies suggesting that endometriosis in humans is caused by chemical estrogens. Monkeys were given different amounts of dioxin in their diet for four years. One group of seven animals was fed as usual without dioxin in their food, a second group had 5 parts per trillion of dioxin, and the third group was fed 25 parts per trillion of dioxin. Ten years following dioxin administration, five of the seven animals (71 percent) given the high dose of dioxin developed moderate or severe endometriosis. In the group receiving the intermediate dose three of the seven animals (43 percent) developed endometriosis. And in the third group receiving no dioxin only about 33 percent developed any level of endometriosis, which is consistent with the expected frequency of endometriosis in rhesus monkeys in captivity." There are many other studies which show that xenoestrogens in animals caused abnormalities in the female as well as gross defects in the male of the species.

What are xenoestrogens?

Xeno literally means foreign. So xenoestrogen means foreign estrogen. The body produces three types of estrogen (Estradial, estrone, and estriol) but there is only one receptor for those hormones. During a normal period the estrodial that is produced goes to the receptor and stimulates it very strongly which in turn causes the endomitrium to grow. But at the same time the estrone and estriol are at the receptor weakly blocking the estrodial so there is a balance. Unfortunately the estrodial is also causing the stray endomitrial cells in the abdomen (endometriosis) to grow. Foreign estrogens stimulate the receptor in the same way as the estrodial as well as blocking the hormones which brought a balance to the process making the endometriosis more enflamed and painful.
These xenoestrogens come in many forms and it can be quite a task to meticulously remove them from your environment. However, lists of products to avoid have been made which can lessen the task considerably. For a short list of things to avoid, Click here

What are phytoestrogens?

Phytoestrogens are estrogens that occur in nature but can still adversely affect the human body. Just because something is natural does not mean it is good for you or harmless. Toadstools are natural, but those mushrooms are poisonous. Conditions like endometriosis can become worse because of some plants and herbs that contain a natural chemical that acts like estrogen. These estrogens are not all bad, however many of them will aggravate endometriosis in the same way that chemical xenoestrogens do. For a short list of known phytoestrogens, click here.