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Explore Some More Xenoestrogens Theo Colborn's Letter on the Dangers of Hormone Disruption



Suzanne Snedeker, PhD from Cornell University talks about xenoestrogens (environmental estrogens) increasing the risk for breast cancer and other female diseases.


Xenoestrogens Interfere with your Normal Hormones and Exacerbate Migraine Headache

How to avoid Xenoestrogens and Get Migraine Headache Symptom Relief and Treatment

Xenoestrogens means "foreign" estrogens. Xenoestrogens are found in everyday synthetic materials. These materials were previously thought to be inert. Cut out the xenoestrogens from your life that exacerbate pre and menstrual migraine headaches.

by Elizabeth Smith, M.D.

Xeno literally means foreign. So xenoestrogens means foreign estrogens. Some of the 100,000 registered chemicals for use in the world have hormonal effects in addition to toxic and carcinogenic effects. Also the synergistic effects are known to occur but also are largely exactly unknown. The field of xenohormones is new, and only been in existence since about 1991.

Critics have proclaimed that these chemicals are for the most part "weak". The body's hormones are at levels of parts per trillion. However, many of the chemicals that affect the hormone systems are routinely found in the serum after sauna at parts per billion. In other words, these chemicals that affect the hormone systems of the human body occur at 100 to 1000 times greater concentration than that of the normal human hormones. One researcher demonstrated that two "weak" estrogens may act synergistically to give a strong estrogen response. Some of these Xenoestrogens like DDE (a metabolite of DDT) may persist in the body fat for decades. Many of these mimicking hormones were previously thought to occur in pesticides. However, many of the newly discovered xenoestrogens are found in every day previously thought to be inert materials.

Some of the following is information taken from Our Stolen Future by Theo Colborn:


A study published in the Proceedings of the Society of Experimental Biology and Medicine in 1950 by two Syracuse University Zoologists Lindeman and Burlington described how doses of DDT prevented young roosters from developing normally. They injected DDT into roosters by injecting the pesticide into forty young roosters for a period of 2 to 3 months. The daily doses of DDT did not kill the roosters or even made them sick. It made them look weird; they looked like hens. The birds testicles were only 18% of normal size. Their combs and wattles remained stunted and pale. The roosters were chemically castrated.

Micheal Fry, a wild life toxicologist, at the University of California at Davis injected eggs from western and California gull colonies with DDT and a breakdown product of DDT, DDE, and methoxychlor (another synthetic pesticide known to bind to estrogen receptors). He found the feminization of the male's reproductive tracts. Typical female cells were found in the testicles, and in cases of higher doses, the presence of an oviduct, the egg-laying canal normally found only in females. Despite all this internal disruption, the chick looked completely normal.

Do Chickens get migraine headaches?

"The roosters were chemically castrated by DDT."

DDT was found to bind to the estrogen receptor sites. It is now considered one of the classic xenoestrogens.

DDT was banned in the United States. However, world wide production of DDT has never been higher. In fact, DDT is manufactured in the United States and shipped to third world countries. DDT is metabolized to DDE in the human body within a few months. DDE then may last in the human body for several decades. However, some medical doctors occasionally find DDT in the serum routinely following intensive sauna. So where is this new exposure to DDT coming from? The United States ships DDT to third world countries that spray it on vegetables and fruits. This agricultural produce is shipped to United States supermarkets where Americans consume it. In 1991, the United States exported 96 tons of DDT.

Another source may come from your living area. If your house is near or built upon old agricultural land, DDT will persist in the soil for several centuries.

Plastics, Spermicide, Detergent, and Personal Care Products

At Tufts Medical School in Boston in 1987, Soto and Sonnenschein serendipitously discovered that plastic test tubes thought to be inert contained a chemical that stimulated breast cancer cells to grow and proliferate wildly. They were experimenting with malignant breast cancer cells that were sensitive to estrogen. When exposed to estrogen the cells would grow and multiply, and when isolated from estrogen, the cells would stop multiplying.

During the course of their experiments, they found that the test tube manufacturer changed the formulation of the plastic test tubes that they were using. The manufacturer had used p-nonylphenol one of the family of synthetic chemicals called alkylphenols to make these plastics more stable and less breakable. Manufacturers routinely add nonlyphenols to polystyrene and polyvinyl chloride (PVC). These new plastic test tubes caused their estrogen sensitive breast cancer cells to proliferate, multiply and grow. Thus, they concluded that p-nonylphenol acted like an estrogen.

migraine headache symptom cell culture

"These new plastic test tubes caused their estrogen sensitive breast cancer cells to proliferate, multiply and grow"

Theo Colborn

One study showed that the food processing industry and packaging industry used PVC's that contained nonlyphenols. Another reported contamination of water that had passed through PVC tubing. Even a compound found in contraceptive creams nonoxynol-9 breaks down inside the animal's body to produce nonylphenol. Breakdown of chemicals such as those found in industrial detergents, pesticides, and personal care products give rise to nonylphenol. Global production of alkylphenols polyethoxylate was 600 million pounds in 1990. Although the products purchased by the consumer are not themselves estrogenic; studies have found that bacteria in the animal's bodies, in the environment, or in sewage treatment plants degrade these alkylphenol polyethoxylates, creating nonylphenol and other xenoestrogens.

Plastic Drinking Bottles and Plastics used with food

In 1993, at Stanford University School of Medicine, Dave Feldman, professor of medicine was experimenting with a yeast estrogen protein that binds to estrogen. They found that the polycarbonate bottles used to hold drinking water contained bisphenol-A. They used the polycarbonate lab flasks to sterilize  Plastic bottles cause migraine headache symptoms in the vulnerablethe water used in their experiments. Bisphenol-A nicely bound to the estrogen protein found in the yeast. This polycarbonate plastic is routinely used for the giant jugs used in shipping water.

The manufacturer was aware that the bottles would leach particularly if exposed to high temperatures and caustic cleaners and so developed a washing regimen that they thought would solve the problem. However, the researchers discovered that the manufacturer could not detect samples sent from their lab, samples that were causing proliferation of estrogen responsive breast cancer cells. This proved to be a detection limit in the manufacturer's lab equipment. The Stanford team found that 2-5 parts per billion of bisphenol-A was enough to cause the breast cancer cells to proliferate.

Professor Feldman noted that though bisphenol-A is 2000X less potent than estrogen, "it still has activity in the parts per billion range."

One Dartmouth University Study showed that plastic wrap heated in a microwave oven with vegetable oil had 500,000 times the minimum amount of xenoestrogens needed to stimulate breast cancer cells to grow in the test tube.

Detergent Breakdown Products

John Sumpter a biologist from Brunel University in Uxbridge began to study sexually confused fish reported from anglers fishing in English rivers. Many fish caught in the lagoons and pools just below the discharge from sewage plants looked quite bizarre. Even experienced fisherman could not tell if a fish was male or female. The fish showed male and female characteristics at the same time. They were perfect examples of intersex where an individual is stranded between both sexes.

Sumpter used a marker that helped identify female fish. Normally in females a special trout show xenoestrogens and may also cause  migraine headacheegg protein is made called vitellogenin, in response to estrogen from the ovaries. On the estrogen signal from the ovaries, the liver produces vitellogenin and the protein is incorporated into the eggs. Since the response is dependent on estrogen, vitellogenin levels found in male fish would be a good indication of estrogen exposure.

Caged fish raised in captivity and then kept in the contaminated pools made 1000X to 100,000X more vitellogenin than control trout kept in clean water.

15 sites were sampled with soaring vitellogenin levels. It was a national problem. Alkylphenol levels from detergent breakdown products are high on the suspect list. However, Sumpter suspects that it is the synergistic qualities of several xenoestrogens acting together.

Canned Foods

Two Spanish Scientists at the University of Granada decided to investigate the plastic coatings that manufacturers use to line the metal cans. The coating is added to avoid the metallic taste of metal in the food from the cans. These linings are present in about 85% of the cans. Fatima Olea and Nicolas Olea, an M.D., specializing in endocrine cancers worked with Soto and Sonnenschein. In a study analyzing twenty brands of canned foods purchased in the United States and in Spain, they discovered bisphenol-A, the same chemical that the Stanford researchers discovered, in about half of the canned food up to levels of 80 parts per billion. This is 27 times greater concentration of bisphenol-A needed to cause the breast cancer cells to proliferate in the Stanford Study.

Commercially raised Beef, Chicken and Pork

migraine headache cattleCommercially raised livestock are routinely given xenoestrogens to fatten them up, grow quickly, and cause them to retain water. This results in greater profits for the farmer. It is an effective, cheap, quick way to fatten them up. In the 1970's and 1980's there was an epidemic in Puerto Rico of early puberty in girls as young as a year old and even young boys who developed breasts caused by meat and dairy products containing high levels of estrogen. In the United States, the use of estrogen compounds is now slightly better regulated, but it is still very much used and abused.

  migraine headache boys

"Young boys developed breasts."

John Lee, M.D.

DES (diethylstilbestrol), a type of synthetic estrogen, was the first hormone to be used by the meat industry to fatten up livestock until it was discovered that it causes cancer even in extremely minute amounts.

Birth Control Pills

Birth Control Pills contain a synthetic estrogen and a synthetic progestin to force the body to cycle in a normal manner even though conception may have occurred and different hormones levels are supposed to occur. Is it really nice to fool mother nature? Many times what we see clinically is that it takes one year or more for a woman's period to become normal after stopping birth control pills. This is because the synthetic estrogens and progestins in the birth control pills are oil soluble and difficult for the body to get rid of.

Why not use a simpler method of birth control such as condoms? Use one that does not use a spermicide such as nonoxynol-9. Researchers found that once nonoxynol-9 gets into a rats body it breaks down into nonylphenol - a known xenoestrogen.

Preservative Methyl Paraben in Skin Lotions and Gels

For many years, parabens were considered among those preservatives with low systemic toxicity, primarily causing allergic reactions. However, as we have become aware that some synthetic chemicals mimic the female hormone estrogen, our understanding of the toxic effects of both synthetic and natural substances has changed. Now, John Sumpter from the Department of Biology & Biochemistry, Brunel University, Uxbridge, Middlesex, have found that alkyl hydroxy benzoate preservatives (namely methyl-, ethyl-, propyl-, and butylparaben) are weakly estrogenic. In an estrogen receptor-binding assay, butylparaben was able to compete with the female hormone estradiol for binding to estrogen receptors with an affinity approximately 5 orders of magnitude lower than that of diethylstilbestrol (a highly carcinogenic synthetic estrogen), and between 1 and 2 orders of magnitude less than nonylphenol (an estrogenic synthetic industrial chemical).

Although it is reassuring to note that when administered orally, the parabens were inactive, subcutaneous administration of butylparaben produced a positive estrogenic response on uterine tissues. Although approximately 100,000 times less potent than17 beta-estradiol, greater exposure to the parabens may compensate for their lower potency. The researchers conclude that, "Given their use in a wide range of commercially available topical preparations, it is suggested that the safety in use of these chemicals should be reassessed . . ." 

The European Union has asked the European Cosmetics and Toiletry industry about these new findings and the implication for breast cancer. These preservatives are found in the vast majority of skin an body lotions, even in natural progesterone creams. Generally, for the sterol hormones, taken orally the hormones are 90% first pass metabolized by the liver. Thus, taken orally only 10% reaches the body. In contrast, anything absorbed by the skin is directly absorbed. In other words, anything absorbed through the skin may be as high as 10 times the concentration of an oral dose.

Unfortunately, some natural progesterone creams were found to contain methyl and propyl parabens as a preservative.

Shampoos that Purposely Contain Very High Amounts of Estrogen

African Americans favored shampoos with clinically active high doses of estrogen. They also used them on their children. In 1998 Tiwary, now retired, published a study of four girls - including a 14-month-old -  Plastic bottles cause migraine headache symptom who developed breasts or pubic hair months after beginning to use such products. The symptoms started to disappear when they stopped using them. The year before, he published a study showing that some of the products used by his patients contained up to one milligram (1 mg) of estradiol per one ounce of shampoo. By comparison a normal adult topical skin dose for estradiol is 0.02-0.05 mg/day. This means that one ounce of shampoo contains 50 times the daily ADULT dose of estradiol. A small handful of this shampoo on your child every day may give her OR HIM breasts! See the article here.


Tyrone B. Hayes of the University of California at Berkeley found that atrazine, the most commonly used weed killer in North America, affected frogs at doses as small as 0.1 part per billion. As the amount of atrazine increased, as many as 20 percent of frogs exposed during their early development produced multiple sex organs or had both male and female organs. Many had small, feminized larynxes. See the article here.

Plastic IV Bags

The United States FDA warns that prolonged fluid exposure in IV bags may affect testicle development in young boys. The chemical, called DEHP, can leach from the plastic into certain liquids, especially fat-containing ones like blood. Studies of young animals show the chemical can affect testicle development and production of normal sperm. Some companies already label that their products contain phthalates (DHEP), and the FDA soon will issue a recommendation � not a requirement � that more companies do so.

"FDA's public health notification falls far short of what is needed to protect patients," said Charlotte Brody of Health Care Without Harm, a group working to reduce the amount of phthalates � the family of chemicals that includes DEHP � in a variety of products, from plastic toys to cosmetics.

See the article here.

Household Chemicals Affecting Sexual Development in Fish in Chesapeake Bay

Some "endocrine-disrupting" chemicals in the environment are known to disturb normal sexual reproduction and development in animals. A new study shows that the impact appears to be greater in fish, which are susceptible to damage from many more common household pollutants than previously thought.

See the article here.


From a strictly research point of view there may not be enough evidence to create public outrage and shift public opinion. It is a known medical fact that estrogen stimulates breast cancer. However, it is disconcerting to note that the breast cancer rate is now 1 out of 8 women where before breast cancer in the 1950's was 1 out of 20. Dr. Lee believes that overdose of estrogen can lead to migraine headache and PMS.  The hallmark of PMS is a few pounds of weight gain just before your period. So what do we do?

  • Use glass or ceramics whenever possible to store food and water. Heat up your food using a glass or ceramic bowl covered with dish. When plastic is heated, it diffuses very rapidly into food. The Dartmouth University study showed that plastic wrap heated in a microwave in vegetable oil had 500,000 times the minimum amount of xenoestrogens needed to stimulate breast cancer cells in a test tube to grow.
  • Use a simple detergent with less chemicals; Nature Clean is a good choice for both laundry detergent and dish washing detergent.
  • Simple Soap is a safe choice for shampoo and a body soap.
  • Use natural pest control not pesticides.
  • Avoid Synthetic Chemicals - Healthy Living in a Toxic World by Cynthia Fincher PhD. from (see books) is a good place to start.
  • Don't use herbicides; use a cup of salt in a gallon of vinegar.
  • Buy hormone free meats to eat.
  • Buy "Organic" produce, produce grown without pesticides, herbicides or synthetic fertilizer or hormones.
  • Use Condoms without spermicide for Birth control instead of Birth Control Pills. Use Natural Progesterone instead of HRT.
  • In general, the hormones taken orally are first pass metabolized by the liver 80%-90%. However, when these hormones are applied to the skin, the hormones are directly absorbed by the body. Thus, any skin dose is 10 times that of an oral dose. The vast majority of skin lotions and creams use the parabens as a preservative. Avoid them at all costs. Instead apply a vegetable oil right after a shower to hydrate the skin and lock in the moisture.

The very important changes to make are do NOT eat food or liquids that has been heated with plastic.  Change your laundry detergent, no fabric softener, no dryer sheets, no pesticides or no herbicides, change your lotions, soaps, shampoos, and makeup to avoid parabens. No shampoos that are "rich in hormones". Avoid coffee.

Vendors: Living Source (254) 776-4878 for Nature Clean Laundry Detergent.