The women of our modern day society are facing a silent crisis, that includes a plethora of serious diseases that were not present in our ancestors.  The cause of these new diseases all have one thing in common: the molecule estrogen.

As a society, our reproductive lifetime has increased dramatically over recent years in contrast to underdeveloped cultures. Due to advances in health care, as well as changes in cultural norms, the age of girls at their first menstrual cycle has decreased steadily. Even more, the age of women at onset of menopause has increased as well. Women living in developed countries experience an average of 450 menstrual cycles in their lifetime, as compared to other underdeveloped societies in which the women only experience around 160! This increased span of time in which women are reproductively active has served to increase the amount of estrogen that an individual is exposed to throughout her lifetime, just from her body alone! Increase in contraceptive technology has provided an alternative lifestyle for modern women in which the decision to have a child is based upon personal choice. As a result, modern society has seen a decrease in number of birth, which further adds to the estrogen bombardment upon their body.

Women are not just being over-exposed to estrogens from their internal environment; they are also bombarded with environmental estrogens found in pollution. The increase in environmental pollutants with estrogenic activity has correlated strongly with the increase in incidence of reproductive cancers. According to Jones, “female reproductive cancers are extremely rare in hunter-gatherer women who have not changed their reproductive biology through exposure to the modern agricultural, industrial, and medical world” (47). In the pages that follow, we will be discussing the ramifications of our women being exposed to different types of estrogen:

Osteoporosis studies have shown a link between estrogen and the decline of of bone mass in women.  Typically when women enter menopause they have a significant decrease in estrogen production. This decreased level in estrogen causes a greater absorption of the bone matrix by a particular bone cell called osteoclast, and a downgrade in osteoblast productions which are bone forming cells. This malfunction causes women’s bone to be more prone to bone fractures and can ultimately lead to death.

Xenoestrogens are considered to be foreign estrogens in the body that are found in the environment.  They have a similar chemical structure to the natural forms of estrogen and can have detrimental effects on the body.  Studies have shown a link between xenoestrogens and breast cancer as well as endometriosis.  They can also cause hormonal imbalances in the female body bringing early onset of puberty and elevating PMS symptoms.

Obesity has become an increasingly common issue in the study of women’s health in our society. Increased incidences of obesity have been implicated in the increase of serum estrogen levels in post-menopausal women, which has been suggested as a major risk factor for breast cancer and other cancers in women. Studies have shown that menopause itself is a major contributor to obesity in women due to the destruction of key receptors that aid in metabolism and control hunger centers in the brain.

Oral contraceptives, such as birth control pills contain a combination of estrogen and progesterone that have been shown to increase or decrease a woman’s chances for different types of cancer and heart disease. Some of these cancers include: breast cancer, liver cancer, cervical cancer, ovarian cancer, and endometrial cancer. You will find an overview on the effects that birth control pills may have on all of the cancers listed above and heart disease. We recommend to review this page in order to stay informed for the health of you and your loved ones.

  1. Dr. C. Ferguson
    March 9, 2011 at 9:28 pm

    March 9, 2011 – Thanks for getting this started! love the cartoon on your opening page. Let me know if you have any questions. Dr. F.

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