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ESTROGEN OVERLOAD – A Growing Problem for Both Sexes

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Dr. Ernest Levister, Jr.
Dear Dr. Levister: I’m taking a small dose of estrogen to strengthen my bones. Could this be contributing to my ‘sudden’ belly weight gain? I’m an over 50 male. V.W.

Dear V.W. : A little-known yet increasingly common health problem - for men and women is excess estrogen. Though estrogen usually is thought of as a female hormone, men also produce it. When a person’s estrogen levels are too high the condition is called hyperestrogenism.

This hormonal imbalance affects one in five people. It most commonly develops after age 50 but can affect younger adults and even children.

Hyperestrogenism contributes to numerous health conditions, from headaches to weight gain to cancer.

In women, estrogen is produced primarily in the ovaries. It plays many roles in the reproductive process cognition and bone formation. Production drops dramatically at menopause. In men, small amounts of estrogen are created as a by-product of the metabolism of testosterone, a hormone produced in the testes.

Estrogen’s main role in men is to strengthen bones. Fat cells containing the enzyme aromatase, which stimulates estrogen production, can contribute to excess weight particularly in the abdomen area. Impaired liver function, sluggish bowel activity, hormone therapy low thyroid hormone, prescription medications, high sugar consumption, diet high in dairy foods and stress can make fat cells more receptive to estrogen.

Man made substances such as benzene in car exhaust and phthalates in some plastics also have estrogen-like effects.

Estrogen-like hormones often are added to livestock feed to fatten up the animals – when we eat this meat, we ingest the hormones.

Lower your risk for developing hyperestrogenism by choosing a diet rich in high fiber, organic produce and grains, select meats from grass-fed livestock, opt for plant milks, (rice or almond) drink purified water, consume alcohol only in moderation and take multivitamin/ mineral supplements.

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