Hormone related and degenerative diseases have escalated dramatically since the 2nd World War. Men, women, children and all other vertebrates are affected by but, significantly, these diseases occur predominantly in Western cultures. There is evidence that the problem is now spreading to the rest of the world as industrialization spreads the environmental toxins which are an ineviatable bye-product.
Researchers are linking the rise in hormone related diseases to environmental toxins such as synthetic chemicals, especially pesticides which mimic the female hormone estrogen. In particular these include DDT, dioxin and PCB's (polychlorinated biphenyls). Over 100 chemicals have now been identified as hormone disrupters, at least half of which resist the natural processes of decay, some persisting for decades, some for centuries. Approximately 2 billion tons of pesticides and countless billions of tonnes of industrial chemicals are used annually the world over.
Progesterone suppresses oestrogen if sufficient is used. It's use could in some way alleviate the adverse symptoms associated with excess oestrogen. Be it from oestrogen mimics, normally called endocrine disrupting chemicals or EDCs for short, endogenous oestrogen or phytoestrogens from plants.
The incidence of Cancer has risen alarmingly in the last fifty years. Cambridge University's East Anglian Cancer Intelligence Unit has predicted that by the year 2018 there will be a 50% chance of a person getting cancer. This is in fact already the case in the heavily industrialized areas where environmental toxins tend to concentrate. Progesterone is protective against cancer.
Prostate cancer has doubled over the same period. It is estimated that in 20 years 1 in 4 men will have it, making it a bigger problem than breast cancer in women. It is now the most common cancer in American men. The National Cancer Institute in the USA reported a 127% rise in prostate cancer from 1973 to 1991, a yearly increase of 3.9%. 400,000 men in the USA are operated on each year for prostate problems, over 40,000 men die from them.
A study carried out in the USA discovered that male mice exposed to the natural female hormone estradiol (one of the estrogens) or to a synthetic estrogen whilst still a foetus, caused the prostate gland to become hypersensitive to male sex hormones for the rest of the animal's lives. This led researchers to find that when the mice reached puberty they had all the symptoms of prostate disease found in men: enlargement, smaller urethras, inflammation, increased frequency of urination, and cellular changes similar to cancer in humans.
Another study found a high fat and meat diet linked to a greater increase in the disease, due to the estrogenic steroids given to livestock for fattening.
Studies carried out in Denmark by Prof. Skakkebaek provide further evidence of the effect of environmental toxins. These studies found a tripling of testicular cancer since the 2nd World War, with rates increasing at 2-4% per year, and a 5% increase in Germany and Poland. It is the most common cancer found in young men. This is caused by the rapid increase in testosterone (which occurs during puberty) acting on previously damaged cells. The occurrence of undescended testes has doubled since the 1940's and now affects 2-3% of all baby boys. There has also been a 2-3% increase in abnormalities of the penis, resulting in mild to severe hermaphrodite features.
Sperm counts in men have declined over the past 60 years. Researchers have found that the average sperm count has dropped 45%, from 113 million per milliliter of semen in 1940 to less than 66 million per milliliter by 2000. They also found that the volume of semen ejaculated had dropped 25%, making a total sperm count decline of 50%. The number of men with ultra low sperm counts of about 20 million has tripled over the same period, from 6% to 18%.
A similar study by the Medical Research Council's Reproductive Biology Unit in Edinburgh found that men born in 1940 had a sperm count of 128 million, whereas those born in 1969 had only 75 million. A French study found similar results. Researchers have also found an alarming rise in unhealthy sperm. Several studies in Europe and the USA are linking male reproductive abnormalities to exposure of the foetus to hormone mimicking pesticides, these being amongst the most abundant environmental toxins.
Breast cancer has tripled in the last 60 years. In 1940, 1 in 20 women ran the risk of getting it. This incidence has now risen by 1% per year to 1 in 8. It is currently the leading cause of death amongst women between the ages of 40 and 45. From 1980 to 1987 the number of cases reported in the USA jumped by 32%. It has been known for years that the longer a woman is exposed to her own natural estrogen, the greater the risk of getting breast cancer. This risk is increased still further by taking Contraceptives or HRT. The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology as far back as 1993 stated that not only long term, but short term users of HRT carry a 40% risk of getting breast cancer.
There is now rising concern that estrogen mimicking chemicals are causing cancers in tissue sensitive to hormones especially when un-opposed by progesterone. Profs. Ana Soto and Carlos Sonnenschein in their work on how estrogens can make breast cancer cells multiply, found that nonylphenol had the same affect. This chemical environmental toxin is widely used in industrial detergents, lubricating oils, paints, plastics, toiletries, and agriculture.
Approximately 6% of cancers are cervical, which has been increasing at a rate of 3% per year since 1986 in woman under the age of fifty. The only known cause of endometrial cancer is estrogen un-opposed by progesterone or synthetic progestogens (as found in HRT).
Endometriosis now affects 12 million women in the USA, 30-40% of whom are infertile. Prior to 1921 only 20 cases had been reported worldwide. It is most common in women between the ages of 25 and 40. There is strong evidence linking it to a weakened immune system caused by one of the most virulent of environmental toxins... dioxin. This also has an estrogenic effect on vertebrates. Oestrogen is an excitatory, inflammatory hormone which increases endometrial tissues, progesterone suppresses excess oestrogen. It's also a calming, anti-inflammatory hormone.
Dioxin is a by-product of the manufacture of chemicals using chlorine, such as disinfectants, dry cleaning fluid, drugs, pesticides and plastic. German researchers have recently reported that women with endometriosis also have a higher level of PCB's in their blood than those without the disease.
PCB's also increase the risk of miscarriage by causing a reduction in progesterone by accelerating its breakdown in the liver. First introduced in 1929 PCBs were used in the electrical industry, lubricants, plastics, paints, varnishes, inks and pesticides. They were banned in 1976, but only after over 1.5 million tons had been made! They do not break down and remain everywhere, in air, soil, water, animals, birds, fish and humans.
Ectopic pregnancies are on the increase. A study conducted in Wisconsin (USA) found that they had increased by 400% between 1970 and 1987.
Reproductive and behavioural problems in animals are being discovered worldwide. Theo Colborn in her book and web site Our Stolen Future, points to the scientific evidence that hormone disruptors are altering brain development and behaviour in animals. She speculates it may be the reason why there has been an increase in learning difficulties, hyperactivity and aggression in children. Five per cent of babies in the USA are exposed to sufficient quantities of PCB's in breast milk to affect their neurological development.
Anxiety and depression is increasing in the UK with a 210% rise in spending on anti-depressants in the years 1993 to 1998 and accelerating since. Environmental toxins are strongly implicated. Six million adults are now estimated to have mental health problems in the UK. According to researchers the incidence in children is doubling every 5 years, together with that of hyperactivity. Almost 50,000 prescriptions were made out in 1998 for Ritalin, a leading medication prescribed for the control of hyperactivity in children. This increased to 661,463 prescriptions in 2010.
Auto immune diseases are also on the increase, these being more common in women than men. Again, a lack of progesterone and environmental toxins are strongly implicated. A leading USA authority on progesterone therapy, Dr. John Lee (who sadly died recently), asked the question whether they are possibly a symptom of estrogen toxicity. Many of his patients on progesterone therapy have found their adverse auto immune symptoms gradually abating.
Women are exposed to more estrogen throughout their lives than men. There is now an increased risk of exposure as women now have approximately 450 menstruations in a lifetime. The average age of puberty is now between 9 and 10 and menopause averages at age 51. In the pre-industrial past puberty averaged at 17.5 years and menopause at 35, which meant that women had less than half the current average number of menstruations. They also had multiple pregnancies. The almost continuous state of pregnancy was highly protective, as a woman makes up to 40 times the amount of progesterone when pregnant than during her monthly cycle. After menopause some women make less progesterone than men of the same age. Studies done by Harvard University show that estrogen levels in Western women are abnormally high, when compared to those of other cultures.
Dr Katharina Dalton, who, until recently, had been practicing progesterone therapy in the UK since 1948, established that there are no contraindications for its use. She pointed out that although we only think of it as a menstrual and pregnancy hormone, progesterone is in fact found in all vertebrates and we tend to forget the other important functions which it performs in both men and women. As such it plays a vital role in protecting us against the effects of environmental toxins. Progesterone is a potent anti-inflammatory, anxiolytic and antioxidant.
Dr. Ray Peat in his book "Progesterone in Orthomolecular Medicine" mentions some of the following adverse effects estrogen can have on the body :
Progesterone opposes all of these effects, but above all it counters stress.
The endocrinologist Hans Selye, who wrote the first definitive study on stress, said "When endocrinology is fully understood there will be no place for psychiatrists."
In the 1960's Dr Linus Pauling (a Nobel prize winner) coined the term 'orthomolecular medicine' and defined it as...
"the preservation of good health and the treatment of disease by varying the concentration in the human body of substances that are normally present in the body and are required for health."
Progesterone is one such substance. His statement is very different from the 'toximolecular' practice of modern medicine, which introduces into the body extremely toxic substances in the belief that health will be the end result. The very reverse has been true, with 38% of men and 47% of women on constantly prescribed drugs.
Environmental toxins are strongly implicated in the fact that over 68% of the people in the west are now dying from degenerative diseases, whereas 100 years ago it was only 15%. Since 1980 there has been a 58% increase in deaths in the USA from infectious diseases... in spite of antibiotics.
Western medicine has been based on the Cartersian "reductionist" view, which regards the body as a machine that can be broken down into its various parts. These "parts" are then treated by different specialists, often more than one at a time, with little thought to the whole person.
Western society is coming to realise that this reductionist view can be damaging to both physical and mental health and that Western medicine's approach must change towards the increasingly more commonly accepted scientific view that all life is interrelated.
The hormone progesterone is fundamental to all vertebrate life.The future of medicine will lie in this direction. Functional medicine is another example of looking at the 'whole' body and not the 'hole' in the body, as one wit put it.
To find out more about progesterone therapy in general and how it benefits health issues other than those connected by environmental toxins please click here.
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