Oestrogen excess can be determined by elevated levels of oestrogen in the body (for both men and women) or, an imbalanced progesterone/oestrogen ratio in women. This condition is also called oestrogen dominance.

Oestrogen hormones are important for sexual and reproductive development, but are also involved in other processes such as bone health [1]. They are not exclusive to women and are also produced by males.

Men can have an excess of oestradiol, the predominant form of oestrogen, an imbalance which often shows up later in life. Loss of lean muscle mass and increase of fat tissue are the usual culprits. Excessive alcohol consumption can also contribute to this condition. Oestrogen excess for males can result in weight gain, large breasts, loss of libido, emotional swings, erectile dysfunction [2], and may also lower sperm production [3].

For women, excess oestrogen may result in the following symptoms: Anxiety, depression, severe PMS symptoms, irregular menstruation, fatigue and loss of sex drive. There is a strong link between excess oestrogen and uterine fibroids, ovarian cysts, and fibrocystic breasts. Elevated oestrogen levels are also a risk factor for breast cancer and ovarian cancer.

Many women who have too much oestrogen in their system also have issues with weight control and fat seems to accumulate on the hips, thighs and abdominal area. This can become a vicious circle because fat cells can make more oestrogen, especially if it is located around the abdominal area.

 

Causes of Oestrogen Excess

 

Dysfunctional or sluggish liver
The liver is involved in oestrogen metabolism and requires specific nutrients for detoxification. These nutrients are available from a variety of specific food sources. A diseased or inflamed liver may also impede the metabolic process.

Digestive Health
Good gut health is needed for absorption of nutrients. Food intolerance, certain types of medication, emotional stress, too little stomach acid, inadequate enzymes and other intrusive pathogens (bacteria, virus, parasites) can affect the integrity of the gastrointestinal system.

Inadequate Nutrition
The right amount of fats, protein and carbohydrates are essential in a balanced diet. Low fat diets with a high intake of simple carbohydrates can influence hormonal balance.

Birth Control Pills and HRT
The addition of oestrogen in the form of hormone therapy requires careful consideration. Hormone replacement therapy may not always be appropriate, especially if there has been or is a family history of cancer [3].

Genetic Predisposition and Overproduction of Oestrogen
Oestrogen is produced naturally in the body and genetics can play a role in overproduction. Genetic testing and general pathology tests are supervised by your general practitioner and/or an endocrinologist and can give a good indication of hormone levels.

Decline in Progesterone
A progressive decline in progesterone in peri-menopause and menopause can cause an excess of oestrogen hormone or oestrogen dominance.

Obesity
Visceral fat can release inflammatory markers and produce more oestrogen.

Stress
Stress increases the production of cortisol, which then slows down the ability to get rid of excess oestrogen.

  

7 Ways to Help Achieve Hormonal Balance

1. Reduce Excess Weight
Weight reduction is extremely important because fat cells can produce more oestrogen and can release inflammatory markers throughout the body.

2Avoid Excessive Exposure to Xenoestrogens, (chemicals that mimic oestrogen compounds), and Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (activate or antagonise hormone receptors) [5],[6].
Some of these substances may include dioxins, PCBs, PBBs, pesticides, phthalates and heavy metal exposure (cadmium and arsenic)

3. Improve Diet

‘Low fat diets with a large amount of simple carbohydrates often cause

hormonal imbalance’.

Focus on a balanced diet with adequate fat, protein and carbohydrate intake.

Incorporate adequate fibre at least 30 grams per day. Fibre intake has been shown to decrease reabsorption of oestrogen in the colon.

Enjoy cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage. They contain phytochemicals able to improve oestrogen clearance and may also help to prevent cancer [7], [8].

4. Reduce Alcohol Consumption
Excessive alcohol consumption can cause tissue damage and increase circulating oestrogen in the body. There is also a significant association between alcohol intake and increased risk of breast cancer [9].

5. Support the Liver’s Detoxification System
The liver breaks down oestrogen for excretion through the faeces and urine. This process requires the help of a few key nutrients (amino acids, vitamins & minerals). Supplementation is advised if these nutrients are not consumed through a balanced diet.

6. Reduce Inflammation
Inflammatory signals can increase aromatase, which is involved in the conversion of androgens to oestrogen. Anti-inflammatory foods are encouraged such as turmeric, garlic and ginger. Inflammatory foods such as sugar, soda containing high-fructose syrup, excessive alcohol and some highly processed foods containing trans fats and should be avoided.

7. Support Gut Health
Repair the gut and eliminate pathogens (parasites, H. pylori). Avoid foods that cause digestive issues such as gluten and dairy.

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, I strongly advise that you set up an appointment with your General Practitioner, who can advise you on the best course of action. However, I do believe that many hormonal imbalances can be improved by making significant changes in the diet, and by making better lifestyle choices.
References:

1 Hormones Australia. Hormones keep bones healthy [internet]. NSW. Endocrine Society of Australia; 2020 [cited 2021 Jan 29]. Available from:

Hormones help keep bones healthy

2 UHN Daily. High Estrogen in Men: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment. [internet]. University Health News; 2021 [cited 2021 Jan 28]. Available from: https://universityhealthnews.com/daily/aging-independence/8-surprising-high-estrogen-symptoms-in-men/

3 Schulster M, Bernie AM, Ramasamy R. The role of oestradiol in male reproductive function. Asian J Androl. [internet]. 2016 [cited 2021 Feb 3];18(3):435-440. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4854098/

4 Australian Menopause Society. MHT and breast cancer risk: Lancet 29 August 2019 [internet]. Healesville (VIC) Australasian Menopause Society Limited; 2019 (cited 2021 Jan 28). Available from:
https://www.menopause.org.au/about-ams/media-info/1468-mht-and-breast-cancer-risk-lancet-29-august-2019

5 Fucic A, Gamulin M, Ferencic Z. et al. Environmental exposure to xenoestrogens and oestrogen related cancers: reproductive system, breast, lung, kidney, pancreas, and brain. Environ Health [internet]. 2012 [cited 2021 Feb 2];11,S8. Available from:
https://ehjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1476-069X-11-S1-S8#citeas

6 Diamanti-Kandarakis E, Bourguignon JP, Giudice LC, Hauser R, Prins GS, Soto AM, Zoeller, RT, Gore AC. Endocrine-disrupting chemicals: an Endocrine Society scientific statement. Endocrine reviews [internet]. 2009 [cited 2021 Feb 2];30(4);293–342.
Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2726844/

7 Lin T, Zirpoli GR, McCann SE, Moysich KB, Ambrosone CB, Tang L. Trends in Cruciferous Vegetable Consumption and Associations with Breast Cancer Risk: A Case-Control Study. Current developments in nutrition [internet]. 2017 [cited 2021 Feb 2];1(8):e000448.
Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5998357/

8 Zeligs M. Diet and Estrogen Status: The Cruciferous Connection. J Med Food [internet]. 1998 [cited 2021 Feb 2];1:67-82. Available from:
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/240579847_Diet_and_Estrogen_Status_The_Cruciferous_Connection

9 Al-Sader H, Abdul-Jabar H, Allawi Z, Haba Y. Alcohol and breast cancer: the mechanisms explained. Journal of clinical medicine research [internet]. 2009 [cited 2021 Feb3];1(3):125–131. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3318874/#:~:text=Alcohol%20could%20increase%20plasma%20oestrogen,in%20the%20circulation%20%5B13%5D.