One of the biggest risks women face for cancer is their own estrogen levels, particularly if they’re too high. While mastectomies are sometimes necessary, the decision needs to be made with great care because, with only one breast, a woman’s standard estrogen levels will then be distributed across fewer female organs, which results in an excess amount in another area, increasing the risk of developing a different kind of female cancer in the future. Elevated estrogen levels can also wreak havoc on a woman’s monthly cycle, moods, sleep and so on. At the same time, elevated estrogen levels in men create equally disastrous effects including increasing their own cancer risk, depression, lack of motivation and assertiveness, gynecomastia, low sperm counts, and the overall feminization of physical characteristics.

What’s most concerning is that the hidden estrogen in the water we drink, foods we consume, and products we use are becoming far more difficult to avoid. This also includes chemicals that act as endocrine disruptors, upsetting the normal hormonal balance by mimicking estrogen in the body.

Hormones are so powerful that they’re measured in nanograms and pictograms, billionths and trillionths of a gram, so it often only takes a minuscule amount to skew the body’s hormonal balance and create a cascade of problems.

Nowhere is the over-estrogenization of our society more apparent than in our rivers and streams. In this case, the fish are acting as the canary in the coal mine to alert us that our world is awash in estrogen and endocrine disruptors that will be destroying our health in an equally significant way if we do not remove them from our environment. A British study found that 20% of all male fish caught in English streams exhibited feminized traits including reduced sperm quality and decreased aggression and competitive behavior, which impeded their success when breeding. This ultimately threatens a species with extinction because the primal purpose of any living creature is to pass its genes on to maintain group survival. Perhaps most alarming was that some of the males had begun mutating into hermaphrodites or intersex species, even producing viable eggs. The study identified more than 200 chemicals in the river water that had estrogenic properties.¹

A U.S. study found that 80% of male bass fish in the Potomac River in Washington D.C. had exhibited some form of feminization, including producing eggs.² It’s believed that the primary cause of these fish mutations is a combination of industrial dumping and the introduction of sewage water containing a mixture of endocrine disruptors into the area’s watershed. In fact, any chemical products or pharmaceuticals that are flushed down the toilet have a great likelihood of finding their way into lakes, streams, and even municipal water supplies. In speaking with The Independent, professor, Charles Tyler, of the University of Exeter said, “If you look in terms of what gets into a fish’s liver or gonad, the analysis of the chemicals it contains is a bit of a blueprint in terms of what’s flushed down the toilet.” ³

Municipal water districts are only required to test for a limited number of chemicals, heavy metals and pathogens. Anything outside its narrow list remains in the water supply and consumed by the public. Regular tests of municipal water have consistently shown traces of birth control pills (estrogen), anti-depressants and other psychotropic drugs, endocrine disruptors from pesticides, body products, and detergents, and a host of other chemicals.

Some say there is no reason for alarm because these estrogenic compounds exist only in trace amounts. Researchers and physicians beg to differ because they know trace amounts of any toxin, especially estrogenic compounds, are cumulative over time, as the fish in our rivers and streams are showing us now. The effects just take a little longer to show up in humans because we’re larger animals. So why don’t we take the hint now and clean up our rivers and municipal water?

In the meantime, here are somethings you can do to avoid exposing yourself to estrogen overload from the environment.

  • Water Filters: Install the highest quality water filtration system that you can afford in your home. If renting, you can find water filter attachments that fit right on the faucet or can be installed under the sink.
  • Avoid Soy: Not only is 99% of all soy GMO, but it contains extremely high levels of phyto-estrogens or plant-based estrogens that mimic estrogen in the body. All soy products should be avoided, especially in baby formula.
  • Go Organic: Organic produce is not sprayed with pesticides that act as endocrine disruptors. Organically raised cattle are not given estrogenic hormones to produce more milk or meat. If budget is a concern, always go for organic, hormone-free meat and dairy first.
  • Purge Plastic: Plastic containers contain bisphenol-A (BPA), a petroleum-based chemical that has estrogenic effects that can leach into liquids. Avoid buying beverages in plastic containers that do not specifically say they are BPA free, which is most of them.
  • Clean Cosmetics: Makeup and beauty products are full of phthalates or plasticizers that have estrogenic properties that get inhaled or absorbed through the skin. Look for the suffix “phthalate”, as well as the abbreviations DBP, DEP, BzBP or any word beginning in “phth”. Any product that contains artificial scent listed only as “fragrance” also contains phthalates.
  • Ocean Fish: Avoid consuming fish from lakes and streams, and opt for those from the deep ocean instead.
1 Tyler, Charles. Jobling, Susan. (2008). Roach, sex, and gender-bending chemicals: the feminization of wild fish in English rivers. BioScience., 58(11), 1051-1059. Doi: 10.1641/B581108.
2 Eichenseher, Tasha, “Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water”, (2009), National Geographic.
3 Johnston, Ian, “Male fish mutating into females because of waste chemicals, expert warns”, (July 3, 2017) The Independent.

For more health insights from Dr. Sadeghi, please visit to sign up for the monthly newsletter or check out his annual health and well-being journal, MegaZEN here. For daily messages of encouragement and humor, follow him on Instagram at @drhabibsadeghi.

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