Hormone related and degenerative diseases have escalated since the 2nd world war. Men, women and children are all affected, but interestingly enough these diseases occur predominantly in Western cultures. There is evidence that the problem is now spreading to the rest of the world.

Researchers are linking the rise in hormone related diseases to synthetic chemicals and pesticides which mimic the female hormone oestrogen. In particular these include DDT, dioxin and PCB’s (polychlorinated biphenyls). Fifty -one chemicals have now been identified as hormone disrupters, at least half resisting the natural processes of decay, some persisting for decades, some for centuries. Approximately 2 billion tons of pesticides are used annually the world over.

The incidence of cancer has risen alarmingly since the war. 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.

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 reports 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, 35,000 men die from them. Another study carried out in the USA discovered that mice exposed to the hormone oestradiol (one of the oestrogens) or to synthetic oestrogen whilst still foetuses, caused the 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 oestrogenic steroids given to livestock for fattening.

Studies carried out in Denmark by Prof. Skakkebaek have found a tripling of testicular cancer since the 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 50 years. Researchers have found that the average sperm count has dropped 45%, from 113 million per millilitre of semen in 1940 to 66 million per millilitre in 1990. They have 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.

Breast cancer has tripled since the war. 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 oestrogen, the greater the risk of getting breast cancer. This risk is increased still further by taking the Pill or HRT (hormone replacement therapy). The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology in 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 oestrogen mimicking chemicals are causing cancers in tissue sensitive to hormones. Prof. Ana Soto in her work on how oestrogens can make breast cancer cells multiply, found that nonylphenol had the same affect. This chemical is widely used in industrial detergents, lubricating oils, paints, plastics, toiletries, and agriculture.

Approximately 6% of cancers are cervical, with an increase of 3% per year since 1986 in woman under the age of fifty. The only known cause of endometrial cancer is oestrogen un-opposed by progesterone or synthetic progestogens (as found in HRT -hormone replacement therapy).

Endometriosis now affects 5.5 million women in the USA and Canada, 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 the environmental pollutant dioxin.

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 . Banned in 1976, but only after over 1.5 million tons had been made, they 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 ‘Our Stolen Future’ points to the scientific evidence that hormone disrupters are altering brain development and behaviour in animals. Is it, she speculates, the reason why there is 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.

Depression is increasing in the UK with a 210% rise in spending on anti-depressants in the 5 years 1993 to 1998. 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 a leading medication prescribed for the control of hyperactivity in children.

Auto immune diseases are also on the increase , these being more common in women than men. A leading USA authority on progesterone therapy, Dr. John Lee, asks the question whether they are possibly a symptom of oestrogen toxicity. Many of his patients on progesterone therapy have found their adverse auto immune symptoms gradually abating. Women are exposed to more oestrogen throughout their life than men, as they now have about 450 menstruations during a lifetime, rather than the 30 to 50 in the past when they had up to 12 pregnancies and were therefore protected by progesterone. After menopause some women make less progesterone than men of the same age. Studies by Harvard University show that oestrogen levels in Western women are abnormally high when compared to those of other cultures.

Dr Katharina Dalton, who has been practicing progesterone therapy in London since 1948, says there are no contraindications for its use and no risk of it causing cancer, and that in fact it is used in the treatment of some cancers. She points out that although we only think of it as a menstrual and pregnancy hormone, it is in fact found in all vertebrates and we tend to forget the other important functions which it performs in both men and women.

Dr. Raymond Peat in his book “Progesterone in Orthomolecular Medicine” mentions some of the many effects oestrogen has on the body and how progesterone, being a strong antagonist to oestrogen, can counter the effects of too much oestrogen. In his book he explains that oestrogen affects the body in the following ways :

  • Salt and water retention
  • Lowers blood sugar
  • Promotes fat synthesis
  • Opposes actions of thyroxin
  • Causes copper retention and zinc loss
  • Promotes development of fibroids, blood clotting, embolisms and histamine release
  • Elevates blood fats
  • Promotes gall bladder disease
  • Accelerates aging of collagen (connective tissue)