These are chemicals in the environment that mimic estrogen. These chemicals, mainly heavy metals, synthetic chemicals like DES and DDT, and industrial chemicals like phthalates, grow in number, and accumulate in more tissues with each passing year.
These chemicals are found in foods, adhesives, fire retardants, detergents, drinking water, perfumes, waxes, household cleaning products, lubricants... virtually everywhere.
Although we don't know the exact scope of damage caused by these chemicals, we have seen widespread reports of biological anomalies in both animals and humans in the last couple of decades (mutations, indeterminate sex organs, lessened fertility, more people listening to light jazz, etc.).
Case in point, in 1992 a team of reproductive specialists from Copenhagen announced that the sperm counts in the industrialized world had dropped 50% since 1938. (That means, in one way, you're likely half the man your grandfather was.)
Furthermore, there's plenty of evidence that these chemicals are a part of all of us. Researchers found that 75% of the samples taken from 400 adults contained significant levels of industrial xenoestrogens, whereas 98.3 percent of samples contained DHT and its derivatives. To make matters even more troubling, different xenoestrogens appear to act synergistically so that their effects are magnified.
To avoid these nasty chemicals, do the following:
- Shop organic when you can
- Store your food in glass (not plastic) containers
- Don't let plastic wrap touch your food when microwaving
- Use "all-natural" laundry detergents and household cleaners
- Use "all-natural" skin care and personal care products
- Avoid most plastics when possible, and don't drink from bottled water that's been exposed to the sun for any length of time.
While xenoestrogens are man-made monstrosities, phytoestrogens occur in plants. Xenoestrogens accumulate in adipose tissue, while phytoestrogens are metabolized and booted out of the body relatively fast. As such, they're not nearly the problem that xenoestrogens are.
Still, you generally don't want too many of them around as they resemble estrogen molecularly and can act like the real deal. Phytoestrogens are also found in various foods, but most notably in soy and soy protein. Avoid them.