Endometriosis, another modern epidemic

Today you don’t need to be a specialist to have heard of endometriosis – or endo as it is often called – and it would seem that most women know someone who has it, if they don’t have it themselves. Yet, as recently as in the 1980’s, this condition was considered rare and most people had never even heard of it.

Doesn’t this sound just like a lot of other modern epidemics? Yet again, as in autism, ADHD, breast cancer, and a host of other conditions, the official medical position is that there is no epidemic at all, just better diagnosis.

In women who suffer from this condition, tissue that normally lines the uterus (the endometrium), and is replaced every month through menstruation, forms tumors or nodules in other parts of the body, most commonly the ovaries or other organs in the abdominal cavity.

This can lead to painful menstruation, but the condition is actually more complex. Most women who have it also report pain throughout their cycle, as well as fatigue, digestive or intestinal problems, low resistance to infections and, sometimes, a recurrent low-grade fever. Infertility is often an associated problem, as well as increased risk of breast, ovarian, and uterine cancer; and, to a lesser degree, all types of cancer.

Actually, whether this is an epidemic should not even be a topic of debate, and the cause of the epidemic was clearly outlined as far back as 1994 in US government publications.

Official Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) documents from that year state that “the general population’s current body burdens and exposures of dioxin are at levels which affect our health” leading to “a higher probability of developing endometriosis and the reduced ability to withstand an immunological challenge.”

As it turns out, a number of studies performed in the 1990’s on monkeys and rats confirmed that exposure to dioxins and similar compounds called PCBs cause endometriosis, and that the rate and severity of the condition are directly proportional to the degree of exposure. Animals exposed to these chemicals also showed immune and digestive abnormalities like those seen in women with endometriosis.

Dioxins and PCBs belong to a class of chemical compounds known as “chlorocarbons” or “organic chlorine compounds.” The term organic in this case is different than, say,
“organic” vegetables; it is a chemical term that refers to compounds containing carbon.

While chlorine in table salt (sodium chloride) is harmless or even beneficial, when chlorine is bound to carbon – thereby becoming a chlorocarbon – it forms deadly compounds that
disrupt hormones, weaken immunity, and cause cancer.

PCBs were produced for specific industrial purposes until their harmful effects were recognized and they were banned in 1977 in the US. However, because PCBs are so persistent in the environment, their presence has really not declined since being banned and the PCB content of foods like fish has actually increased as these chemicals worked their way up the food chain.

Dioxins are just as bad and much harder to control because they are accidental byproducts of a wide variety of industrial processes where chlorine is used in the presence of carbon.

DDT is another chlorocarbon that, like PCBs, never left our environment since being banned. Other pesticides in use today are also classified as chlorocarbons and, though no one is talking about banning them, they are increasingly suspected of causing neurological problems that may include Parkinson’s and autism. Finally, certain potentially harmful
chlorocarbons can form spontaneously when chlorine is added to swimming pools or drinking water is contaminated with organic residues, which is common.

In the body these chemicals build up in fatty tissue, where they remain indefinitely because the body has no process to effectively excrete them. They also bind to DNA and cause some genes to be over-expressed while suppressing others. This results in the disruption of progesterone production and metabolism, increased estrogen, and interference with thyroid activity and vitamin A metabolism.

The medical treatment for endometriosis is purely palliative, aiming to override hormonal cycles using birth control pills and, when that doesn’t work, resorting to cutting out body
parts. Even when these methods control the pain they do not effectively address other aspects of the illness including lowered immunity, fatigue, and digestive problems.

Many women who sought alternative approaches found natural over-the-counter progesterone cream to be one of the most helpful treatments. This makes sense considering that dioxins are known to suppress progesterone.

Although some women resist this, eliminating foods that contain gluten (mainly found in wheat) and dairy products is also often helpful. It is understandable to wonder how it is
possible that “harmless” foods most people eat could affect their hormones, yet the reality is that for some reason they do. Not only is this dietary restriction helpful for
endometriosis, it also helps in a number of other modern epidemics, suggesting they all have common causes.

Finally, detoxification is a key to long-term resolution. Given that the chemicals that cause this condition are stored in fat, sauna therapy is the ideal approach for removing them from the body. However, just getting in a sauna without professional guidance is unlikely to help and could turn out to make things worse because many essential nutrients and fats can be further depleted as a result of heavy sweating. I have written about sauna detoxification in the past and you can find the article entitled A Comprehensive Detox Program at www.doctorvolpe.com/newsletters.

To learn more about endometriosis, find references to research I mention in this article and learn more about treatment options, visit the Endometriosis Association’s website at www.EndometriosisAssn.org.

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