Do you remember that tricky, make you think, parlor question?
“What is the most dangerous creature in the world?”
Or, “What creature kills more humans every year than any other?” Of course, the first creatures to jump to mind are the big, obvious, and inherently scary ones. Lions and tigers and bears, oh my. But also sharks, hippopotami, rhinos, elephants etc… But, as it turns out, it’s the mosquito. The tiny, unassuming mosquito causes malaria and malaria kills 1-3 million people every year worldwide. After you are told the answer you think “Oh, of course, I should have known that. Now that I think about it, the answer seems so obvious.”
So, “What is the most dangerous disease?”
The first to jump to mind are probably all the big, obvious, and inherently scary ones. Cancer (all of them probably), heart attacks, strokes, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and infections that can kill you. Using our example of the most dangerous creature, what if I not only told you that the mosquito killed the most humans every year but also caused the big, obvious, and scary animals to kill you too? You might think “Wow, that mosquito is even scarier than I thought. Not only does the lowly, unassuming mosquito kill millions itself but it causes all those other animals to kill me too? That is scary.” Now, of course, the mosquito doesn’t cause all those big animals to kill you. But, the “most dangerous disease” does cause all those other diseases to kill you on top of it trying to kill you itself.
The most dangerous disease runs in families.
Every woman in a single generation of a family can all have it. It is passed down from generation to generation. Almost all the women in multiple generations of a single family may have it. It may start at age 55 in some women and at age 10 in others. The traditional medications/interventions used to treat “the most dangerous disease” actually make the disease worse. One of the main ways that “the most dangerous disease” will show itself used to only happen in 1:400 people. Now, it happens in 1:4 to 1:5 women in the US alone. And, in similar numbers in all the developed nations. And, the numbers are rising rapidly in the developing nations. 30 million women in the US alone have the form of “the most dangerous disease” that I named in 2018.
So, you of course know what a mosquito is. You, of course, must know what estrogen dominance is. You must know, especially given that it is “the most dangerous disease.” You see it everyday in all your female relatives and friends and probably in yourself. You have to know what estrogen dominance is. Surely, you must know!
Wait, there appears to be a problem here.
There must be a problem. Otherwise, how would you not know what estrogen dominance is? Has been. Still is. Well, I think I see what the issue is. In medicine, we have become “splitters” or “dividers.” For example, we have “split” up all the “brainy stuff” into 100s and 100s of different brain based diagnoses.
Is it ADD or ADHD?
Is it depression with anxiety tendencies or depression with anxiety tendencies?
Is it bipolar 1 or bipolar 2 or bipolar 96?
Now, if you are using medicines to put a “bandaid” on a particular “brainy” symptom then this distinction can be quite important. And, if you have someone whose “brainy” issue is so bad that they cannot get through their day, a medicine that puts a “bandaid” on the particular symptom can be life changing. But, if you are trying to understand why someone got a “brainy” thing, the actual cause of the ‘brainy” thing, it is best to be “lumpers.” “Lump” all the brain stuff together as “brainy” stuff, find the cause(s) and all kinds of “brainy” stuff can go away or be prevented all at the same time. This profound, game changing, realization is discussed in The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, June 2014, Vol 59, number 6, “Is Anxiety Best Conceived as a Unitary Condition? The Benefits of Lumping Compared With Splitting…”
So, how does “the most dangerous disease” estrogen dominance show itself?
What are the symptoms of estrogen dominance? Wait, first let me explain what estrogen dominance is. Estrogen dominance is having too much estrogen compared with progesterone. It is a disease of women. There, that was easy. It may be “the most dangerous disease” but it is not complicated. It is very, very, very bad though. Estrogen and progesterone are 2 hormones. They are found in women and men but just in different amounts. Hormones keep away inflammation and thus keep away disease. We should make these hormones our whole life because we don’t want inflammation and disease.
One of the main estrogens made by the human body is estradiol
For women, estradiol helps prevent heart attacks, strokes, macular degeneration, cataracts, osteoporosis, gut issues, as well as fine lines and wrinkles on your skin. Who wants any of that stuff? The ovaries begin making estrogen and progesterone when a woman starts her menstrual cycles. This is called menarche. After menopause (when a women stops having menstrual cycles), the adrenal glands start to make them instead. The adrenal glands sit on top of our kidneys. We don’t want inflammation and disease after menopause any more than we want it before menopause so thank you adrenal glands. But, the balance of hormones is even more important than whether you have one or another.
Especially for women!
Now let’s talk about how estrogen dominance shows itself. Estrogen dominance usually starts to show itself as menstrual and hormonal issues. Which ones you may ask? All of them! Bad menstrual flows, bad cramps, premenstrual syndrome, ovarian cysts, breasts cysts, fibrocystic breast disease, fibroids, endometriosis, PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), and infertility. Wow, know any women who have or have had any of these issues? Yeah, just about everyone nowadays.
But wait, there’s more.
Because estrogens rev up the body (and brain) and progesterone calms down the body (and brain), estrogen dominance can present as insomnia (sleep issues) and anxiety/excessive worrying/panic attacks/OCD etc… I like to think of estrogen and progesterone as the 2 pedals in your car. Estrogen is the gas pedal and progesterone is the brake pedal. You need both pedals. You won’t get very far with only one. But, you need a nice balance.
Estrogen dominance is like all gas pedal and no brake pedal. Imagine sitting in your car with the engine running and the car in park. Now, take your foot and push the gas pedal all the way to the floor. And, hold it there and keep it there. That does not sound good. Your car’s engine is not going to like that at all. But, that’s what it is like for your body (and brain) when you have estrogen dominance.
Anyone know a woman with sleep issues, anxiety, excessive worrying, panic attacks?
Yeah, just about everyone nowadays.
I mentioned before how the typical treatments for estrogen dominance will just make the hormone imbalance even worse. Yes, accelerating the progression of “the most dangerous disease.” Oral birth control pills (BCPs) are routinely used as a first line treatment for all the menstrual/hormonal issues. But oral BCPs are estrogen based. By adding estrogen-like hormones to estrogen dominance, you just make the hormone imbalance even worse.
Yes, the oral BCPs may temporarily make the symptoms less severe but at what cost in the long run? When the menstrual/hormonal imbalance has become so severe, women are often offered a hysterectomy. A surgery to remove the uterus. Or, taking out an ovary or two when ovarian cysts and the subsequent severe pain is an issue (of course, if you fixed the estrogen dominance the cysts would stop coming back over and over again and you wouldn’t even need to be thinking about having an ovary or two removed).
In general, it’s always nice to keep the body parts we were given by the powers that be. But what’s the big deal? You take out the uterus or an ovary or two and the problematic symptoms are gone. The menstrual issues seem to be a thing of the past. Yes, perhaps the symptoms of bad flows, bad cramps, pain from ovarian cysts, fibroids, or even endometriosis are gone. But not the cause of these symptoms. Not the estrogen dominance. And any change in the anatomy “down there” will just make the estrogen dominance even worse. Even if you leave the ovaries in but take the uterus out. Even if you take out an ovary or two and leave the uterus in. It all makes the estrogen dominance even worse.
“The most dangerous disease” is made to accelerate.
Now, as a woman, I’m sure you know how bad all these menstrual/hormonal issues can be. You also know how many women have had to deal with these terrible issues. For all you men out there, I hope, I hope, that you are not just thinking “Oh, it’s just all that women’s stuff. What’s the big deal? Just deal with it. It’s just normal.”
But, fortunately, I, and some of the doctors like me, know better. Unfortunately, most don’t. I see all the women who have these profoundly bad menstrual/hormonal issues but also have had to deal with the medical providers and even the men in their lives who basically say those exact words. You may be a high school student who has just had such an unexpected and horrific menstrual flow that you are now sitting in a pool of blood in your own classroom desk. Or, a high school student who misses days of school every month because of severe, roll up in a ball crying, menstrual cramps. And, you are told, “that is just part of being a woman.” Or, you may be an adult, with the same issues plus pain from ovarian cysts/fibroids/endometriosis. Trying to get through graduate school or your day as a mother, wife, employee, boss or care giver for your own parents.
And, you are also told that “it is just part of being a woman.”
I have said this before in my book, my pain textbook chapter, by scientific course, and my office and I will say it again, “if this was said to a man in the same situation, the doctor would get punched in the nose.” But this happens to women all the time. Or, if they keep complaining about these symptoms over and over again, they may be told “I think you are just depressed.” Once again, if this happened to a man, the doctor would probably get punched in the nose. But then, the only options that are typically offered will just make estrogen dominance, “the most dangerous disease,” even worse anyway.
But even as a woman who has had to deal with all these terrible issues, you may be thinking to yourself “I’m still unclear why this estrogen dominance is being called the most dangerous disease.” Women are so much tougher than we ever give them credit for. But yes, up to this point I have intentionally left out what makes estrogen dominance “the most dangerous disease.” But to be fair, all that we have already discussed is really, really bad all by itself. But we haven’t talked about estrogen dominance “the killer” yet. And thus, why is it so important to correct the estrogen dominance when it first shows itself at younger ages and avoid the treatments that just make the estrogen dominance worse. Before it becomes “the killer.” Because the worst is yet to come.
Women who have strogen dominance before menopause have a 5.4 times greater chance of getting breast cancer before menopause.
If I were to tell you that something was doubling (2X) your risk of breast cancer you might say “oh, that is terrible.” What about if I told you that something was tripling (3X) your risk of breast cancer? You might say “something needs to be done to fix that. Now.” But what about if I tell you that estrogen dominance increases your risk of breast cancer before menopause 5.4 times?
Wow. That is bad. Crazy bad.
As I write this, I am also looking at The New England Journal of Medicine, June 23, 2022 article entitled “The Emergence of the Racial Disparity in US Breast-Cancer Mortality.” In this it states “We believe supporting research on the prevention… of triple-negative breast cancer should be a national priority.”
You might be noticing that we already have a huge amount of research on the subject of what causes breast cancer. It is just the implementation of the prevention that has not begun. Well, not begun outside a few forward thinking medical practices. Not done in every community just yet. Not yet. It’s coming though. An estrogen dominance expert in every community.
But, this increase in breast cancer risk is just the tip of the iceberg.
Women with estrogen dominance before menopause have a 10X greater risk of all malignant neoplasms their whole life. Cancers that start in one body part and metastasize to other body parts.
10X the normal risk! Wow.
By just using interventions to address a specific symptom or two of the estrogen dominance, rather than the underlying cause, we are doing nothing to prevent these women from these incredibly high risks of breast cancer and malignant neoplasms. This includes not identifying estrogen dominance as the cause of anxiety/excessive worrying/panic attacks and sleep disruption in women. It shouldn’t be acceptable, standard medical care to simply give a woman a sleep medicine or an anxiety medicine and think that we have done well by that woman. By only treating a symptom and not the underlying estrogen dominance, we have not done our due diligence. We have not made the estrogen dominance worse with these anxiety/sleep medicines as we have with oral BCPs and hysterectomies. But, we have missed a profoundly important opportunity to prevent future breast cancer and malignant neoplasms in women. But, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Again.
Estrogen dominance is also a huge cause of autoimmune disease.
It is one of the main reasons why 80% of all people with autoimmune diseases are women.
Autoimmune disease occurs when our own immune system, which is designed to protect us from things that want to kill us such as infections and cancer, actually starts to attack our own body parts. By attacking our own body parts we are basically self-destructing. As a rule of thumb, self-destructing is never a good idea. Any body part can become involved. And, if you don’t fix the reason why you start attacking one body part (including correcting estrogen dominance) you will just attack new body parts on top of the old body parts as time goes on.
You start with one autoimmune disease and then get a second, a third, a fourth and so on. Common types of autoimmune disease that you might recognize include psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, lupus, Sjogren’s, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Grave’s disease, celiac disease, ulcerative colitis, crohn’s disease, type 1 diabetes (the insulin dependant type), and multiple sclerosis to name just a few.
Yes, when I was in medical school, 1:400 people had an autoimmune disease. Now, it might be 1:5 women or even more.
The autoimmune disease that I identified and named in 2018, “Bilstrom’s Nuclearitis,” is present in 16% of US women.
About 30 million women, 1:5, in the US alone! Once again, the typical treatments offered do not fix the underlying cause including the estrogen dominance. Because they suppress the immune system, they will actually increase your risk of cancer, life-threatening infections, and as a side effect, they can cause you to get a new autoimmune disease.
Autoimmune disease is a top 10 killer of women from birth to 65 years of age.
$100 billion dollars is spent each year in the US for autoimmune related care while 50 billion is spent on cancer care. Autoimmune disease is the most popular health topic requested by calls to the National Women’s Health Information Center.
That blasted “mosquito,” that estrogen dominance, can surely cause some damage and kill a lot of people. Not just all the menstrual/hormonal issues. Not just anxiety/excessive worrying/panic attacks/sleep issues. Not just cancer and autoimmune diseases that we are so familiar with. It is even worse. Remember when I said that the “mosquito” is not only “the most dangerous creature” but also is the cause of many of the “big, obvious, and scary animals” killing you as well?
So, almost every day, we are learning how autoimmune disease processes are involved in so many more diseases than we ever thought possible. Because any body part can be attacked by a disrupted immune system, it turns out that heart attacks, strokes, osteoporosis (thin bones), Alzheimer’s, autism spectrum disorder, diabetes (both type 1 diabetes, insulin dependant, and type 2 diabetes) all have an autoimmune disease component to them.
A disrupted immune system is also why we get bad infections that can kill us or recurrent infections that are just a nuisance.
So what are the “big, obvious, and scary” diseases that you may first think of when the question is posed “what is the most dangerous disease?” Let’s look at the CDC’s (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) list of the “leading causes of death, females, all races and origins, United States, 2018.” #1.Heart disease. #2.Cancer. #3.Stroke. #4.Chronic lower respiratory disease (lung issues mainly from smoking cigarettes). #5.Alzheimer’s disease. #6.Unintentional injuries. #7.Diabetes. #8.Influenza (the flu) and pneumonia. #9.Kidney disease. #10.Septicemia (infections in the bloodstream).
So, estrogen dominance, “the most dangerous disease,” through its negative impact on the immune system (cancer, and infections, being simply the flip side of the same coin that is autoimmune disease), can be playing a part in 87.8% of all deaths in US women!? Wow. You may now be seeing why, as we better understand what causes chronic illnesses of all kinds, it appears all disease is due to the disruption of the 2 portions of the immune system. The adaptive immune system (antibody production against our own body parts) and the innate immune system (inflammation control).
You can now see why estrogen dominance is far and away “the most dangerous disease” for women.
I believe a national priority should be to identify (a simple blood test that any lab can run) estrogen dominance in young women showing signs such as menstrual/hormonal/anxiety/
To help you on this journey
I cover the fundamentals of reversing estrogen dominance in my Free 7-Day Educational Email Course 👉Medical Bill Detox: How to Solve the Root Cause of Autoimmune Disease & Stop Spending Thousands of Dollars on Unnecessary Treatments. http://www.MedicalBillDetox.com
David Bilstrom MD
Medical Director. The International Autoimmune Institute