Join Date: Mar 2008
posted by liftsiron -
i am sure alot of this stuff has been posted at some time but its a good read for the new guys
Estrogen, Testosterone, & Phytoestrogens by Mike Falcon
As bodybuilders, there are words we love and words we hate. Valued words include testosterone, muscle mass, androgens, protein and Tylene Buck. Bad words and phrases? Impotence, testicular withering, dialysis, and "she's got a boyfriend.".
In a class by itself is the dreaded E-word. Estrogen is one of the most feared words in bodybuilding, and sadly, one of the most misunderstood. "The vast majority of bodybuilders don't understand the nature and role of estrogen or phytoestrogens," observes Tom Prince, 1997 USA champion. "They haven't investigated the nature of the phytoestrogens or attempted to determine how and why estrogen is produced...in men, as well as in women." Without a good overview, the average bodybuilder avoids anything that has, could have, or may contribute to the production of estrogen.
"That's a shame," says Dr. Eugene Shippen, M.D., a Reading, Pennsylvania internist and author (with William Fryer) of The Testosterone Syndrome: The Critical Factor for Energy, Health, & Sexuality ---Reversing the Male Menopause (publisher: M. Evans and Company, Inc., New York, NY. ISBN #0-87131-829-6). "Both testosterone and estrogen play vital roles in the healthy male's life overall." And in their sex lives and ability to build muscle mass. Shippen is an unabashed proponent of testosterone supplementation to cure a wide variety of ills, from lethargy to the slowly creeping (and rather creepy concept of) male menopause, which he re-terms metabolic andropause. The symptoms of metabolic andropause, as related in Dr. Shippen's book, bear an almost uncanny resemblance to overtraining and the overuse of anabolic steroids:
If you're overtraining or taking anabolic steroids, these indicators of metabolic andropause, testosterone deficiency, or an estrogen/testosterone imbalance may seem more than fleetingly familiar: Nervousness, insomnia, depression, antisocial tendencies, inability to concentrate, hot flashes, chilliness, increased pulse rate, headache, weakness, fatigue, muscle pains, decreased urinary flow force coupled with more frequent urinations, decrease in sexual interest and decreased erections.
What's most remarkable about this batch of symptoms is that while they are thoroughly contemporary and familiar to many advanced bodybuilders, Shippen notes that they were described by researchers over 50 years ago! Although Reader's Digest detailed testosterone therapies in the 1930s and Dutch scientists synthesized testosterone in 1935, testosterone therapy has been slow to gain widespread medical community acceptance.
Bodybuilders, however, generally know the value of this hormone. Optimal muscular development cannot occur without it. And we take androgens, testosterone precursors, boosters, elevators, and prohormones __ anything to increase testosterone. According to Shippen's book, that's relatively good news, but we can miss some essential modulating factors, which sometimes result in andropausal symptoms recurring.
These recurrences center on 3 primary reasons: the testosterone delivery systems; elevated estrogen levels; and non-optimal estrogen/testosterone ratios.
Pellet and patch delivery systems seem to provide slower testosterone elevation than injections, although the end result of useable free testosterone within the blood ---often just 2 to 3% of total serum testosterone --- is comparable. Slower delivery and buildup often avoids corresponding spikes in estrogen levels. "Some estrogen is good," notes Dr. Shippen, "and is essential for many male functions, including sexual activity. What would concern us is too much estrogen overall, and for most men that will be anything above 30 ng/dl, and the ratio of testosterone to estrogen within the blood." Anything outside a 12- or 20-to-one proportion, and estrogen's negative effects can surface, including increased coronary risk (precisely the opposite effect of increased estrogen in women).
How You May Modulate Estrogen Levels
Since estrogen is essential to men as well as to women, what can we do to optimize the relationship between testosterone and estrogen; and to minimize -- but not eliminate -- aromatization? Dr. Shippen points to a few contributing factors which we can control, and opens the door to soy protein and phytoestrogens:
The liver's P450 system is "a primary processing system that eliminates chemicals, hormones, drugs and metabolic waste products from the body," says Dr. Shippen in his book. "Among its many duties is the task of excreting excess estrogen from the body." Impair the P450 system and elevated estrogen may result. While aging itself results in larger amounts of aromatase (the enzyme that converts testosterone to estrogen), the P450 system can be compromised by a number of factors, including obesity, zinc deficiency, overuse of alcohol, and the ingestion of estrogen-enhancing food and some prescription drugs.
Obesity is the larger threat here, so don't let your powerlifting capabilities get in the way of your ability to control estrogen levels. Reduce excess bodyfat and you reduce your body's disposition to produce estrogen. Zinc is easily taken; Shippen suggests 50 to 100 mg per day, in 2 doses. Alcohol is a drug ingested in solution, pure and simple. A little alcohol may reduce inhibitions, but that decrease in sexual capability that comes on after "one too many" is quite likely due to the very nearly immediate increase in estrogen that alcohol induces.
Phytoestrogens, or the plant "version" of estrogen found in various edible foods, such as soy and soy protein, serve primarily as weak precursors to estrogen production. The isoflavones found in soy, for example, are similar in chemical structure to human estrogen, but Shippen notes that typically such estrogens have only about 1/500th the active effect of estradiol, the most active human estrogen.
"The fear of soy protein and phytoestrogens is absurd," says reigning USA champ Tom Prince."You need the proper receptor sites, and a significant amount of them, to produce estrogen in the body through ingestion of phytoestrogens."
Men have fewer estrogen receptors than do women. Additionally, there is a technique for manipulating these sites in men so that genuine estrogen is minimized: Shippen suggests that high levels of phytoestrogens compete with the female hormone for receptor sites, block its actions -- which can include some inhibition of pituitary functions -- and stimulate the P450 system in the liver to more actively process and excrete excess estrogen.
Susan Kleiner, Ph.D, RD, author of Power Eating, notes that phytoestrogens tend to overwhelm estrogen in competing at the receptor site level. "That's why we use phytoestrogens for both men and women who have hormonal-involved cancer," such as prostate or breast cancer. So, the process is absolutely clear: If you want to block estrogen, take moderate amounts of isoflavones.Soy protein is a great source of isoflavones, providing that you can find a soy protein that has the isoflavones in it. "Isoflavones can be found in soy protein, but not always, " advises Kleiner. "High heat or chemical processing can damage and deplete phytoestrogens and isoflavones. Some soy protein powders I had analyzed had no isoflavones whatsoever, even though the label touted their benefits. ."
There are 2 others dietary practices you can follow that alter estrogen production and uptake. Stop eating grapefruit. Shippen advises that for men in the "gray" zone it tends to inhibit the liver's breakdown of estrogen. Do, however, eat cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli and cauliflower. They assist in estrogen burnoff (explaining their inclusion in Pinnacle's Chrysinex anti-aromatase formula of Chrysin and veggies).
Various drugs play roles in estrogen and testosterone production and uptake. Anti-inflammatories, including aspirin, ibuprophen (as found in AdvilTM and MidolTM), and acetaminophen (TylenolTM) inhibit the P450 estrogen elimination system, as do various antibiotics, antidepressants, antifungal agents, alcohol, amphetamines, marijuana, cocaine and high doses of vitamin E. Antifungal drugs, pesticides, some cancer chemotherapy drugs and DHEA "compete for testosterone cellular receptors or change metabolism indirectly," according to The Testosterone Dilemma. Thankfully, there are substances which may speed up the P450 system, decreasing estrogen levels, including vitamin K, niacin, TrazadoneTM, soy products, shellfish, and resveratrol (grape skin compound). High amounts of vitamin C may increase estrogen burnoff and testosterone production, says Dr. Shippen.
References:Eugene Shippen, M.D., & William Fryer: The Testosterone Syndrome: The Critical Factor for Energy, Health, & Sexuality -- Reversing the Male Menopause (IBSN# 0-87131-829-6). Publisher: M. Evans and Company, Inc. New York, NY. 1998. Highly recommended reading.