Just what, you may be asking, is the connection between endometriosis, estrogen, and caffeine? What does drinking a cup of coffee have to do with a disease that affects over 5.5 million women on the North American continent? In one word estrogen, the female hormone that drives the growth of endometrial cells in a woman’s body. |
Endometriosis is a disease caused by endometrial cells that have found their way out of a woman’s uterus, where they normally reside, and into her abdomen. Once there these cells attach themselves to the reproductive and other organs that occupy the lower abdominal cavity.
The problem with endometrial tissue living outside the uterus is that it reacts to a woman’s monthly menstrual cycle the same way as the cells lining the uterine wall. As her body prepares the uterine lining to receive a fertilized egg the endometrial cells respond to hormonal changes and begin building up a lining of nutrient rich blood. Any endometrial cells living outside the uterus respond in the same way, causing a variety of painful symptoms.
Estrogen is the primary hormone responsible for the growth and reproduction of endometrial cells. It also signals these cells to begin the monthly process of creating a nutrient rich bed for a fertilized egg. It makes sense then that the primary treatment for women with endometriosis is to suppress the amount of estrogen her body makes.
Medical researchers studying women with endometriosis have found that many of them are prone to condition known as estrogen dominance. This is a condition in which a woman produces estrogen above and beyond what is considered normal. Outside environmental factors are believed to contribute to this problem and one of these is the consumption of caffeine.
Caffeine, no matter how it’s consumed, can lead to the increased production of endometriosis friendly estrogen. Clinical studies have shown that women who drink just one cup of coffee will show an increase in their estrogen levels. The more caffeine consumed the higher the estrogen levels. In fact those women who drank four to five cups of coffee, or over 500 mg of caffeine, had an almost seventy percent increase in bodily estrogen levels.
There are also three different types of estrogen produced in the female body; estrone, estradiol, and estriol. Caffeine causes increases in the production of all three forms of estrogen but of the three caffeine consumption increases estradiol production the most. This is troublesome because estradiol has been shown to increase the risk of certain types of cancer.
Excess caffeine consumption also affects a woman’s body ability to process and remove excess estrogen. The liver is the largest internal organ in the human body and one of its tasks is the removal of excess estrogen. Caffeine impairs the livers ability to do this, creating a double edged sword by increasing estrogen production and hindering the body’s ability to remove it. Simply removing caffeine from a woman’s diet can help reverse this trend and get her estrogen levels back into proper balance.
Women also produce a hormone that is a natural counter balance to estrogen; progesterone. The adrenal glands produce the hormone pregnenolone which in turn is converted into progesterone. The adrenal glands also produce over 50 other hormones and large quantities of caffeine over stimulate the adrenals leading to what is known as adrenal exhaustion. When the adrenal glands become exhausted they can no longer produce adequate amount of progesterone or the other hormones they are responsible for.
Caffeine essentially provides a three pronged attack on women with endometriosis; it increases the production of estrogen, interferes with the livers ability to remove excess estrogen, and hampers the adrenals glands ability to produce progesterone, the anti-estrogen hormone. This helps, along with other environmental factors, lead to a condition known as estrogen dominance, something the majority of women with endometriosis seem to share. This excess of estrogen is also responsible for many of the symptoms of endometriosis that include back and neck pain, fatigue, depression, and bloating.
Caffeine consumption is something that all women with endometriosis need to consider. It has been shown to have detrimental effects for women with this disease and in the best case should be avoided.
Endometriosis is a disease that affects over 5 million women in North America alone. To learn more about what causes this disease and what can be done to treat it please visit our website by clicking our link here.
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