Estrogens – natural or synthetic?
The three main naturally occurring estrogens are the female body’s sex hormones estradiol, estrone and estriol. They influence the maturation of sex organs, control the menstrual cycle, and also play an important role during pregnancy.
Many phytochemicals and fungal toxins work similarly to estrogen. Since the chemical structure of these substances resembles estrogen, they are able to bind to estrogen receptors and induce an estrogenic effect.
One of the ingredients of the contraceptive pill, 17α-ethinyl estradiol, is one of the best known examples of a synthetic estrogen. The xenohormone group includes all of the artificially-produced estrogens.
A variety of synthetically produced estrogen-like substances are major constituents in insecticides, plasticizers and drugs. These anthropogenic substances are often structurally analogous to the natural ligand of the estrogen receptors and may thus induce undesirable biological effects in the Body.
Estrogens in the Environment
The roles of estrogens and estrogen-like substances and their effects on the environment have long been studied. In particular, they can have disruptive effects at various levels of aquatic ecosystems and can threaten development and reproduction of aquatic organisms at the cellular level (ie. tumor formation). Possible results include:
- Skeletal deformities in frogs
- Feminization or masculinization in fish
- Abnormal development of reproductive organs in aquatic snails
- Reduced sperm count
- Hormone-triggered development of testicular or breast cancer
To prevent these outcomes and the entry of estrogenic substances into the environment, there is a need for simple, high-quality test systems with low detection limits and wide applicability. For these reasons, we have developed the A- YES® test-kit.