A young man reading a book outside

What’s the book Estrogeneration about? What health problems are estrogenics causing?

In his book Estrogeneration, Dr. Anthony G. Jay explains what estrogenics are, the common ways we encounter them, and the health risks they pose to humans and the environment. He also provides some practical prevention tips to minimize your exposure.

Read below for our Estrogeneration book overview.

Estrogeneration by Anthony G. Jay

In his Estrogeneration book, Dr. Anthony G. Jay argues that chemicals called estrogenics are causing a rise in health problems such as obesity, infertility, and cancer in the US. Estrogenics mimic our body’s natural hormone estrogen and disrupt our hormone system. According to Jay, we’re exposed to them every day through the food we eat, the water we drink, and the products we use. But there’s hope: You can minimize their effects on your health by following Jay’s practical tips on how to avoid estrogenics and how to detoxify your body and fortify your health with simple lifestyle changes.

Jay obtained his Ph.D. in biochemistry from the Boston University School of Medicine, where he specialized in fats, hormones, and cholesterol. He currently leads the AJ Consulting Company, which offers scientific consulting and personal DNA analysis.

Part 1: What Are Estrogenics?

Jay writes that an estrogenic is a chemical that mimics estrogen—a hormone that your body naturally produces. Estrogenics come from a variety of sources, and when you come into contact with them, they can affect your health in significant ways. In this section, we’ll discuss how estrogenics work within our bodies and the characteristics of estrogenics that make them especially damaging.

Estrogenics Mimic Your Body’s Hormones

Jay explains that hormones are molecules that act as messengers, communicating between tissues and organs and regulating bodily functions like growth, appetite, and metabolism. Your body secretes hormones into your bloodstream, where they travel until they get picked up by matching receptors in cells located in various parts of your body. When the hormone latches onto a receptor, it triggers bodily processes crucial to your overall health and functioning.

Estrogen is a steroid hormone, which is a type of hormone derived from cholesterol. Estrogenics are harmful because they activate your body’s estrogen hormone response and disrupt your natural hormonal balance. Estrogenics are particularly dangerous because estrogen receptors are found all throughout your body—your brain, reproductive organs, muscles, and so on—which means estrogenics can affect nearly every part of your body. Consequently, they can lead to a wide range of health issues, including obesity, depression, hormone imbalance, immune system dysfunction, cancer, and infertility.

Estrogenics Have Prolonged Effects

According to Jay, estrogenics also pose a concern because they have a sustained effect on your health. Unlike your nervous system—which transmits quick but short-lived responses via neurons in your brain—once hormones attach to receptors in your body, they activate responses that can potentially last from several hours to days.

Not only do estrogenics have sustained effects, but they can also impact the health of your descendants. Jay writes that the effects of estrogenics on your body can be hereditary because your environment—including chemicals you’re exposed to—can alter your genes in ways that can be passed down to later generations. Specifically, chemicals can add molecules to your DNA sequences that change the way your genes behave, even if the exact DNA code hasn’t been modified. This is called epigenetics. Because epigenetic changes can be inherited, the effects of estrogenics can span generations.

Estrogenics Are Pervasive

Jay writes that another reason estrogenics are so dangerous is that they’re impossible to avoid. These artificial estrogens infiltrate the environment through land, air, and water, contaminating our food and water supply along with the everyday objects we use.

For instance, estrogenics in herbicides wash into lakes, rivers, and oceans in great quantities. Zooplankton and other organisms that live at the bottom of the food chain ingest these estrogenics. These chemicals accumulate as they move up the food chain, increasing the estrogenic load on creatures higher in the chain (such as humans). Because many types of estrogenics are so widely used, we’re all regularly exposed to a mixture of estrogenics, which magnifies their impact on our health.

The US Regulates Estrogenics Poorly

Jay outlines another problem with estrogenics: They’re poorly managed. The United States trails behind Europe and other nations in regulating the use and disposal of estrogenics. The US doesn’t impose legal bans, restrictions, or limitations on numerous harmful estrogenic substances ranging from those found in foods to personal care products, and it allows far higher pesticide levels in drinking water—it permits three times the amount that Europe permits of the pesticide atrazine in water supplies.

Scientific Research Suffers From Biases

If estrogenics are so problematic, why don’t we know more about them and why don’t governments impose greater restrictions on them? Jay proposes three explanations: the impact of funding on published research, bias within the scientific community, and the lack of reliable scientific studies.

First, Jay explains that scientific investigations can be distorted because research institutions rely on external funding to conduct studies, and that funding can come with strings attached. American labs typically receive funding from either the government or from large corporations. To secure this funding, labs must research topics that appeal to government or corporate interests. 

Because of this, scientific research data can often be biased. For example, Jay notes that many products containing estrogenic chemicals are major revenue earners for corporations. When one of these corporations backs a study, the findings tend to tilt in the product’s favor.

Second, Jay points out that there are shortcomings in how scientific research is validated. In the peer review process, for instance, researchers can suggest who should review their work (such as their colleagues), which can potentially lead to biased evaluations. 

Third, Jay adds that many scientific studies are unreliable: They’re prone to inaccuracies such as miscalculations, misinterpreted results, or simple human error, so that when replicated, they fail to yield similar results. Because of this, there are many unreliable studies that provide contradictory information about estrogenics. This confusion could explain why the risks of estrogenics aren’t well known and why governments may hesitate to enact regulations.

Part 2: The Major Estrogenics and Where They’re Found

Now that we’ve discussed what estrogenics are and why they have so much impact on our health, let’s explore the most common estrogenics we typically encounter. According to Jay, estrogenics can be found in various sources from plants and fungi to artificial food coloring and plastic additives. Understanding the origin and function of each of these estrogenics helps us comprehend their impact on our health and the environment.

Food Estrogenics

Jay explains that there are three major estrogenics we commonly encounter through food: phytoestrogens, mycoestrogens, and red food coloring.

1. Phytoestrogens—estrogenics naturally produced by plants for their own growth needs. Common examples include lavender and marijuana, but the two most significant sources in our diets are flaxseed and soybeans. These foods pack in hundreds of thousands of micrograms of phytoestrogens, with no other sources coming close.

2. Mycoestrogens—estrogenics produced by fungi (like mold or yeast). The only presently recognized mycoestrogen is zearalenone (ZEA), which can enter our food primarily through cereals and other food products like coffee and chocolate.

3. Red food coloring—Studies have found many artificial red food dyes to be estrogenic. Jay writes that while some have been banned, Red No. 40 and Red No. 3 are still legal and prevalent in many foods. He suggests, however, that it’s best to avoid all red food dyes because they sometimes go by alternate names—for instance, Red No. 40 is also known as Allura Red AC and Red #17. There’s also a lack of sufficient research into other variations, so many red dyes may have estrogenic properties that we’re not yet aware of.

Personal Care Estrogenics

Estrogenics are also commonly found in personal care products, such as sunscreen and skincare products. Jay points out three that are most prevalent:

1. Parabens—estrogenics used in fragrance products and cosmetics. While some researchers consider parabens to have less impact on your body than other estrogenics, Jay writes that there are many types of parabens with varying levels of estrogenic effects.

2. Triclosan and Alkylphenols (APEs)—estrogenics found in soaps, toothpastes, and detergents. APEs are primarily used to create suds in soaps. They’re left out of ingredient labels, so we’re often unaware that they’re in the products we use. Fortunately, while APEs are still used in the US, triclosan—a widely used antibacterial agent—is on its way out: The US declared it “not generally recognized as safe” and began removing it from germ-killing products.

3. Benzophenone (BP) and 4-Methylbenzylidene Camphor (4-MBC)—estrogenics commonly found in sunscreens and other personal care products. When exposed to UV light from the sun, these estrogenics can fuse to estrogen receptors and stay active much longer than usual.

Plastic Estrogenics

Jay writes that there are also two types of estrogenics commonly found in plastic products:

1. Phthalates—estrogenics used primarily for making plastics clear, flexible and durable. Phthalates are found in a variety of everyday products from food products and plastic containers to personal care products like perfumes (although their use is restricted in children’s toy plastics). When foods and liquids come into contact with plastics, phthalates leach out into them and enter our bodies when we ingest them.

2. BPA and BPS (Bisphenol A & S)—estrogenics most widely used as an ingredient in plastic products. BPA has gained attention for its potential health risks, leading to BPA restrictions in certain products by the FDA and certain states. However, companies have simply pivoted to using BPS, which Jay argues has practically the same estrogenic effects. Thus, “BPA-free” alternatives often aren’t much healthier because they harbor similar estrogenic properties.

Other Estrogenics

Jay writes that herbicides and birth control pills are the sources of two other estrogenics we commonly encounter:

1. Atrazine—a common agricultural herbicide. The European Union banned atrazine in 2004, but the herbicide remains the second most used in the US.

2. 17a-Ethinylestradiol (EE2)—an estrogenic widely used in oral contraceptive pills. According to Jay, EE2 likely has the longest-lasting effects of all the major estrogenics because it’s specially designed to mimic estrogen. It often enters water bodies through wastewater treatment plants, which aren’t designed to filter out such hormones.

Part 3: How Estrogenics Affect Our Health and the Environment

Now that we’ve discussed what estrogenics are and where they can commonly be found, let’s take a look at the specific ways in which these chemicals harm human and environmental health. According to Jay, estrogenics contribute to obesity, depression, hormone imbalance, immune system dysfunction, cancer, and infertility. Let’s explore each of these in more detail.


Jay argues that increasing rates of obesity in the US can be linked to an upswing in estrogenics in our environment. He explains why: Estrogenics are lipophilic (fat-loving) and hydrophobic (water-repelling), which makes them attracted to fat cells. Once they’ve been absorbed into fat cells, they stimulate fat growth by activating a protein called PPARγ, which controls the formation and growth of fat cells. They can cause an excessive activation of this protein, leading to greater fat accumulation. Research has shown that estrogenics can also induce insulin resistance, which can cause obesity.

Estrogenics’ attraction to fat has another ramification as well: Upon reaching these cells, estrogenics tend to remain there, contributing to long-term effects on our health.


Jay writes that research also suggests potential links between estrogenics and depression. While definitive research linking the two is elusive due to the complex nature of depression, multiple studies hint at the depressive impact of estrogenics.

Jay mentions several studies indicating a causal link between estrogenics and depression. One study found that women who consume oral contraceptives appear to have a higher incidence of suicide. Another study found a significant increase in suicide rates among Indian farmers who were likely using atrazine on their crops. Other estrogenics like BPA and phthalates have also been linked to depression, with research showing that BPA can activate a biomarker for depression.

Hormone Imbalance

Jay also discusses another health issue associated with estrogenics: the declining rates of testosterone among men and women across the world. While testosterone levels have been declining naturally over thousands of years, there’s been a steep drop in recent history.

Testosterone plays a critical role in the development and maintenance of your physical and mental health, influencing your sex drive, muscle mass and strength, bone density, mood, energy levels, and general well-being. Testosterone and estrogen (along with estrogenic compounds) also affect the brain’s neuroplasticity—its ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections.

Jay writes that estrogenics reduce the amount of usable testosterone in your body. To understand how, let’s first discuss how testosterone travels within your body and what usable testosterone is: Testosterone and estrogen are hydrophobic, so they need the help of a non-hydrophobic protein to travel through your bloodstream (which is mostly water). As a result, the majority of testosterone in your body binds to this protein—known as sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG)—and isn’t readily usable by the body. However, a small percentage of testosterone remains unbound in your bloodstream as free testosterone, which is the most usable form for your body.

Jay explains that estrogenics lower your free testosterone levels in three ways: They increase the amount of SHBG in your blood, reduce the number of testosterone receptors in your body, and block testosterone from binding to receptors. This leads to two major problems:

1. Precocious puberty. The onset of puberty is occurring earlier than ever before (especially for girls), which can lead to psychological and physical health problems.

2. The “feminization of males.” Hormonal disruptions reduce motivation specifically in men. Jay writes that this may explain the reason that participation in boy’s sports is falling nationwide and that more women are enrolling in universities than men.

Immune System Dysfunction

Jay writes that estrogenics can cause immune system dysfunction by confusing our immune cells, causing them to attack healthy body parts while also preventing them from combating harmful agents like bacteria and viruses. This leads to allergies, skin disorders, autoimmune diseases, and even cancers.

Jay adds that estrogenics can also cause cancer because they attach to receptors that then directly bind to DNA, potentially causing damage. He explains that cancers occur when damage to DNA results in one or more mutations on genes that affect cell growth and development.


Jay also suggests that estrogenics can potentially cause infertility in men and women. He points to two ways this happens. First, estrogenics directly damage sexual organs and interfere with their normal functions. Second, estrogenics can cause harm to embryos, leading to developmental issues or even death.

A large-scale study across a range of animals, including different types of fish, rodents, and mammals, showed worrying signs of falling fertility rates linked to exposure to these chemicals. For instance, researchers found that ZEA triggers severe abnormalities in the reproductive systems of female pigs, leading to a host of issues in their unborn offspring.

While human-specific research linking estrogenics to infertility is limited, Jay advises avoidance of these chemicals. He explains that researching the direct impact of these chemicals on human fertility is difficult due to the lengthy nature of fertility studies and the challenge of establishing a pure control group, as many people already have high levels of these estrogenic substances in their bodies.

Part 4: Tackling the Estrogenic Problem

Now that we’ve discussed the harmful nature of estrogenics and their effects on your health, let’s examine what you can do to protect yourself against them. According to Jay, you can reduce your risk for estrogenic-caused health problems by making conscious decisions about the products you purchase and use in your everyday life. Managing your exposure to estrogenics might seem daunting given their pervasiveness, but Jay outlines some tips for changes you can make to your lifestyle to vastly reduce your risk.

Tip 1: Improve your gut health. Research shows that having a healthy gut full of good bacteria can reduce the effects of estrogenics on your body.

Tip 2: Increase your omega-3 intake. Having a healthy omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acid ratio can also reduce the impact of estrogenics. Jay recommends you use fish oil or krill oil pills, and eat more seafood.

Tip 3: Eat whole, unprocessed foods like fruits, nuts, vegetables, cheeses, and grass-fed meats. Jay explains that highly processed foods typically contain a higher content of phytoestrogens. Opt for naturally sourced and grass-fed foods when possible to avoid ingesting estrogenic chemicals that may have accumulated in the processing of farmed foods. You should also avoid phytoestrogens like soy, as well as foods packed in plastic packaging and cans (which are often lined with plastic inside), particularly with oils and fats.

Tip 4: Avoid mold exposure. Avoid eating grains, cheap coffee, and cheap chocolates, as these are common sources of ZEA contamination. Keep your living space as free from mold as possible.

Tip 5: Avoid estrogenic cosmetics and personal care products. Consider any product with fragrance to be estrogenic unless it’s labeled otherwise and avoid cheap sunscreens.

Tip 6: Avoid heating plastics. If you can’t avoid plastics entirely, try not to heat food or liquids in plastics, as this causes more estrogenics to leach into them.

Tip 7: Filter your water. Use a charcoal filter to remove harmful contaminants, even for water used for boiling or steaming food. This is because estrogenics can seep from the water and into the food.

Tip 8: Sit in a hot sauna. A sauna can help rid your body of estrogenics. By raising your body temperature, saunas speed up your body’s expulsion of waste or toxic substances and move estrogenics out of fat cells at a faster pace.

Anthony G. Jay’s Estrogeneration: Book Overview & Takeaways

Katie Doll

Somehow, Katie was able to pull off her childhood dream of creating a career around books after graduating with a degree in English and a concentration in Creative Writing. Her preferred genre of books has changed drastically over the years, from fantasy/dystopian young-adult to moving novels and non-fiction books on the human experience. Katie especially enjoys reading and writing about all things television, good and bad.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.