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Does BPA lower testosterone? Results from my 12 week Estrogen experiment

Reading Time: 20 minutes

This article is the result of my recent experiment to answer one question: Can you influence serum testosterone by eliminating artificial oestrogens from your daily life?

Video version of this article:

1. Introduction:

Oestrogens in the environment – ruining your gains?

I’ve been down another rabbit hole recently. After reading Anthony Jay’s work and doing a podcast with him, I started to see the extent to which we are exposed to environmental oestrogens, and what hormonal disruption is doing to us as a population: cancer, obesity, infertility, and even allergies. 
The problem with oestrogen is that it’s subtle. There’s a time lag. It causes epigenetic modifications, functionally altering your DNA long term. It’s not like being spiked with caffeine where you’d instantly feel something. Being exposed to environmental oestrogens doesn’t mean you’ll have an instant urge to dive under the blanket and watch sex and the city, tearfully shovelling in the Hagen Dazs.


It’s worse. What it does, over the long term, is hamper your muscle gain and fat loss progress 😱️

As drug-free lifters, especially if we’ve trained for some time, we cannot afford to take chances with our hormones. Testosterone is precarious at the best of times: if any ONE of your diet, training or recovery is not at 100%, your testosterone will suffer.


2.1 What is oestrogen? 

This is the oestrogen molecule:

Note the benzene ring at the bottom left. This is what interacts with the oestrogen receptor to trigger it’s downstream effects.

Now look at the BPA molecule, one of the main compounds we are heavily exposed to, used in plastics and resins. It’s got TWO of the buggers. It’s like the T2000 version of oestrogen: acts strongly on the receptor, but much more difficult to destroy.

2.2 Population effects:

There are some well documented, biological trends that point towards direct effects of oestrogen on a population-level:

  • Markedly reduced sperm count
  • Rates of erectile dysfunction ↑
  • Metabolic syndrome (insulin resistance, mitochondrial dysfunction)

The evidence for these effects is growing to a point that it’s indisputable. If you’re interested, I’d encourage you to read Anthony Jay’s book for more data.


It is hypothesised that the recent buildup of oestrogen-analogues in our environment has produced feminising effects on a cellular level. These effects are more pronounced in prepubescent/adolescent boys, who are more developmentally susceptible to hormone disruptors. Even plant oestrogens, such as lavender oil have been known to cause gynaecomastia or delay puberty in children.

There are alternative hypotheses. Historians posit a more psychosocial cause of this feminisation: the industrial revolution: Boys being brought up in increasingly female-dominated environments (households & schools). Their fathers were mostly absent, now either in industrial work, or at war, leaving boys to be socialised almost exclusively by women in their early years. 

I occasionally receive angry comments, claiming that these ideas are misogynistic. If you’re offended by the above, you’ll find that’s your misogyny speaking. No value judgements here about femininity or masculinity: This is a fitness website. My concern is the effect of oestrogens on your health and physique, and nobody wants to be drugged against their wishes. 

By now, I am fully aware that I sound like this:

I didn’t want this oestrogen stuff to be true. Not least because I’m BUSY, mannnn. I want life to be simple: to eat and train, and not worry that I’m driving with the handbrake on by inadvertently ingesting anti-androgens.

As you know, our motto is “Simple rules, dramatic results“. Until now, I believed that worrying about hormonal optimisation was getting caught in the weeds, obsessing over minutiae.


“If this is real, it’s probably only negligible amounts anyway”

WRONG


Unfortunately not. The sheer DOSES that we’re exposed to from artificial oestrogens are no joke, and difficult to avoid. If you’re skeptical, I don’t blame you. But ask yourself, would you take the oral contraceptive pill for a laugh? Probably not. You’d certainly prefer your oestrogen to be within the normal physiological range, and it most likely isn’t. These compounds strongly bind to the oestrogen receptor, and they accumulate: Our livers are not equipped to excrete them.

This news may piss you off. Consider how large the supplement industry is. Consider how huge a proportion of it is for men trying to optimise their testosterone: testosterone boosters, anabolic steroids, prohormones, SARMs, SERMs: meanwhile we’re getting systematically oestrogenised. Bit of a hole in the bucket.

Source: Examine.com


1.3 Losing your mojo?

Most men approaching 30 have a secret suspicion that they’re losing their mojo. Occams razor suggests that much of this is likely to be age related. You no longer feel like quite as much of a young -buck-spring-chicken with lead in your pencil, fire in your belly and spring in your step.

I’m only 28, but have already noticed a palpable decline in energy levels, sex drive and capacity to gain muscle over the last few years. Most men my age report a similar experience.

I’m not quick to pin this down to oestrogen: 

  • I’m older
  • I’m juggling more plates than I was at 20.
  • I’m more stressed
  • I’m closer to my genetic potential muscle mass

There are any number of reasons I feel this way.


But after speaking to Dr Jay, you do start to think…

Wouldn’t it be nice to at least RULE OUT the chance that we’re poisoning ourselves?

For the sake of making a few mildly inconvenient substitutions, it’s quite a win if you find out for sure. Worst case scenario, it makes for an interesting article.  

Hence, I ran this little experiment to see whether taking steps to minimise my exposure to environmental oestrogens has an effect on my serum testosterone.

2. The experiment

I took 2 blood tests (male hormone panel) 12 weeks apart, eliminating as many causes of environmental oestrogens as advised by Dr Anthony Jay.Blood tests were the ‘Male Hormone Plus’, by Medichecks, fantastic company: simple capillary test kit, fast turnaround and great dashboard UI online,  (use code PROPANE10 for 10% off).

Blood tests were taken at the same time of day, under similar circumstances (fed state, sleep length, training state). During the 12 weeks, I didn’t significantly change my training, sleep or supplementation routine. I didn’t start drinking or smoking. I didn’t alter my egg intake, sexual frequency or meditation practice. I cannot normalise for external stress, and as I stepped into my medical finals year, it’s undoubtedly been a more stressful period.


2.1 Eliminating oestrogens

The next step was to eliminate my daily exposure to oestrogens. Simple enough to find and remove the oestrogen-containing products from my life right? Until you realise how fucking MUCH stuff contains oestrogen analogues.
These come in the form of: 

  • Fragrances, 
  • Plastics,
  • Food additives
  • Particular plant foods, 
  • Receipts, 
  • Polyester clothing, 
  • Canned foods,
  • Carpeted floors, 
  • Vinyl floors, 
  • Chewing gum
  • Essential oils, 
  • Animal feed additives, 
  • Corn fed beef 
  • Dairy
  • Sunscreens
  • Pollutants
  • Pesticides
  • Laundry Powders
  • Fragrances
  • Tap Water
  • Cosmetics


No problem guys, I’ll just go live in a cave and forage for wild mountain fish. Oh wait, even mountain stream fish in Switzerland are becoming intersex with elevated serum BPA. 

Oestrogens to look out for:

Plant oestrogens (phytoestrogens)-

  • Flax-
  • Soy
  • Lavender
  • Tea tree

Artificial oestrogens (xenooestrogens)

  • Bisphenol A (BPA)- Full fat dairy-
  • Pthalates
  • Parabens
  • Pesticides/insecticides
  • Atrazine
  • Benzophenones
  • Plastics with recycling codes 1, 3 6 and 7:

In the US, atrazine is the big one: a pesticide banned in the EU.

In the UK, plastics and pthalates are the highest yield things to eliminate. In particular, heating food in plastic. Oestrogen and its analogues are lipophilic, and dissolve particularly well into fatty foods. Even more so when heated. So even things like getting into a hot car on a sunny day increases your exposure. 😬️.

Source: Examine.com

2.2 Product substitutions

Here are the products that I was using, and the substitutions I made:

Previous productOestrogenic additiveNew product


Lavender bed spray & oil burner

[phytoestrogens] → Olbas Oil
Lush “Happy hippy” shower gel: Happy hippy

[Methylparaben, sodium laureth suphate]→ Ecover washing up liquid
Herbal essences shampoo

[Sodium laureth suphate, pthalates, parabens]→ Nopoo (see below)
Instant coffee

[formononetin, trigonelline]Green Tea
Cologne
[parfum] Spraying on to clothes (Dr Jay pro tip)
Semi-skimmed milk
[bovine hormonal treatments]  Skimmed/Red-top milk
Toothpaste  

[fluoride, sodium laureth suphate, parabens]Euthymol
Wax Candles
[petroleum/benzene, ketones]
Beeswax candles
Carpets/vinyl floor 

[Polyethylene]Wearing socks in the house
Rubbing receipts all over my face

[BPA]“Would you like a receipt? NO. KEEP YOUR FILTHY OESTROGENPAPER TO YOURSELF”
– Washing up liquid

[Parabens, SLS, fragrance, pthaltes] Ecover washing up liquid
Plastic protein shaker
[BPA]Steel shaker
– Skin creams → Avoided

[pthalates, parabens, parfum, benzophenones]
Plastic tupperware

[BPA]IKEA glass tupperware
Daz biological washing powder detergent [pthalates, benzenes] Ecover detergent
Tefal Teflon Rice cooker[Teflon]Instantpot – Stainless steel
Chewing gum70+ petrochemicals – plastic baseAvoided

I gained a bitter cynicism trying to find find alternatives here. Finding products that aren’t just substituting one oestrogen with another is close to impossible. EVEN the ostensibly paraben-free, pthalate-free products employ sneaky tactics as part of some apparently global insistence to make life as oestrogenic as possible.

2.3 Sneaky tactics:

  • Advertising as ’paraben-free’, yet laden with phtalates
  • Advertising as ’pthalate-free’, yet laden with parabens 🤦️. It’s the old ’sugar free butter’ trick all over again.
  • Pthalate free AND paraben-free, yet hiding other, more powerful oestrogen-analogues under the bracket of ‘parfum’ in the ingredient list. The trade labelling act allows manufacturers to hide proprietary blends under the term ‘parfum’ or ‘fragrance’. Many companies use this as a legal loophole to sneak in the nastier compounds under the guise of fragrance, specifically: BHT, oxybenzone, pthalates and and octinoxate. 
  • THEN.. when you DO finally find a product that is free of parfums, phtalates and parebens, they’re plant based: made entirely from flax, with two flavour choices: LAVENDER or GRAPEFRUIT. Is this some big hilarious prank?

I was previously using a ‘Lush’ shower gel, a company that markets itself as mostly plant-based and additive free. Unfortunately, they could be just as bad, or worse: 

“83 LUSH PRODUCTS CONTAIN PARABENS.As you can see just by reading the ingredient lists, many Lush products contain questionable ingredients that have been banned or restricted in other countries. Lush products need harsh preservatives (like parabens) because their products are mostly made of water. While we might read water and think, “Oh good, water is the most natural ingredient ever,” it really means that the product requires strong preservatives to prevent molding. That is why when natural companies use water in their products but claim they do not use any synthetic preservatives, we know they are lying. It’s a sneaky little trick companies play because they don’t have to be totally honest about their ingredients.

Beautyliestruth.com


It gets worse…

Wearing clothes washed with regular detergents contain sufficiently large amounts of oestrogen to impact our blood concentrations. Many cosmetics also contain propylene glycol, an additive to improve absorption into the skin. Remember that hormonal agents are able to be transdermally absorbed (and are often prescribed in such a form). 

Propylene glycol further enhances the ability of oestrogenic compounds to get into your bloodstream: Shower gels. Skin moisturisers. Even LUBE. Nothing is sacred. Rubbing a synthetic oestrogen cocktail directly into your gonads. Oh but of course: the paraben-free alternatives use benzophenones instead. Then the ‘natural’ alternatives are entirely flax-based and 5x the price. Pick your poison.

We must accept that cosmetic and fragrance manufacturers do not give a hoot. It’s not a great conspiracy, simply that the cost-benefit of creating a cheap, nice-smelling washing up liquid is the priority to the manufacturer. Not their problem if you develop manboobs. But as Dr Jay says – who the hell really needs scented dishes? It’s gratuitous.

I’m not a chemist. In attempting to make these substitutions, I still couldn’t be 100% sure that the products I was using were squeaky clean. For example, I used ecover washing up liquid as the closest oestrogen-free substitution I could find: while it has fewer oestrogenic additives, it still contains the mysterious ‘parfum’ and sodium laureth sulphate under the term ‘anionic surfactants’. It is truly ridiculous how much digging is required here, even for someone that is

  • a) scientifically literate,
  • b) obsessional enough to follow this through.

I asked them, but am yet to receive an answer:

Plastics:

“It’s cool brah. I’ll just use those new BPA-free plastics. Oh..”

Source: https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/acs.est.5b05387

Tap water

What about things we eat or drink? Our water sanitation systems are great for clearing bacteria, but not so great for oestrogens, which, funnily enough, is quite a robust molecule. Consequently, oestrogen concentrations gradually increase as we recycle the same water through the systems: plastics, animal manure, and the contraceptive pill. What can you do about it? Well, you could get a water filter. The best ones remove about half of the oestrogen. Oh, HAHAH of course, they’re made of plastic too. OK, I’ll just stick with bottl… oh. Fine, I’ll just drink milk.. oh.

Anthony recommended this one to me that grabs 99.9% of oestrogens, available in USA only. I couldn’t find a suitable water filter in the UK, so I didn’t change anything about my tap water consumption. The oestrogen burden from tap-water in Europe is slightly less than USA, and water is chlorinated in my area which helps eliminate birth-control oestrogens,unfortunately only a small percentage of the total oestrogen load. If I had access to one, a Berkey water filter would have guaranteed a more complete elimination.

Oestrogen concentration in water 2004-2005 – Source: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/291074933_Analytical_methods_for_the_endocrine_disruptor_compounds_determination_in_environmental_water_samples

“But what about the planet Yusef?”

Don’t get me started. Manufacturing waste and recycling is a regulatory problem, not a consumer one. When manufacturers are mopping up oil spills with baby seals because they’re incentivised to do so, expecting the odd consumer to voluntarily go the extra mile to recycle is the LIMPEST attempt at saving the planet. It’s equivalent to turning up to an earthquake with a dustpan and brush, and skirts around the real culprits.

Policymakers must align incentives of producer and consumer, which can only be done when the biohazards become totally indisputable and policy is forced to change. Until then, I subscribe to Sean Locke’s ‘pissing in the wind’ mentality towards recycling: “while the Americans are cleaning up oil spills with baby seals, recycling my little marmite jar feels a bit like turning up at an earthquake with a dustpan and brush”

I hate this. Why couldn’t the environmental waste product have been one of the fun hormones like endorphin or testosterone? I’d even settle for thyroxin. At least then we’d all be getting shreddy and nervous, rather than impotent and booby.

The reason is that oil fractions and plastic derivatives are so ubiquitously used in packaging, food production, cosmetics, and construction, and these hydrocarbons all share an unfortunate chemical property, the benzene ring, that causes them to interact with the oestrogen receptor.


2.4 Side-note on shampoo 

I don’t have a whole lot of hair. I struggled to find an appropriate substitute online, so rather than run the risk of buggering up my experiment by accidentally using an oestrogenic shampoo for my entire 2 grams of hair, I thought this would be a good chance to also test the claims of the ’no poo’ movement. Yes, that is a thing.


It’s a hippy-dippy, evangelically anti-shampoo movement online that makes the following claims:

After 6 weeks of nopoo, I stopped: I noticed no difference aside from my hair becoming a little bit dryer. Anticlimax. I tested a similarly evangelical group’s raving claims recently by sleeping on the floor for 4 months. Surprise surprise: I didn’t notice much difference. 

3. Results

3.1 Measurements


Start: 21/8/2018
End: 5/12/18
Weight    
77.6kg77.8kg
Chest    
103cmChest 103.5cm
Waist    
82cm81.5cm
Thighs59cm58cm
ArmsR: 40cm, L: 39cmR: 39cmL 38cm
Morning wood frequency70%80%

3.2: Blood results

For the eagle eyed amongst you – medichecks updated their reference range for free testosterone in the final quarter of 2018. Dr Rodgers at medichecks sent a followup comment that “Values of 0.225 nmol/L and below can be associated with symptoms of low testosterone, so the interpretation provided on your initial report still applies.”

Interestingly, my free testosterone was below the reference range in my first test. That’s not good. Remember, these ranges cater to all ‘normal’ men, from the 18 year old to the 70 year old man.

Dr Jay’s interpretation of the results:

Regarding the lab results, you’re obviously a beast in terms of muscle mass.  I saw the pics.  Because this is your starting point, you’re not going to gain a huge jump in your hormone changes by removing artificial oestrogens.  Muscle mass buffers much of the body’s potential “hormone drama”.  It also takes time to see changes, as we discussed, because of epigenetic imprinting.  But you gave it some time between the tests.
All that being said, everything trended in the expected direction quite significantly for n=1.  Total T is up, free T is up, natural oestrogen is up (which sometimes goes the opposite way but it also is common to see an initial oestrogen rise).  
On that topic for a minute, having higher [natural] oestrogen is most likely two things.  


It could be a CYP1B1 gene issue where you’re not breaking down oestrogen properly (or some similar gene) and you need aromatase inhibitors to truly optimize this. Alternatively and if you have good oestrogen metabolism genes, it’s is almost certainly a temporary feedback response in your body.  You were previously suppressing natural oestrogen production via artificial oestrogen chemicals because the signal was so high.  If you had combined ALL your artificial oestrogen burden, your artificial oestrogen blood levels were probably well into the 500,000 pmol/L ranges.  

Now, you’ve quickly dropped that massive oestrogenic burden.  Your cells were accustomed to having a certain amount of estrogen and they’ve diminished their sensitivity to it.  With the input radically dropped recently, your body has created more oestrogen because the feedback systems are saying “oestrogen levels are rapidly dropping, make more”.   If this scenario is the case, your natural estrogen will soon equalize and then drop after a few more months, maybe 6 months.  Hard to say with n=1 and potential day-to-day variation etc etc but this is all interesting data.  

Final depressing caveat
: at the Mayo Clinic, I work with a physiology scientist who told me if you “only” take one muscle biopsy, the variation is so high you can’t trust the data.  He said he did the experiments and discovered you need 10 muscle biopsies in order to get an accurate, trustworthy result!  That’s 10 “holes” punched into your muscle!  No way is that happening, except in animals.  You wouldn’t have any muscle left after that study!  Just a caveat on limited sample size variability.


However, I was not particularly symptomatic to begin with. If you attempt this, your results may well vary depending on your individual level of exposure, and how sensitive you are. I didn’t tend to wake up with brain fog, have never suffered from digestive issues, allergies or gynaecomastia.


Most traumatically, 1cm bicep loss 😂. My training frequency and focus had changed a little during the 12 weeks, and 1cm may not be significant. The two blood tests were taken at the same time of day and similar circumstances: mood, didn’t train that morning, etc.

4. Interpretation

Subjectively speakingI don’t feel particularly different before and after. Two important considerations:

  • I was ostensibly healthy to start
  • I’ve never been a particularly heavy user of cosmetics, tinned foods, plastics etc
  • I’m fortunate to live in the UK where some of the more oestrogenic additives such as atrazine are banned.

As with many ‘optimisation’ interventions, the greatest gains are seen when you take somebody OUT of a dysfunctional state into a functional one. 

Examples:

  • Noobgains: When beginning a resistance-training programme: going from extreme inactivity to frequent, targeted activity produces massively increasing marginal returns
  • Nofap: The missionary nofap community: many claiming almost superhuman powers of ↑productivity, ↑muscle, ↑confidence, magnetic attractiveness to women etc. Of course, if you go from spending 4 hours per day masturbating to 100% Nofap, then you’ve freed up 4 hours per day. You’re more confident because you can now look people in the eye. 
  • Sobriety: One-year-no-beer (OYNB): The benefits seen from going sober are proportional to how much that dysfunction that alcohol was producing in your life. 
  • Weight loss: Somebody obese at 200kg can lose a phenomenal amount of weight in a short time even eating 3000kcal/day. 
Increasing, decreasing and negative marginal returns

5. Limitations

This wasn’t a particularly rigorous study. But that was kind of the point.

The question I wanted to answer was whether reducing oestrogens had an effect in a real world situation: if it could be heard above the noise. 

In hindsight, I still should have been more rigorous. You don’t eat our target protein intake because you ‘feel’ it working, you simply know that the balance of evidence supports it as the optimal support for muscle gain. So given the subtleties here, I really should have gone full quantifiedself and measured as many parameters as possible over a year:

  • Mood
  • Sleep time
  • Multiple hormone panels
  • Z-tests on training volume progression
  • Stress

My training volume and progress didn’t change exceptionally from baseline. I wasn’t expecting superhuman gains given my training age. My level of stress/anxiety dropped a couple of points on a spot-check out of 10, but this is not simple to reliably track with a chaotic life. Life moves in waves, and I’d switched my meditation practice out for a morning lying relaxation exercise as per Kit Laughlin’s advice. Libido was no different from baseline, and morning wood frequency wasn’t tracked frequently enough to draw out something meaningful. 

My product substitutions were also imperfect: the cosmetics still contained some xenoestrogens, given how nigh-on impossible it is to eliminate this stuff. However, I certainly reduced my overall exposure. This is confirmed from the direction of the blood results. One thing to be beware of is regression to the mean, so multiple tests would be more accurate.

To replicate the experiment, my advice to you:

  • Track as much as possible
  • Take multiple blood tests and draw out a trend line and effect size
  • Follow my recommendations below for product substitutions

6. Recommendations

Whether or not you’re convinced by my results, we KNOW there is a clear mechanism for environmental oestrogens to fundamentally change our cellular physiology. That is not up for question. At this point, the question of ‘can you influence your serum oestrogen/testosterone from reducing the environmental oestrogens within your control?’ – appears to be a YES.

Product recommendations:

After hours of sifting through ingredients labels of many products, here are my recommendations particularly for UK readers:

  • Shower gel: I fruitlessly tried to contact with Ecover and a paraben-free company called Mancave, but cannot confirm all of their ingredients are xenoestrogen free. So my recommendation is:
  • Suma cinnamon and orange soap – Or unscented goats milk soap, appears to have good reviews for those with sensitive skin/psoriasis/eczema.
  • Slow cooker/pressure cooker: The instantpot has a stainless steel pot, with no teflon surfaces. This is absolutely one of the best purchases I’ve made. No fuss, safer than the old-style pressure cookers, and turns even cheap cuts of meat into fall-off-the-bone flavoursome meat. White wine rosemary chicken with sweet potato is a favourite, takes 10 seconds to prepare.
  • Tupperware: This range from IKEA is perfect I use this to portion out my instantpot bulk meal prep into.
  • Tea: Green tea appears to accelerate oestrogen metabolism, thus lowering blood levels. For plain green tea, tea pigs is the winner. Or my choice, jasmine
  • Toothpaste: I used Euthymol, but this does still contain sodium lauryl sulphate. This cinnamon toothpaste by Botanique is affordable and free from SLS, parabens and fluoride.
  • Beeswax candles: Beeswax candles have two main benefits: 
    • 1) They are non-oestrogenic, compared to standard paraffin or double-oestrogen-whammy-fragranced-candles.  
    • 2) They release negative ions into the air when burned. The data shows that these help to sweep up environmental pollutants, improve mood, reaction time, and potentially recovery from exercise, and stress from computer use. 
  • Essential oils: Two to absolutely avoid are tea tree and lavender for their oestrogenic properties. This blend includes blue spruce, frankincense and chamomile, which have support in the literature for increasing testosterone, improving joint pain and SERM-like activity respectively:
Luckily, the body of research on essential oils is rapidly growing. Source: Precision nutrition

 
Steel shaker: use code YE6587 for a free bag of whey.

  • Detergent: There are two options: – I now use ecover detergent  Or for a long term solution, the Eco Egg looks very interesting: I’ve not used this, and cruelly, one of their flavours is lavender, but there is a fragrance-free option.
  • Deodorant: Again, Mancave haven’t responded to my email to ascertain what’s in their ‘parfum’, and it’s unlikely they’ll tell me if it’s a proprietary blend. It’s a shame because their eucalyptus deodorant smells heavenly, but I cannot recommend it with certainty. The definitively oestrogen-free one I’m now using is this thyme roll-on.

Realistically, you cannot fully eliminate your exposure. The good news is that these compounds accumulate and act in a dose-dependent manner, so minimising your exposure will still be beneficial. It is up to you how far to take this: how much inconvenience you’re willing to personally endure. What you CAN do on a more world-changing level is lobby your local council, sign petitions, and encourage research and awareness into the effects of these compounds.

Let’s fill the world with gains again my friend.

What else can you do?

1) The low hanging fruit: 

  • Eliminate obvious sources of oestrogen using the substitutions above
  • Sweat. As you’ve seen, BPA is not easily excreted by the body’s normal routes, but it is through sweat. The most reliable way to do this is with a full spectrum infra-red sauna, which guarantees the range of benefits. If you don’t have access to one, regular sauna also has several multi-system benefits
  • Avoid cannabis and alcohol: These are killers for your testosterone. If you’re a big user, you need to ask yourself which is more important to you.
  • Build muscle: Not a new concept if you read PropaneFitness. Fortunately, you can do a lot to inoculate yourself against many nasties (and even all cause mortality by building muscle. Staying lean, the other side of the coin is also helpful to protect yourself against the oestrogen burden. As you’ve seen from the fat-oestrogen cycle above, endogenous oestrogen is PRODUCED by fat cells via aromatase, and xenoestrogens are STORED in adipocytes. Double whammy. Staying lean avoids this:
Source: Resourcesforlife

2) The fruit further up the tree

For a more thorough elimination approach, follow Anthony’s Gold plan

3) Testosterone:

Some things you can do to further optimise your testosterone specifically, some videos from our PropaneProtocol VIP group

Supplementation:

  • Ashwaghanda: An ancient herb that has stood the test of time, and demonstrated cortisol modulating effects, thus potentially increasing testosterone. I’ve used this myself for sleep, both on it’s own and in Neurochill, a blend by Mindnutrition , use code PROPANE for 10% off.
  • Boron: This may reduce Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG) and thus have a positive effect on testosterone. More research needed, I personally wouldn’t go out and hammer the boron just yet.
  • ZMA: Zinc and magnesium aspartate, and important mineral to supplement. If you are deficient, you’re costing yourself in testosterone. Well supported in the evidence for improving testosterone and sleep. I use the bulkpowders one for best value. Only downside: you’ll need to sleep on your back 👀🍆️.

There remain xenoestrogens that are beyond your control: air fresheners at work, in shops etc. – some plastics and food packaging is unavoidable. The best we can hope for without becoming Ben Greenfield is to reduce your total oestrogen burden. The recommendations above hedge your bets with minimum hassle. Prefer to do things systematically? Get some blood tests done (PROPANE10 for 10% off), measure as many variables as possible and then retest. I’m very keen to hear your results, and can even add them to this article).

What are my plans going forward?-

Most of the substitutions were easy enough to make for me, so I am not planning on switching back to the more oestrogenic (but nicer smelling) cosmetics, detergents, etc. My plans:

  • Switch shower gel to Suma soaps: I realised recently that Ecover washing up liquid was not actually a suitable oestrogen-free choice.
  • Find an alternative essential oil: While I subbed out the definitively oestrogenic lavender oil, I perhaps stupidly replaced it with Olbas oil, a mixture of eucalyptus, clove, juniper and menthol. The oestrogenic activity of eucalyptus remains inconclusive, and if I’m going to be diffusing & inhaling something on a regular basis, it’s prudent to err on the safe side. I will be using this blend from now on.
  • Avoid tight pants! The data shows that it can impact sperm production, and feasibly testosterone too. The boys are supposed to be hanging outside in the cool breeze. I bought 24 of these
  • I have been asked about my thoughts on clomifene/tamoxifen: These are Selective (o)Estrogen Reuptake Modulators (SERMs) – they would act at the receptor to reduce the effect of oestrogens. Many biohackers including Serge Faguet use these with some success in improving their testosterone and its proxy measures. While they are indeed tempting, the problem is this: SERMs can upregulate your oestrogen receptor density long term, leaving you in a worse situation where you are sensitised to the effects of oestrogen when you come off.

Unanswered questions:

  • What is the relative importance of topical vs ingested oestrogens? – Why are manufacturers so insistent on sneaking them in?
  • To what extent of the oestrogens we are exposed to ARE within our control, compared to environmental pollutants etc, and are we pissing in the wind by comparison?
  • If drugs such as tamoxifen/clomifene or aromatase inhibitors are off the cards, is there a potential role for a new class of drugs such as Fulvestrant (a SERD: selective oestrogen receptor degrader) in performance enhancement and the war against oestrogen? 
  • What is to come in new data on other anti-androgenic agents, such as ibuprofen?

Further reading:

PS: Had a few people write in about this article: thanks for your thoughts and keep them coming. In particular, James Wheeler wrote:

Just wanted to say that I did a testosterone boosting test at pretty much the exact same time as you. My testosterone levels were 8.1 and 8.9nmol/L in June/August (tested twice) and I managed to get these to 17.9 nmol/L by January (again tested twice) which was over double. I have to admit I tried a lot of things and it was a bit of a scattergun technique. But I did following:

  • Raised body fat from high single digits to low double digits (estimate)
  • Consumed more fats in particular, but also carbs and lowered protein levels.
  • Replaced all plastic Tupperware and water bottles with BPA free (for lunch) and glass (for food storage) and consumed water through steel shaker or glass
  • stopped handling receipts
  • Supplemented (Ashwaganda, Zinc, Vitamin C, Magnesium, Fenugreek, D-Aspartic acid, Creatine, BCAAs, Calcium, Vitamin D Tribulus on top of Multivitamins and Omega 3s)
  • Consumed Apple Cider Vinegar in morning and night
  • Bought free range / organic only meats where possible. Consuming at least 2 eggs per day.
  • Tried to buy organic veg where possible, in particular increased consumption of spinach, broccoli, red onions and mushrooms
  • removed all soy from diet
  • added garlic, turmeric and ginger to diet
  • stopped training as much, resting (or doing light ab work every other day on average with weight sessions on other days)
  • avoided touching receipts
  • removed steady state cardio (other than football matches) – focusing on LISS or HIIT (no more than twice a week)
  • Cutting alcohol where possible (particularly avoiding binge drinking)
  • Altered sleep pattern to now get a consistent 8 hours per night (in line with your advice)

As you can see and similar to your experiment I was pretty excessive (and cant pinpoint which of these contributed to the higher levels the most) but I feel a lot better and happy with the results. I’m hoping I can make further progress now.

1 – Getting sufficient good sleep – By forming a good standard routine.
2 – Not to cut on calorie deficit for long periods of time (over 8-12 weeks) and ensure good levels of fat in diet
3 – Be mindful of things that can affect hormones – quick wins I think everyone can do would be to remove plastic Tupperware and bottles and replace with glass / steel
4 – Having sufficient rest or low intensity training days
5 – Of all the supplements, perhaps zinc was the one that had most positive research for me