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Estrogen


                      

                             Estrogen

Estrogen is a hormone made primarily in the ovaries. Some testosterone is also converted to estrogen through an enzyme process known as aromatization. "Estrogens" are the primary female sex hormones. The three major estrogens are estradiol, estriol and estrone. Of the three, estradiol is the most physiologically and biologically active. The synthetic formulation of estradiol is most commonly prescribed in its conjugated form, such as Premarin. However, synthetic estradiol is frequently not well absorbed and may result in some unwanted side effects. Estrone, known to relieve some of the symptoms of menopause, is sometimes selectively used in bio-identical hormone replacement therapy. Some of the metabolites of estrone, however, have potential genotoxic effects associated with some forms of cancer. The third major estrogen, estriol, is considered a weak estrogen. And while it is beneficial, such large doses are required to treat menopausal symptoms, compared to estradiol that frequently the side effects are too much for women to handle. Huge amounts of estriol are produced during pregnancy. However, it should be noted that estriol may provide an anti-cancer effect for breast tissue. It is commonly combined with estradiol for hormone replacement therapy.

Estrogen is not simply a sex hormone, but a total body hormone. Some of the hormone receptor sites that need estrogen are found in the bladder, bones, arteries vagina, heart, liver and the brain. Without adequate levels of estrogen these organs cannot function properly.

Estrogen has been shown to protect against:
•    Colon cancer
•    Osteoporosis (levels > 50-75)
•    Heart disease. Estradiol stimulates beta-2 receptor sites for cardiovascular protection. HRT lowers fibrinogen levels. Most protecton is due to benefits on lipids.
•    Stroke
•    Increased cholesterol
•    Incidence of Alzheimers
•    Memory loss
•    Symptoms of menopause
•    Loss of teeth
•    Skin aging
•    Age-related macular degeneration (up to 70% reduction with HRT)
•    Cataracts

Between the age of about 35 and 50 years, estrogen levels decline slowly, by approximately 25 percent. Female hormone levels of estrogen drop drastically at menopause. After menopause heart disease in women skyrockets, surpassing the rate found in the male population. In fact, it is the leading cause of death in older women with over a half-million deaths per year in the US, more than twice as many as all cancer deaths combined. Young women, who make large amounts of estrogen, rarely have osteoporosis, macular degeneration, or osteoarthritis, and they rarely die of cancer, heart disease Type ll diabetes, or Alzheimers disease. Young women, too, overall, are not incontinent, too cold, too hot, or plagued by unrelenting insomnia.

The Womens Health Initiative (WHI) study demonstrated an increased risk overall with the synthetic hormones. While the study found a statistically significant reduction in colon cancer and osteoporosis, a statistically significant increase in the incidence of breast cancer, heart attacks and strokes was noted.

Recall that more recent analysis of the WHI data suggests that HRT actually reduces the risk for heart disease when administered among women in their early 50s, yet may have harmful effects when therapy is initiated among women a decade older. The reason is that estrogen has both beneficial and harmful effects on plaques of atherosclerosis — the cause of heart attacks.
To understand this issue it helps to know how heart attacks happen. Plaques of atherosclerosis form in the hearts arteries. Each plaque develops a cap made of thin fibers. Cholesterol lies beneath this cap. Heart attacks and many strokes occur when the cap ruptures, spilling cholesterol into the middle of the artery. After that, a blood clot forms and the artery constricts to slow the flow of blood to a part of the heart muscle, starving it of the oxygen and sugar it needs.

Estrogen, particularly the bioidentical form, slows the development of atherosclerotic plaques, by lowering LDL ("bad") cholesterol, raising HDL ("good") cholesterol levels, and reducing other markers of inflammation. Estrogen has an antioxidant effect on free radicals, which helps prevent harmful oxidation of LDL cholesterol. Taking a vitamin E supplement helps the antioxidant effect of estrogen. Estrogen also produces vasodilatory factors such as nitric oxide and prostacyclin and inhibits synthesis of the vasoconstrictor, endothelin-1. The net result is a decrease in vascular resistance and lower blood pressure.

For this reason it may be desirable that women begin estrogen replacement therapy early in menopause, before estrogen levels have been low long enough to allow atherosclerotic changes to begin. In other words, HRT may decrease the risk of heart disease in relatively younger women by slowing the development of plaques. However, estrogen may make existing plaques more likely to rupture by increasing inflammation in them. This is why it may be harmful to wait and initiate estrogen replacement therapy in much older women and in women with pre-existing atherosclerosis. The VVHI outcomes suggest that this is true. The risk of developing heart disease was lower for women taking HRT at younger ages, but it was higher for women starting hormones many years after menopause, particularly with known atherosclerosis. The bottom line is that estrogen and progesterone is not for every woman.

As previously discussed, estrogen replacement therapy does not appear to increase the risk of breast cancer, but rather the synthetic progestin (medroxyprogesterone acetate) does. Additional factors may contribute to an increased incidence of breast cancer, such as toxic substances found in many food and water that accumulate in fat cells, including fat cells of breast tissue. Soy estrogens block the effect of these toxic substances and therefore further protect a woman from getting breast cancer.

Characteristics of Estrogen Deficiency
•    Mental fogginess
•    Forgetfulness
•    Depression
•    Minor anxiety
•    Mood changes
•    Difficulty falling asleep; insomnia
•    Hot flashes, night sweats temperature swings
•    Day-long fatigue
•    Depression
•    Headache
•    Decreased sense of sexuality
•    Decreased libido
•    Harder to reach climax
•    Pain with sexual activity
•    Dry eyes, skin, hair and vagina
•    Vaginal shrinkage
•    Yeast infections
•    Lessened self-image
•    Sagging breasts and loss of fullness
•    Bladder symptoms
•    Breakthrough bleeding
•    Lack of menstruation
•    Heart palpitations
•    Hair loss
•    Shortness of breath

Characteristics of Estrogen Dominance
The ratio of estrogen to progesterone is too high, even if the absolute level of estrogen is low
•    Premenstrual mood swings, depression
•    Impatient, snappy behavior
•    Fibrocystic breasts
•    Increase of breast size and swelling
•    Breast tenderness
•    Bloating
•    Craving for sweets
•    Heavy or irregular menses
•    Pelvic cramps
•    Sleep disturbances: insomnia or heavy fatigue
•    Uterine fibroid
•    Weight gain, fat deposition at the hips and thighs
•    Memory loss
•    Hypoglycemia
•    Headaches
•    Acne, skin break-out
•    Water retention, edema

Conditions associated with Estrogen Dominance

•    Autoimmune diseases- Hashimotos, Lupus
•    Cervical dysplasia and cancer
•    Endometriosis
•    Fibrocystic breast problems
•    Gallbladder disease
•    Hormone dependent cancers
•    Fertility problems
•    Menstrual irregularities
•    Polycystic ovary syndrome
•    Premenstrual syndrome
•    Fibroid Tumors

Estrogen In Men

Many men who can boast normal levels of testosterone nonetheless exhibit characteristic symptoms of the male menopause. They find their energy diminishing and their sexual life faltering. If this situation is due to a hormonal imbalance, it may not be related to testosterone. Sometimes it is in the level of estrogen, the female hormone, where the trouble lays.


Men often react with surprise when they learn the male body contains its own natural supply of estrogen. They are equally unprepared for the news that estrogen is a normal aspect of their hormonal makeup. Healthy young males often have estradiol levels of around 75. The male body actually manufactures the female hormone from testosterone. An enzyme in the body, aromatase, converts a small portion of testosterone into estrogen, a process necessary for the healthy functioning of estrogen- sensitive tissues in a mans body.

It is likely that estrogen is beneficial to the male brain. Estrogen is definitely important in influencing certain natural sexual functions through its effects on brain chemistry. The very areas of the brain involved with sexual function require estrogen for its special purposes in those specific locations. Too little estrogen will neuter a man just as effectively as too little testosterone. Low levels of estrogen may be harmful to the brain and bone density. Both estrogen and testosterone play major roles in maintaining bone.