Entries in Estrogen (10)


Heightened Estrogen Levels Associated with Sudden Cardiac Death

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Heightened estrogen level may be associated with an increased risk of cardiac death in both men and woman, according a new study.

The study was presented on Friday at an annual meeting of the Heart Rhythm Society in Denver. More than 350,000 Americans die each year from cardiac death, which can occur when the heart suddenly and unexpectedly stops beating, says HealthDay News.

Researchers analyzed data from people who had either suffered sudden cardiac death or had coronary artery disease. According to HealthDay News, testing on the blood samples of those patients found that both group had similar cardiac risk factors.

While diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol were found in similar rates in both groups, researchers were interested to find that both men and women who suffered sudden cardiac death had greatly increased estrogen levels. Additionally, the ratio of testosterone to estrogen was lower in those who suffered sudden cardiac death.

While the findings do not prove that high estrogen levels cause cardiac problems, the findings could help identify patients at greater risk.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Estrogen Therapy Works Best in Younger Women

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A reappraisal of the National Institutes of Health's Women's Health Initiative (WHI) study has found that "the age when women start hormone replacement therapy makes a huge difference," in risk of cancer and heart disease, according to Dr. Robert Langer, lead author of the reassessment, which was published in the journal Climacteric.

Researchers said "mass fear" left millions of women to needlessly suffer from menopause symptoms without the benefits of hormone replacement therapy when researchers of the WHI study found that women who took estrogen were at higher risk of certain cancers and heart disease.

New data showed that the risks only apply to older menopausal women who begin taking the medication late into menopause.

"The balance is towards benefit for women with hot flashes and other reasons to use it who start within 10 years of menopause," said Langer.  "But it's not beneficial for most women who start about 10 years or more into menopause."

Prior to the 2002 study, some research found that the menopausal hormone therapy actually helped to decrease the risk of heart disease, but the 2002 preliminary data found the treatment did not decrease risk and put women at increased risk of some invasive breast cancers and stroke.  Prior to the study results, hormones were one of the most-prescribed drugs in the country.

But the use of estrogen dropped by 71 percent from 2001 to 2009, according to the North American Menopause Society.

Researchers halted the clinical trial altogether three years early in 2002 because of the noted increased risk.

For some women, menopause symptoms are much more than the occasional hot flash.  Depression, low libido, night sweats, panic attacks and vaginal dryness are only a few of the many indications that storm through the body of a menopausal woman.

Symptoms like vaginal dryness and pain on intercourse are more difficult to bring up with a gynecologist than risks of heart disease and breast cancer, said Langer.

"Fears like the risk of breast cancer, or sometimes heart attacks or strokes, surface quickly in those discussions," continued Langer.  "The reporting of the WHI fed those fears to a degree not warranted by the small increase in breast cancer rates that probably only reflected earlier discovery of existing cancers, or by the fact that the heart attack risk and stroke was only seen in women who started more than 10 years after menopause."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Woman Designs Diet for Men to Be Less Like Women

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Guys, eating like a real man might make a woman out of you.

That's the theory behind the Men Only Weight Loss program, concocted by founder Wendy Meyers who argues that certain things men eat regularly are "feminizing foods."

According to Meyers, stuff like processed foods with preservatives, dyes or soy and favorites including breads, desserts and beer are "the equivalent of several female birth control pills on a weekly or monthly basis."

She says these foods mimic estrogen, causing lower testosterone, not to mention lack of energy and weight gain.

If that isn't enough to make a guy break down and cry, Meyers believes that these "feminizing foods" are responsible for loss of sex drive and bigger breasts on men.

Meyers' Men Only Weight Loss program gets men to wean themselves off these foods, replacing them with proteins and produce, and it's supposedly done without calorie counting or portion control.

Registered dietician Penny Wilson isn't all that wound up about Meyers' theory that today's diet "is emasculating men," but she does think the alternate food choices are a step in the right direction.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Study Finds Estrogen Replacement Lowers Risk of Breast Cancer for Some Women

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Millions of women who seek relief from hot flashes, night sweats and other postmenopausal symptoms -- but fear the risks of hormone replacement therapy -- have some reassurance from new research on estrogen-only HRT.

A new study suggests that estrogen-only HRT may lower the risk of breast cancer for some postmenopausal women. However, the findings apply to a particular subset of those women -- those who have had a hysterectomy, have no increased risk of breast cancer and no increased risk of strokes and blood clots.

The research came as a follow-up to the Women's Health Initiative, a 10-year study of more than 10,000 women taking HRT. The trial was halted in 2004 amid concerns that the treatments increased women's risk of stroke and breast cancer. The end of the trial was followed by a drop in the number of women taking estrogen for their postmenopausal symptoms. A study from the North American Menopause Society found that the use of estrogen dropped by 71 percent from 2001 to 2009.

The concerns that stopped the trial were mostly linked to combined HRT -- a combination of estrogen and progestin, which doctors still say increases a woman's risk of breast cancer. Garnet Anderson, the lead author of the study, said fear over those risks tainted the reputation of estrogen-only HRT, even though researchers had already observed that it seemed to reduce the risk of breast cancer.

"These new data suggest that women don't have to be afraid of taking estrogen-only HRT," she said.

Researchers studied more than 7,500 postmenopausal women who had undergone a hysterectomy and had taken estrogen-only HRT as a part of the Women's Health Initiative. The women, aged 50 to 79, took estrogen for six years and then stopped when the trial was halted.

But researchers continued to monitor the women for the next five years and found that the women who took estrogen were 23 percent less likely to develop breast cancer than those who took a placebo. Of the women taking estrogen-only HRT who did develop breast cancer, the study found that they were less likely to die from the disease. Six women taking estrogen died of the disease, compared with 16 in the group taking a placebo.

Dr. Jacques Rossouw, chief of the Women's Health Initiative at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, said the study suggests that the length of time a woman takes estrogen may play a role in her risk of developing breast cancer.

"If they use it [estrogen] for short term and then stop after 6 years or so, they are not at increased risk of breast cancer," he said. He cautioned, however, that the use of estrogen for longer periods may increase the risk.

Women who have not had a hysterectomy should not take estrogen-only HRT, since estrogen increases the risk of uterine cancer.

The findings, published day in the medical journal The Lancet, give a little more clarity for women who want relief from their postmenopausal symptoms but feel confused by all the conflicting information on whether or not HRT is safe. Dr. Janet Pregler, director of the Iris Cantor-UCLA Women's Health Center, said her patients are often frustrated by the conflicting reports on HRT. But she said she has prescribed estrogen alone for several years to her postmenopausal patients who have had hysterectomies.

"There's no question that hormones remain the best treatment for hot flashes and night sweats," Pregler said. "The risk of doing that for a few years around menopause is really very low, depending on other health risks you have."

The study found several caveats to the effectiveness of estrogen-only HRT. The reduced risk of breast cancer applied only to women who were not already at risk for the disease. As a result, Anderson said patients should not take estrogen with the goal of reducing breast cancer risk.

Also, HRT is still associated with an increased risk of stroke, and doctors say that women who are at increased risk of stroke and blood clots should still avoid taking any HRT.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Breast Cancer: Tamoxifen Saves Lives but Some Women Go Without It

Photodisc/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- For women diagnosed with hormone-sensitive breast cancer -- more than 150,000 in the U.S. each year -- five years of tamoxifen treatment can dramatically cut the risk of death or recurrence of the cancer, according to a study published Thursday in the medical journal The Lancet.

Tamoxifen, a mainstay in breast cancer therapy since the early 1980s, blocks estrogen receptors to thwart the sex hormone's tumor-feeding effects. Doctors always knew it worked, but the Lancet study -- which included data from 20 trials and 21,000 women -- confirmed the drug's effects are both profound and long-lasting.

"It is an extraordinary drug in terms of the protection it offers women in the decade after treatment," said Christina Davies, a senior research scientist at the Clinical Trial Service Unit at Oxford University and the study's lead author. "It's off-patent, it's cheap and it's available to women worldwide."

Taking a pill a day for five years reduced annual breast-cancer mortality by 30 percent for 15 years, the study found. And recurrence rates fell 47 percent in the first four years after treatment, and 32 percent over the next five years, according to the study.

But tamoxifen does come with its share of side effects, and some are even life-threatening, such as an increased risk of uterine cancer and blood clots forming in the lungs. In the Lancet study, there were nine deaths from uterine cancer and six deaths from lung blood clots among women taking tamoxifen compared with one death from uterine cancer and no deaths from lung blood clots in women taking a placebo. However, the overall risk of death was small -- 0.1 percent in younger women and 0.6 percent in older women.

Less severe but no less significant for premenopausal women on the fence about tamoxifen is the drug's potential to trigger symptoms of menopause -- hot flashes, mood swings, dryness, leg cramps and joint pain.

Studies have found that even two years on tamoxifen can bring benefits, and ongoing studies are investigating whether a 10-year treatment course is even better than a five-year course.

The study also confirms that women whose tumors are even mildly hormone-sensitive -- as low as 1 percent positive for estrogen receptors in standard lab tests -- can benefit from tamoxifen.

"Recently, we started calling these low-level-expressing tumors positive and have been offering these women tamoxifen," said Dr. Banu Arun, co-director of Clinical Cancer Genetics at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. "This further supports that what we've been doing was correct."

The new study also found that tamoxifen extends survival, even in women who've had chemotherapy, debunking a common misconception that one or the other would do, Arun said.

Tamoxifen is also used to prevent breast cancer in women at high risk for the disease because of their genetic makeup. But only 30 percent of these women opt to take the drug, said Arun, with 70 percent opting for regular screenings instead.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Estrogen May Protect Against Brain Aneurysms

Michael Matisse/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) -- Brain aneurysms, or the bulging and weakening of small areas of the walls of arteries, are more common in women than in men. 

In a study at Rush University Medical Center, researchers assessed whether estrogen, the primary component of birth control pills and hormone therapy, can modify a women's risk of developing brain aneurysms. 

They researchers found that women who had a history of taking oral contraceptives or hormone replacement therapy were less likely to have brain aneurysms than those who did not take these medications.  But taking birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy did not change the rate of aneurysm ruptures. 

But critics of the study, which is published in the Journal of Neurointerventional Surgergy, say it can't be known from this data whether these hormones had any causal role in aneurysm formation, and the study may be misleading as it implies that hormone therapy may be useful for prevention of aneurysms.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Study: Stopping Estrogen Associated with Health Risks, Benefits

Siri Stafford/Photodisc/Thinkstock(SEATTLE) -- In 2004, the Women's Health Initiative Estrogen-Only Trial was stopped one year early because of an increased risk of stroke and no overall health benefit for the postmenopausal women who had hysterectomies taking the medication. A new long-term study continued following many of the women after they stopped the estrogen and finds that their age was associated with certain ongoing health risks and benefits long after taking the last pill.   

Dr. Andrea La Croix, from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, and co-authors compared the on-going health risks and benefits in women who took the estrogen for an average of six years then stopping and those who did not. Follow up for most of the women lasted almost 11 years. "For heart disease overall we found no difference either during the intervention at the end of the intervention or at the end of this longer- term follow up period no difference between the estrogen group and the group  of women who took a placebo pill," explained La Croix.

The study appears in this week's JAMA, Journal of the American Medical Association and researchers say those results differ by age group. According to La Croix, "women in their 50s taking estrogen had 12 fewer heart attacks per 10 thousand women over a year's time and the women in their 70s had 16 extra heart attacks, so the effect of estrogen on heart disease differed significantly by age."

"For breast cancer a woman's age had no effect on their risk, the risk of breast cancer was reduced regardless of age. Hip fracture rates also reduced while on the medication but that changed after women stopped," according to La Croix.  Rates of hip fracture in the treated group started to rise and move toward the rate in the placebo group so that by the end of the 10.7 years of follow up the rates were about equivalent.

Researchers say this new information can now be used by women to help them and their physicians make better informed decisions on whether to  start this medication and just how long they should take it. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Anti-Estrogen Medication Could Improve Lung Cancer Diagnosis

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(GENEVA, Switzerland) – A drug used to battle breast cancer may help reduce the risk of dying from lung cancer, according to a new study.

The study, published in Cancer, claims that the anti-estrogen medication tamoxifen can help control hormonal levels in lung cancer patients that are critical to survival.

Researchers at the Geneva Cancer Registry examined the effect of anti-estrogen therapy in patients with lung cancer. They found that fewer women who had taken anti-estrogens died from lung cancer than expected.

"Our results support the hypothesis that there is a hormonal influence on lung cancer which has been suggested by findings such as the presence of estrogen and progesterone receptors in a substantial proportion of lung cancers," said Elisabetta Rapiti, M.D., of the Geneva Cancer Registry. "If prospective studies confirm our results and find that anti-estrogen agents improve lung cancer outcomes, this could have substantial implications for clinical practice.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Study: Estrogen-Only Therapy May Reduce Breast Cancer Risk

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(SAN ANTONIO) -- For years, doctors have warned women that taking hormone replacement therapy, or HRT, may be linked to an increased risk of breast cancer.  Now, a new study suggesting that a particular form of HRT may actually lower the risk of breast cancer in some women is likely to re-ignite the controversy surrounding this link.

The study, presented at the annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, uses previously collected data to suggest that menopausal women with no strong family history of breast cancer who are on estrogen replacement therapy may be at a 30-40 percent lower risk of developing breast cancer.

Lead researcher Dr. Joseph Ragaz, medical oncologist and clinical professor at the School of Population and Public Health at The University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, acknowledged the study results fly in the face of conventional thinking about findings contradicting a widely held belief about HRT.

"Our analysis suggests that, contrary to previous thinking, there is substantial value in bringing HRT with estrogen alone to [treatment] guidelines," said Ragaz in a press release.  "The data show that for selected women it is not only safe, but potentially beneficial for breast cancer, as well as for many other aspects of women's health."

Ragaz and his colleagues re-analyzed data from hormone replacement therapy trials of the Women's Health Initiative, a national health study aimed at developing strategies for preventing heart disease, breast cancer, colorectal cancer and bone fractures in postmenopausal women.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Hormone Therapy Linked to Higher Breast Cancer Death Risk

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- New research results released Tuesday from the ongoing Women's Health Initiative trial found that not only do postmenopausal women who take a combination of estrogen and progestin therapy have a higher chance of getting aggressive forms of breast cancer, but that they may be at higher risk of dying from the disease.

The results, from an 11-year follow-up with more than 12,000 women who were randomly assigned to receive either the combination hormone therapy or a placebo, found 385 women taking the therapy developed an aggressive form of breast cancer, compared to 293 in the placebo group.  Twenty-five women who took hormone therapy died from breast cancer during the study, compared to 12 women in the placebo group.

"It is early in the follow-up and the number of breast cancer deaths will certainly substantially increase as we move forward," said Dr. Rowan Chlebowski, professor of medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, and lead author of the study.

Women in the study who used estrogen and progestin for five and a half years -- which is considered long-term use of the therapy -- were at higher risk of getting breast cancer, said Chlebowksi.

Earlier results of this trial indicated a connection between synthetic hormone therapy -- commonly marketed as the drug Prempro -- and less aggressive forms of breast cancer.  However, results now suggest that women who took hormones may be at risk of any, including more aggressive and late-stage, forms of breast cancer.

"For women currently on HRT, I think it warrants a significant talk with their physician as to whether they warrant the therapy," said Dr. Jennifer Litton, assistant professor of breast oncology at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

Hormone replacement therapy includes medications containing female hormones to replace the ones the body no longer makes after menopause.  Although the FDA has only approved hormone replacement therapy to reduce the risk of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women and prevent hot flashes, the medication is also likely to be prescribed off-label to control groups of symptoms such as mood swings and dryness.

While experts said diet and exercise often curb these symptoms, hormone therapy is prescribed for women with severe symptoms. "For some women, these symptoms are so severe that it's life-altering," said Litton.

Chlebowski's study initially warned of a link between combination hormone replacement therapy and breast cancer in 2002.  Since then, many doctors have prescribed a variety of combinations, including lower-dose combinations of estrogen and progestin, or estrogen alone, without knowing what type of therapy might offer the greatest benefit to women.  Many doctors say they now prescribe lower doses of the hormones at shorter intervals.

"We significantly reduced use of HRT when the link to HRT first came out [in 2002]," said Dr. Randy Wexler, assistant professor of family medicine at Ohio State University.

"There is still a role for hormone therapy," said Dr. Hugh Taylor, director of reproductive endocrinology at Yale School of Medicine.

The concern lies mainly with the combination of estrogen and progestin and not on estrogen alone, according to Taylor.

"With low doses of of estrogen we can get away with small and infrequent progestin use," said Taylor. "Let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Estrogen therapy is the only thing that works well and estrogen is not the cause of breast cancer."

But there's no scientific evidence that any variation of hormone therapy at any length of time provides a safer alternative. Litton said non-hormone therapies, such as antidepressants or acupuncture, may provide some women some benefit.

According to Dr. Dian Ginsberg, obstetrician and gynecologist at Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston, TX, lifestyle changes during a women's premenopausal years may help women ease through their symptoms and divert hormone therapy altogether. "I hope that as we learn more about the hormone replacement pill not being the answer, we can maybe approach the woman differently in her 30s and 40s," said Ginsberg.

Still, she said the type of therapy depends on a woman's personal history and understanding the risk and that before abandoning hormone therapy, women should talk to their doctor.

"Don't throw your hormones out," said Ginsberg.  "Call your physician, go in, learn a little bit more about this study, go over your own medical background, and see a good way, potentially, to wean off your hormone."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio