Related Topics: Features, General, Hormones

Chronic Estrogen Exposure Linked to High Blood Pressure in Women

Long-term estrogen exposure generates excessive levels of a compound which occurs in an area of the brain crucial to regulating blood pressure.

AnnA Rushton

It is only recently that the accepted medical wisdom that the estrogen women consumed in the form of oral contraceptives and HRT was good for their hearts has been comprehensively overturned. Recent studies however have shown that long-term exposure to estrogen can actually be a danger to women as it has been associated with high blood pressure, a key link to heart attacks and strokes.

Now new research at Michigan State University has found that long-term estrogen exposure generates excessive levels of a compound, superoxide, which causes stress in the body. The build-up of this compound occurs in an area of the brain that is crucial to regulating blood pressure, suggesting that chronic estrogen induces a build up of superoxide that in turn causes blood pressure to increase. Although the process by which estrogen induces high blood pressure in women is unclear, it is yet another reason to ensure that estrogen levels in the body are properly balanced with bio-identical natural progesterone during menopause.

The Good News Lead study author Dr. P.S. MohanKumar said, “This is an important study on at least two levels. First, it continues to confirm the negative effect that long-term estrogen exposure has for females. Second, it provides a new rationale for how and why this relationship occurs. Because so many women use estrogen-only HRT to combat the effects of menopause, it is imperative that we better understand the risks that chronic exposure has for females and why these effects occur. In studies such as this we come one step closer to clarifying the relationship and have established a launch pad for identifying how the process might be interrupted in the future.”

The good news is that the study also found that giving the anti-oxidant resveratrol reverses the increase in both superoxide and blood pressure . Resveratrol is a compound present naturally in red grape skin and red wine and is also being studied for its beneficial effects on both diabetes and multiple sclerosis. Seems like it would be a good idea add a daily bunch – or glass – to help lower your blood pressure and improve your health generally.

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Jill | 1:56 am, August 17th, 2012

That first comment is absurd. The studies on resveratrol show very clear and beneficial effects on lowering inflammation and related disorders.

jr | 1:59 am, June 13th, 2011

not surprising at all. progesterone treatment has also been shown to lower blood pressure. progesterone/progestin are also not implicated in blood clot or stroke causation, especially since women at risk for heart disease (due to prior heart attack, diabetes, or uncontrolled hypertension) were recently found not to incur any risk from progestin-only birth control pills. estrogen alone and estrogen/progestin also pose an equal risk of stroke, thus implicating estrogen as the cause.

AnnA Rushton | 12:20 pm, June 12th, 2011

Graeme, thank you for your comments and the estrogen and breast cancer link is well established, though other factors such as resveratrol are still open to debate between scientists and obviously this piece of research by Dr. P.S. MohanKumar is intending to carry the debate further.

Graeme Ward | 11:10 am, June 12th, 2011

Over exposure to estrogen is harmful and may also lead to the development of breast cancer in some women. However, the credibility of this article is damaged by the repetition of the resveratrol myth. You will often hear people say that there is some magic ingredient in red wine which lowers blood pressure. Unfortunately, not. What happens is that a small amount of alcohol acts to thins the blood and this is a good thing because most people have blood which is slightly too thick because of an excess of sugar. Thicker blood flows more slowly than thin blood. So, a little alcohol gets blood back to normal and is helpful in reducing blood pressure. If more and more alcohol is drunk then there is more alcohol in the blood now making it much thinner than normal. To correct this, the body adds lots of salt (a thickener) to the blood. This process is called osmosis and it works to keep the body in balance. This excess salt now raises blood pressure. So one glass of red wine a day may be good for you, a bottle is not. And why is only red wine beneficial and not white? White wine usually contains a lot of sugar and this sugar in a small amount of white wine cancels out the beneficial effect of the small amount of alcohol. Because of the higher sugar level, drinking lots of white wine on the other hand will increase blood pressure faster than red.

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