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The Essence of Estrogen
A
hormone is a molecular messen-
Types of Internal Estrogens External Estrogens
ger that acts on adjacent cells, the
cells that produce it or travel to
Estradiol is the most powerful, abun- Your hormonal health can also be
sites throughout the body that are sensi-
dant and active form of estrogen. Prior to affected by external estrogens and estro-
tive to its effects. Hormones regulate your
menopause, it is made mainly by the ova- gen-like compounds introduced into your
body’s energy production, temperature,
ries. Post menopausal production occurs body. These include bioidentical estro-
growth, immune system, reproductive
in individual cells throughout the body, gens, synthetic estrogens, xenoestrogens,
capabilities and neuroactivity. Your indi-
particularly fat cells and stromal cells and phytoestrogens.
vidual hormone balance is influenced by
in the breast. Estradiol directly affects a Bioidentical hormones are hormones
genetics, the environment, your lifestyle,
wide range of cellular functions, as estro- manufactured with a molecular structure
eating habits and the function of your
gen receptors are ubiquitous. identical to that naturally found in the hu-
endocrine (hormone producing) system.
Estriol is the weakest of the estrogens. man body. They are made from a plant
With aging, hormone levels decline. For
Estriol is primarily manufactured during source, frequently soy or yams, and are
most, this heralds a definite decline in
pregnancy by the placenta. It attaches to ideal for use in hormone replacement
quality of life and an increase in prob-
cell receptors affecting hair, nails, and therapy. “Bioidentical hormones” is not a
lems with health maintenance.
skin. Recorded data on estriol’s func- marketing term. The term has been used
Estrogen, progesterone and testos-
tion demonstrate that estriol’s effects are for more than a decade in the inserts to
terone are the three major sex hormones
limited mainly to the vaginal walls with all FDA-approved commercial hormone
in both men and women, with the ratios
little effect on the heart and bones in non- preparations that contain hormones mo-
and levels varying according to gender.
pregnant women. In the non-pregnant, lecularly identical to human hormones.
Estrogen and progesterone are the pre-
young, and premenopausal woman, es- Bioidentical estrogen preparations in-
dominant hormones in women. Any dis-
triol is made in the liver in small doses. clude: 17-Beta estradiol (Alora, Climara,
cussion of one must include the other,
Studies have shown it to have a protective Estrace), 17-Beta estradiol patches (Viv-
although this article will focus primarily
effect against breast cancer. elle-Dot, Vivelle, Estraderm), Estradiol
on estrogen.
Estrone is manufactured in fat cells transdermal spray (Evamist) and combi-
Estrogen is made in the ovaries, the
after menopause primarily from testoster- nations of estradiol, estriol and estrone in
corpus luteum, adrenal glands, breast
one derivatives (androstenedione). Estro- compounded formulations (Biest, Triest).
and fat cells. Estrogen is a generic term
ne levels tend to rise after menopause and In recent studies, bioidentical estrogens
referring to a group of molecules. In hu-
the increase in estrone has been impli- have demonstrated an ability to reduce
mans, the three main identified estrogen
cated in an increased incidence of breast degradation of telomere length. Telom-
molecules are estriol (E3), estradiol (E2),
tumors but most data have been obtained eres are protective end-caps on chromo-
and estrone (E1). A proper balance of es-
from animal studies. Overweight older somes, the length of which is correlated
trogen enhances sensuality, improves the
women have high circulating levels of with biological age.
appearance of skin, moisturizes eyes, lu-
estrone. Synthetic estrogens are chemically
bricates the vagina, preserves mental clar-
manipulated and are molecularly very
ity, plumps up the breasts, and protects
the bones and cardiovascular system.
When the scientific and lay commu-
nities refer to estrogen, they typically refer
to its three components as one. At times,
this oversimplification leads to errors in
separating the individual function of the
estrogens, particularly when discussing
the differences between estrogen prepa-
rations used as hormone-replacement
therapy available on the market. Although
their actions are perceived and often re-
corded as one, the component molecules
of estrogen have different potencies and
effects.
October 2009
23
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