Estrogen Exposure Raises Blood Pressure Via the Brain

New animal research is significant: Chronic estrogen exposure leads to a build up of a compound in the brain that causes blood pressure to rise.

For years, women were told that the estrogen they consumed in the form of contraception or hormone replacement therapy had heart-protective benefits. Recent research suggested otherwise: long-term exposure to estrogen was linked to higher blood pressure in women, but the connection wasn’t fully understood. Now the link is becoming clearer, thanks to research at Michigan State University (MSU).

What should women in the Middle East know about hormones and their health? It’s a complicated answer, but of this, we are sure: Ecosexuality advocates are moving away from their use, opting for natural means to regulate our reproductive health, fertility and wellbeing.

The researchers at MSU 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 called the rostral ventrolateral medulla, a region in the brain stem involved with the maintenance of blood pressure and associated with hypertension and heart failure. Their findings suggest that chronic estrogen induces a build up of superoxide that in turn causes blood pressure to increase. The study also found that the anti-oxidant resveratrol reverses the increase in both superoxide and blood pressure.

The study, Chronic Estradiol-17β Exposure Increases Superoxide Production in the Rostral Ventrolateral Medulla (RVLM) and Causes Hypertension: Reversal by Resveratrol,” appeared in the American Journal of Physiology — Regulatory, Integrative, and Comparative Physiology, published by the American Physiological Society. The two-phase study in rats found that chronic exposure to estrogen caused a significant increase of superoxide in this brain region, and increased blood pressure as a result.

According to ScienceDaily.com:

In an interview, 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.”

Dr. MohanKumar continued, “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.”

In a previous column, we discussed why eco-savvy author and researcher, Stefanie Iris Weiss suggests alternatives to hormones for birth control (something she covers more thoroughly in her 2010 book, Eco-Sex). In addition to health concerns such as those shown above, the increased use of hormones by women and agribusiness are linked to precocious puberty in young girls, the feminization of males in certain species, and the contamination of our water sources.

What should women inclined to family planning do? There are other more eco-friendly options, which we cover in the blog, How do Tree-Humpers Prevent Pregnancy? Bottom line: Access to adequate family planning and safe contraception are central to the philosophy of ecosexuality, and the decision about what is best rests upon an informed citizenry.

:: Image credit

Read more on eco-sexuality issues:

The Ins and Outs of Personal Vaginal Lubrication

How Do Tree-Humpers Prevent Pregnancy?

Natural Herbs for Breast Health and Enhancement

New Rx For Growing the Brain: S.E.X.

You can follow Tinamarie on @ModernLoveMuse and facebook. She blogs at www.tinamariebernard.com.

 

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