One reason for bio-identical hormone replacement is to restore the hormone, aromatase in your body. Should you take bio-identical hormones such as bio-identical estrogen or human growth hormones and whatever else is required to balance it in your body — as long as the hormones are bio-identical and not synthetic or from another animal? Or just let nature take its course and eat foods that mimic estrogen in your body?
If you lose the aromatase in your body, is it predictive of mortality by cardiovascular problems? See the Nov. 16, 2010 Endocrine Today article, “Aromatase predictive of CVD mortality in postmenopausal women.”Aromatase, according to the Wikipedia definition, is an enzyme that is responsible for a key step in the biosynthesis of estrogens. Because estrogens also promote certain cancers and other diseases, aromatase inhibitors are frequently used to treat those diseases.
Locally, in the Sacramento and Davis area, The University of California, Davis also has been studying for a decade the effects of estrogen on the brain. See the decade-old article, UC Davis Study Shows Estrogen Protects Brain Cells and Reduces Risk of Developing Alzheimer’s Disease. For later news on various estrogen studies at UC Davis, see the latest news reports coming out of research at the UC Davis Medical Center and the Center for Neuroscience.
Why estrogen “makes you smarter” – but aromatose inhibitors are given for certain cancers
Check out the November 17, 2010 news release, “Why estrogen makes you smarter.” According to the press release, estrogen is an elixir for the brain, sharpening mental performance in humans and animals and showing promise as a treatment for disorders of the brain such as Alzheimer’s disease and schizophrenia. But long-term commercial-type or synthetic estrogen and progestin therapy, once prescribed routinely for menopausal women in the 1990s, now is quite controversial because of research showing it increases the risk of cancer, heart disease and stroke.
More research is needed to see what happens when women are given aromatise inhibitors for certain cancers such as breast cancer, and whether it raises their risk of getting cardiovascular disease when aromatase is prevented from being manufactured in their body. An indirect method of measuring aromatase activity in postmenopausal women may also aid in the assessment of 25-year risk for cardiovascular disease mortality, according to an analysis of participants in the latest Rancho Bernardo, California study.
Check out the article, “In postmenopausal women, aromatase predictive of CVD mortality,” Cardiology Today, January 2011. An indirect method of measuring aromatase activity in postmenopausal women may also aid in the assessment of 25-year risk for CVD mortality, according to an analysis of participants in the Rancho Bernardo study.
The study researchers examined 817 non-estrogen-treated postmenopausal women aged 50 to 90 years who were enrolled in the Rancho Bernardo study between 1984 and 1987. The participants were then followed for 25 years. They then examined aromatase activity by use of the aromatase activity index, defined as the ratio of serum estrone to androstenedione.
Aromatase may be a novel endocrine factor predictive of cardiovascular problems after menopause
The study’s findings suggest that aromatase may be a novel endocrine factor that is predictive of cardiovascular mortality among postmenopausal women. To read more on this topic see, Laughlin G. Abstract 13804. Presented at: American Heart Association Scientific Sessions 2010; Nov. 13-17, 2010; Chicago. See the site, In postmenopausal women, aromatase predictive of CVD.
Additional studies are needed to determine whether the association of aromatase with cardiovascular death reflects genetic influences or perhaps some underlying disease influences that the scientists did not test.
What hormone makes you smarter after menopause?
Why are scientists are touting estrogen as making you smarter when news reports keep mentioning cancer and stroke risks? But do you replace it, or face getting less smart as estrogen fades out of your body over time? But is it really estrogen you need or aromatase?
That’s why research is continuing. Can you activate your brain and body to manufacture aromatase without taking the type of estrogen that increases the risk of cancer and strokes? That’s what the research is about.
And another question, consumers might have is whether men, with less estrogen appear to be less smart than women with estrogen? Does testosterone in men work the way estrogen works in women? Or does estrogen give women deeper intuition for navigating some areas of the human condition from which men have traditionally stayed distant?
And would this have anything to do with more women graduating from college than men? Or is it really that women’s pay has been so much lower than men’s pay in the past, that the only way to earn more is to finish college and compete in the world of work? On a deeper level, the research really is about what in the body can prevent post-menopausal women from developing progressive brain-related and cardiovascular problems and how aromatase works in the body.
Sacramento scientists and researchers from many areas of the nation did present their findings two years ago, on Nov. 17 at Neuroscience 2010, a conference in San Diego. Peter Penzes, associate professor of physiology and of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Feinberg School, was the senior investigator on that research.
The National Institutes of Health, the American Heart Association and the National Alliance for Research into Schizophrenia and Depression supported the 2010 aromatase study. Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine researchers recently discovered how to reap the benefits of estrogen without the risk, according to the news release.
Using a special compound, they flipped a switch that mimics the effect of estrogen on cortical brain cells. The scientists also found how estrogen physically works in brain cells to boost mental performance, which had not been known.
Activating the estrogen receptor
When scientists flipped the switch, technically known as activating an estrogen receptor, they witnessed a dramatic increase in the number of connections between brains cells, or neurons. Those connections, called dendritic spines, are tiny bridges that enable the brain cells to talk to each other.
“We created more sites that could allow for more communication between the cells,” said lead investigator Deepak Srivastava, research assistant professor in neuroscience at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, in the news release. “We are building more bridges so more information can go from one cell to another,” according to the November 17, 2010 news release.
Increase in dendritic spines improves mental performance in animals
Previous research has shown an increase in dendritic spines improves mental performance in animals. In humans, people who have Alzheimer’s disease or schizophrenia often have a decrease in these spines.
“We think there is a strong link between the number of dendritic spines and your mental performance,” Srivastava explained in the news release. “A major theory is if you increase the number of spines, it could be a way to treat these significant mental illnesses. “
Northwestern scientists also found strong clues that estrogen can be produced in cortical brain cells. They identified aromatase, a critical protein needed to produce estrogen, to be in precisely the right spot in the brain cell to make more dendritic spines.
Can estrogen be produced in cortical brain cells?
“We’ve found that the machinery needed to make estrogen in these brain cells is near the dendritic spines,” Srivastava said. “It’s exactly where it’s needed. There’s a lot of it in the right place at the right time. “
Next, Srivastava said, he wants to further identify the key molecules involved in the dendritic spine production and target them in the same way as the estrogen receptor in order to ultimately be able to treat schizophrenia and other mental disorders.
Nick Brandon, head of psychiatry at Pfizer Inc., whose group collaborated with the Penzes lab for this work, added, “We are very excited by the emerging data in this area. There is a great deal of literature and precedent for a role of estrogen and estrogen signaling in major mental illnesses.
This adds to understanding of the specific neuronal functions
As we understand the effects of these specific estrogen receptor beta compounds in preclinical models, we are discovering effects on specific neuronal functions, which could be relevant for the treatment of cognitive disorders, depression and schizophrenia. “
The idea now is to find a way to use estrogen without raising the risk of cancer in women and to find out whether the estrogen stops working at a certain age. If you had to decide whether or not to take estrogen, would you get it from foods, indirectly, from bio-identical hormones, or talk to your doctor about what’s best for your body and brain? Research in this field is ongoing at many schools of medicine.