Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Hormone Therapy: Monkey Studies Parallel Women's Health Initiative Findings, Point To Importance

Date:
June 26, 2007
Source:
Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center
Summary:
Studies in female monkeys helped raise important questions about hormone therapy that were addressed in a Women's Health Initiative study reported recently in the New England Journal of Medicine. The animal research also suggests the role that stress can play in heart disease development and point to the need for early prevention of heart disease.

Studies in female monkeys helped raise important questions about hormone therapy that were addressed in a Women's Health Initiative study reported recently in the New England Journal of Medicine. The animal research, conducted at the Wake Forest University Primate Center, also suggests the role that stress can play in heart disease development and point to the need for early prevention of heart disease.

Related Articles


"Our research in monkeys suggests that stress can affect estrogen levels and may set the stage for heart disease later in life," according to Jay Kaplan, Ph.D., professor of comparative medicine and director of the primate center. "It also suggests women need to start thinking about heart disease prevention before menopause. We found that the five years before menopause are when heart vessel disease begins to accelerate."

Kaplan and Thomas Clarkson, D.V.M., have published numerous articles from their monkey research on the effects of hormone therapy on heart vessel disease. Their findings, along with research in humans, were a driving force behind the hypothesis that there is a "window of opportunity" during which hormone therapy can help prevent atherosclerosis. The theory was explored in the Women's Health Initiative Coronary Artery Calcium Study (WHI-CAC).

WHI-CAC showed that younger postmenopausal women who take estrogen-alone hormone therapy have significantly less building of calcium plaque in their arteries compared to their peers who did not take hormone therapy. The plaque is considered a marker for future risk of atherosclerosis, the buildup of fatty deposits that can lead to heart attacks and strokes.

Clarkson began a study in 1988 funded by the National, Heart Lung and Blood Institute to study how hormone therapy affects heart disease risk in monkeys. He found that estrogen replacement administered to monkeys as soon as they were made surgically menopausal resulted in about a 70 percent inhibition in the progression of coronary artery atherosclerosis.

When treatment with estrogen or estrogen plus progestin was delayed for an equivalent of six years in women, however, there was no benefit. The work led to the hypothesis that estrogen inhibits the development of vessel disease, but may be ineffective, and even harmful, if the disease already exists.

"Clearly hormone therapy isn't a drug for preventing or treating heart disease," said Clarkson. "The question is whether, when hormone therapy is used for the treatment of menopausal symptoms, there are benefits associated with the cardiovascular system that might offset any documented risks."

In addition to raising this important question about hormone therapy, the animal studies also have other important health implications for women. Women have traditionally been considered immune from heart disease until after menopause, when their estrogen levels dramatically drop. But the monkey studies suggest that stress can actually reduce estrogen levels much earlier in life and hasten the development of atherosclerosis, thus increasing the postmenopausal burden of coronary disease risk.

These effects may apply to up to half of premenopausal women, Kaplan said, emphasizing the need for young women to be educated about the relationship between reproductive health and chronic disease risk.

"Our research adds to the growing body of evidence that cardiovascular health after menopause is influenced by hormone levels many years earlier," said Kaplan. "The message for women is that anything that reduces estrogen levels in young adulthood - whether it be stress or exercise and diet habits - may put women on a high-risk course for heart disease."

Clarkson said that because cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death among women over age 55 -- and because studies show that declines in estrogen in perimenopause can lead to its development -- it is imperative to identify risk factors and promote early prevention.

"The evidence that levels of atherosclerosis present at the time of menopause are determined by premenopausal estrogen exposure is underappreciated," he said.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. "Hormone Therapy: Monkey Studies Parallel Women's Health Initiative Findings, Point To Importance." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 June 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/06/070625193313.htm>.
Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. (2007, June 26). Hormone Therapy: Monkey Studies Parallel Women's Health Initiative Findings, Point To Importance. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/06/070625193313.htm
Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. "Hormone Therapy: Monkey Studies Parallel Women's Health Initiative Findings, Point To Importance." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/06/070625193313.htm (accessed November 28, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, November 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Rural India's Low-Cost Sanitary Pad Revolution

Rural India's Low-Cost Sanitary Pad Revolution

AFP (Nov. 28, 2014) — One man hopes his invention -– a machine that produces cheap sanitary pads –- will help empower Indian women. Duration: 01:51 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Research on Bats Could Help Develop Drugs Against Ebola

Research on Bats Could Help Develop Drugs Against Ebola

AFP (Nov. 28, 2014) — In Africa's only biosafety level 4 laboratory, scientists have been carrying out experiments on bats to understand how virus like Ebola are being transmitted, and how some of them resist to it. Duration: 01:18 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Leaves Orphans Alone in Sierra Leone

Ebola Leaves Orphans Alone in Sierra Leone

AFP (Nov. 27, 2014) — The Ebola epidemic sweeping Sierra Leone is having a profound effect on the country's children, many of whom have been left without any family members to support them. Duration: 01:02 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Experimental Ebola Vaccine Shows Promise In Human Trial

Experimental Ebola Vaccine Shows Promise In Human Trial

Newsy (Nov. 27, 2014) — A recent test of a prototype Ebola vaccine generated an immune response to the disease in subjects. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins