Long-term Exposure to Estrogen Increases High blood Pressure in Women

August 12, 2014, 10:06am EDT

For many years, doctors believed that the estrogen women consumed in the form of oral contraceptives and hormone replacement therapy (HRT) pills was good for their patients' hearts. A recent study, however, has shown that long-term exposure to estrogen can be a danger to women as it has been associated with high blood pressure--a key link to kidney disease, heart attack and stroke.

Michigan State University (MSU) researchers have 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. The study also found that the anti-oxidant resveratrol reverses the increase in both superoxide and blood pressure.

"This study is important because it confirms the negative effect that long-term estrogen exposure has for females," said Dr. P.S. Mohan Kumar, the study's lead author. "Because so many women use estrogen-only hormone replacement therapy 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."

According to Dr. Peter McCullough, Chairman of the National Kidney Foundation's Kidney Early Evaluation Program's Steering Committee, "This study found that estrogens work to raise blood pressure by possibly increasing levels of oxidative stress in the body which can be reversed by a substance commonly found in the skins of grapes and fruits known as resveratrol. This has important implications for kidney patients since we want blood pressure to be well-controlled to preserve kidney function. For many reasons, after menopause, it is wise to avoid estrogen replacement therapy and have a diet that prioritizes high quality sources of protein and fresh fruits and vegetables while avoiding at the same time, sugars, starches, and saturated fats—the three SSS's which are the major source of oxidative stress in the body."