Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Animal research suggests perimenopause is a critical time for women’s health


Research in monkeys suggests that the perimenopause – the five to 10 years before a woman’s menopause – is a critical time for preventing heart disease and osteoporosis.

"Research in animals suggests that the five years before menopause are when bone is lost and when heart vessel disease begins to accelerate," according to Jay Kaplan, Ph.D., from Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, who spoke today at the annual meeting of the American College of Veterinary Pathologists in Boston. "Waiting until menopause is not the time to start thinking about prevention."

Kaplan, a professor of comparative medicine, was invited to summarize his extensive research on how hormone levels affect health. His work has focused primarily on how stress during the younger years can interfere with ovulation and reduce estrogen levels, which can set the stage for heart disease later in life.

"But, this isn’t just a problem in younger women," he said. "At perimenopause, all women are affected by variably changing and ultimately declining estrogen levels. Perimenopause is a time of increased vulnerability to chronic disease."

Women have traditionally been considered immune from heart disease until after menopause, when their estrogen levels dramatically drop. However, Kaplan’s research has shown that in monkeys, the process starts much earlier. He found that stress in the younger years can reduce estrogen levels and lead to the buildup of fatty deposits in the blood vessels (atherosclerosis) that can lead to heart attacks and strokes.

"Our research adds to the growing body of evidence that cardiovascular health after menopause is influenced by hormone levels many years earlier," said Kaplan. "Our monkey studies showed that a deficiency of estrogen before menopause places these females on a high-risk trajectory, even if they got estrogen treatment after menopause."

For women in perimenopause who intend to take hormone therapy, Kaplan said the research suggests that perimenopause may be the best time to start.

"The results emphasize that primary prevention of heart disease should start pre-menopausally," he said.

Kaplan’s animal studies found that treating the estrogen-deficient monkeys with estrogen before menopause markedly slowed the growth of atherosclerosis. Kaplan said the findings were consistent with the hypothesis that estrogen inhibits the development of vessel disease, but may be ineffective if the disease already exists.

"Applied to women, this lifetime study suggests that having an estrogen deficiency in the pre-menopausal years predicts a higher rate of heart disease after menopause, even when treated with hormone replacement therapy after menopause," said Kaplan.

Kaplan said that some physicians advocate women taking oral contraceptives right up until menopause, and then beginning hormone therapy. He said animal research suggests that oral contraceptives can be effective in heart disease protection.

However, the Women’s Health Initiative, the largest study to date to test the effectiveness of hormone therapy in women, found that treatment with combination therapy (estrogen and progestin) increased risk of breast cancer, heart attacks and stroke. As a result of the study, many doctors advise that women not take hormone therapy to prevent heart disease.

But critics of that study say it didn’t involve enough younger women to see if taking the drugs earlier can be effective for prevention. A theory that there is a "window of opportunity" for hormone therapy to be effective for prevention is being tested in a five-year study of peri-menopausal women ages 45 to 54. Funded by the Kronos Longevity Research Institute, the study is evaluating an oral tablet containing estrogen, a skin patch delivering estrogen and a placebo.

Karen Richardson | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Diagnoses: When Are Several Opinions Better Than One?
19.07.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

nachricht High in calories and low in nutrients when adolescents share pictures of food online
07.04.2016 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Ice shelf vibrations cause unusual waves in Antarctic atmosphere

25.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

Fluorescent holography: Upending the world of biological imaging

25.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Etching Microstructures with Lasers

25.10.2016 | Process Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>