December 23, 2016
Excess Estrogen and Clinical Treatments

It is not uncommon for many men and women have elevated free estrogen levels. Part of this phenomenon can be traced to a sneaky enzyme called aromatase. This enzyme converts testosterone into estradiol and androstenedione into estrone. Aromatase is especially active in adipose tissue; yet another reason that excess weight can pose serious health risk as excess estrogen has been linked to cancers such as breast, uterine, ovarian and prostate. Additionally, excess estrogen has been associated with mood disorders, uterine fibroids, fibrocystic breast disease, menstrual irregularities, endometriosis and ovarian cysts.

Aromatase inhibitors are generally pharmaceutical medications used to limit the aromatase enzyme’s activity and therefore, inhibit conversion to estradiol or estrone, in turn reducing estrogen production throughout the body. The most common side effects of aromatase inhibitors are symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes, night sweats, and vaginal dryness. Moreover, these drugs can also cause muscle and joint pain and tend to speed up the rate of bone loss, which can lead to osteoporosis. The side effects can be serious enough to cause some women to stop taking the drugs.

Did you know that there are also natural substances studied to have aromatase inhibition activity? For patients interested in alternatives to pharmaceutical aromatase inhibitors, or those with risk factors making the use of pharmaceutical aromatase inhibitors impractical, natural aromatase inhibitors are a potential alternative. Natural aromatase inhibitors can be utilized alongside dietary and lifestyle optimization such as weight loss and estrogen metabolism support.

Natural compounds researched to contain anti-aromatase activity:

  • Flavonoids: Chrysin, Resveratrol, Luteolin
  • A study published in the Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology found chrysin to be the most potent of the naturally-occurring flavonoids researched and was similar in potency and effectiveness to a pharmaceutical aromatase inhibitor used to treat estrogen-dependent carcinoma. Flavonoids can be provided in supplementation form, but of course are also present in fruits and vegetables.

  • Melatonin
  • A study published in 2014 stated “a melatonin concentration of 20 nM and resveratrol concentration of 20 uM have an aromatase inhibitory effect as potent as 20 nM letrozole, which is a clinically used anti-aromatase drug in breast cancer treatment”.

Additional measures to reduce elevated estrogen levels:

  • Diindolymethane and/or Idole-3-Carbinol
  • The compounds are found in cruciferous vegetables and have been researched to affect estrogen metabolism, shifting the breakdown of estrone and estradiol toward less carcinogenic metabolites.

  • Calcium D-glucarate
  • This compound has been shown to reduce intestinal absorption of estrogen.

  • Soluble fiber
  • This works to bind and remove excess hormone from the body

There are many mechanisms to decrease elevated estrogen levels, thereby reducing both men and women’s risk of disease. Labrix’ Comprehensive Plus Hormone Panel provides a thorough overview of active hormone levels, which can lay the groundwork for clinical treatment guidelines.

  • Campbell DR, Kurzer MS. Flavonoid inhibition of aromatase enzyme activity in human preadipocytes. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 1993;46(3):381-8
  • Chottanapund S, Van duursen MB, Navasumrit P, et al. Anti-aromatase effect of resveratrol and melatonin on hormonal positive breast cancer cells co-cultured with breast adipose fibroblasts. Toxicol In Vitro. 2014;28(7):1215-21.
  • Wang C, Mäkelä T, Hase T, Adlercreutz H, Kurzer MS. Lignans and flavonoids inhibit aromatase enzyme in human preadipocytes. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 1994;50(3-4):205-12.

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