Life Extension Magazine May 2010
As We See It
Why Estrogen Balance is Critical to Aging Men
By William Faloon
When we started offering comprehensive blood test panels back in 1996, men did not understand why we were checking their estrogen levels. Back in those days, estrogen was considered a hormone of importance only to women.
We tested estrogen based on published data indicating that when estrogen levels are unbalanced, the risk of degenerative disease in aging men skyrockets.1-7 Of concern to us 14 years ago were reports showing that excess estrogen contributes to the development of atherosclerosis.8,9 Human clinical studies conducted more than a decade later confirmed our suspicions. Men with even slightly elevated estrogen levels doubled their risk of stroke and had far higher incidences of coronary artery disease.10-12 Our early observations also revealed that men presenting with benign prostate enlargement or prostate cancer had higher blood estrogen levels (and often low free testosterone blood levels).13-16 Subsequent clinical studies help confirm our early observations.17-21
Insufficient estrogen, on the other hand, predisposes men to osteoporosis and bone fracture.22,23
The fact that 99% of men today have no idea what their blood estrogen levels are helps explain the epidemic of age-related disease that is bankrupting this nation’s medical system.
New Study Published in the Journal of the American Medical Association
Conventional doctors tend to ignore hard science until it appears in their own medical journals.
A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) measured blood estradiol (a dominant estrogen) in 501 men with chronic heart failure. Compared to men in the balanced estrogen quintile, men in the lowest estradiol quintile were 317% more likely to die during a 3-year follow-up, while men in the highest estradiol quintile were 133% more likely to die.24
The men in the balanced quintile—with the fewest deaths—had serum estradiol levels between 21.80 and 30.11 pg/mL. This is virtually the ideal range that Life Extension® has long recommended male members strive for.
The men in the highest quintile who suffered 133% increased death rates had serum estradiol levels of 37.40 pg/mL or above. The lowest estradiol group that suffered a 317% increased death rate had serum estradiol levels under 12.90 pg/mL.
The dramatic increase in mortality in men with unbalanced estrogen (i.e., estradiol levels either too high or too low) is nothing short of astounding. It uncovers a gaping hole in conventional cardiology practice that is easily correctable.
This study revealing the lethal dangers of estrogen imbalance was published in conventional medicine’s Bastille of knowledge—the Journal of the American Medical Association. Physicians no longer have a basis to question male Life Extension® members who take aggressive approaches to maintain their serum estradiol levels in optimal ranges.
Low Estradiol and Testosterone Predict Mortality in Aging Men
Sales of testosterone replacement drugs have surged more than 20-fold in response to studies linking low testosterone to a host of common maladies.
In a recent study of 3,014 men aged 69-80 years, serum levels of testosterone and estradiol were measured during a mean follow-up of 4.5 years. Men with low testosterone had 65% greater all-cause mortality, while men with low estradiol suffered 54% more deaths.25
Those men low in estradiol and testosterone were almost twice as likely to die (a 96% increase in mortality) compared to men in the optimal ranges.25
This large study of aged men corroborates prior published reports linking imbalances of testosterone and/or estradiol with greater incidences of degenerative disease and death.26-36
How Do Men Naturally Make Estrogen?
Women synthesize most of their estrogen in their ovaries and other reproductive tissues.
Since men lack this female anatomy, they need to produce estrogen through a process involving an enzyme called aromatase that transforms testosterone into estradiol.
Aging men sometimes have too much aromatase activity, which causes their testosterone to convert to excess estradiol. This results in depletion of vital testosterone while spiking estradiol to unsafe ranges.
Some men lack aromatase and suffer an estrogen deficit. Other men produce so little endogenous testosterone that there is not enough to convert into estrogen, which causes low levels of both free testosterone and estradiol.
Fortunately, no matter what the underlying cause, aging men can easily achieve optimal free testosterone and estradiol serum levels.
Free testosterone is the unbound form that is biologically available to cell receptor sites throughout the body. Measuring free testosterone blood levels is the most accurate way of assessing testosterone status in aging men.
How Aging Men Can Control Their Estrogen Levels
An epidemic problem we at Life Extension observe in aging male members is insufficient free testosterone, i.e., less than 15-20 pg/mL of serum. When accompanied by excess estradiol (over 30 pg/mL of serum), this can signal excess aromatase enzyme activity.
Excess aromatase robs men of their testosterone while exposing them to higher than desirable estradiol.37 Aromatase can be suppressed with absorbable forms of chrysin (a plant flavonoid) and/or lignans such as those extracted from the Norway spruce tree (HMRlignan™).38-42
If these nutrients fail to reduce estradiol adequately, then we suggest that men ask their doctor to prescribe an aromatase-inhibiting drug like Arimidex® in the very low dose of 0.5 mg twice a week.
When aromatase is properly suppressed, estradiol levels are reduced to safe ranges, while free testosterone often increases, since less testosterone is being aromatized into estradiol.