Saturday, February 18, 2006

Not So Good Living Through Natural Chemistry

Very interesting secondary finding from a study looking at the performance of a drug (raloxifene) used to treat osteoporosis. And an excellent illustration of the fact that just because something is naturally produced by your body (in this case, the hormone estrogen), as opposed to manufactured by pharma (e.g., the synthetic estrogen found in combination birth control pills), doesn't mean it's good for you.

The study involved 7,290 women; 4,843 women were given the drug raloxifene, and 2,447 women were given placebo pills. The focus was on the raloxifene group, but the interesting finding surfaced in the placebo group:

Estradiol dramatically drops after menopause, and half of the 2,447 women given the dummy pills had no detectable levels of it. Among the rest, those with lower estradiol levels had a 70 percent lower risk of stroke than those with higher levels, she found.

"To see this effect in such a large population ... is quite striking and is surprising," Lee [the principal investigator] said.


Of course, additional studies are needed to confirm a link between elevated natural estrogen levels and the risk of stroke (this study looked at a select population of postmenopausal women with osteoporosis). Still, a very interesting finding.

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