The 2000 study by Micheal H. Davidson et al. “Effects of Continuous Estrogen and Estrogen-Progestin Replacement Regimens on Cardiovascular Risk Markers in Postmenopausal Women” explores the question of whether estrogen hormones are beneficial for more than just menopause symptoms. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for postmenopausal women. These researchers seek to know whether the long term use of estrogen hormones has an effect on cardiovascular health and prevention of coronary heart disease. In other words, if the effects of estrogen hormones last beyond helping with menopause symptoms. Estrogen hormones have already proven beneficial in reducing bone loss. The use of estrogen hormones alone has been shown to raise the risk of endometrial cancer, but the addition of progestin to the mix greatly reduces this risk.
The purpose of the study was to assess the impact of two replacement estrogen hormones on women who no longer had menopause symptoms. 498 women who no longer had menopause symptoms were screened, but only 270 women were deemed eligible. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled experiment was performed on 270 healthy women who no longer had menopause symptoms. These subjects who no longer had menopause symptoms were placed into four treatment groups: placebo, unopposed estrogen hormones, estrogen hormones combined with .25 mg of norethindrone acetate and estrogen hormones combined with .5mg of norethindrone acetate.
During the experiment, the women's cardiovascular risk markers were watched closely. A few of these risk markers are: lipoproteins, hemostatic variables, carbohydrate metabolism, and endothelial function. Norethindrone acetate was included in the estrogen hormones mix because it is a progestin whose use has been shown to counteract some of the negative effects of estrogen hormones mentioned previously while not diminishing the positive effects of these estrogen hormones.
The findings were that low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels were lowered in all groups receiving estrogen hormones, whether they be opposed or unopposed. The effects of estrogen hormones combined with progestin were distinct but ambiguous.
In conclusion, studies such as this one are an important first step in understanding the effects of opposed and unopposed estrogen hormones on women's bodies once they no longer have menopause symptoms. This study has proven that estrogen hormones have a positive impact on the heart health of women who no longer have menopause symptoms. Further studies should be undertaken so that this impact can be better understood.