Hormones and Research for Women’s Health. Hormones are powerful molecules. They are chemical messengers. And they exert powerful effects in many different ways. Changes in hormones effect athletic ability. They also effect flexibility and endurance. But exercise seems to changes hormones as well. There is some interesting news on exercise and estrogen. Estrogens are female sex hormones. If you are a woman, someone who cares about or works with women, you should know why sex hormones like estrogen matter.
The basics of why hormones and exercise matter for breast cancer.
There is a lot of interesting stuff coming out about estrogen. Especially about hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for masters women. We will follow up with additional articles. There is a lot to cover. For now, sex hormones (estrogen in this case) matter for maintaining muscle, skin, connective tissue, and brain function. The way hormones are metabolized may matter for cancer.
Fit women are less likely to get breast cancer. Among other things. We have long known that exercise is good for people. But we generally know little about why. Estrogen breaks down as part of normal metabolism. An estrogen molecule that is metabolized is transformed into different molecules. These estrogen metabolites have actions of their own. Who knew? One of the estrogen metabolites decreases a woman’s risk of breast cancer.
Exercise, Hormones and Breast Cancer.
A new paper (Kurzer et al. 2013) compared the breakdown of estrogen in women who exercise with those who were sedentary. Women who exercise moderately to vigorously for about 30 minutes a day, produced more of the metabolite that decreases risk of breast cancer. While this study does not prove these changes reduce the risk of breast cancer it is very interesting. The study opens doors for new studies. This study was done with young women. And they were walking, using an elipitical machine, or a stairmaster. Would the change in estrogen handling be seen in CrossFit Women? In High Intensity Interval Training (HIT)? With weights? Would the same results be seen with older women? With women on estrogen replacement therapy? Hopefully we will soon be seeing more work done on hormones, exercise and cancer risk. In the meanwhile, keep working out. And keep encouraging the people you care about. Details of the study are available in the link below.
Smith AJ, Phipps WR, Thomas W, Schmitz KH, & Kurzer MS (2013). The effects of aerobic exercise on estrogen metabolism in healthy premenopausal women. Cancer epidemiology, biomarkers & prevention : a publication of the American Association for Cancer Research, cosponsored by the American Society of Preventive Oncology, 22 (5), 756-64 PMID: 23652373