Hormones – Modifiable Factors of Aging
The most important way to balance hormones which is a modifiable factor of aging is to balance everything else. Hormones are very delicate by nature. For example: too little thyroid hormone will result in lower metabolism, fatigue. Too much hormone will result in feeling jittery, insomnia, and in extreme cases cardiac arrest. Too little estrogen will result in osteoporosis, and low libido. Too much estrogen can cause uterine fibroids, fibrocystic breast and increased risk of reproductive cancers. Too little testosterone will lead to decrease muscle mass and decrease libido. Too much testosterone will cause aggressiveness, increased prostate problems, and hair loss. Too little insulin, a modifiable factor of aging is diabetes, which in turn can cause blindness and limb amputation. Increased insulin will cause weight gain, high cholesterol, increased LDL, increased triglycerides, increased blood pressure, and increased risk of heart attack.
Cholesterol is the precursor to all our steroid hormones which include estrogen, testosterone, progesterone, cortisol, aldosterone, and DHEA. Eighty to ninety percent of cholesterol is made by the liver. Cholesterol is converted into pregnenolone which is then converted into progesterone which is converted into androstanedione which can be converted into estrogen or DHEA or testosterone. If the person has excess body fat, they will make an enzyme called aromatase which will convert testosterone, a modifiable factor of aging into estrogen increasing estrogen levels. If a person has insulin resistance their body will produce two enzymes, one called 17, 20 lyase and the other 17 alpha hydroxylase. These enzymes convert progesterone into testosterone which can cause polycystic ovary syndrome, hair growth, loss of head hair, and infertility in women. The testosterone could then be converted into estrogen by the aromatase enzyme made in body fat, once again increasing total estrogen levels. High estrogen levels in men can cause prostate problems. In women high estrogen levels can increase the risk of reproductive cancers as well as uterine fibroids, fibrocystic breast, and endometriosis. According to the “Journal of Carcinogenesis” you can have 10 to 50 times the amount of estrogen in breast tissue than in your blood, therefore blood levels of estrogen may not indicate the tissue levels of estrogen. When you’re under stress your body will convert your DHEA into cortisol. This process has been named cortisol steal which is a modifialble factor of aging. When this occurs the body’s levels of DHEA, aldosterone, estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone will all decrease. This is how stress can cause hormonal imbalances in people.
There are 11 sites on the estrogen molecule for detoxification, and each has three types of estrogen, therefore the body has 36 different types of estrogen. The three primary detoxification sites are the 2 hydroxylation pathway, the 16 hydroxylation pathway, and the 4 hydroxylation pathway. The 2 hydroxyestrogen’s are good for you promote health and actually fight cancer. The 16 hydroxyestrogen’s are 30 times more mitogenic (causes cell division), and therefore increase the number of cells to potentially turn into cancer. The 4 hydroxyestrogen’s are 30 times more carcinogenic and therefore greatly increase the risk of cancer. In our environment there are thousands of synthetic estrogens, these come in the form of plastics, pesticides and other chemicals. These synthetic estrogens are detoxified through the 16 hydroxylation pathway. Alcohol, smoking and hydrogenated fats are detoxified through the 4 hydroxylation pathway. Indole 3 carbonol which can be found in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and brussels sprouts all increase the two hydroxylation pathway and therefore promote hormonal balance. Once an estrogen has been detoxified, if it becomes oxidized, it then becomes a quinone, which is also carcinogenic, and this is why we need good antioxidant status.
Isoflavones found in soy, helps modulate hormones. Black cohosh is also an excellent estrogen modulator. Chasteberry is an excellent progesterone modulator. Saw Palmetto is excellent for prostate health, and Primiline is excellent for testosterone support.