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Oestrogen Protects Women From Heart, Liver Diseases: Why Are Cases Going Up Now?

Oestrogen is said to help protect against diabetes, heart conditions and maintain the metabolic health in women.

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Fit
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In 2013, for the first time, the number of women who passed away due to cardiovascular diseases in the United States was more than the number of men who died due to heart conditions.

Every year, approximately 32 lakh women in the US suffer a myocardial infarction, and over two lakh women die from it, according to a 2013 study published in Missouri Medicine: The Journal of the Missouri State Medical Association.

The situation is no better in India. According to the 2023 Global Burden of Disease Study, almost 18 percent of all female deaths in India are due to heart diseases. 

It was earlier believed that young women don’t suffer from cardiac and liver diseases since they produce the hormone oestrogen in a greater quantity. However, more and more women struggling with these diseases now has set off some alarms among health experts.

To understand this better, FIT reached out to Dr Ashwini Bhalerao Gandhi, Consultant Gynaecologist, PD Hinduja Hospital and MRC, Mahim, and Dr Rajeev Gupta, Director, Internal Medicine, CK Birla Hospital (R), Delhi.

Oestrogen Protects Women From Heart, Liver Diseases: Why Are Cases Going Up Now?

  1. 1. Improving Good Cholesterol & Removing Bad Fats: How Oestrogen Helps Women

    Oestrogen is one of the two sex hormones present in our bodies. Although all bodies produce this hormone, it is commonly more in people assigned female at birth and people with vaginas. It is important for the female reproductive and sexual health.

    And how exactly does oestrogen protect women from cardiovascular or liver diseases?

    Oestrogen is said to help maintain metabolic health in women.

    Speaking to FIT, Dr Gandhi explains that when it comes to cardiovascular diseases, oestrogen helps maintain healthy blood vessels by promoting vasodilation, reducing inflammation, and improving cholesterol levels.

    On the other hand, Dr Gandhi continues, when it comes to diabetes, oestrogen can improve insulin sensitivity, leading to better blood sugar control.

    He says, “It also influences adipose tissue distribution, favouring subcutaneous fat over visceral fat, which is associated with a lower risk of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.”

    “Oestrogen helps regulate lipid metabolism, promoting the breakdown and removal of fats from the liver. It also prevents accumulation of fat in the liver and reduces the risk of fatty liver.”
    Dr Ashwini Bhalerao Gandhi

    In fact, a 2024 study, published in the Molecular Systems Biology journal, demonstrated how TEAD1 protein (present in oestrogen) prevents metabolic dysfunction-associated steatotic liver disease (MASLD) by regulating the way liver cells absorb fat. 

    But, Dr Gupta says that the oestrogen hormone protects women only till menopause, because that is when the hormone production in their bodies significantly reduces. 

    Dr Gandhi agrees. He adds that apart from the hormonal status, age and individual health conditions do have a part to play as well. 

    Expand
  2. 2. So, What Has Changed Now?

    Why are more and more women now struggling with these health conditions, even before menopause? 

    Dr Gandhi tells FIT that some potential reasons could be “changes in diet, sedentary lifestyles, hormonal influences, and increased stress levels.”

    Dr Gupta nods in agreement.

    He says, “A lot of women now lead sedentary lifestyles that cause weight gain and obesity. These can also lead to major health problems like fatty liver and cardiovascular diseases.”

    But, that’s not the only reason. Dr Gupta also points to the environmental pollution, PM 2.5 particles, and post COVID-19 state as potential risk factors for women’s deteriorating health.

    Dr Gupta is not wrong when he says that pollution is a major risk factor too. In 2019, close to 1.67 million in India died due to air pollution, according to the State of Global Air report from 2020.

    So what is it that can be done?

    ‘Start With Moving & Eating Better’: What Doctors Recommend

    Both the doctors that FIT spoke to suggested that women take precautionary and preventive measures. These include:

    • Maintaining a healthy lifestyle

    • Exercising regularly

    • Eating a balanced and nutritious diet, with lots of fibre

    • Managing stress better

    • Quit/avoid/limit smoking and alcohol consumption

    • Getting regular health checkups done

    “Additionally, education and awareness about the risk factors and symptoms are crucial for early detection and intervention.”
    Dr Ashwini Bhalerao Gandhi

    (At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

    Expand

Improving Good Cholesterol & Removing Bad Fats: How Oestrogen Helps Women

Oestrogen is one of the two sex hormones present in our bodies. Although all bodies produce this hormone, it is commonly more in people assigned female at birth and people with vaginas. It is important for the female reproductive and sexual health.

And how exactly does oestrogen protect women from cardiovascular or liver diseases?

Oestrogen is said to help maintain metabolic health in women.

Speaking to FIT, Dr Gandhi explains that when it comes to cardiovascular diseases, oestrogen helps maintain healthy blood vessels by promoting vasodilation, reducing inflammation, and improving cholesterol levels.

On the other hand, Dr Gandhi continues, when it comes to diabetes, oestrogen can improve insulin sensitivity, leading to better blood sugar control.

He says, “It also influences adipose tissue distribution, favouring subcutaneous fat over visceral fat, which is associated with a lower risk of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.”

“Oestrogen helps regulate lipid metabolism, promoting the breakdown and removal of fats from the liver. It also prevents accumulation of fat in the liver and reduces the risk of fatty liver.”
Dr Ashwini Bhalerao Gandhi

In fact, a 2024 study, published in the Molecular Systems Biology journal, demonstrated how TEAD1 protein (present in oestrogen) prevents metabolic dysfunction-associated steatotic liver disease (MASLD) by regulating the way liver cells absorb fat. 

But, Dr Gupta says that the oestrogen hormone protects women only till menopause, because that is when the hormone production in their bodies significantly reduces. 

Dr Gandhi agrees. He adds that apart from the hormonal status, age and individual health conditions do have a part to play as well. 

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So, What Has Changed Now?

Why are more and more women now struggling with these health conditions, even before menopause? 

Dr Gandhi tells FIT that some potential reasons could be “changes in diet, sedentary lifestyles, hormonal influences, and increased stress levels.”

Dr Gupta nods in agreement.

He says, “A lot of women now lead sedentary lifestyles that cause weight gain and obesity. These can also lead to major health problems like fatty liver and cardiovascular diseases.”

But, that’s not the only reason. Dr Gupta also points to the environmental pollution, PM 2.5 particles, and post COVID-19 state as potential risk factors for women’s deteriorating health.

Dr Gupta is not wrong when he says that pollution is a major risk factor too. In 2019, close to 1.67 million in India died due to air pollution, according to the State of Global Air report from 2020.

So what is it that can be done?

‘Start With Moving & Eating Better’: What Doctors Recommend

Both the doctors that FIT spoke to suggested that women take precautionary and preventive measures. These include:

  • Maintaining a healthy lifestyle

  • Exercising regularly

  • Eating a balanced and nutritious diet, with lots of fibre

  • Managing stress better

  • Quit/avoid/limit smoking and alcohol consumption

  • Getting regular health checkups done

“Additionally, education and awareness about the risk factors and symptoms are crucial for early detection and intervention.”
Dr Ashwini Bhalerao Gandhi

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Topics:  Women's Health   Oestrogen 

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