New Delhi: Doctors believe the estrogen women consume as oral contraceptives and hormone replacement therapy (HRT) pills is good for their hearts.
Recent studies, however, have shown that long-term exposure to estrogen can be a danger to women for its link with high blood pressure (BP), a key factor in heart and brain-attacks.
Although the process by which estrogen causes high BP in females is unclear, Michigan State University (MSU) researchers have found that long-term estrogen exposure generates excessive levels of a compound, superoxide, which causes stress in the body, reports the American Journal of Physiology.
Superoxide is a common reactive form of oxygen that can attack susceptible biological targets, including lipids, proteins, and nucleic acids, according to a Michigan statement.
The build-up of this compound occurs in an area of the brain that is crucial to regulating BP, suggesting that chronic estrogen induces a build-up of superoxide that in turn causes blood pressure to increase.
The study also found that the anti-oxidant resveratrol reverses the increase in both superoxide and blood pressure.
P.S. Mohan Kumar of Michigan State, who led the study, said: "This is an important study on at least two levels. First, it continues to confirm the negative effect that long-term estrogen exposure has for females. Second, it provides a new rationale for how and why this relationship occurs."