Estrogen seems to protect against high blood pressure, one cause of kidney damage. Since fewer premenopausal women have high blood pressure than men of the same age, the study focused on a breed of rats that mimic this gender-specific blood pressure difference to determine the effects of long-term estrogen therapy on women.
Promoters of bio-identical hormones claim that they are anti-aging, increase sex drive, prevent cancer and have little to no risks or side effects. However, they often are not safe and not natural.
The research team studied three groups of middle-aged rats without ovaries, which simulates the low estrogen environment of menopause. One group ("short-term") was given a short course of estrogen. A second group ("long-term") received a longer regimen of estrogen. The estrogen groups were compared to a control group that did not receive hormones.
Researchers found that after the hormone treatments, the long-term group had more damage to the tiny tubes that collect and carry urine than the short-term and control groups. The rate at which the kidneys filtered blood decreased, and creatinine levels and protein in the urine (markers of impaired kidney function) increased in the rats receiving long-term estrogen. The long-term group showed more kidney damage in each marker than the short-term or control groups.
"With women now living 30 years or more after menopause, the big question is...how long is it ok to take estrogen?" says senior author Dr. Sarah Lindsey, assistant professor of pharmacology at Tulane School of Medicine. "Women who are concerned about the long-term impact of estrogen should ask their doctor to monitor their kidney health, especially if they have a history or family history of kidney disease."
While many may feel stuck between harmful pharmaceuticals and the harsh realities of non-medicated menopause, natural alternatives are available.
PMS and menstrual troubles are often linked to specific hormone imbalances. Especially for those with short cycles or short second phase of their cycle (ovulation through start of menses), progesterone can be the issue. Some people can add only a natural progesterone cream and see symptoms greatly reduce.
If you do use progesterone cream, do your own research and make sure you have a high quality brand such as Life Choice. They formulated a cream with natural ingredients such as red clover leaf, pomegranate and chastetree berry, make a great alternative for natural hormone balance. For those who prefer capsules to creams, there are products like Balanced Female capsules that contain these ingredients, plus many more, such as black cohosh root, false licorice root, and dong quai root.