The estrogen metabolite assessment detects the urinary products of estrogen metabolism. The metabolites have their own specific biological actions; some have the stimulatory properties of estradiol, whilst others are weak and protective estrogen molecules. An imbalance in estrogen metabolism has been associated with osteoporosis, high blood pressure, lupus and cancer (breast, endometrial, prostate, thyroid, head and neck). As the estrogen metabolites are modifiable by lifestyle and nutritional changes, this test is useful for not only establishing risk but for monitoring therapies which can reduce the probability of these disorders.
Estrogen has positive effects on the cardiovascular system, bones, brain, skin as well as reproductive organs. The issues experienced at menopause such as memory loss, osteoporosis and vaginal dryness validates the importance of maintaining optimal estrogen levels. However, if you have too much estrogen in the body, it may increase the risk of hormone-related cancers such as endometrial, prostate and breast cancer.
The view that all estrogens are ‘bad’ and cause cancer is a simplistic one. Estradiol (E2) and estrone (E1) are metabolised into at least 14 different species. These breakdown products and have their own specific biological actions; some have the stimulatory properties of estradiol whilst others are weak and antagonistic to other estrogen molecules. An imbalance of the stimulatory versus weak estrogen metabolites have been observed to be associated with many different health disorders. Whilst high levels of the 16α-hydroxyestrone stimulatory estrogen raise cancer risk, lower levels are associated with osteoporosis. In contrast, if the weak estrogens are high they protect against cancer but inhibit bone growth. Therefore the estrogen metabolites are not inactive excretion products but powerful molecules in their own right and should be monitored.
- Hot flushes
- Irregular menstruation
- Bone loss
- Dry skin
- Elevated estrogens
- Gynaecological cancer history or family history
FostisT, Adlercruetz H. (1987).The multi-component analysis of estrogens in urine by ion-exchange chromatography and GC-MS- – 1 Quantitation of estrogens after initial hydrolysis of conjugates. J Steroid Biochem 28:203-213.