Health

Hold the Hormones

Caffeine's surprising impact on estrogen levels

Ninety percent of American women drink the caffeine equivalent of one to two cups of coffee daily. If you’re among them, you’re aware of caffeine’s impact on energy levels. But what about the stimulant’s impact on estrogen levels? It turns out there’s a significant relationship between caffeinated beverages and hormonal balance.

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition looked at data from 259 women, average age of 27, comparing blood estrogen levels with caffeine habits. They found that caffeine intake greater than 200 mg/day (approximately 2 cups of coffee) lowered estrogen concentrations among Caucasians by 13 percent and increased them among Asian women by 59 percent. The caffeine source was key — when it came from soda or tea, caffeine increased estrogen concentrations among all races. For older women and African Americans, caffeine intake did not affect hormone levels in a statistically significant way.

3913_thumbWhile genetic factors influence how estrogen is metabolized, antioxidants and other compounds also play a role. Such compounds may be responsible for the health benefits of coffee, cocoa, and tea.

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Why is this important? If estrogen rises, women can feel bloated, have tender breasts, cramping and weight gain.

Significant diseases can arise over time including osteoporosis, thyroid disease, lupus, strokes, heart disease and breast or uterine cancer.

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If estrogen becomes too low many symptoms develop such as vaginal, eye and skin dryness, headaches, joint pain, decrease in sex drive and depression.

Early menopause can even occur which leads to night sweats, hot flashes, forgetfulness and even infertility.

As an internist I am amazed at how often I see these conditions developing in my patients.

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Almost daily I see woman experiencing emotional issues, weight gain, palpitations, etc. After dozens of tests from doctors, these patients often end up on medications such as Xanax, Valium and Ambien without ever having their caffeine intake addressed. We now know to look at this immediately and adjust caffeine consumption if indicated. As simple as this may sound, I have seen countless clients balance out quickly and keep their health moving in the right direction.

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