Long-term treatment options for diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular diseases could emerge from a research at the University of Houston (UH) that explains the role of estradiol, the most potent naturally occurring estrogen, in glucose and fat metabolism.
The researchers now believe that this estrogen hormone is a prominent regulator of several body functions in both females and males.
While estradiol is more commonly associated with processes and diseases specific to women, the team determined that the hormone actually functions as a unisex hormone with multiple actions.
Research has indicated that when there is an excessive or insufficient amount of estradiol present, the metabolic network becomes imbalanced, which can result in metabolic diseases.
"Female hormones have always been associated with the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, breast-feeding and some diseases, such as osteoporosis and breast cancer, typically associated with women," said Dr. Rodrigo Barros, a research assistant professor with the UH Center for Nuclear Receptors and Cell Signaling (CNRCS).
"Our group, however, has discovered that one of these hormones, estradiol, has much wider actions than previously thought. It is no longer considered exclusively a 'female sex hormone,' but a 'unisex hormone' with multiple actions across several organ systems," he said.
This research has important implications for the average consumer, as well as for physicians. While hormones like estradiol are important for the adequate maintenance of body functioning, they may pose serious risks to a person's health if misused as supplements.
For specialists dealing with hormonal treatments, this research underscores that they should be aware that several organs and body functions are affected when estradiol is prescribed and may cause or worsen metabolic diseases.