Estrogen in men gets a bad wrap. I hope you will read this article for the scientific truth about estrogen in men, instead of listening to your well-meaning buddy or reading the testosterone Facebook group listings, that harbor incorrect and dangerous misinformation.
First of all, if men have elevated estrogen levels, you need to determine the cause before automatically giving medications (aromatase inhibitors) to lower the estradiol level.
The problem with aromatase inhibitors (AI’s) (drugs that reduce naturally made estradiol) are many:
* Cause visceral fat gain
* Cause decrease in bone mass density
* Decrease HDL-C (the good cholesterol)
* Increase LDL-C (the bad cholesterol) and TG
* Cause reduction in vasodilation
* Increases insulin resistance
* Leads to type 2 diabetes, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease & cardiovascular disease
* Cause increased anxiety and depression
But the real issue is:
“Why Are You Wanting To Lower Estradiol Levels?”
Estradiol has many amazing benefits for men (1-8):
* Improves HDL/LDL levels
* Improves systolic and diastolic blood pressure
* Improves NO regulation
* Reduces cardiovascular disease
* Decreases levels of homocysteine, fibriogen, and plasminogen activator inhibitor (PAI)
* Regulates appetite, energy expenditure and body weight
* Leads to increased fat loss
Just like women need testosterone (mostly male hormone), men need estradiol (mostly female hormone). We just need them in different amounts. Too much or too little of anything is never good, which is why it is important to know how to achieve the most optimal balance.
Often times men have elevated estradiol levels as a result of too much “belly” fat. It is this visceral fat that is producing the estradiol. The answer is not to give an AI that will only cause you to gain more weight. The solution is to,—well—lose the belly fat. When estradiol is increased as a result of too much adipose tissue, this is an adaptive response to continual delivery of nutrient excess rather than a primary pathogenic driver of obesity in men (5). Thus, the only solution is to lose the weight, not give an AI.
Testosterone in the body can be converted to estradiol. This alarms some people, but it shouldn’t. As I mentioned above, estradiol has many amazing benefits to men.
Some of what has traditionally been attributed to the biologic actions of testosterone, may in fact be attributed to the aromatization to estradiol (1), meaning aromatization to estradiol is a very good thing and we should not be trying to interfere with the body. In this case, the body knows best.
We know that estradiol in men is an important hormone for (1-8):
* hypothalamic-pituitary-testicular axis regulation
* reproductive function
* growth hormone insulin-like growth factor-1 axis regulation
* bone growth and maintenance of skeletal health
* improves insulin sensitivity
* body composition and glucose metabolism
* vasomotor stability
Estradiol appears to be the sex steroid predominantly important for skeletal health in men. Estradiol has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity. Thus, the most efficacious treatment for low testosterone levels, is giving testosterone, which actually provides three hormones in one: testosterone, estradiol and DHT (1).
In summary, the evidence is mounting of the pivotal role of estradiol in the overall health of men. Decreasing estradiol with an AI must be avoided in order to optimize metabolic health in men.
1. Estradiol as a male hormone
2. Estrogen and CVD in men
3. Endogenous sex hormones and cardiovascular disease incidence in men
4. How Targeting Fat cells’ estrogen receptors could fight obesity
5. Estrogens and Body Weight Regulation in Men
6. Low -dose estrogen supplementation improves vascular function in hypogonadal men
7. Oral Estrogen improves serum lipids, homocysteine and fibrnoloysis in elderly men
8. Physiological levels of estradiol stimulate plasma high density lipoprotein2 cholesterol levels in normal men.