Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Estrogen / Estrone
This past week was a mix of busy and sad. My mind has been in another place, and I haven't gotten much sewing done. Last week was also a solo week for me, as my husband was out of town. Other than allergies and Spring colds though, my immediate family is fine.
I still want to highlight each of the molecules in my Organic Chemistry Quilt though, and today is estrogen. Estrogen is actually a catch-all name for the female sex hormones. The 3 main ones being estrone, estradiol, and estriol. My molecule above is estrone. It is the main estrogen present in menopausal women. Estradiol is the predominant in women in reproductive ages, and estriol is the main hormone found in pregnancy. The horse equivalent of estriol is the main component of birth control pills, as it tricks the human body into thinking it is pregnant.
These estrogens are present in both vertebrate animals, and invertebrates or insects, meaning it has been around for a very long time. They not only control sexual maturation and development, and reproductive cycles, but contribute in many ways to most organ systems in the body. They are also classified as "steroid" hormones, a group of hormones that also includes testosterone and progesterone. Believe it or not, they all use cholesterol as a basic building block. Though cholesterol is considered a "bad" thing in our diet, it is essential for making these hormones.
Both men and women's bodies make estrogen (women also make testosterone). It is the balance of these that creates "wellness". Besides reproductive disorders, there are many many disorders or illnesses associated with abnormal estrogen levels or receptors, including high blood pressure, blood clots, bone issues, cancers that are estrogen sensitive, and even mood disorders and mental illness. It is an incredibly important chemical that helps our bodies work.
Since I've worked in the wildlife field and am very environmentally concerned, I have to add that the excess "synthetic" or horse estrogens that many women taking birth control pills or hormone therapy excrete also gets into the environment and act as "endocrine disruptors", which are a huge number of chemicals that can cause developmental disorders in aquatic and other life, as well as potential harm to human wellness.
Again, these chemical highlights are purely for fun, and should not be taken as medical facts or used in research in any way... I try to