U researchers to study effects of estrogen therapy

U researchers are joining a four-year, nationwide medical trial to test the effects of estrogen treatment on the cardiovascular systems and diseases of early menopausal women.

Eliot Brinton, associate professor of cardiovascular genetics, is the principal investigator of the study titled “Kronos Early Estrogen Prevention Study,” or KEEPS.

The study will look primarily at the effects of estrogen treatments in early menopausal women in relation to atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, but researchers will also look at issues related to estrogen use such as mood and sexual function.

“We believe estrogen is beneficial to women if started early,” Brinton said.

Brinton said the reanalysis of a Women’s Health Initiative study conducted in 2002, which was published this week in the Archives of Internal Medicine, proves that initial findings may not be accurate.

The 2002 initiative’s findings concluded that starting estrogen use later in life is harmful, and therefore estrogen use is discouraged in general for menopausal women. The new study shows that the women tested in the initial study were generally older than 60 and that results could differ dramatically in younger women.

“We are interested in starting estrogen early and looking at continuing effects,” Brinton said.

U researchers are seeking 90 women between the ages of 42 and 58 who are within three years of starting menopause; have not had heart disease, diabetes or a hysterectomy; and do not smoke more than half a pack of cigarettes a day.

The U joins seven other medical schools including Harvard, Columbia, Yale and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine to participate in the KEEPS trial.

Morgan Ratcliffe