A new study (2018) finds that giving estrogen replacement to female athletes with exercise-induced irregularities improves a drive for thinness, body dissatisfaction, and uncontrolled eating.
This study was conducted by lead researcher, Madhusmita Misra, MD., MPH, professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and pediatric endocrinologist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Mass.
Dr. Misra found a relationship between estrogen and disordered eating behavior, and the potential of estrogen replacement as a treatment target, not just in athletes, but also potentially in other conditions characterized by abnormal eating behavior and frequent menstrual dysfunction, such as anorexia nervosa.
Dr. Misra compared 109 female athletes with exercise-induced menstrual irregularities, 50 female athletes with normal menstrual cycles, and 39 female non-athletes. All of the females were 14-25 years old and were in a normal weight range.
The athletes with irregular periods reported a higher drive for thinness and more mental control over their food intake compared to athletes with regular periods and non-athletes. They also had higher body dissatisfaction scores than athletes with regular periods.
Athletes who had irregular menstrual periods were randomly assigned to: 1.) an estrogen replacement patch, at a dose that resulted in estrogen levels seen with normal menstrual cycles, or 2.) a commonly used oral contraceptive pill containing estrogen, or 3.) no estrogen for 12 months. The athletes receiving the estrogen patch also received progesterone.
Over the course of a year, the groups that received estrogen showed reductions in drive for thinness, body dissatisfaction, and uncontrolled eating, compared with those who didn’t receive estrogen. The patch was the most effective, leading to significant decreases in body dissatisfaction and uncontrolled eating.
“These results highlight the importance of normalizing estrogen levels in female athletes with irregular menstrual periods,” Misra said. “This not only improves their bone health but may also improve their eating behavior”.
More studies are necessary to confirm these findings.
Read full article here: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/03/180318144853.htm