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High levels of estradiol in older men may be associated with young biological age



– In a large community-based study that evaluated sex hormone levels in older men, higher levels of estradiol correlated strongly with longer telomere length, a measure of biologic age, suggesting that sex hormones influence the aging process.

“There was a large effect size, comparable with being 2 or 3 years younger for those with relatively high levels of estradiol, compared with those with lower levels of the hormone,” said Bu Yeap, MBBS, PhD, professor of medicine, University of Western Australia Medical School, Perth, who reported the results at the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society.

In a video interview conducted at the meeting, Dr. Yeap explained the basis of the study, which is the variety of evidence showing that decline in sex hormones correlates with higher rates of age-related disease processes. For example, increasing rates of cardiovascular disease, dementia, and mortality in men all correlate with declining levels of testosterone.

In the study, 2,913 men between the ages of 70 and 89 years and living in the community were recruited. The average age of the men was 77 years. Serum levels of testosterone, dihydrotestosterone, and estradiol were measured. Telomere length was calculated with a polymerase chain reaction test.

Serum levels of testosterone and dihydrotestosterone did not correlate with telomere length, but incremental increases in serum estradiol levels were associated with incremental increases in telomere length.

“Telomeres are both a mediator and a biomarker for biological aging,” according to Dr. Yeap, who added that the telomeres protect chromosomes from degradation. As the telomeres shorten, cell senescence is increased along with an array of age-related diseases.

The next step for researchers is to evaluate whether administering exogenous sex hormones can favorably alter telomere length. If such an effect is demonstrated, then it could provide a step toward understanding how to slow the aging process, he said.

Dr Yeap and his colleagues reported no disclosures or financial conflicts of interest.

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