Caffeine Consumption Changes Women’s Estrogen Levels Depending on Ethnicity According To New Study; Soda And Green Tea Have The Biggest Effects

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Caffeine has been trumpeted as a concentration aid and an anti-depressant, while other sources warn that it causes anxiety and PMS. Meanwhile, large amounts of acidic caffeine-laden beverages such as soda and coffee have been investigated for a role in bone loss. Dr. Daniel Heller of calls attention to a brand new study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that shows that caffeine consumption alters women’s hormone levels, revealing a possible mechanism for the link with PMS.

Green tea and caffeinated soda increase estrogen levels in women of all races.

Women of reproductive age who consume over 200 milligrams of caffeine per day—about the amount in one or two cups of coffee, or one small bottle of a commonly available energy drink—have altered levels of estrogen, though whether the caffeine increases or decreases the hormone appears to depend on a woman’s ethnicity and the source of the caffeine. Dr. Daniel Heller, founder of PMS Comfort, is calling attention to this study for its relevance to premenstrual syndrome, a condition that affects over 15 million American women. PMS is considered to be at least in part a hormonal condition related to the menstrual cycle, and is known to be aggravated by caffeine consumption. The current study may be highly relevant to researchers investigating PMS and its more severe variation, PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder.)

The February 1st 2012 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition included a study that showed that when white premenopausal women consume this moderate amount of caffeine, it depresses their estrogen levels, while in premenopausal Asian women it actually increases estrogen levels. The study also showed that among these women, caffeine from soda and green tea increased estrogen (estradiol) levels regardless of race.

Further studies are needed to fully explore the connection between caffeine and hormone levels, particularly the effects of different caffeine sources as well as whether there is a difference in how caffeine affects women of different nationalities. Still, if these findings are confirmed, and if extend beyond premenopausal women, an important new factor in women’s health may be emerging.

For instance, if caffeine has a similar affect on postmenopausal women, the lowered estrogen could contribute to hot flashes. Since caffeine is known to increase anxiety and stress levels, which contribute to hot flashes, coffee and caffeine may eventually be seen as a culprit in one of the most troublesome symptoms of menopause.

Hormones are one of the factors in PMS and PMDD, so this study may help explain why caffeine seems to make these syndromes worse: though the paradoxical effect in which estrogen is higher in some and lower in others prevents any simple conclusions.

For now, it is too soon to say for sure exactly how caffeine may effect women’s health, though clearly women should be attentive to their own bodies, paying particular attention to whether caffeine may contribute to stress and anxiety.

About: PMS Comfort is a women’s health organization dedicated to educating, informing, and empowering women on the subject of PMS and PMDD, as well as to providing natural alternatives for the relief of premenstrual symptoms. Dr. Daniel Heller, the founder of PMS Comfort, is a holistic doctor who practices in the San Francisco Bay Area.


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