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April 10, 1991

Estrogen and Coronary Heart Disease in Women

JAMA. 1991;265(14):1861-1867. doi:10.1001/jama.1991.03460140089033

We review herein the evidence that estrogen is protective against the development of cardiovascular disease in women. To our knowledge, no studies in women have looked at endogenous estrogen levels as predictors of cardiovascular disease. Studies of surrogate measures of endogenous estrogen such as parity, age at menarche, and age at menopause have provided inconsistent results. Current use of oral contraceptives increases risk in older women who smoke cigarettes, but most studies of past use show no increased risk. Most, but not all, studies of hormone replacement therapy in postmenopausal women show around a 50% reduction in risk of a coronary event in women using unopposed oral estrogen. These important observations need to be confirmed in a double-blind, randomized clinical trial, since the protection is biologically plausible and the magnitude of the benefit would be quite large if selection factors can be excluded.

(JAMA. 1991;265:1861-1867)