Estrogen is used as a component of birth control pills, as well as for preventing osteoporosis and heart disease in menopausal women.
Some estrogen products contain the hormone in different forms. For example, certain products such as Ortho Dienestrol Vaginal Cream contain estrogen as dienestrol. Medications containing a form of estrogen called estradiol include:
Premarin, Cenestin, Prempro, and Premphase contain another form of estrogen called conjugated estrogens. Other forms of estrogen and some of their brand names include diethylstilbestrol diphosphate (Stilphostrol), estrone (Kestrone-5), esterified estrogens (Estratab, Menest), estropipate (Ogen, Ortho-Est), and ethinyl estradiol (Estinyl) among others.
Potential Benefits and Risks
When the two are taken together, ipriflavone may increase estrogen's ability to protect bone. 2-6 This may allow you to use a lower dose of estrogen and still receive its beneficial effects.
However, there may be risks involved. Although ipriflavone itself probably does not affect tissues other than bone, some evidence suggests that when it is combined with estrogen, estrogen's effects on the uterus are increased. 7,8 This might mean that risk of uterine cancer would be elevated by the combination.
It should be possible to overcome this risk by taking progesterone along with estrogen, which is standard medical practice. However, this finding does make one wonder whether ipriflavone-estrogen combinations raise the risk of breast cancer as well, an estrogen side effect that has no easy solution. At present, there is no available information on this important subject.
Theoretical Harmful Interaction
Indole-3-carbinol (I3C) is a substance found in broccoli that is thought to have cancer preventive effects. One of its mechanisms of action is thought to involve facilitating the inactivation of estrogen, as well as blocking its effects on cells. 13,17-18 The net result could be decreased effectiveness of medications containing estrogen.
Theoretical Harmful Interaction
Because of its effects on the pituitary gland, chasteberry might unpredictably alter the effects of estrogen-replacement therapy.
Interaction Unlikely or Probably Insignificant
The herb dong quai (Angelica sinensis) is used for menstrual disorders.
Because dong quai contains beta-sitosterol, a phytoestrogen, 15 there have been concerns that taking the herb with estrogen might add to estrogen-related side effects. However, a 24-week, placebo-controlled study of 74 postmenopausal women found no estrogen-like effects or reduction of menopausal symptoms associated with taking dong quai. 16
Therefore, dong quai seems unlikely to increase estrogen-related side effects.
3. de Aloysio D, Gambacciani M, Altieri P, et al. Bone density changes in postmenopausal women with the administration of ipriflavone alone or in association with low-dose ERT. Gynecol Endocrinol 1997;11: 289-293.
4. Gambacciani M, Ciaponi M, Cappagli B, et al. Effects of combined low dose of the isoflavone derivative ipriflavone and estrogen replacement on bone mineral density and metabolism in postmenopausal women. Maturitas . 1997;28:75-81.
20. Zhu BT, Loder DP, Cai MX et al. Dietary administration of an extract from rosemary leaves enhances the liver microsomal metabolism of endogenous estrogens and decreases their uterotropic action in CD-1 mice. Carcinogenesis . 1998;19:1821-1827.
Last reviewed September 2014 by EBSCO CAM Review Board
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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