Sunday, August 20, 2017 6:08

Effects of Estrogen Upon The Body

Posted by on Monday, June 22, 2009, 13:57
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Estrogen affects the function and appearance of the body in numerous and powerful ways. It enhances the deposition of fat beneath the skin. This is true all over the body , and accounts for the fact that women tend to have more body fat than man.

But estrogen particularly stimulates accumulation of fat in the areas of the breasts and thighs. Estrogen makes a woman’s skin smoother and thinner than a man’s. One sex  difference in anatomy that is even more prominent, even if it does not first come to mind, is the fact that women are shorter than men, due to the ability of estrogen to counteract the lengthening of limb bones that growth hormone would otherwise provoke.

At the same time, however, estrogen has an opposite effect upon the bones of the pelvis, causing them to become wider than those of men. Thus, in one individual, estrogen promotes a dramatic accumulation of fat in some cells but little in others, causes increased growth in some bones but decreased growth in others , and decreases multiplication of other cells, such as the cells forming the linning of the uterus!

How can one hormone cause all these very different effects that almost magically sculpt the body and cause the changes that turn  a girl into a woman? An even broader question relates to differences between individuals. Estrogen levels in the blood all tend to fall within a fairly narrow range for most women, suggesting that estrogen should have comparable effects in everyone.

Yet, we all know that both men and women grow up to acquire great differences in height, shape, weight, etc. How can this be? The only answer that can be given at this point is that individuals cells, and individual people, have inherited genes that alter the ability to respond to estrogen.

While great progress has been made in understanding how estrogen effects cells, we still have little understanding of the mechanisms underlying this variability in the response to sex hormones. Even if we do not understand them, we can at least be grateful for their ability to permit the pleasing variability in the forms and features of the people around us.

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