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What Causes Increased Estrogen In Males?

Are you worried about elevated estradiol levels or estrogen levels? Maybe your are having hot flashes sensitive chest or nipples? In this video we look at what causes increased levels of estrogen and estradiol in males.  We look at the aromatase enzyme.   We specifically look at some of the genetics behind that enzyme activity and some environmental things that could be causing your elevated estrogen levels. 

If you want to know what causes increased estrogen in males, keep reading. 

What Causes Increased Estrogen Levels In Males?

Most people look at this question when they are on testosterone replacement therapy or considering it.  Estrogen levels, like any compound in the body, are dictated by the enzyme that produce that compound and the enzymes that break it down.  There is a separate article about what causes high estrogen levels and females.  For males and females there are similar things that cause this.  In that video we talked more about the breakdown of estradiol.  Here we will look more at the aromatase enzyme, what it does, and the influence of genetic alterations and the environment on it's function. 

Estrogen levels in men and women are driven by this aromatase enzyme.  This enzyme also goes by the name cytochrome 19A1 enzyme.  Its main job is to turn testosterone into estradiol.  It does this by oxidation and removing a methyl group.  This is the process that's happening to turn testosterone into estradiol.  There are things that can increase the activity of this enzyme and decrease the activity of this enzyme.  This enzyme is not just working to turn testosterone into estradiol.  It causes aromatization of a lot of different androgens.  Androstenedione can also get turned into a different type of estrogen called estrone.  We usually don't test for this type of estrogen as much. 

From a genetic standpoint this aromatase enzyme can be polymorphic.  This means that the genes that dictate how the enzyme is produced can be different in different people.  These changes alter the outcome of the actual enzyme.  Depending on what location on the gene is altered, will dictate how the resulting enzyme is performing its job.  In some cases it can work a lot more efficient and in other cases it will be slowed down.  When it is slowed down, you get more testosterone and less estradiol.  Vice versa if it's speeding up.  In trying to determine which genetic alterations cause speeding up and slowing down I did a little research. 


Genetic Causes Of Increased Estrogen In Males

I was not able to find anything that I would call conclusive.  What I did find is a study that showed that there are certain RSIDs that can alter the activity of the enzyme.  The RSID is the place along the gene that is changed.   This is how you identify which single nucleotide polymorphism your are referring to.  In this particular study there were four different RSIDs that were looked at.  In the study they measured the circulating estrogen called estrone levels.  Estrone can be derived from androstenedione and that gets turned into estradiol.  The RSIDs that decrease aromatase enzyme activity which decreased estrone levels were rs727479, and rs4646. 


The ones that increase the enzyme activity and produced more estrone were rs749292, rs10046. 


Based on this information, we would predict that those with these genetic alterations (homozygous for those RSIDs, one from each parent) are going to have less estrogens in general.  These alterations change that aromatase enzyme to decrease it's activity.  This means these people get less aromatase activity based on your genetics alone. 

Keep in mind, genetic studies can sometimes go back and forth.  You can find one study that shows this and the next that does not validate that.  Most of the studies that available are trying to determine breast cancer risk.  They look at aromatase inhibitors like anastrozole (and others) and how they affect aromatase activity and breast cancer risk.  When you overlay these studies with the one on estrone, they do seem to match up.  Still there was not anything large enough or conclusive enough.  It's reasonable to assume that these enzymes alterations are going to decrease or increase the enzyme activity.  With this there can be more estradiol and estrogen in general.  More conclusive evidence does exist for the impact of environmental factors on the aromatase enzyme. 


Environmental Causes Of Increased Estrogen In Males

Alcohol consumption is one of the environmental triggers that can definitely increase aromatase activity.  This is cited in several studies.  Hops (part of what beer is made from) seems to independently increase aromatase activity regardless of the alcohol content.  So beer may be a double whammy.  High insulin levels is another thing that increases the aromatase activity.  This goes along with the observation that obesity can also do this too.  It is common when you have higher weight that your insulin levels are going to be higher too.  This is not always the case but a lot of times it is. I have seen high insulin in smaller people though. 

Testing insulin levels can sometimes be tricky though because the stated reference range at your lab are usually quite a bit higher than what is consider normal or optimal.  The range also changes based on how long your are fasting for.  Lower levels are typically healthier.  If you have lower insulin levels on the lower third, you are probably okay.  Overall your aromatase activity is relative and will be based on your genetics, alcohol, your insulin level and many other factors. 

Looking at these known variables you can predict how much estradiol or overall estrogen your are going to be producing.  The amount of estrogen then predicts the amount of estrogen activity in your tissues.   This is particularly important if your are on testosterone replacement therapy.  With this you want to optimize your free testosterone.  Estrogens (in particular estradiol) increases sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG).  SHBG lowers free or bioavailable testosterone.  Therefor you want to keep SHBG low when your are on testosterone replacement therapy. 

Another thing that will increase this aromatase enzyme is LH (luteinizing hormone) and FSH (follicle stimulating hormone).  These are the hormones that stimulate specific cells in the testes to produce testosterone and the spermatozoa.   If you are taking analogs to these (such as hcg or Clomid), you may get more aromatization and more estrogen production. 

This should give you a better understanding of what causes increased estrogen in males.  If you have questions about the content in this article, please ask it in the comment section below.

If you want a customized plan on testosterone replacement therapy, high estrogen or other hormone imbalance issues, click in the link below to get started. 

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