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Good news, women: RCSI finds oestrogen cuts risk of liver and heart disease

The team said their research may help to develop new drugs to prevent liver and heart disease in women.

Image: Laboratory equipment via Shutterstock

A NEW STUDY by Irish researchers has discovered how oestrogen can reduce the risk of liver and heart disease.

The scientists from the Royal College of Surgeons – including a father-son team – said that their research may help to develop new drugs to prevent the two types of disease in women.

The team, working with researchers from the University of California, found that the sex hormone has a beneficial effect on liver metabolism by discovering a new type of receptor which controls certain genes which regulate cholesterol and fatty acid production.

Oestrogen is a sex hormone produced by the ovaries and by fat tissue in the body and is believed to help protect women against high cholesterol and heart disease during the years when they’re fertile.

Professor Brian Harvey said the research gave an insight into how oestrogen may suppress some genes.

“This leaves the door open for the development of drugs that can decrease the incidence of liver and heart disease in women,” he said.

The study was carried out over four years and has been published in the journal Science Signalling.

Dr Ellis Levin, who also worked on the study, said that oestrogen may be a deterrent to liver cancer, which affects men around four-to-six times more than it does women.

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