For women: Jacking with your hormones, whether with birth control or junk food, increases your risk of stroke

Women who start menopausing before the age of 45 are more prone to the risks of suffering from a stroke, a new study revealed.

Menstruating before the age of 13 is usually brought about by obesity, which makes women more vulnerable to incidents of cardiovascular events, such as a stroke, a recent study found out. Menstruating early can cause early menopause.

Menopause is said to cause a decrease in protective hormones like estrogen, which aids in preventing fats from circulating around the bloodstream. This means that when women experience menopause earlier than usual, they have less protective hormones. Aside from that, fluctuating hormones brought about by menopause also increase the levels of low-density lipoprotein or “bad” cholesterol in a woman’s body.

Dr. Kathryn Rexrode from the Brigham and Women’s Hospital said women who menstruate early and experience menopause earlier should be more careful of their lifestyle choices. “These women should be monitored carefully and they should be aware that they are at higher risk, and motivated to adhere to the healthiest lifestyle behaviors to decrease the risk of hypertension and subsequent stroke.”

Taking estrogen-based oral contraceptives dials up the risk of a stroke by up to 80 percent, regardless of the amount of the hormone they contain, the study further showed.

Pregnancy is also associated with stroke with women up to nine times more likely to have one in the period between two days before giving birth and one day after. This is because of eclampsia, which brings about convulsions in pregnant women with high blood pressure and causes up to 48 percent of strokes in expecting mothers.

The findings of the study were published in an issue of the journal Stroke.

Other studies that claim birth control pills cause strokes

A 1962 research paper was the first one to suggest a link between taking oral contraceptives or birth control pills and the risk for blood clots and subsequent ischemic stroke. The study found that the hormone estradiol (taken in doses as high as 150 micrograms) is responsible for this risk.

However, a new study that was published in an issue of the journal MedLink Neurology, showed that the risk was dependent on several factors. It can be that the women taking birth control pills have a genetic susceptibility to the condition. It can also be that women who have high levels of bad cholesterol who also take the pill develop increased vascular reactivity and an altered insulin response, which can contribute to the increased incidence of stroke.

In the same manner, the World Health Organization discovered in 1996 that a high risk of ischemic stroke, which accounts for 85 percent of all strokes, was seen among users of higher estrogen oral contraception.

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