Purpose: The relationship between endogenous sex hormones and blood lipids was examined in a representative sample of 438 Australian-born women 45 to 56 years of age taking part in a longitudinal study of the menopausal transition. Data from 363 women who were taking neither exogenous hormones nor lipid-altering medications, were not diabetic, and who had provided blood samples were available for analysis.
Methods: Multiple linear regression was used to examine the relationship between sex hormones and high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL), low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL), triglycerides, and diastolic blood pressure (DBP), taking account of the effects of age, body mass index (BMI), smoking, alcohol intake, and exercise.
Results: There was no significant relationship between estradiol and HDL, LDL, triglyceride, or DBP levels. Free androgen index was positively associated with LDL. However, BMI was an important predictor of all three lipid measures and DBP. HDL was positively associated with age and was highest among women with lowest BMI, high alcohol intake, and in nonsmokers. LDL increased with BMI, free androgen index, and age, but was lower amongst women who exercised more than two or three times per week. Triglyceride also increased with BMI, and was higher among smokers. DBP increased with BMI only.
Conclusions: The results do not support the view that endogenous sex hormones are strongly associated with cardiovascular risk factors around the time of menopause.