Doctor, Why is “estrogen” used in papers and articles, instead of specific estrogen hormones?
Thank you for your question about the use of the term “estrogen” in scientific papers and articles, rather than specifying individual estrogenic hormones like estradiol, estrone, and estriol. There are several reasons why the generic term may be used, and these can vary depending on the context of the article, the audience, and the specific focus of the research.
1. Broad Audience: Scientific papers and articles often aim to communicate complex ideas to a broad audience. Using a more general term like “estrogen” can make the material more accessible to readers who may not be familiar with the distinctions between specific estrogen hormones.
2. General Mechanisms: In some studies, the precise type of estrogen may not be as relevant to the conclusions. If the paper is examining broader physiological or metabolic pathways influenced by estrogen, it is not considered necessary to specify which particular form of estrogen was involved.
3. Complex Interactions: The estrogenic hormones often work in a complex interplay, influencing one another’s levels and effects. Sometimes it is just easier to discuss these hormones as a collective group rather than individually. Giving less for the reviewers and readers to question.
4. Historical Precedence: The term “estrogen” has been used for many years in both scientific and popular literature, creating a sort of inertia. Researchers may use it to ensure their work is easily comparable with prior studies.
5. Convenience: Simplicity and convenience can also be factors. It can be easier to use a catch-all term when the specific type of estrogen is not the main focus of the research or article.
6. Limitations in Data: Sometimes the lab testing used in research measure overall serum protein bound bio-unavailable estrogen levels or urine and saliva free-fractioned bio-available estrogen levels rather than distinguishing any differences between the types of lab testing. In such cases, the bio-unavailable and bio-available are considered one and the same “estrogen”, which is very inaccurate.
7. Clinical Relevance: In medical literature, especially in areas like hormone replacement therapy, the type of estrogen used is crucial and usually specified. However, in other contexts, such as epidemiological studies, the focus might be on the general presence or absence of estrogenic activity based upon the bio-unavailable serum hormone tests, making the specific type less relevant.
8. Androgen Dominance: Androgens and testosterone are hormones that play key roles in women. Though the terms are used interchangeably, they are not synonymous. Androgens are a group of hormones that primarily regulate the development and maintenance of male characteristics. Even in women!
Excessive levels of androgens in women can lead to symptoms such as changes in the body shape, excessive body hair, and male-pattern baldness. Abnormal levels can also disrupt the menstrual cycle and conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
However, it’s worth noting that specifying the type of estrogen can be very important in particular contexts. Different estrogen hormones can have quite different biological activities, pharmacokinetics, and clinical implications. When the specific type of estrogen is critical to the study’s conclusions or recommendations, it is generally specified.
I hope this clarifies why the term “estrogen” is often used in a generalized manner in scientific papers and articles.