MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Madhusmita Misra, MD, MPH
Division Chief, Pediatric Endocrinology
Fritz Bradley Talbot and Nathan Bill Talbot Professor of Pediatrics,
Harvard Medical School
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: Disordered eating behavior is common in conditions of functional hypothalamic amenorrhea, such as anorexia nervosa and exercise-induced amenorrhea, which are also associated with anxiety and depression. In hypoestrogenic rodents, estrogen replacement reduces anxiety-related behavior. Similarly, physiologic estrogen replacement in adolescents with anorexia nervosa reduces anxiety and prevents the increased body dissatisfaction observed with increasing weight. However, the impact of estrogen administration on disordered eating behavior and psychopathology in normal-weight young women with exercise-induced amenorrhea is unknown.
Adolescent and young adult normal-weight athletes 14-25 years old with irregular periods were randomized to receive (i) physiologic estrogen replacement using a transdermal patch with cyclic progesterone, or (ii) an oral estrogen-progesterone containing pill (an oral contraceptive pill), or (iii) no estrogen for 12-months. The Eating Disorder Inventory-2 (EDI-2) and Three-Factor Eating Questionnaire (TFEQ) were administered ag the beginning and the end of the study to assess disordered eating behavior and psychopathology.
We found that the group that did not receive estrogen had a worsening of disordered eating behavior and psychopathology over the 12-months duration of the study, but this was not observed in the group that received estrogen replacement. Further, body dissatisfaction scores improved over 12-months in the groups receiving estrogen replacement, with the transdermal estrogen group showing the strongest effect.