Effect of Alcohol on Estrogen – Best and Worst Choices

Effect of Alcohol on Estrogen – Best and Worst Choices

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Effect of Alcohol on Estrogen – Best and Worst Choices

Alcohol, Blood Sugar & Aromatase

Drinking alcohol can cause a drop in blood glucose because alcohol blocks the production of glucose in the liver (the liver contains “emergency stores” of glucose to raise your blood sugar if it drops too low)

Once the liver’s stores of glucose are used up, a person who has drank a lot of alcohol can’t make more right away, and that can lead to dangerously low blood glucose (or even death)

Since alcohol puts your blood sugar on somewhat of a rollercoaster and, blood sugar swings create inflammation and surges in insulin that can worsen estrogen dominance by upregulating aromatase in the fat cells – making more problematic, active estrogen

Study – Toxicology

The study looked to investigate if ethanol alters aromatization of androgens and concentrations of hepatic estrogen and androgen receptors

In rats given ethanol, hepatic aromatization of androgen to estrogen was significantly increased by the ethanol administration

There was also a significant increase in serum estrogen level but a decreased circulating testosterone level in the alcohol-fed rats

Furthermore, the concentration of estrogen receptors in liver cytosol was significantly higher in alcohol-fed rats, as compared to the control

Lastly, hepatic androgen receptor levels were much lower in alcohol-fed rats than those in control (6)

Alcohol, Phytoestrogens, and Congeners

Plants used to produce alcoholic beverages contain estrogen-like substances (i.e., phytoestrogens)

Observations that men with alcoholic cirrhosis often show testicular failure and symptoms of feminization have suggested that alcoholic beverages may contain biologically active phytoestrogens as congeners

Biochemical analyses have identified several phytoestrogens in the congeners of bourbon, beer, and wine

For example, beer has powerful estrogenic effects of due to “hopein,” (potent phytoestrogen in hops also called 8-PN) which is the phytoestrogen found in the bittering agent in beer

Another two estrogenic substances of plant origin have been identified in beer using gas chromatography/mass spectrometry – known as daidzein and genistein

These phytoestrogens in alcohol (more so in beer) attach preferentially to alpha estrogen receptors, as opposed to beta estrogen receptors, increasing the risk of breast cancer

Alcohol & Estrogen Receptors

Study – Estrogen Receptors

Published in the journal Cancer Research, researchers found that moderate alcohol consumption increases the risk of breast cancer

**However, the exact mechanism(s) of alcohol-induced mammary cancer was stated as being unknown**

In human breast cancer cell lines, it was found that ethanol caused a dose-dependent increase of up to 10- to 15-fold in the activity of the liganded estrogen receptor (ER-alpha)

Concluded that increased estrogen-responsiveness might contribute to alcohol-induced breast cancer (4)


1) Links Between Alcohol Consumption and Breast Cancer. (2015, March 24). Retrieved from
2) How Alcohol Affects Your Hormones – Better By Dr. Brooke. (2018, August 24). Retrieved from
3) Sex hormones in alcohol consumption: a systematic review of evidence – Erol – – Addiction Biology – Wiley Online Library. (2017). Retrieved from
4) Alcohol Stimulates Estrogen Receptor Signaling in Human Breast Cancer Cell Lines. (2000, October 15). Retrieved from
5) V, P. (n.d.). Can alcohol promote aromatization of androgens to estrogens? A review. – PubMed – NCBI. Retrieved from
6) KW, C. (n.d.). Effects of chronic ethanol intake on aromatization of androgens and concentration of estrogen and androgen receptors in rat liver. – PubMed – NCBI. Retrieved from
7) JS, G. (n.d.). Alcoholic beverages as a source of estrogens. – PubMed – NCBI. Retrieved from
8) Gavaler JS , et al. (n.d.). The phytoestrogen congeners of alcoholic beverages: current status. – PubMed – NCBI. Retrieved from
9) Rosenblum ER , et al. (n.d.). Isolation and identification of phytoestrogens from beer. – PubMed – NCBI. Retrieved from
10) Gavaler JS , et al. (n.d.). The phytoestrogen congeners of alcoholic beverages: current status. – PubMed – NCBI. Retrieved from 4

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