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Oral contraceptives increase C-reactive protein, an infIammatory biomarker

April 9, 2003 (San Diego, CA) When women think about birth control, estrogen, and cardiovascular risk, they often assume that there are no answers. They would appear to be correct.

On the one hand, new pharmacological advancements have provided combination oral contraceptive (OC) formulations with lower-dose estrogen. These formulations have significantly less risk of cardiovascular adverse events compared to the older combined formulations with higher doses. They also provide excellent cycle control, a low incidence of breakthrough bleeding and spotting, and increased patient satisfaction.

On the other hand, the current generation progestins appear less safe than earlier formulations with respect to the risk of blood clotting. Moreover, recent studies have associated current oral contraceptive use with risks for ischemic stroke and myocardial infarction, impaired blood anticoagulant pathways, and increased cardiovascular reactivity. Thus, cardiovascular risk relating to consumption of oral contraceptives still remains.

C-reactive protein (CRP) is a protein in the body whose level increases when blood vessels become inflamed. Measuring cardiovascular risk is thought to be possible by assessing CRP levels. Previously published data has shown that blood levels of CRP are elevated many years before a first heart attack or stroke occurs. Accordingly, a team of researchers set out to investigate the association between current low-dose oral contraceptives and levels of plasma CRP.

A New Study

The authors of "Oral Contraceptive Use and Increased Plasma Concentration of C-reactive Protein" are Darlene M Dreon, DrPH; Joanne L Slavin, PhD; and Stephen D Phinney, MD, PhD, from Galileo Pharmaceuticals, Inc, Santa Clara, CA and the University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN. They will present their findings at the American Physiological Society's upcoming conference, Experimental Biology 2003, being held April 11-15, 2003,
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Contact: Donna J. Krupa
djkrupa1@aol.com
American Physiological Society
9-Apr-2003


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