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Oral contraceptives increase C-reactive protein, an infIammatory biomarker

nd 22 after menses. Plasma samples were later thawed and assayed for CRP by use of a high-sensitivity assay.

Results

There were no significant differences in baseline demographic characteristics between oral contraceptive users and nonusers. Plasma CRP levels were two times higher among OC users than among non-users independent of diet assignment, diet treatment order, and phase of the menstrual cycle. In a multivariate model, OC use predicted 32 percent of the variance in CRP levels. As all CRP levels were within a previously established normal range, further study is indicated to establish the clinical significance of the observed elevated CRP levels in OC users.

Conclusions

The results from this research and past studies suggest that estrogenic hormones significantly affect pro-inflammatory pathways. Whether these changes have clinical significance remains to be determined. The present data also showed that CRP levels are higher in the luteal, or post-ovulatory phase, versus the follicular phase. This association was more pronounced in OC users than non-users.

This cross-sectional survey demonstrates that CRP levels are significantly increased among OC users versus non-users. The possibility that these results are due to chance or confounding variables cannot be excluded entirely, and the results need to be confirmed by larger independent studies. The researchers suggest that the impact of OC use on CRP and inflammatory parameters should be investigated in prospective trials.


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Contact: Donna J. Krupa
djkrupa1@aol.com
American Physiological Society
9-Apr-2003


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