Background: Solar ultraviolet radiation (UVR) affects the body through pathways that exhibit positive as well as negative health effects such as immunoregulation and vitamin D production. Different vitamin D metabolites are associated with higher or lower concentrations of estrogens and may thus alter the female sex hormone balance. Objective: To study whether exposure to UVR, as a modifiable lifestyle factor, is associated with levels of sex hormones (17β-estradiol, estrone, estrone 3-sulfate, testosterone, dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate), gonadotropins (follicle stimulating hormone, luteinizing hormone) as well as sex hormone binding globulin in postmenopausal women, and thus investigate whether managing UVR exposure can influence the hormone balance, with potential benefits for the biological aging process. Methods: The study included 580 postmenopausal women from six European countries, participating in the European Community Respiratory Health Survey (2010–2014). Average UVR exposure during the month before blood sampling was estimated based on personal sun behavior and ambient levels. Hormone concentrations were measured in serum using state-of-the-art methods. Subsequently we applied linear mixed-effects models, including center as random intercept, hormone concentrations (one at a time) as outcome and UVR, age, skin type, body mass index, vitamin D from dietary sources, smoking, age at completed full-time education and season of blood sampling as fixed-effect predictors. Results: One interquartile range increase in UVR exposure was associated with decreased levels of 17β-estradiol (-15.6 pmol/L, 95 % Confidence Interval (CI): -27.69, -3.51) and estrone (-13.36 pmol/L, 95 % CI: -26.04, -0.68) and increased levels of follicle stimulating hormone (9.34IU/L, 95 % CI: 2.91, 15.77) and luteinizing hormone (13.86 IU/daL, 95 % CI: 2.48, 25.25). Conclusions: Exposure to UVR is associated with decreased estrogens and increased gonadotropins in postmenopausal women, a status associated with osteoporosis, lung function decline and other adverse health effects. This study indicates that managing UVR exposure has potential to influence the hormone balance and counteract adverse health conditions after menopause.
- Reproductive aging
- Vitamin D
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Obstetrics and Gynecology