Sex Hormones in Older Women (SHOW)
Cardiovascular disease (CVD; heart attack and stroke) is the leading cause of death in women aged 65 yrs and over. The risk of CVD increases steeply after midlife, implicating both age and possibly hormonal changes with ageing as playing a role.
The major sex hormones in women are oestrogens and androgens (such as testosterone). Oestrogen levels fall suddenly at menopause. Androgen levels do not change at menopause but start to fall from the mid 30’s, and then decline steadily with age.
There are some indications that low levels of testosterone may be associated with an increased risk of CVD in women, however this is still to be proven. Previous studies have been small, often conflicting and lacking the precision to accurately measure low concentrations of testosterone seen in older women.
The main aim of the SHOW Study is to investigate the association between levels of androgens (testosterone and other androgens) in the blood and cardiovascular events and life expectancy in older women.
This study will also provide for the first time, a reference range for blood levels of the various androgens in women aged 70-74 yrs, 75-79 yrs, 80-84 yrs and 85+ yrs.
In the future, SHOW may also be able to investigate associations between sex hormones and other ASPREE outcomes such as fracture, cognitive function and cancer.
What participation involves:
The SHOW sub-study utilises existing health information and blood samples volunteered to the principal ASPREE trial and ASPREE Healthy Ageing Biobank. Participants do not need to do anything more than continue in the ASPREE trial as normal.
Researchers will measure androgen and oestrogen hormone levels in approximately 6,200 blood samples donated by female ASPREE participants to the Healthy Ageing Biobank shortly after they enrolled in the ASPREE trial (baseline). Hormone levels will be tested in approximately 450 samples taken three years later.
Because ASPREE participants generously share health information, researchers will be able to determine the association between androgen hormone levels and CVD risk in older Australian women.
The SHOW sub-study is led by the Women’s Health Research Program, Monash University and is being conducted in Australia. Results are expected in 2018 – 2019.
For more information about ASPREE-SHOW:
- Ring 1800 728 745 (toll free from a landline)
SHOW Principal Investigators:
- Women’s Health Research Program, Monash University
- ANZAC Research Institute, University of Sydney
- ASPREE GP Co-investigators
- The Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) grant $594,672.40