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Female hormone helps men's hearts, researchers say

The female hormone estrogen could help treat heart disease in men, researchers said Tuesday.

They said the hormone, known to protect women against heart disease, can be used to improve symptoms of coronary artery disease in middle-aged men."This is the first study to find that middle-aged men may one day benefit from the protective effects of estrogen," said Roger Blumenthal, a professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

Blumenthal, whose team published their findings in the American Journal of Cardiology, said they were now working to prevent the feminizing effects of estrogen, such as breast enlargement.

Researchers examined 20 men aged 51 to 61 with coronary artery disease. They injected them with either placebo or conjugated estrogens - a mixture of different estrogens - and measured blood flow. Blood flow to the heart increased by nearly a third in the men who got the estrogens.