One strategy that began in earnest in the latter part of the 19th century and continues to have enormous momentum today is based on the notion that by replacing hormones, which decline with age, the vitality and physical attributes associated with youth can be regained. In 1966, Robert Wilson, MD had a best selling book titled Feminine Forever. It was promoted aggressively around the country. Dr Wilson insisted that estrogen could keep women young, healthy and attractive and that women would be replacing a hormone they had lost at menopause just as diabetics replace the insulin their pancreas fails to make. Before long, the drugs (in particular Wyeth’s drug Prempro, a combination of estrogen and progestins) became one of the most popular and profitable drugs in history. As many as a third of American women over age 50 were using hormone replacement therapy (HRT) until 2002. The drugs were touted to relieve symptoms like hot flashes and were thought to protect against heart disease, osteoporosis, keep skin youthful, preserve memory, and make women energetic.
Then the ball dropped…the July 2002 Women’s Health Initiative report indicated that HRT can increase the risks of heart disease and breast cancer. According to USA Today December 14, 2006, after years of steady increase, breast cancer rates dropped 7% in 2003, one year after millions of women stopped taking HRT. Breast cancer rates dropped the most (12%) among women aged 50 to 69.
So now that HRT is out of the way…what are your options? Many women are switching to “bio-identical hormones” thinking that they are a safer option. At an annual meeting of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians in August 9-12, 2006 a 3 month study was presented on the effectiveness of bio-identical hormones. Of the 50 women studied, 82% showed improvement in their estrogen-related symptoms (hot flashes, night sweats, sleep disturbances, vaginal dryness). Of the 50 women, 74% showed improvement in progesterone-related symptoms (mood swings, increased irritability, water retention). Bio-identicals seemed to be a promising alternative to HRT. Other claims that have been made for bio-identical therapy are they can help prevent osteoporosis, improve cholesterol, reduce the risk of heart disease, and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s. Hmm…aren’t these the same claims that were made for HRT?
Suzanne Somers’ book Ageless promotes that menopausal women should have as much estrogen as a 20 year old. 20 year old females are geared for having babies!
Are Bio-Identicals a Safe Alternative?
Bio-identical Hormones have the same active ingredients as other hormone drugs. “What the promoters of bio-identicals tend to suggest is that estrone and estriol are much safer than conjugated equine [estrogens] or estradiol,” says Dr. David Plourd, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Naval Medical Center in San Diego. “Well, says who? There is zero data on that. What they are is weaker, so you need a lot more of them.”
One argument for Bio-identical Hormones is that they are plant based. They start out as yams or soybeans but are highly processed and are in fact chemicals synthesized in a lab. Most all drugs are “plant based”. Does plant based mean safe or healthy? White Sugar is “plant based”. What about Aspartame, Nutrasweet, cocaine, or cholesterol lowering drugs? These are all plant based. Are they “healthy”?
A New Experiment Begins
Hormones (synthetic or Bio-identical) do work. They do reduce menopausal symptoms and can make you feel better… at least for a while. The side effects of HRT are now known after being on the market about 40 years. Bio-identical hormones have the same warnings as HRT and have been on the market only a few short years.
Why are Hormones needed? Did God make a mistake? Are hormones essential or non essential? Hint: NON-ESSENTIAL! Your body will break down hormones, muscle and other non-essential tissue in order to free up nutrients for more important bodily processes. Are there other factors that affect hormone production and regulation that are not being addressed? Keep an eye out for our December newsletter as we address factors that affect hormone production.
Hormone replacement is merely covering a deeper problem. Just Getting Old? A healthy body does not need hormone replacement of any kind: estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, HGH, DHEA, Melatonin, thyroid, insulin, etc. These do not fix the cause of the problem and will lead to further imbalance. The healthiest 80 and 90 year olds that we have treated have not been on any long term hormone therapy.
Hormonal problems can be corrected if you get to the cause of the hormonal imbalance. Getting tested properly will show you exactly what you need to do get healthier which in turn can help correct hormonal imbalances. Call for an appointment today to speak with one of our doctors about your particular health needs.