There are a lot of questions and controversy about hormones. Are they safe? What is the difference between biologically identical and synthetic? Who needs them and why? Will I get cancer or have a heart attack if I take them? Are there benefits to taking them?
These are all concerns of the public.
Luckily, there is good research to explain and help settle these issues. For women, there are health benefits to natural bio-identical hormones and detrimental effects of synthetic hormones like Prempro or Premarin and Provera. Biologically identical hormones are either extracted from plants or are synthetically manufactured to be similar in structure to those hormones found naturally in the body. As we age, we lose production of these hormones which leads to disease, weight gain, fatigue, loss of muscle mass, memory issues, sexual dysfunction, and loss of harmony of our body systems. Hormones control virtually all of the functions of our body. Replacing them with biologically identical compounds can slow the precipitous decline that occurs after midlife. Women don’t have to accept the progressive decline that comes with aging. Multiple studies show the safety of using bio-identical hormones. Plus, patients feel better, are happier and healthier.
Twelve years ago a study on synthetic hormones Provera and Premarin showed an increased risk of breast cancer and heart disease in the first part of the study. In the second part of the study using Premarin alone, there was a decreased risk of cancer and heart disease! This study was misinterpreted by the media, causing more harm than good for patients and ongoing confusion. When, in fact, multiple studies show that Provera (a chemically altered progestin) is harmful, but natural progesterone decreases risk of breast cancer and lowers cholesterol! Three European studies, one of which included 100,000 women over ten years, have since shown that synthetic non-biological hormones heighten the risk of breast cancer. The natural estradiol and progesterone showed no increased risk of cancer. Why the media is not exploiting this is unknown.
There is still some concern that Premarin, which contains equilin that is not natural to our bodies, can cause thrombosis, heart attacks, strokes and a small risk of breast cancer. But natural estradiol is protective against heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s and memory disorders, as well as vaginal atrophy, urinary infections, decreased libido, fatigue, and mood swings. Throughout the years, hormonal therapy has advanced and there is a big difference between today’s products and what women were put on in the past. If a female is going through menopause naturally or surgically, there is good reason to replace the same hormones that her body would normally produce to levels similar to when she was younger. Women should feel, look and function as they did before and protect themselves against disease and deterioration.
I touched on only two key hormones, estrogen and progesterone. There are other important hormones that work in harmony with these and need to be addressed as well.
Though there are several hormones that we measure and replace in our bodies: estrogen, progesterone, thyroid, DHEAS, Vitamin D, to name a few, testosterone is an important one for men and women. It is naturally secreted from testes, adrenal glands and ovaries. Testosterone contributes to increased muscle mass, strength, decreased fat, enhanced exercise tolerance and sense of wellbeing, increased bone density and prevention of osteoporosis. Along with increased libido and sexual performance, improved skin tone and healing capacity, slowing the diseases of aging such as cardiovascular disease by increasing the good cholesterol, HDL, protecting against Alzheimer’s disease as a memory enhancer. The Annuals of Internal Medicine demonstrated that men with higher levels of testosterone lived the longest. And, although testosterone should not be given to men with active prostate cancer, multiple medical studies have proven that testosterone does not cause prostate cancer. In fact, people who have low levels of testosterone are more likely to get aggressive tumors. The New England Journal of Medicine, January 2004, reviewed decades of research and published a summary article that found no report of increased prostate cancer with the use of testosterone.
Recently in November 2013, JAMA printed an article that caused a great deal of controversy about the use of testosterone. Since that time, multiple articles have been published showing significant faults in the study with an 89% error rate. In fact, the study did not publish the significant increase in heart attack, stroke, or death in the untreated group at 21.2% versus much less at 10.1% in the testosterone group. More studies have shown the benefits of testosterone on health and wellbeing when using the bio- identical testosterone. So much so that an impressive group of worldwide distinguished researchers, scholars, and clinicians have united for the first time in history of this sort for the removal of this study from the literature. The Androgen Study Group is a newly formed multidisciplinary group of clinicians and researchers dedicated to education and accurate reporting regarding testosterone deficiency. For more information, go to www.androgenstudygroup.org. Having a physician who understands and knows the correct balance is key. A customized and individual plan for my patients is the best solution to help restore declining hormone levels that are caused by aging.
Myra Ancelet Reed, MD
1814 Thomas Drive Panama City Beach, FL 32408
By Dr. Myra Reed
Leave a Reply
Powered by Facebook Comments