Since the Women’s Health Initiative Study several years ago, the masses have been scared to death of taking hormones. Let’s think about this for a minute from a biological and evolutionary perspective. Our bodies make and use many different hormones which perform vital functions. Could it be that we are evolving to have our hormones turn against us? I doubt it. That wouldn’t make much sense. Could it be that the exponential increase in the incidence of disease over the last 20 years is due to accumulating environmental toxins, poor nutrition, inactivity, and increased stress? You bet!
It’s very unfortunate that most traditional doctors equate bio-identical hormones with synthetic ones. This is primarily due to lack of education, as we don’t learn about
prescribing bio-identical hormones in medical school. They are vastly different and should never be confused. I use bioidentical hormones in my practice to undo what synthetic hormones have done to my patients. Is it a coincidence that99+% of my female patients (self-included) have all, at some point, taken birth control pills? Maybe, but I doubt it. Also, keep in mind that the hormones used in the Women’s Health Initiative study were ALL synthetic. Go figure.
Bio-identical means that the chemical structure matches that of our own hormone structure. Bio- identical progesterone, for example, is manufactured by the body, and therefore, the body knows how to use it, where and when to use it, and has the enzymes to metabolize it and dispose of it when it’s done using it. Your body already has the perfect progesterone receptors to bind perfectly with progesterone that circulates in the blood. Synthetic progestins, however, aren’t quite the perfect match. Its structure is similar enough to bind to progesterone receptors, but the molecular changes made in the laboratory in order to patent this product and sell it for profit likely are having an array of negative effects. Synthetic hormones interfere with natural progesterone and can create and exacerbate hormone related health problems, and be a primary contributor to the condition referred to as Estrogen Dominance. (You can read more about Estrogen Dominance on our website www.TWIHW.com). Studies have been published that reveal evidence that taking synthetic hormones actually inhibits production of one’s natural progesterone. It’s no wonder that synthetic hormones are known to have side effects such as blood clots and migraines, where as bioidentical progesterone actually has been shown to normalize clotting, and is also used as a treatment for migraines.
I think it’s important that everyone understands the importance of nutrition in maintaining good health. Many people are so quick to blame ‘bad genes’ for their health
problems. Did you know that 75-80% of breast cancers are NOT genetic? When women tell me how afraid they are of developing breast cancer from taking hormones, I first
explain the differences between synthetic and bio-identical hormones. I then usually say, you shouldn’t be afraid of replacing what’s been lost in the body over the years. Poor
dietary habits, stress (which leads to adrenal fatigue and immune system dysfunction), environmental toxins, and lack of adequate nutrition (i.e. vitamins and supplements)
are far more likely to cause cancer and other diseases. That’s why, in my practice, we place such enormous emphasis on nutrition and immune system optimization.
Moreover, hormones are a small piece of the puzzle with respect to breast cancer. And, it’s not the absolute presence of hormones, but rather the balance of these hormones that affect your health.
I attended the anti-aging conference this past December where MANY studies were presented about the safety and efficacy of bio-identical hormones. The most memorable one was that in the International Journal of Cancer 2005, 54000 women were studied and found that the relative risk for breast cancer in women using typical HRT (e.g.,
Prempro) was 1.4, and the relative risk for breast cancer in women using estrogen alone was 1.1, while the relative risk of breast cancer in women using bio- identical estrogen AND progesterone was only 0.9! A relative risk of 1.0 means average risk. So having 0.9 relative risk means LESS than average risk.
Q: Are Bio-identical hormones FDA-approved?
A; Why, yes, indeed, they are. Examples would be estrace and prometrium and synthroid and Armour thyroid. The confusion about whether or not they are FDA-approved comes from the fact that the compounding itself is what’s not FDA-approved. But the beauty of compounding is the ability to customize doses. For instance, Prometrium (a bio-identical progesterone) comes in only 2 doses, 100mg and 200mg, but there are many patients who only need 10mg, or 25mg. With compounding, we can order whatever dose we want. With bio-identical hormones, we are fine tuning what the body wants by replacing what’s lost. With synthetic hormones, it’s more of a one-size-fits-all. A teenager and menopausal woman can take the same birth control pill for example.
Q: What’s the difference between ‘natural’ and ‘bio- identical’?
A: I try to avoid using the term ‘natural’ since it’s used very loosely and can mean a lot of things. Premarin is ‘natural’ because it’s simply isoloated horse hormones from horse
urine; however, Premarin is NOT bio-identical. It does have 2 hormones in it that are bio-identical to ours, but also has 30+ other horse hormones that are not. It’s much
more important, in my opinion, that a medicine is bioidentical rather than ‘natural’. Even the bio-identical hormones aren’t really ‘natural’. Yes, they are derived from soy and yams, but the chemical taken from soy and yams is still converted in the laboratory to become bio-identical hormones.
Q: A recent study was published saying that hormones double the risk of breast cancer. What does this mean?
A: it’s important to understand that this study was done using fake, synthetic hormones that are NOT bio- identical. It would be comparing apples to oranges to make the same
statement about using bio-identical hormones. One last thing I’d like to make note of in this article is something I heard from a prominent wellness doctor in Houston who stated on his radio show that he’s got an epidemiologist studying his patient population and initial results are indicating that the incidence of breast cancer in his patient population is about 1/10th of what would be expected! And let’s not forget that most, if not ALL of these patients are taking bio- identical hormones.
Article By Dr. Mila McManus