By Joseph NBH, M.D, FACOG, AACS, AACG
Medical Director, Natural Bio Health
A Physician’s View of Hormones
Having practiced during the years that the synthetic hormones Premarin and Prempro were prescribed for post-menopausal therapy and having even prescribed them myself, I now look back with concern as to the risks of breast cancer that were not evident at the time.
I read the article by Dr. Neal Rouzier and the comments by NBH that were posted as a blog on the Natural Bio Health website. See Blog Article “Why Women Suffer Estrogen Deprivation due to a Medical Community that disregards a SAFE ALTERNATIVE.” As Drs. Clark and Rouzier point out, the data is clear that it was the Provera in the Prempro that increased the risk of breast cancer in women and also the risk of stroke.
*The misunderstanding of the WHI Study cited in the blog, has, unfortunately and sadly, left millions of women fearing the very treatment that could save their lives. Every day in my practice I see women who ask me: “But provider, won’t hormones give me breast cancer and heart disease?” I of course now know to tell them “only if you take synthetic hormones.”
In the year 2002, Newspapers across the nation scared women into stopping their hormone estrogen therapy (HRT) with headlines that screamed: “HRT Increases Risk of Breast Cancer, Stroke and Dementia.” This was due to a study called the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) that studied the combination synthetic drug Prempro.
One author noted: “Over 13 million women were on some form of HRT before the initial studies were published. Millions quit “cold turkey” and saw their symptoms rebound. Millions stayed on HRT but live in fear of the consequences. And millions of women have been moved onto antidepressants as pharmaceutical companies have campaigned to position those drugs as substitute products – even though most of these women are not depressed and are thereby exposed to a new set of potential side effects.”
Physicians Who Do Not “Believe” in Natural Hormones
*My patients often tell me that their family provider or their OB/Gyn doesn’t want to treat them with hormones either because they do not “Believe in natural hormones” or they fear the risks of breast cancer. These women have even been told by their providers that progesterone causes breast cancer and estrogen causes heart disease. My patients are sometimes told to stop the bioidentical hormone treatment I have placed them on because their family provider does not “believe” in them.
*The TRUTH is that Natural Hormone Therapy is a science based on thousands of studies. It is not a religion. I am a religious person and I have strong beliefs but I prescribe and treat patients based on scientifically proven protocols. I tell my patients that a provider’s (or a friend’s) belief is not important unless it is backed by science.
Many providers are totally unaware of the truth of the matter and few actually understand the study that scared women in the first place.
The study (WHI) that scared women involved a combination of synthetic estrogen (Premarin) and synthetic Progestin. This combination (Prempro) in many studies showed an increase in the stated risks. The truth is that bioidentical hormones have been shown to be safe and effective and that the Progestin in the Prempro formula is NOT progesterone produced naturally in the female body. Unfortunately, many women and many providers do not understand the critical difference so FEAR hormone therapy because of this FALSE understanding.
The Greater Risk is NOT TAKING Bioidentical Hormones
*Natural progesterone and natural estrogen (bioidentical) can help to prevent osteoporosis, heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s and breast cancer, macular degeneration, urinary incontinence, arthritis, tooth loss, hair loss and many other maladies that affect us as we age. Excess belly fat is another symptom of low hormones, particularly low estradiol.
As we continue to age and as we continue to avoid taking these life-saving natural hormones that our bodies produce in abundance in young healthy persons, we see an ever increasing incidents of the diseases of aging. As more of us live to the age of 85, more than one half of us face the prospect of not knowing what we are doing and being totally dependent on others (Alzheimer’s Disease). Further, the diseases of aging are affecting a younger population. unnecessarily.
The unfortunate truth is that many of the maladies affecting us (in our both younger years and later years) are preventable.
Pharmaceutical Companies Push Their Drugs
When I left the private practice of medicine and my clinical professorship in Houston at Baylor college of Medicine, I quickly changed my perspective on the use of hormones in both pre and post-menopausal women. I can’t recall even one time where a representative from a compounding companying came into my office detailing me about the benefits of natural hormones nor did they ever discuss the benefits of a healthy diet, exercise, or stress reduction.
*The pharmaceutical companies frequently sent their representatives in to talk to me about their synthetic, patented products and even left samples for me to hand out to patients. They left studies that they had done extolling the many benefits of these synthetic hormones. They glossed over the fact that the estrogen the offered, Premarin, was made from horse’s urine. They glossed over any side effects and extolled the many supposed virtues and the many studies financed by the pharmaceutical company.
Risks vs. Benefits
To expand on some other issues that concern me besides breast cancer is the issue of heart disease and estrogen therapy. *In my 33 years of practice, I can’t recall seeing one patient die of a heart attack who had ovaries that were functioning. Why? Because their ovaries were protecting them from arteriosclerosis by the hormone estrogen.
*The post-menopausal death rate without estrogen is increased as shown in a recent Danish study. This Danish study rebuked the increase in heart disease and stroke in the Woman’s Health Initative study (and the WHI study’s risk involved again, Provera). In the WHI Study, women were started on HRT (hormone replacement therapy) at age 65 rather than at menopause as was done in the Danish study. Further, the HRT in the WHI was PREMPRO. The earlier you start bioidentical hormone therapy the more protection.
*Another very important neglected condition is osteoporosis, which can clearly be prevented by administrating estrogen, progesterone, testosterone and vitamin D3. This debilitating disease will be running rampant unless women are treated with these hormones. Yes, vitamin D3 is a hormone. The death rate for a fracture of the hip is over 50% and the cost of care for fractures in women is in the billions of dollars.
I think it is time that providers take their heads out of the sand and pay attention to the science, and analyze the information to help women prevent these deadly, costly and debilitating conditions.