The news is not good for women who take or have taken combined estrogen-progestin therapy.
I’m thrilled to be writing my first blog entry for The Blum Center for Health’s website! We have a new name and new website and are moving into our new physical space in early December. I can’t wait for all my patients to go into our beautiful, functional, teaching kitchen to learn how to make the changes I suggest as part of their treatment plan. I’m also thrilled to have an on-site MindBodySpirit program and a dedicated meditation room so that everyone can have a place to learn how to relax as part of their medical plan. Of course, you can come in and use these facilities without seeing me or one of our Functional Medicine staff, but having it all integrated is the best medicine.
For my first Blog, I want to talk about Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). Just the other day I read a study in my October 20, 2010 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) that I need to share with all my patients. But let me give you a little background first. There are two different kinds of HRT. The first is the kind of HRT that women have been given for the past fifty years. It’s a combination of estrogen from pregnant horses (called Premarin) and a kind of progesterone called a progestin that looks nothing like human estrogen. The second kind of HRT is called bio-identical, because the estrogen and progesterone are exactly, biologically identical to human hormones, even though they are also synthetic. Premarin and Progestins behave differently (badly) in the body compared to bio-identical estrogen and progesterone.
The former is also the kind of HRT that was researched in the Women’s Health Initiative Study. The first bad news from that study came in the year 2000 when results revealed that women who took this form of HRT had an increased risk of breast cancer, stroke and pulmonary emboli and no protection from cardiovascular disease. However, many questions still remained unanswered, so these researchers followed the women for another 11 years. The results were just published in JAMA and revealed that the risk of breast cancer was definitely higher for the women who took the estrogen-progestin therapy. It’s beginning to look like the progestins are even worse than the estrogen.
But, even worse, the breast cancer was more aggressive and more likely to result in death. Despite this information, there are still some doctors who advocate using this form of HRT for a very brief period of time for relief of menopausal symptoms. I cannot understand this when it is highly unlikely that this will prove to be safe.
Why hasn’t the mainstream medical world adopted the use of Bio-Identical Hormone therapy instead, which has shown to be much safer than using these big Pharma drugs? I will leave that discussion for another day, but I believe it is imperative that we do what is best for our patients and resist the drug companies that try to push us in a different direction to prescribe Premarin and Progestins. If you are already taking these kinds of hormones, you can call me, or find a Functional or Integrative Medicine Practitioner who prescribes Bio-Identical Hormones through a compounding pharmacist.