Myth 1: Hormone replacement Causes Breast Cancer
The Women’s Health Initiative of 2002 is to blame for this misinformation. It showed the following results in three arms representing 10,000 women in each:
- 30 cases of invasive breast cancer in the group using no HRT
- 38 cases of invasive breast cancer in the premarin-provera group (unnatural estrogen/progesterone)
- Less than 30 cases of invasive breast cancer for premarin alone (unnatural estrogen)
The third arm of this study was not reported in the initial results, but it indicated the estrogen alone group had a lower incidence of breast cancer than the other two groups, including the women on no hormones! This decreased incidence of breast cancer in the estrogen group persisted in follow up studies 8 years afterwards.
Conclusion: Estrogen does not “cause” breast cancer, but may accelerate its growth if the cancer contains estrogen receptors.
Myth 2: Hormone replacement therapy is only for the purpose of stopping hot flashes
Estrogen therapy can do much more than simply take away a hot flash. Sometimes a higher dose may be required to decrease anxiety, help with sleep, increase sexual desire, help with memory, protect bones, heart and blood vessels.
Myth 3: Hormones should be given at the lowest dose for the shortest period of time
Estrogen should be taken indefinitely for some conditions, such as bone protection, brain and cardiovascular protection, and vulvovaginal atrophy; a condition of vaginal dryness and deterioration of cells, with resultant pain and sexual dysfunction.
Myth 4: Bioidentical hormone are only present in compounded formulas
Not true! Bioidentical means the molecular structure is identical to that which a human produces. Bioidentical hormones may be compounded, but they are present in a variety of prescriptions as well. Premarin is a horse hormone totally different in structure than a human estrogen, and should never be used. It is difficult for the body to eliminate, and does not fit into important brain receptors.
Myth 5: The superior delivery of hormones is in compounded creams, troches, or pills
Again, a huge misconception. Hormones love fat! If they are put in a cream, they are happy to stay there, instead of sinking in the body to the circulation. Creams with estrogen or progesterone should NEVER be applied to the arms!! The hormones, if they get in, will head directly to breast tissue. We want hormones in the circulation, not breast tissue, so they will go to the brain, bones, and heart. Progesterone is too large a molecule to be administered in a cream other than vaginally. Topical progesterone cream has been proven in repeated studies to be insufficient protection for woman who take estrogen therapy for menopause.
Any hormone that is swallowed or left under the tongue for any length of time, will be swallowed, let’s face it. When a hormone, such as estrogen is swallowed, it goes to the lymphatics, directly to the liver for detoxification and distribution to the rest of the body. The bolus of hormones delivered to the liver, stimulate the liver’s other activities, such as making clotting factors This puts the patient at an increased risk of clots and strokes.
Hormone therapy can change lives and keep us healthier longer! Don’t fall for the myths, stay informed.
About Author: Dr. Laurie Marzell is trained and licensed as a primary care provider, and does a general practice. This includes check-up physical exams, PAP smears, cholesterol, and other laboratory tests and radiology tests as needed. She prescribes bioidentical hormones, thyroid, and antibiotics if needed.
Laurie Marzell, N.D., N.C.M.P.
Naturopathic physician and certified menopause practitioner
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