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Aug 23rd, 2019

Americans are becoming more and more aware that there is a new approach to aging and are taking action to reverse the process of aging.

As I've written in many of my blogs, successful anti-aging begins and ends with bioidentical hormone replacement. The effects of real hormone replacement are so remarkable and life altering (for the better), that it threatens big business (i.e. look at the losses of Wyeth (now owned by Pfizer) from the Women's Health Initiative study on HRT). As a result, the opposition continues to discredit the theory of restoration to optimal health through hormone replacement. Big business realizes that if we all get to feel this good on real hormone replacement then we won't need many (or any) of their drugs. But as information infiltrates through books from many great authors on the subject millions of people are now choosing restoration and in doing so realize that we can not only turn back the clock but in many cases eliminate degenerative disease risk---and with it the subsequent need for hospitalization, toxic drugs, and nursing home confinement.

I have been attacked for offering information on this 'other way' to age, through hormone replacement, avoiding pharmaceuticals unless absolutely necessary, and eating good, real, nutritious food. It makes one wonder what I am espousing that bothers everyone so much. There are studies for hormones that are never talked about in the big business world because they don't want you to know the results of those studies. If they did, then the companies who make synthetic hormones would do their study against bioidentical hormones and give us the results.

The data compiled by scientific experts who disagree with the absurd notion that aging humans should stand by and do nothing to reduce their risk of degenerative disease and claim that natural approaches are not effective in maintaining optimal health and can cause disease is amazing to me.

My position: I believe that bioidentical female hormone replacement offers significant safety and efficacy advantages over conventional hormone replacement therapy.

What my critics say: There are no published studies in peer-reviewed journals showing that bioidentical hormones are safer than other menopause treatments.

My rebuttal to the critics: I have always said that based on the peer-reviewed data, that non-bioidentical progestin increases cancer risk, while bioidentical progesterone does not. A review of the peer-reviewed literature supports this position.

In fact, at least thirteen studies document that non-bioidentical progestin significantly increases estrogen-stimulated breast cell replication and growth.{References: Climacteric. 2002 Sep;5(3):229-35.; J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2005 Jul;96(2):95-108.; Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2001 Aug;68(3):187-98.; J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1999 Dec;84(12):4559-65.; Cancer Res. 1992 Dec 1;52(23):6539-46.; Mol Cell Endocrinol. 1994 Jun;102(1-2):45-52.; Cancer Res. 1990 Dec 15;50(24):7858-62.; Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 1987 Jun 15;145(2):706-11.; Br J Cancer. 1993 May;67(5):945-52.; Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2007 Jan;101(2):125-34.; Breast Cancer Res Treat. 1998 Apr;48(3):221-9.; Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1996 Jan;174(1 Pt 1):93-100.; Cancer Lett. 1986 Feb;30(2):213-8.}

In stark contrast, at least seven studies have shown that bioidentical PROGESTERONE does NOT induce estrogen-stimulated breast cell proliferation. {References: Fertil Steril. 1995 Apr;63(4):785-91.; Fertil Steril. 1998 May;69(5):963-9.; Climacteric. 2003 Sep;6(3):221-7.; Jpn J Cancer Res. 1985 Aug;76(8):699-704.; J Gynecol Obstet Biol Reprod (Paris). 1990;19(3):269-74.; J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2000 Jun;73(3-4):171-81.; Breast Cancer Res Treat. 1986;8(3):179-88.}

Numerous studies have demonstrated an increased risk of breast cancer with the use of non-bioidentical progestins. {References: 25. Int J Cancer. 2005;114:448-54.; JAMA. 2003 Jun 25;289(24):3243-53.; Cancer Causes Control. 2002 Nov;13(9):847-54.; Br J Cancer. 2005 Jun 6;92(11):2049-58.; Br J Cancer. 2005 Apr 11;92(7):1293-7.; Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2002 Jul;11(7):593-600.; Int J Cancer. 2004 May 1;109(5):721-7.; Maturitas. 2004 Sep 24;49(1):44-50.; Int J Cancer. 1999 May 5;81(3):339-44.; JAMA. 2000 Aug 9;284(6):691-4.; J Natl Cancer Inst. 2000 Feb 16;92(4):328-32.; Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2004 Apr;190(4):1141-67.; Obstet.Gynecol. 2002 Dec;100(6):1148-58.; JAMA. 2003 Jun 25;289(24):3254-63.}

However, the use of bioidentical progesterone has not been associated with an increased risk of breast cancer. Quite the contrary, research has revealed that bioidentical progesterone decreases the risk of breast cancer.

For example, in a study published in the journal Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, 80,000 postmenopausal women using various forms of HRT were followed for more than 8 years. Women who used estrogen in combination with non-bioidentical progestins had a 69% increased risk of breast cancer, compared to women who had never used HRT. However, for women who used bioidentical progesterone in combination with estrogen, the increased risk of breast cancer was eliminated with a significant reduction in breast cancer risk compared with non-bioidentical progestin use. {Reference: Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2008 Jan;107(1):103-11.}

In another investigation, researchers found a 40% increased risk of breast cancer for women who used estrogen with non-bioidentical progestin. Interestingly, in women who used estrogen combined with bioidentical progesterone, there was a promising trend toward a reduced risk of breast cancer, compared to women who had never used HRT.{Reference: Int J Cancer. 2005;114:448-54.} In essence, bioidentical progesterone appeared to protect women against the development of breast cancer. These findings confirm work done six years earlier that found a trend toward a reduced risk of breast cancer in 1,150 women using bioidentical progesterone, compared to non-users of progesterone. {Reference: Cancer Detect Prev. 1999;23(4):290-6.}

A 2004 study was published in the International Journal of Cancer reported on the use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and breast cancer incidence in 31,451 postmenopausal women. The analysis of the data determined that women who used estrogen did not have an increased risk of breast cancer, compared to women who never used HRT.{Reference: Int J Cancer. 2004 Oct 20;112(1):130-4.}

The increased risk of uterine cancer in users of non-bioidentical estrogen is well-established in the scientific literature.{Reference: Engl J Med. 1975 Dec 4;293(23):1167-70.; Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1977 Mar 15;127(6):572-80.; Am J Epidemiol. 2009 Jul 1;170(1):12-23.}

As I always talk about, women taking any kind of estrogen should balance it with the appropriate dose of natural progesterone (and definitely NOT synthetic progestins that have been shown to increase breast cancer risk).

I do not advocate the use of oral hormone formulations. I suggest the use of transdermal applications because of the safety benefits associated with topical (through the skin delivery) rather than oral hormone tablets.

My position: I strongly advocate for bioidentical hormone restoration therapy in the context of healthy lifestyle choices to include beneficial nutrients found in cruciferous vegetables shown in peer-reviewed, published studies to support healthy estrogen metabolism and high doses of supplemental vitamin D.

What my critics say: There still is not solid proof that bioidentical hormones won't cause some of the problems associated with FDA-approved unnatural-to-the-body estrogens and progestins.

My rebuttal to the critics: Estrogen is not one compound. It comprises different forms that metabolize in the body to ones that can either promote cancer or protect against it. Compounds found in cruciferous vegetables (such as cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage and Brussels sprouts) help neutralize an estrogen metabolite called 16 alpha-hydroxyestrone that promotes hormone-dependent tissue growth.

For example, major reductions in cancer risk and specific protective mechanisms against hormone-responsive cancers like breast cancer are observed with cruciferous vegetables {References: J Nutr. 2004 May;134(5):1134-8.; Nutr Cancer. 2002;42(1):1-9.; Cancer Res. 1999 Aug 15;59(16):3991-7.; Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2000 May;9(5):477-85.; Mutat Res. 2007 May;635(2-3):90-104.; Cancer Res. 2005 Sep 15;65(18):8548-57.; Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2000 Aug;9(8):773-9.; J Natl Cancer Inst. 1997 May 21;89(10):718-23.; J Cell Biochem.Suppl. 1997;28-29:111-6.}

Studies have also found a strong correlation between blood levels of vitamin D and the risk of breast cancer. A case-control study comparing 1,394 postmenopausal breast cancer patients with 1,365 controls showed that low blood levels of vitamin D were significantly related to breast cancer risk. In fact, women with the highest levels of vitamin D had a nearly 70% reduction in their risk of breast cancer, compared to women with the lowest vitamin D levels. {Reference: Carcinogenesis. 2008 Jan;29(1):93-9.}

Similar research examining the relationship between blood levels of vitamin D and breast cancer risk revealed that women with blood vitamin D levels of approximately 52 ng/mL had a 50% lower risk of breast cancer compared with women who had vitamin D levels below 13 ng/mL.{Reference: J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2007 Mar;103(3-5):708-11.}

In another study, the effects of administering 1,100 IU a day of vitamin D were evaluated in 1,180 postmenopausal women. After only four years, the risk of developing any cancer was 60% lower in the vitamin D group, compared with those in the control group. {Reference Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Jun;85(6):1586-91.}

We know that cancer results from the accumulation of mutations in genes that regulate cellular proliferation. As we age, we develop more of these mutations, thus placing us at far greater cancer risk. Vitamin D favorable effects hundreds of cell proliferation regulating genes and by this mechanism, confers substantial protection against breast and other cancers.

So in summary:

Given the above evidence, aging women should feel confident that bioidentical hormone replacement, when appropriately prescribed, offers a safer and potentially more effective alternative to conventional hormone replacement than with non-bioidentical hormone drugs to help relieve menopausal symptoms and optimize long-term health. The addition of several proven nutrients (such as vitamin D) to a bioidentical hormone regimen can help optimize estrogen metabolism and reduce cancer risk further offering a balanced approach to health maintenance.

Those critics who advocate that aging women can do nothing to stall normal aging processes are condemning their followers to becoming statistics in mainstream medicine's anticipatory revenue assembly line. Drugs for symptoms. Continued aging requires more drugs. More revenue. Instead, I personally prefer to take affirmative steps to guard my health rather than do nothing but wait for premature disease and aging to strike.

I live by the rule of example...if others want what I have relative to health and vitality, then they can feel safe in doing what I do. Because as you can see from the research above, I do my homework.

Read more on Hormones & Cancer here!

Written by Gretchen Jones, PA C

Gretchen Jones, PA is a certified physician assistant specializing in hormone therapy and internal medicine. Along beside her internal medicine clinical experience, she has helped thousands of women effectively and safely manage hormone deficiencies.

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