Volume 2, Issue 28
July 9, 2009
The safe hormone therapy that prevents calcified arteries
Have you stopped taking estrogen pills out of fear that they're dangerous? If so, you're not alone. But you don't have to be afraid of hormones. Let me explain why.
About five years ago, the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) showed that "hormone replacement therapy" can increase your risk of heart disease, cancer, strokes, and dementia.
At the same time, according to the press, the study showed absolutely no substantial benefit from the treatment. No benefit and significant risk? A woman would have to be a fool to keep on taking her hormones after reading that, right?
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The problem is that these terrible results from the WHI study were not about hormone replacement therapy at all. They were about drug replacement therapy. Drug replacement therapy is when a doctor uses a drug to replace a deficient hormone instead of using the actual hormone. Common sense should tell you that this not only does not make sense, but is likely to be dangerous.
Drug replacement therapy is a two-punch combination to the body. First, it does nothing to correct the deficiency. And second, it introduces a new foreign substance into the body.
In the case of the WHI study, the researchers used the drug Provera. Provera is what most doctors use as a substitute for the hormone progesterone. Women taking Provera not only continue to have a progesterone deficiency, but they also get to have all the side effects that come with a drug. The moral? Don't replace your deficient levels of hormones with drugs. Replace them by taking hormones that are identical to what is already in your body.
I'm referring to bio-identical hormones. When you replace deficient levels of hormones with bio-identical hormones, you will age much more slowly. You will also have a much lower chance of developing all of the diseases that come with aging. Diseases such as heart disease. This point was just recently brought home by an article in the New England Journal of Medicine.
For years heart disease researchers have known of the relationship between how much calcium is present in the coronary arteries (the arteries that serve the heart itself) and heart disease. The more calcium you have in these arteries, the greater your risks of having a heart attack.
In this study, researchers measured the coronary arteries of 1,069 women aged 50-59 for calcium content. Half were taking estrogen, the other half placebo pills. On average, the ones taking estrogen had 30% less calcium in their arteries than those taking the placebo. Better yet, when the researchers looked at the women who were in the highest risk category (those with calcium scores greater than 300), they found that there were almost twice as many women in the estrogen-deprived group who had the elevated levels than those who were taking estrogen. This study provides more evidence that estrogen actually protects your heart. For women, estrogen is truly heart medicine.
Now having said all this, let me make it clear that the "estrogen" that these women were taking was not really estrogen. Yes, that's right. They were not getting hormone replacement therapy. They were getting drug replacement therapy. In this case, it was the drug Premarin. Premarin is a drug that closely resembles estrogen, but is not identical to it.
Even so, the drug had enough of an estrogen effect that the women taking it were at a much lower risk of heart disease than those taking nothing. How much better would the results have been if instead of giving these women Premarin, they had been given them real, bio-identical estrogen?
I don't think you need Premarin. Your body isn't deficient in drugs. It's deficient in hormones. So avoid the drugs and find a doctor in your area that uses bioidentical hormones. You can find one at www.acam.org. Talk with one of these doctors to see if you could benefit. It could save your life.
Finding your Real Cures,
Frank Shallenberger, MD
REF: Manson JE, Allison MA, Rossow JE, et al. Estrogen therapy and coronary-artery calcification. New England journal of Medicine 356;25, June 21, 2007. 2591-2602.
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