Are you doing everything you can to live a long, healthy life? If you’re a postmenopausal woman, you may not be. That’s because many women are avoiding one of the best ways to increase their life span.
I’ve told my readers many times the fundamental secret to slowing down aging and preventing disease. All you have to do is maintain youthful levels of cellular energy production.
And an incredible study showed one of the most effective ways for women to do this.
I’ve told you in the past that the secret to cellular energy production is the mitochondria. As you may know, the mitochondria make almost all of the energy in your cells.
The mitochondria are tiny bubbles that are found throughout your cells. Every cell in the body has thousands of mitochondria.
The problem is as you get older your cells start losing mitochondria because of decreased mitochondrial biogenesis. And as we lose mitochondria, we lose the ability to make energy. This is at the center of what makes us so susceptible to disease and frailty as we get older.
So how can you avoid this? One of the most powerful ways is by maintaining youthful estrogen levels.
The researchers wanted to look at the effect of estrogen on mitochondrial biogenesis. Remember that phrase “mitochondrial biogenesis.” It refers to the ability of the cells to replace old and worn out mitochondria with new ones. Mitochondrial biogenesis is essential for maintaining vitality, strength, and optimal cellular function.
The fact that we lose mitochondria from decreased biogenesis is well established in medical circles. But why we lose them is another matter.
Fortunately, these researchers figured it out. They knew that our cells have fewer mitochondria as we get older. They also knew that our bodies become deficient of hormones during the same time. So they wondered if hormone deficiency could be responsible for the loss of mitochondria.
Here’s What They Did:
They looked at three different kinds of thyroid cells. In some of the cells, they inhibited the function of an estrogen receptor called “estrogen-related receptor alpha (ERRa).” Keep in mind that hormones exert their influence on cells by activating certain receptors in the cells in the same way that the right key can open up a lock. By blocking ERRa in these cells, they blocked the effect that a particular estrogen called estradiol could have in them. What happened when they did this was astounding. All of the cells began to lose mitochondria at an accelerated rate. Then they took the experiment a step further.
They took the same cell lines and did the opposite — they increased the number of ERRas. This increased the effect of estradiol on the cells.
When they did this, the opposite thing happened. The cells started making more mitochondria. And at the end of the experiment, they had many more mitochondria than the cells with the normal number of ERRas. In other words, they were able to show that estrogen, particularly the estrogen estradiol, is a potent stimulator of mitochondrial biogenesis.
All of the estrogen stimulated cells produced greater amounts of cellular energy. No wonder women who replace their sagging estrogen levels with bioidentical hormones live longer and are more vital and resistant to disease.
But Isn’t Estrogen Replacement Dangerous?
This study and many others that look at that question strongly suggest just the opposite. It not only isn’t dangerous to replace deficient estrogen levels, it is dangerous not to replace them. All of the published studies that show increased risks from taking “hormones” don’t really use hormones. They use synthetic drugs with hormone-like effects.
This was the case with the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI). This massive study 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?
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.
Why Drug Therapy Is Dangerous
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.
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. This point was just recently brought home by an article in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Bioidentical Hormones Prevent Calcified Arteries
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, the “estrogen” these women took 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. And you certainly don’t need Provera. Your body isn’t deficient in drugs. It’s deficient in hormones. So avoid the drugs.
My best advice to women is to find a doctor well versed in prescribing bioidentical hormones. Replace them as soon as they start to become deficient. This will typically start to happen in your late 40s to early 50s.
You can find a doctor well-versed in bioidentical hormones at www.acam.org and at www.a4m.com.
Mirebeau-Prunier, D., S. Le Pennec, C. Jacques, et al. “Estrogen-related receptor alpha and PGC-1-related coactivator constitute a novel complex mediating the biogenesis of functional mitochondria.” FEBS Journal, vol. 277 no. 3, Pages 713 - 725. Published Online: 11 January 2010.
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.