Good news about estrogen for a change!
You probably haven’t heard anything about it in the media, but estrogen has been shown to cut down on heart attacks, heart failure and death from all causes by almost half. In a study recently released in the British Medical Journal, 1,000 Danish women showed that there is a markedly decreased amount of heart disease and death when bioidentical estrogen is started soon (within 2 years of last menstrual period) and used for 10 years. This was a long-term study (16 years total) which also looked at complications such as cancer risk (specifically breast cancer), blood clots and strokes. There was no increase in any of these serious problems. (To read the study, click here).
Adding further to our understanding of heart disease and estrogen, a new study in the journal Menopause shows that women have twice as much cardiovascular disease with early menopause. (To read the study, click here.) Whether they had a surgical (ovaries removed) or natural early menopause (before age 46), loss of estrogen with early menopause has been shown to increase the risk of heart attack and stroke across all ethnic groups. Cardiovascular disease is the #1 cause of death in women, and estrogen is one of the most important preventions, so I highly recommend bioidentical hormone replacement.
That’s the good news. The bad news is the fact that millions of women stopped taking their life-giving hormones and delayed starting them based on the very misleading results of the Women’s Health Initiative which used a deadly form of progesterone (Provera) and a clot-promoting form of estrogen (Premarin). Even the women in the Danish study were recommended to stop their hormones when the Women’s Health Initiative results were released, although they were taking safer forms of hormones.
Provera, which was used in Women’s Health Initiative, should be off the market. It is a synthetic form of progesterone which has been shown to increase breast cell growth in the lab and breast cancer risk in women. Why is it still the most commonly-used form of progesterone? For one thing, the safer alternatives, Prometrium and/or compounded progesterone are not on most insurance company formularies. That means that you can have your doctor prescribe them for you, but your insurance company is not likely to pay for them. With a retail price of $70-127 a month, many women cannot afford to take them. Compounded formulations may be considerably cheaper depending on the pricing your doctor has worked out with the compounding pharmacy.
I encourage women to seek out bioidentical hormones which can be given safely and effectively to keep us feeling good and to prevent major disease.