Women are confused when it comes to hormones. To make matters worse, so are their doctors. You hear it all the time: hormones cause cancer. This statement has women paralyzed despite the fact that they’re suffering from menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, loss of libido, insomnia, depression, etc. But think about it. Women’s hormone levels peak in their twenties. If hormones cause cancer, wouldn’t women in their twenties have high incidence of disease? Instead, what we find is that when women reach mid-life and their hormone levels begin to drop we begin to see cancer, cardiovascular disease, stroke, osteoporosis and degenerative diseases. So there’s something about the statement that hormones cause cancer that mainstream medicine is missing.
Why all the confusion? The answer to the controversy lies in the definition of a hormone. The media makes no differentiation between bioidentical hormones and counterfeit hormones such as Prempro and Premarin. Because the term ‘bioidentical’ is often labeled a marketing term, it’s time to set the record straight. Bioidentical hormones are molecularly identical to what our bodies make. Because natural progesterone and the estrogens are biologically identical in structure to the hormones produced by the body, your cells respond to them in exactly the same way that they respond to the hormones produced by your own body. Meanwhile, counterfeit hormones are the result of manipulating the original structure to make it patentable without giving any concern to what these counterfeit hormones are doing to women’s bodies. Counterfeit hormones, by definition, are not hormones. And your body doesn’t recognize them as such either. It’s like putting Chevy parts in Ford. It just doesn’t work.
Just this past month, two juries instructed Pfizer to pay punitive damages to the tune of $113 million to two women who were diagnosed with breast cancer after taking the counterfeit hormones, Premarin and Prempro. The juries found that Wyeth Pharmaceuticals knew that Premarin and Prempro were dangerous prior to the negative findings of the 2002 Women’s Health Initiative Study, which studied more than 15,000 women between the ages of 50 and 79 and concluded that Prempro, a counterfeit hormone, increased the risk of breast cancer, heart attack, and stroke significantly. For Wyeth’s blockbuster, which raked in $2 billion in 2002, this was a lethal blow. Or was it?
As the first headlines of the study went out across the nation, doctors quickly pulled millions of women off any and all hormone replacement therapy. Women and their doctors were told that hormones are dangerous and could cause cancer. No one seemed to note that the Women’s Health Initiative’s findings were based on counterfeit hormones, not true bioidentical hormones. At this point modern medicine began to patch up women’s menopause symptoms with sleep aids and antidepressants in hopes that maybe if they just swept everything under the rug they could pretend the symptoms were only in their patient’s heads. But in the end, it was just a rug with a huge lump at its center. It didn’t make anything go away, quite the contrary, it made things worse.
Despite the bad publicity, in 2004 the North American Menopause Society (NAMS) and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) announced that Premarin and Prempro should be introduced back into the market. Was it the cry of sleep deprived, frustrated, menopausal women dependent upon their antidepressants or more likely, the “ka-ching” sound coming from the drug company coffers that made them put an obviously dangerous drug back on the market? You would think this decision must have come after solid findings disputing the Women’s Health Initiative Study, but no. There were no new findings or studies. They just stated that Premarin and Prempro could be used for the treatment of menopausal symptoms, but in lower doses. They’re still being prescribed today, despite the fact that they have been shown to be dangerous. Thousands of women battered by breast cancer are still awaiting trials after these drugs have wreaked havoc on their lives. It’s truly a crime that these drugs are still allowed on the market.
Sadly, throughout the media’s assault on hormones, they never took the time to separate the good guys from the bad guys. No one has taken the time to talk about the fact that bioidentical progesterone and estrogen, which are an exact match to the hormones made by your body, have been shown to ameliorate the symptoms of menopause. Has anyone said that bioidentical progesterone has actually been shown to decrease the risk of breast cancer? No. No one’s talking about it because there isn’t any money in something that you can’t patent. You can’t patent what God has made.
It’s 2009 and we’re still confused. We’re still afraid. Most doctors still know very little about bioidentical hormones yet prescribe counterfeits such as Premarin and Prempro. Many women feel hopelessly stuck with their symptoms and are given a prescription for an antidepressant just to get them out of the doctor’s office. But it doesn’t have to be this way. You are not stuck with your symptoms and there is a way that works with your body rather than against it. You are not left subject to the misinformation and bias presented by the media. Educate yourself about hormones and if it’s not something that works naturally with your body analyze it and you’ll be sure to find a catch. Let’s put an end to the confusion. Biologically identical hormones, alongside those that your body produces on its own, are the only ones that deserve to be called hormones.