Easy solutions to the HRT problem you won't hear on your evening news
The hormone replacement therapy (HRT) situation seems to be even more horrifying than we thought. Breast cancer linked to synthetic estrogen-progestin pills may be a faster growing type and harder to detect, which increases the risk for millions of women still using hormone treatment.
Previous studies suggested that breast tumors might be less aggressive in hormone users, but other studies indicate just the opposite. Seeking more definitive answers, researchers took a second look at the government's Women's Health Initiative study. It was canceled last summer after the discovery that estrogen-progestin pills raise the risks of heart attack, stroke, and breast cancer.
The new analysis revealed a clear picture of heightened cancer growth in women taking the synthetic hormones compared with those on a placebo. Hormone users' tumors were larger at diagnosis, and tumors had begun to spread in 25.4 percent of the women, compared with 16 percent of placebo women.
"The researchers said this appears to mean that in women on estrogen-progestin, the tumors both grow faster--that is, they are more aggressive--and escape detection longer," said the Associated Press article covering these new findings. "Overall, women on both hormones faced a 24 percent increased risk of breast cancer." The hormone pills also appear to make breast tissue denser, which hinders the detection of tumors.
What a fine mess we're in.
Who will your doctor send to the slaughter: his cash cow--or you?
Warnings about the dangers of estrogens from horse urine and synthetic progesterone (a combination called Prempro) have been out there for years. It's never been a secret that these were and are cancer-causing chemicals. It's just that no one, especially the doctors prescribing these dangerous medications, wanted to believe the evidence. They had ample warning that they were skating on thin ice, but they shrugged off the proof from the clinical studies. They reassured their patients: "I wouldn't worry about it. These are just preliminary studies. We have used Prempro for years. More research will have to be done." Well, now more research has been done and they're still in complete denial. The bottom line is that HRT is a cash cow for many doctors and in the back of their minds, many of them are asking themselves: "What will we do without the hormone pills?" But maybe they'd be better off asking themselves: "How many patients have I killed with these cancer-causing pills in the name of birth control, menopause, and hot flashes?" If medical history is any indicator, they will deny to the death any wrong-doing and will continue to ignore or argue the research that clearly shows their culpability (just like dentists on the fluoride issue).
Dr. Susan Hendrix of Wayne State University in Detroit, co-author of the new investigation, said: "We've got to find a better way to help women with their menopausal symptoms."
You're right, Susan. But old habits die hard.
Actions to take:
(1) Despite what the media has made it out to be, menopause does not have to be a horrific experience. The myths surrounding it are more dangerous than the physical changes and symptoms themselves. The key to dealing with menopause is not to let it frighten you.
(2) Hot flashes, the most common symptom of menopause, are uncomfortable--there's no arguing that. But keep in mind that they're not dangerous, and using synthetic hormone replacement therapy to get rid of them is hardly worth all the risks. There are several nutrients that can help alleviate the discomfort of hot flashes. Bioflavonoids and vitamin C have been used for decades to reduce the severity of hot flashes. Also, for general hot flash relief, take 400 IU of vitamin E daily.
(3) Hormone replacement therapy doesn't have to be bad--depending on which type you take. All of the negative studies about HRT have used synthetic forms of estrogen and progesterone. Natural forms of these hormones are much, much safer and are available by prescription. If you're interested in learning more about natural HRT, make an appointment with a doctor from the American College for Advancement in Medicine. (For a list of ACAM doctors near you, call 949-583-7666 or visit www.acam.org.)
(4) Aside from all of the HRT hype, preventing breast cancer is important all on its own. Two of the most important preventives are folic acid (2 mg twice daily) and thiamin (500 mg twice daily). RH
"Influence of estrogen plus progestin on breast cancer and mammography in healthy postmenopausal women: the Women's Health Initiative Randomized Trial," Journal of the American Medical Association 2003; 289(24): 3,243-3,253
"Hormone pills may spur breast cancer," Associated Press, 6/27/03