The Great Hormone Debate; Bio-Identicals, and why we’re mad as hell
Cheryl Benton, Founder/Publisher
The Three Tomatoes
Some time in the late ‘90s we went to see our ob-gyn with complaints of hot flashes, loss of concentration, sleep loss, and irritability. Not a horrible thing mind you, but not a great think either when you’re expected to be at the top of your game everyday in the fast paced crazy world of NYC advertising. In a NY minute the doctor had written out a prescription for HRT while tolling their virtues, with stories like, “I can always tell when a woman has been on estrogen…her skin looks so much better.” So like thousands of other women, we took our little pills, feeling so much better, and didn’t think twice about them until 2002 when the Women’s Health Initiative conducted the largest study ever done on hormone therapy and concluded that taking estrogen and progestin (a prescription called Prempro) could increase the risk of both breast cancer and heart disease, which we had been told it would help prevent. It was front page news for weeks, and many of us felt betrayed by the medical profession.
Now at the time we were taking Premarin which is the estrogen only pill, since our uterus had been removed, but not the ovaries. The progestin was added for women with uterus’s because it had previously been determined that estrogen alone could cause uterine cancer and progestin protected from that. Interestingly enough, the WHI did not find any increases in breast cancer or heart diseases in women taking estrogen only, although that information was hard to find at the time and is still not widely publicized. What was also rarely reported at the time was that on the plus side of the study they found a lower risk of colon cancers and risk fractures among women on HT.
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Yes, tomatoes, it’s taken Oprah to get to menopause for the topic of hormone replacement therapy, and women’s options including bio-identical hormones to get center stage attention again. There are new treatments, and there is new thinking on this subject. Thank goodness she’s getting the word out and helping women get smarter.
Her efforts moved us to share our personal experience. We have absolutely no medical training, but we are trying to get as smart as we can on the topic of “us”. Obviously each woman has to do her own research, talk to her doctors, and make her very personal decision based on her medical history and her needs.
Joann Manson, MD
Christine Northup, MD