Bioidentical Hormone Therapy Resources
Although bioidentical hormones are hardly new, their widespread use is quite novel. For this reason, no long-term studies have been completed exclusively proving the efficacy or long-term effects of bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT.) However, other long-term studies and analyses measuring the safety and efficacy of both synthetic and bioidentical hormones have been and continue to be completed.
The Women's Health Initiative
The first-ever long-term study of hormone replacement therapy was the widely-known Women’s Health Initiative (WHI). This study began in 1991 and was expected to run for 15 years, observing the effects of hormone therapy, using synthetic/traditional hormones, on postmenopausal women. The focus of the study was to define the risks and benefits of using synthetic hormone therapy to potentially prevent heart disease, breast cancer, colorectal cancer and osteoporosis in postmenopausal women.
One branch of the study was abruptly halted in 2002, when researchers began to observe significantly adverse health effects in women on combined estrogen-progestin therapies.
The subjects of the study were limited to postmenopausal women, with a combined average age of sixty-eight. These two factors are significant - most of the women studied had been in a state of hormonal decline or complete loss of hormones for 15 years or more, putting them at-risk for the development of diseases that estrogen, progesterone and testosterone might have prevented if administered earlier in the lifespan.
Synthetic vs. Bioidentical
It is important to note that the WHI study used synthetic hormones, not bioidentical hormones for therapies administered to the subjects throughout the study. Synthetic hormones are not designed to mimic the natural structure of the hormones found inside the human body. Instead, synthetic hormones bind tightly to the specified cell receptors, causing prolonged stimulation. This action inhibits the natural metabolic process designed for hormones metabolism and also contributes to the body’s inability to wean the synthetic hormones from your system.
In the March 2011 issue of the medical journal, Menopause, the findings of the California Teacher’s Study (CTS) were published. This was a long-term analysis surveying, measuring and observing the effects of hormone therapy –synthetic or bioidentical – on 71,000 retired female teachers between the year 1995 and 2004. The CTS study revealed that women aged 34 to 59 experienced a decreased risk of heart disease with the use of hormone therapy, while women aged 70 to 84 saw no increase in heart disease risk. When compared to the WHI, the results were consistent - women of the WHI study, aged 50 to 59, also experienced a decreased risk of heart disease, while the placebo group (those not receiving hormone therapy) experienced an increased risk.
The WHI study was divided into three groups: one receiving nothing (placebo), one group receiving Premarin (horse estrogen), and the last group receiving Prempro (Premarin plus Provera, the synthetic progesterone). When comparing the women who received no hormone therapy to the women receiving Premarin (horse estrogen) alone, there was actually a decrease (although not significant) in breast cancer. It is only when adding the synthetic progestin Provera that we saw an increase in breast cancers when compared to those women who received no hormone therapy. Studies have revealed that natural progesterone, unlike synthetic progesterone, protects the breasts against cancer.
Stroke and Blood Clots
Recent studies have concluded that birth control pills, i.e., synthetic forms of oral estrogen, have been linked to an increased risk of blood clots and stroke. This is attributed to the effect of oral estrogens on the liver - increasing proteins that clot your blood and therefore, increasing your risk of blood clots or stroke. This effect is not seen with natural estrogens given in the cream form through the skin. This may be due to the fact that estrogen given as a cream does not have to pass through the liver as it is absorbed into your system.
The WHI showed that women taking synthetic estrogens had a decreased risk of hip fractures. In recent studies, researchers continue to conclude that both forms of hormone therapy reduce the risk of hip fractures and osteoporosis.
A November 2011 study, also published in the journal, Menopause, took a closer look at the effects of discontinuation of HRT at varying points in the lifespan. This study analyzed the bone density of 50,000 women who were either on HRT or had discontinued use. These women were followed for 6.5 years, during which time researchers observed a 55 percent increase in hip fractures amongst women who had discontinued HRT. Even more disconcerting was the steady decline of bone density observed each year for women who never returned to HRT.
Discover Natural Hormone Balance
BodyLogicMD affiliated physicians do not support the use of synthetic hormones and instead offer the natural alternative, bioidentical hormones. Unlike synthetic hormones, bioidentical hormones are structural replicas of endogenous human hormones. Bioidentical hormones are derived from soy, yams and other plant extracts, which are modified in a lab to identically mimic the molecular structure of your hormones.
For optimal results, the physicians’ of the BodyLogicMD network evaluate your symptoms and only advise hormone therapy if an imbalance is present. If your hormone levels are within normal range, your physician will advise you on lifestyle choices, such as nutrition planning and guidance for routine physical activity, to ensure you maintain balanced levels. Hormone balance combined with balanced nutrition and routine exercise is correlated with a decreased risk of disease, increased energy and a renewed vitality for men and women.