Your Plunging Hormones May Be Putting Your Heart at Risk!
Printed with permission from Dr. Mark Stengler’s Health Revelations (www.healthrevelations.com)
…But this safe, natural therapy paves the way to preventing cardiovascular disease
Have you ever noticed that, when it comes to the topic of replacing hormones, my colleagues in mainstream medicine flip-flop more than politicians?
They have been so wary of the replacement therapy that has emerged using bioidentical hormones—which has proven to be completely safe—and yet they’re still promoting a form of hormone replacement therapy that can cause changes in the body that are known to be associated with both cancer and cardiovascular disease!
Fortunately, the mainstream has started to come around, with more and more doctors shifting their attention toward bioidentical hormone replacement therapy, thanks to some very strong studies that have proven not only its safety but also its value in protecting your heart.
But still, there are always those “Chicken Littles” on the conventional side who are too quick to hit the panic button and dismiss progressive therapies that they don’t quite understand fully.
That’s why it’s up to you to get a handle on how your body changes over time as you age—and how you can ignore the alarmist headlines and beat the clock.
Ladies, no matter what your estrogen levels are right now… whether you’re pre-menopausal, menopausal, or postmenopausal… keep reading to get the “real” science behind how this “female” hormone affects your body.
An ancient practice that was taken too far
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) first became popular as a medical treatment in the 1960s. Although mainstream medicine claimed a “breakthrough” at the time, in reality, ancient Chinese texts describe elders rejuvenating their sex lives by drinking the hormone-packed urine of teenage boys and girls.
In traditional Chinese medicine, some doctors/practitioners would also engage in a form of hormone therapy by adding the placenta (a.k.a. the “afterbirth”) of a newborn to soup or making it into pills.
While both practices may sound strange to you in these “modern” times, conventional medicine’s source of hormones for women by in the mid-20th century was equally as strange.
In 1932, researchers figured out how to isolate the estrogen from pregnant women. But in 1942, the focus shifted with the introduction of Premarin, an estrogen product derived from urine… but not from human urine.
It came from pregnant mares (a.k.a. female horses), who were nothing more than unwilling donors, kept in tight stalls throughout their pregnancy.
But that didn’t deter millions of women from taking it—or their doctors from prescribing it.
That didn’t happen until we had some scary evidence of what happens when you try to use horse hormones on humans.
From fad to flop
Premarin got its biggest boost when gynecologist Dr. Robert Wilson published the book Feminine Forever in 1966. Excerpts of it appeared in many women’s magazines of the time.
The book was essentially a promotional piece for Premarin and was heavily promoted by its maker, Ayerst Laboratories (now Wyeth, a subsidiary of Pfizer), which distributed it in doctors’ offices via their pharmaceutical sales reps.
In it, Dr. Wilson stated that menopause was a disease resulting from estrogen deficiency… and that estrogen (from Premarin, of course) was the solution. He argued that this magic pill would restore a woman’s femininity and help her maintain her youth—presumably, FOREVER.
By 1975, Premarin had become so popular that more than six million American women were taking it. Little did they know of the increased risk of uterine and breast cancers, blood clots, and stroke.
Nobody really sounded the alarm until 2002, when a Women’s Health Initiative study on the effects of Premarin combined with a synthetic progestin known as Provera (a.k.a. PremPro) shed light on its cancer-causing potential and cardiovascular risks.1
In fact, the risks were so scary that the WHI study was halted before its scheduled completion, and the next year, the FDA issued multiple warnings to both patients and doctors.2
As pretty much everyone became increasingly concerned over potential serious side effects, the sales of Premarin and PremPro dropped dramatically.
That’s why, for the last decade or so, the conventional medical establishment has been critical of doctors who prescribed bioidentical hormones (especially estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA, growth hormone, and thyroid).
In their minds, all hormones were dangerous! But the fact is, that’s just not true.
No controversy in the scientific literature
First off, the safety rating of bioidentical hormones is excellent, particularly as it relates to cancer risk.
As I’ve shared with you in previous issues of Health Revelations, in summary:
In a long-term study that followed over 80,000 postmenopausal French women for over eight years, researchers found NO significant increase in the risk of breast cancer among users of bioidentical estrogen and progesterone. The risk of breast cancer was increased, however, for women taking estrogen and SYNTHETIC progestin.3
A study of 31,000 postmenopausal women who used estriol (a natural form of estrogen) did not have an increased risk of breast cancer, compared to women who’d never used hormone replacement.4
Bioidentical progesterone actually REDUCES the cancerous effects of synthetic estrogen when it comes to uterine health.5
In a study involving 460 women between the ages of 34 and 78 who were being treated with bioidentical hormone replacement for menopausal symptoms, NONE of the women using bioidentical hormones showed ANY new abnormalities—and those with previous abnormalities actually saw improvement.6
Research has a shown that applying estrogens to the skin along with the use of natural progesterone offer significant benefits and added safety when compared to using synthetic hormones.7
But cancer has been just part of the story. The really big issue has been the concern over how replacing hormones will affect your heart.
Seems like old times
Fortunately, most of the estrogen and progesterone that’s being prescribed to women these days by doctors—many of whom are holistic, and a few conventional—is bioidentical and not synthetic.
An exception is vaginal Premarin, which is becoming popular again due to aggressive marketing by its current manufacturer.
But I wouldn’t recommend Premarin in the form of a vaginal cream, either, since it’s not bioidentical or natural.
Another option would be Estrace or Estriol, both of which contain estrogen derived from plants—not horses!
Don’t let declining estrogen bring down your heart health
As I mentioned earlier, many conventional doctors have been hesitant to prescribe HRT for fear of causing cardiovascular diseases, such as strokes and heart attacks—despite the fact that research has long shown that a DECLINE in estrogen is a factor in the risk of heart disease for menopausal and postmenopausal women!
But now, recent research will likely cause yet another flip-flop of their view on this topic.
A new imaging study by Cedars-Sinai suggests that women using HRT to treat menopausal symptoms have a LOWER risk of death as well as lower levels of plaque buildup in the arteries (a.k.a. atherosclerosis), compared to women not using hormone therapy.8
The research included the health records of more than 4,200 women who received a coronary calcium scan at Cedars-Sinai from 1998 to 2012. This is a CT scan that measures the amount of calcium in the arteries and correlates with plaque buildup, as well as increased risk of heart attack and stroke.In this latest study—after accounting for age, coronary calcium score, and cardiovascular risk factors (including diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol)—women using hormone replacement therapy were:
In this latest study—after accounting for age, coronary calcium score, and cardiovascular risk factors (including diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol)—women using hormone replacement therapy were:
- 30 percent less likely to die than those not on hormone therapy
- 20 percent more likely to have a PERFECT calcium score (indicating a low likelihood of plaque in arteries and low risk of heart attack)
- 36 percent less likely to have a coronary calcium score that indicated extensive atherosclerosis and a 10-fold increase in heart attack risk.9
Translation: Replacing estrogen can keep women alive LONGER and their hearts HEALTHIER than if you were to just let their hormone levels naturally decline over time after menopause!
The mainstream may be finally catching on
It’s not surprising, then, that bioidentical HRT not only doesn’t put your heart at risk, but it actually does benefit your cardiovascular health!
As just a sample of the evidence that’s out there, estrogen has been shown in the scientific literature to:
- Improve total cholesterol by raising HDL (“good”) cholesterol and lowering LDL (“bad”) cholesterol,10 as well as apolipoprotein B, and lipoprotein(a)
- Diminish homocysteine, a risk factor for stroke11
- Reduce levels of fibrinogen, a protein responsible for blood clotting12,13
- Regulate plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1), another factor blood clotting14
- Increase insulin sensitivity (and thereby decrease insulin resistance, a risk factor for CVD)15,16
- Relax stiffness of the arterial wall, a predictor of coronary heart disease17,18
I’d even go so far as to tell you not to be surprised if, in the future, you find your doctor promoting hormone replacement for the PREVENTION of cardiovascular disease!
Just make sure they’re knowledgeable specifically in bioidentical hormones.
Better yet, seek out a holistic doctor who can make sure you are on a well-rounded hormone-balancing program.
- The Vanishing Promises of Hormone Replacement. Science 19 Jul 2002: Vol. 297, Issue 5580, pp. 325-326 DOI: 10.1126/science.297.5580.325 http://science.sciencemag.org/content/297/5580/3252. www.jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/195884
- www.jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/1958843. Agnès Fournier, Alban Fabre, Sylvie Mesrine, MarieChristine Boutron-Ruault, Franco Berrino, Françoise Clavel-
- Agnès Fournier, Alban Fabre, Sylvie Mesrine, MarieChristine Boutron-Ruault, Franco Berrino, Françoise Clavel-Chapelon. Journal of Clinical Oncology, 2008 Mar; 26(8): 1260–1268.4. Micheli A, Muti P, Secreto G, et al. Endogenous sex hormones and subsequent breast cancer in premenopausal women. Int J Cancer. 2004;112(1):130-4
- Micheli A, Muti P, Secreto G, et al. Endogenous sex hormones and subsequent breast cancer in premenopausal women. Int J Cancer. 2004;112(1):130-45. Leonetti HB, Wilson KJ, Anasti JN. Topical progesterone cream has an anti-proliferative effect on estrogen-stimulated endometrium. Fertil Steril. 2003 Jan; 79(1):221-2
- Leonetti HB, Wilson KJ, Anasti JN. Topical progesterone cream has an anti-proliferative effect on estrogen-stimulated endometrium. Fertil Steril. 2003 Jan; 79(1):221-26. Mahmud J, HRT with Cardiovascular and breast Cancer Risk Reduction. J Gen Pract 2013, 1:4.
- Mahmud J, HRT with Cardiovascular and breast Cancer Risk Reduction. J Gen Pract 2013, 1:4.7. L’hermite M, Simoncini T, Fuller S, Genazzani AR. Could transdermal estradiol + progesterone be a safer postmenopausal HRT? A review. Maturitas. 2008
- L’hermite M, Simoncini T, Fuller S, Genazzani AR. Could transdermal estradiol + progesterone be a safer postmenopausal HRT? A review. Maturitas. 2008 Jul Aug;60(3-4):185-201. Epub 2008 Sep 58. Cedars-Sinai. Study: Hormone Replacement Therapy May Help Improve Women’s Heart Health, Overall Survival. Accessed March 31, 2017 at www.cedars-sinai.edu/About-Us/News/News-Releases-2017/Study-Hormone-Replacement-Therapy-May-Help-Improve-Womens-Heart-Health-Overall-Survival.aspx
- Cedars-Sinai. Study: Hormone Replacement Therapy May Help Improve Women’s Heart Health, Overall Survival. Accessed March 31, 2017 at www.cedars-sinai.edu/About-Us/News/News-Releases-2017/Study-Hormone-Replacement-Therapy-May-Help-Improve-Womens-Heart-Health-Overall-Survival.aspx
- Ibid.10. www.my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/estrogen-hormones-heart-health
- www.my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/estrogen-hormones-heart-health11. Christodoulakos, G. E., Lambrinoudaki, I. V., Rizos, D. A., Alexandrou, A., Kountouris, A. V., & Creatsas, G. C. (2006). Endogenous sex steroids and circulating homocysteine in healthy Greek postmenopausal women. HORMONES-ATHENS-, 5(1), 35.
- Christodoulakos, G. E., Lambrinoudaki, I. V., Rizos, D. A., Alexandrou, A., Kountouris, A. V., & Creatsas, G. C. (2006). Endogenous sex steroids and circulating homocysteine in healthy Greek postmenopausal women. HORMONES-ATHENS-, 5(1), 35.12. Margarido, P. F., Bagnoli, V. R., Maggio, D. F. A., Maciel, G. A., Soares Jr, J. M., D’Amico, E. A., & Baracat, E. C. (2010). Transdermal estrogen therapy effects on fibrinogen levels in women with a past history of venous thromboembolism: a pilot study. Clinical and experimental obstetrics & gynecology, 38(3), 232-235.
- Margarido, P. F., Bagnoli, V. R., Maggio, D. F. A., Maciel, G. A., Soares Jr, J. M., D’Amico, E. A., & Baracat, E. C. (2010). Transdermal estrogen therapy effects on fibrinogen levels in women with a past history of venous thromboembolism: a pilot study. Clinical and experimental obstetrics & gynecology, 38(3), 232-235.13. FRÖ, M., Schunkert, H., Hense, H. W., Tropitzsch, A., Hendricks, P., DÖ, A., … & Koenig, W. (1998). Effects of hormone replacement therapies on fibrinogen and plasma viscosity in postmenopausal women. British journal of haematology, 100, 577-581.
- FRÖ, M., Schunkert, H., Hense, H. W., Tropitzsch, A., Hendricks, P., DÖ, A., … & Koenig, W. (1998). Effects of hormone replacement therapies on fibrinogen and plasma viscosity in postmenopausal women. British journal of haematology, 100, 577-581.
- Gopal, S., Garibaldi, S., Goglia, L., Polak, K., Palla, G., Spina, S., … & Simoncini, T. (2012). Estrogen regulates endothelial migration via plasminogen activator inhibitor (PAI-1). Molecular human reproduction, 18(8), 410-416.
- Gupte, A. A., Pownall, H. J., & Hamilton, D. J. (2015). Estrogen: an emerging regulator of insulin action and mitochondrial function. Journal of diabetes research, 2015.
- Scuteri, A., Lakatta, E. G., Bos, A. J. G., & Fleg, J. L. (2001). Effect of estrogen and progestin replacement on arterial stiffness indices in postmenopausal women. Aging Clinical and Experimental Research, 13(2), 122-130.
- Mattace-Raso, F. U., van der Cammen, T. J., Hofman, A., van Popele, N. M., Bos, M. L., Schalekamp, M. A., … & Witteman, J. C. (2006). Arterial stiffness and risk of coronary heart disease and stroke. Circulation, 113(5), 657-663.