Lorna Vanderhaeghe, BSc
According to a poll conducted by Pollara and commissioned by Eli Lilly.
One year has passed since the Women's Health Initiative Study on hormone replacement therapy made international headlines with reports of increased risk of stroke, heart attack, blood clots and breast cancer.
According to a poll conducted by Pollara and commissioned by Eli Lilly Canada, more than 44 percent of Canadian women using hormone replacement therapy (HRT), the combination of synthetic estrogen and progestins, have abandoned it in the past year. Another 32 percent say they will discontinue HRT in the coming months. Further evaluation of the research has provided even more evidence not only that HRT is dangerous, but also that its beneficial effects are limited.
Another study in the New England Journal of Medicine, March 17, 2003, looked at quality of life outcomes. No significant effects were noted among 1,511 women taking synthetic estrogen plus progestins in regards to better general health, vitality, mental health, depressive episodes or sexual satisfaction. Study researchers stated it best: "In this trial, involving postmenopausal women, estrogen plus progestin did not have a clinically meaningful effect on health-related quality of life."
More than 72 newspaper reports have been written about the dangers of HRT over the last year, yet only a couple offered solutions for the many symptoms of menopause. The women who went off HRT cold-turkey, and those having dozens of hot flashes per day, know they need something. Pharmacists and doctors have been scrambling to understand herbal and bio-identical hormone treatment options. Without extensive training in herbs and natural hormone options, misinformation abounds. Women have been told not to take the herbs black cohosh or dong quai because they are estrogenic, can raise blood pressure and can only be taken for a few weeks, whereas research shows none of this is true. Some women have been refused prescriptions for bio-identical estrogen and progesterone creams even though these creams are readily available through compounding pharmacies. Clinicians state that bio-identical hormones have no research, yet this is simply not true. A review of current research on natural progesterone was published August 2002 in the International Journal of Pharmaceutical Compounding, where 35 papers were reviewed for safety and effectiveness of natural progesterone. Natural bio-identical estrogens have received similar reviews.
Brushing off Symptoms
Yet even with the dangers, some just can't stop developing more hormone therapies. In October 2002, scientists at East Virginia Medical School announced they had developed a toothpaste containing HRT to help women remember their daily dose. Infused with synthetic estradiol, this prescription toothpaste provides another delivery system. Researchers said men who used the paste by accident would probably not be affected, but a daily dose of estrogen could lead to feminizing in males. They also said a woman who kisses her man after using the estrogen-laced paste won't be doing him any harm. I say user beware; this one could leave a bad taste in your mouth.
Over the last year, alive has provided in-depth, informative articles on toxic estrogens in our environment, estrogen-dominant conditions, hysterectomy, herbs for menopause and natural hormone therapies. With the largest number of female baby boomers turning 44 this year, we haven't even reached the peak number of women hitting menopause. Let's achieve optimal health so we can mitigate a nasty menopause and sail through symptom-free.