Hormones and Your Health is new column about health and youthful vitality by Christine Farrell, a renowned specialist in men and women’s hormones.
by Christine Farrell, MSN, FNP-C
There has been much controversy and fear around hormones ever since the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) published in 2002. The media ran with it and there has been no going back- until now. What you weren’t told is that the same study that has scared women away from estrogen had another part to it with a very different outcome.
What was spread across news shows and Women’s Health magazines was only a portion of the first part of the study that used Premarin (a type of estrogen from pregnant horses) combined with Provera (a synthetic form of Progesterone called a Progestin). This study did show an increase in breast cancer in all of the age groups and heart attacks in women over 60 who had never been on hormones before. What you didn’t hear in the media was the “Estrogen Only” arm of the study that did not include the synthetic Provera/ Progestin. This part of the study ran for over 10 years and included over 27,000 women.
When only Premarin (estrogen) was given to the women, there was a 28 percent decrease in breast cancer in every age group. Women who started estrogen at the onset of menopause actually had an almost 50 percent decrease in heart disease and heart attacks and this benefit carried on into the older years. You see, estrogen wasn’t the bad guy (or girl) that we were told it was. Estrogen is actually your friend.
Estrogen has over 400 different actions on a woman’s body, and we certainly feel the loss of its effect when we go through menopause! Our cholesterol goes up without proper estrogen and this is the cause of increased heart disease and strokes. Estrogen has been shown to help prevent the shrinking of the brain that causes our “brain fog” and later can lead to dementia. It helps to stabilize insulin levels which prevent Type 2 Diabetes and the dreaded mid-life weight gain.
You have likely heard about the effects of estrogen in preventing osteoporosis and it also helps keep joints and muscles lubricated and less painful. Several autoimmune and neuromuscular diseases have also been shown to be triggered by the drop in estrogen that occurs at menopause.
Not only do we have all these increased health risks without estrogen, but we don’t typically feel or look our best either! Hot flashes, insomnia, vaginal dryness, etc., can certainly make a girl feel less than sexy. There is a reason we don’t have these issues in our 20s–it’s the hormones! Hormones are actually the fountain of youth that we are all searching for.
There remains so much misinformation in the media and even in the medical community, and women are suffering the consequences. We need an open and honest dialogue about menopause and hormone therapy. Let’s get it started!
Farrell will be a regular columnist for Conejo Valley Happening. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them in our “comments” section.
Christine Farrell MSN, FNP-C is a specialist in the area of hormonal imbalances in men and women and has been in practice in the area for over 17 years. She is an Associate Clinical Professor at University of California, Los Angeles and is also an alumnus of the University. Farrell belongs to the North American Menopause Society, The International Menopause Society, and the International Hormone Society. Her practice, Bio-Identical Wellness in Westlake Village, incorporates the use of bio-identical hormones, nutrition, supplements and lifestyle changes to promote wellness of both the physical and emotional aspects of health.