Bio Identical Hormones

By Joel Fuhrman, M.D. www.drfuhrman.com

Just Because They Are Similar To Your Own Hormones Does Not Make Them Safe!

Today, there is a movement that promotes new hormone products called bio-identical hormones. Promoters of bio-identical hormones claim that the products are safe and effective and tout them as antiaging medicines for both men and women.

What about all of the scientific data showing that hormone replacement is dangerous? That research is supposedly irrelevant because it looked at a different type of estrogen, not the new miracle bio-identical estrogen. The original hormone replacement therapy involved estrogen derived from the urine of pregnant horses (Premarin) and synthetic forms of estrogen. Bio-identical estrogen is derived from root vegetables.

Human Hormone Similarity No Guarantee of Safety

Claiming that this new therapy is safe because the hormones are more like our own (bio-identical) makes no sense. In fact, it is well accepted that women whose own bodies produce more estradiol (the primary estrogen) are at higher risk of breast cancer.5 We also know that testosterone levels in women are even more predictive of higher rates of breast cancer.6 Since our own internally produced levels of estradiol and testosterone (which are as bioidentical as you can get) are both highly predictive of breast cancer risk (human estradiol promotes breast cancer), why would we want to increase their levels? If bio-identical hormones are so much like our own hormones, it is logical to think that they will promote breast cancer, too. The fact that these hormones are bio-identical may make them effective in relieving symptoms, but it does not make them safe.

The term “bio-identical” is not standard medical terminology, but rather is a marketing term designed to sell these new hormone products. Bio-identical hormones are derived from plant materials, which to some people make them seem more “natural and better” than the typical synthetic hormones and those derived from horse urine.

Risks Well-Know

In spite of all of the evidence suggesting that risk is involved, hormone replacement therapy is not only prescribed to relieve symptoms of menopause, but also is prescribed for its alleged antiaging effects. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), however, has warned multiple compounding pharmacies that the claims they make about the efficacy and safety of bio-identical hormones are misleading and are not supported by medical evidence.

While the FDA may not consider bio-identical hormones safe and effective, actress Suzanne Somers does (which evidently is enough evidence for some Americans). Somers even claims bio-identical hormones will make you live longer, age more slowly, and reduce, rather than increase, risk of breast cancer.

Somers and others advertise the concept of “balancing your hormones” with the results of blood, urine, and saliva tests. This creates an interesting industry that is designed to look scientific and high-tech to women, but is inherently flawed and based on myths, not science. Postmenopausal hormonal therapy when “balanced” to achieve the levels of a “twenty year old” is not proven to be safe or effective. It results in the excessive use of hormones.

It is possible that certain types of bio-identical hormones may be safer than others, but that doesn’t mean that they are safe, and bio-identical hormones are not safer because they are bio-identical.

If you want to avoid the unpleasant symptoms of menopause, stay slim and start eating a healthful diet as early in life as possible. Your production of estrogen will lessen, and you will eliminate estrogen and its metabolites more effectively.

References

1. Eliassen AH, Missmer SA, Tworoger SS, et al. Endogenous steroid hormone concentrations and risk of breast cancer among premenopausal women. J Natl Cancer Inst 2006;98(19):1406- 15. Tamimi RM, Byrne C, Colditz GA, Hankinson SE. Endogenous hormone levels, mammographic density, and subsequent risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women. J Natl Cancer Inst 2007;99(15):1178-87.

2. Kahán Z, Gardi J, Nyári T, et al. Elevated levels of circulating insulin-like growth factor-I, IGF-binding globulin-3 and testosterone predict hormonedependent breast cancer in postmenopausal women: a case-control study. Int J Oncol 2006; 29(1):193-200.

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