Heart disease, osteoporosis and dementia increase with age.
New information supports prescribing estrogen to reduce these risks.
Few doctors will prescribe a hormone replacement following menopause because the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) showed the risks of use far outweighed its benefits. According to the study, prescribing hormone replacements to block hot flashes put women at risk of breast cancer, uterine cancer, strokes and blood clots.
Hormone supplementation is complex. There are many pros and cons, but the WHI conclusion made it easy for doctors to just say no.
However, new research may reverse that practice. It might be time to once reconsider the use of hormone replacement for some woman.
Loss of ovarian hormone effects after menopause (or surgical ovarian removal) results in reduced bone density, leading to osteoporosis and broken bones. Many other symptoms such as skin wrinkling, hair changes and reduced libido are non-life threatening, but are irritating. In addition, serious health problems evolve over years and impact long term health.
♥ Heart disease
Heart disease is the #1 cause of death in women.
There was a time when we were told estrogen had no effect on cholesterol, but a recent study showed reduced estrogen resulted in decreased function and effectiveness of HDL. HDL is High Density Lipoprotein, the good cholesterol. We want this number to be high.
♥ In a Danish study, women who took estrogen after menopause had a significant reduction in heart attack, heart failure and mortality (with no increase in cancer, clots or stroke).
♥ A Japanese study on menopausal women reported similar favorable heart findings and, in addition, showed improved bone density.
Osteoporosis results in more than 1.5 million fractures each year.
Fifty percent of all women over the age of 50 will suffer an osteoporosis-related fracture. Estrogen aids in calcium metabolism and is a key component of bone mass. Loss of estrogen with menopause contributes to weak bones and fractures in aging women. Poor diet and lack of exercise during adolescence reduce bone strength in later years. Proper exercise, vitamin D and adequate calcium intake are beneficial for bone health.
Alzheimer’s disease is the 6th leading cause of death in the US – 2/3rds of these are women. At this time, Alzheimer’s is the only cause of death in the top ten that cannot be prevented or cured. The good news is, a recent preliminary study of the brain showed positive estrogen effects on the hippocampus (memory area) in women taking estrogen. Hormone replacement may reduce dementia in women. (See: Estrogen is back in the news. www.lipsticklogic.com)
As the population ages, dementia, osteoporosis and heart disease are becoming more prevalent. It is important to re-examine what can be done to reduce these debilitating illnesses. Estrogen replacement may once again be appropriate in some women.
Note: Why some women cannot take estrogen supplements.
There are 230,000 new cases of Breast Cancer each year and, annually, 40,000 women die from the disease.
There are many types of breast cancer. Some breast cancers result from genetic mutations, but 85% of breast cancers occur in women with no family history.
In some types of breast cancer, hormone replacement supports abnormal cell growth, helping the cancer cells grow and spread. These cancer cells have surface markers for estrogen and/or progesterone. This means hormone supplements should not be prescribed. A personal history of breast cancer or uterine/ovarian cancer also precludes the use of replacement therapy.
In the Women’s Health Initiative, the highest risk for breast cancer was associated with hormone replacement when both estrogen and progestin were prescribed. Women who have had a hysterectomy do not require progestin.
For additional information on similar topic see our other women’s health blog:www.lipsticklogic.com