Archive for March, 2010

New Book on Estrogen Use in Menopause Sheds Light on the Risks and Benefits of Hormone Replacement Therapy and Bioidentical Hormones

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

San Francisco Gynecologist’s Book Helps Women Figure Out What’s Right for Them

Every week it seems like there is new and many times conflicting information about hormone therapy for menopausal women. Now, thanks to a leading gynecologist at a prestigious San Francisco medical center, women can clear up the confusion and take an unbiased look at bioidenticals, the newer, safer hormones that are exact copies of those made in a woman’s body.

Dr. Ricki Pollycove’s Pocket Idiot’s Guide to Bioidentical Hormones is newly published by Alpha Books, a division of Penguin Group, Inc. It is available for $9.95.

This mighty little myth-buster of a book changes attitudes towards estrogen use in menopause. Estrogen use became the center of a storm of controversy in 2002. The resultant confusion strikes at the heart of Baby Boomer women’s confidence about healthy aging and hormones.

With this punchy pocket guide women will abandon old fears about estrogen and get the full benefit of hormone support for total body health.

The books helps women learn about:

–The wise use of estrogen lowers a woman’s risk of breast and colon cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis, spine and hip fractures, and dementia. Even skin cancer outcomes are better in women who take estrogen.

–Because of old fears opportunities for better health are lost by over 80 percent of American women for whom hormone supplements are appropriate.

–Beauty experts agree that estrogen makes for better skin and body tone. Estrogen is better for the internal organ systems as well.

–Women will benefit from appropriate estrogen support throughout the many stages of the menopause transition

–Time-tested truths are revealed through reanalysis of trust worthy data on millions of women (2007 -2009 WHI writer’s group publications and world medical literature in English).

This is a book that bridges the gap between heightened consumer expectations and American-trained physicians. Women will be well-informed for a productive conversation with their doctors and get the hormonal support they need to prevent disease and age with vitality and strength.

Backgrounder on the book

Estrogen is one of the secrets to healthy aging. Controversy has paralyzed millions of women making the decision whether or not to take estrogen to treat the troubling symptoms caused by low estrogen in menopause. Each cell in the body functions better when estrogen levels are at a critical minimum—curiously about the level present in men across their life span. Yes, men do have estrogen and part of their better bones and less wrinkled skin is due to this profound difference in hormone production.

Wise use of estrogen can lower a woman’s risk of osteoporosis, hip fractures, heart disease, colon cancer and dementia. Yet fewer than 17 percent of American women for whom hormone supplements are appropriate are actually taking them. This lack of use reflects consumer mistrust of the pharmaceutical industry and organized medicine in general, accentuated by fears regarding breast cancer. Conflicting reports in the medical literature have only amplified the confusion. The first 5 to 10 years of menopause is the window of opportunity for reducing risks for disease with estrogen. Overcoming fears from false alarms, lingering mistrust of estrogen, may be the biggest disease prevention decision a woman can make in midlife.

Bioidentical hormones are hormones created from plant molecules, transformed into hormones identical to those found in the human body, atom for atom. These newly available hormone products, manufactured to the highest pharmaceutical standards, broaden the treatment options, providing women with another resource to meet the needs of aging with improved safety.

The Pocket Idiot’s Guide™ to Bioidentical Hormones provides the evidence on what is safe and what is not. The Guide presents a wide range of options for supplementing hormones, within an easy-to-answer discussion of Hormone Therapy in general. Synthesizing vast research data, the book answers an extensive list of questions. Coverage includes:

  • What exactly are bioidentical hormones, how they are made and monitored
  • The clear cut case for hormones—bioidentical or otherwise
  • The safety issues—which bioIdentical hormones work, which don’t really help much, and which situations are not best
  • Bioidentical hormones beneficial effect on the heart, bones, and brain
  • Creating an individualized health plan—which hormones, in what combination—how much and how often

Backgrounder on Ricki Pollycove

Original thinker and contrarian, Dr. Ricki Pollycove has spent a career spanning over 30 years dedicated to women’s health, breast cancer advocacy and healthy aging. With her broad perspective on women’s wellness she brings together powerful facts that support taking hormones for optimal health. She has been an active Obstetrician-Gynecologist since 1981, with her gynecology practice in San Francisco, California. She is a Fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, a member of the North American Menopause Society, the American Society of Breast Diseases, the San Francisco Medical Society and is the founding Director for Education of the CPMC Breast Health Center and a past chief of the division of Gynecology at the California Pacific Medical Center. She earned her MD from the University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine, a Masters of Science from the University of California, Berkeley and a Bachelor’s degree, also from UC Berkeley, in Zoology and Immunology. She is a volunteer clinical faculty at the UCSF School of Medicine, and has taught Integral Physiology and Anatomy in the Integral Health Studies Master’s Program at CIIS. She serves on two non-profit boards, the Sophia Project for mothers and children at risk as well as the California Institute of Integral Studies, a university devoted to East-West integral education in San Francisco.

Letter to Editor in response to Kantrowitz and Wingert (Newsweek 3/1/2010)

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

As a women’s health physician, breast cancer advocate and author, it’s time we get solid information that encourages hormonal harmony, and doesn’t fan the flames of ill founded fear. Kantrowitz and Wingert offer us an erroneous cancer scare, an old theory recycled, contributing nothing of value. Women are victims of scare campaigns about breast cancer which are doing us harm. As noted in their article, invasive breast cancer rates started dropping in 1999, thanks to more regular mammogram screening, and other factors, some known and others undiscovered. This observed decrease was more than 3 years before women bolted from their hormone replacement therapy (HRT) due to exaggerated (and now we know, wrong) reports about breast cancer rates and estrogen use in menopause. To their detriment women have continued to decrease hormone use annually since the 2002 WHI reports, yet breast cancer rates have not continued to decrease. And in Holland (one of many examples) similar decreases in hormone use are not associated with any decrease in breast cancer incidence. Not exactly a validated hunch.

In fact the 2007 data from the Women’s Health Initiative, the WHI (the largest American study of thousands of menopausal women on PremPro® or Premarin® alone compared to placebo) when analyzed and corrected to reflect disease occurrence in those women who actually took the study pills, revealed no significant difference in rates of breast cancer between the women who took Premarin© and those who took the dummy pills. After 7+ years of taking estrogen-alone, estrogen users had 17% less breast cancer compared to women who took a sugar pill. And these estrogen-alone users wisely continue to take their pills to a much greater degree than the women on the combination therapy, PremPro and others like it. These confident women continuing on their estrogen contribute to the lower rates of breast cancer documented.

And what about the statistic that everyone agrees with? Cancer specialists, radiologists and primary care docs all know that women who are diagnosed with breast cancer while taking estrogen fair a lot better. This is a very significant effect when you look at death rates from breast cancer. Since 2000 most studies of women on estrogen show they have a lower risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer, especially if those with a uterus use bioidentical progesterone along with it. This is the most important information we have today if we are to decrease suffering with this all too common disease.

It is time we got it straight about estrogen NOT being the bad guy when it comes to breast cancer. In addition to lowering breast cancer death rates, estrogen has many positive preventive effects when begun for symptom relief during early menopause. Early estrogen therapy lowers the risks of heart disease, osteoporosis, colon cancer and dementia, as well as lowering breast cancer deaths. These are big benefits that are left out of the fear-engendering mis-information that keeps getting recycled. Taken correctly, estrogen offers a watermelon size benefit and a watermelon seed size risk.

Yours sincerely,
Ricki Pollycove, MD, MS
Author, “The Pocket Idiot’s Guide to Bioidentical Hormones,” 2010, Alpha Press
Founding Director for Breast Health CPMC Breast Center