Posts Tagged ‘osteoporosis’


Calcium is Not Enough to Prevent Bone Loss in Aging Women

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

Not only is osteoporosis common in women, it is inevitable if we live long enough! Huge clinical studies show that, unfortunately, good calcium intake (such as dietary sources and supplements), adequate vitamin D levels (to allow our digestive tract to absorb calcium we must have a blood level of Vitamin D above 20 and millions of men and women are found to be lower than this when their blood is tested) and exercise are not enough to prevent bone loss in women. Yoga and soy products do not over come this loss of bone either.

If we look closely at why it is that women are so much more likely to get low bone density, osteoporosis and fractures as compared to men, we can understand a lot about evolutionary biology. Women and men require minimum levels of estrogen in their blood streams in order to keep minerals stored in bones. Women inherit a biology that has been selected for over millions of years of biologic evolution. And our biology is designed to mobilize nutrients from bones to enrich breast milk after giving birth. The hormone state that prevails after women deliver their babies is a very low estrogen one. This helps initiate lactation (breast feeding) and is great for nursing babies. The same low estrogen condition activates certain enzymes which mobilizes extra fat into mothers blood streams and this is then secreted into the milk, adding more calories for the nursing baby. Men do not breast feed (obviously!) and their estrogen level remains adequate throughout their entire lives to protect their bones from low-estrogen bone loss. (Men are fortunate to not have their gonadal hormone production organ (testes) fail as do women’s’ ovaries.)

For the vast majority of evolutionary time humans did not live very long life spans. Average life expectancy in stone age cultures never made it past 32. In 1900 in the U.S. the average life expectancy was 49, so only half of women would even live to experience menopause. So these incredible mechanisms to allow robust breast feeding in human mammals did not lead to millions of disabling fractures until the last 50 years, with a life expectancy for women today being 80 years or more! 30 years of life without adequate estrogen levels to protect bone strength. Women simply did not live long enough to develop weak and fragile bones in the past.

For this reason among others, I believe estrogen is a necessary hormone for optimal quality of life with respect to bone health and vigorous old age in women. Good nutrition, active life style with both aerobic and weight-bearing exercise and a healthy hormone balance are key for women to live a vigorous good quality life with strong bones.

An in depth scientific paper about the hormonal similarities between lactation and menopause (authors Ricki Pollycove, MD, MS, James A Simon, MD, and Frederick Naftolin, MD) will be published in March, 2011, in the peer-reviewed journal, “Menopause”).

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.