Let's Talk About Hormones - What Every Woman Needs To Know
By Jackie L. Harvey
I have recently observed a number of women friends and acquaintances, who have had their HRT therapy - a combination of the pharmaceutical drugs Premarin (pregnant mares urine) and Provera (medroxyprogesterone acetate) - discontinued by their physicians. Suddenly, women ranging from their 50's to late 70's are suffering from hot flashes, vaginal dryness, weight gain, fatigue and worse.
Another group are told not to worry about HRT as long as they only use it for three to four years. This confusing position has resulted from the information published in the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) study on HRT published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, (JAMA), July 17, 2002, Vol. 288, No. 3. For women who think that the risk factors that have shown up in the WHI-HRT study are new, I would encourage them to locate a women's magazine that dates prior to July 2002 and have a look at the back of the Premarin and PremPro ads that were often found in those magazines. Be aware that the print is very small. The topic "Dangers of Estrogen" is very prominent as is the topic "Side Effects".
The WHI-HRT study just validates that those dangers and side effects are real and actually effect women, women who are our friends and our relatives. In revisiting the WHI Study at www.whi.org a few interesting things came to light. The WHI study recruited 16,608 healthy women to participate in the study of Premarin and Provera. Forty-two percent (42%) on HRT and thirty-eight percent (38%) on the placebo group left the study before the end of 5 years! Those in the HRT group left because of side effects according to the study.
Others left at the two and one-half mark when a letter was sent to them encouraging them to stay in the study even though the results showed an increase in blood clots, stroke and heart disease at that point. Many believe that the results would have been much worse had these women continued in the study. "An incredible forty-two percent of those healthy women chosen to participate in the WHI fell out of the study in the first couple of years because they didn't like the side effects of the drugs. If all those women had continued, or if they hadn't limited the study to healthy women, there would have been a much higher rate of all adverse events (breast cancer, heart attacks, thromboembolism blood clots).... says Dr. David Zava, PhD., breast cancer researcher.
The JAMA call it a "large randomized trial". It could also be considered a well-controlled study of healthy women of our day. WHY? - because only healthy women were allowed into the study. They controlled the number of women who were over weight - the average body mass index being 28.5. They did not accept a representative number of women who had been treated for diabetes, women that had or were using hormones, women who had given birth during the higher risk years - before twenty or after thirty, women who had heart problems or a history of any heart problems. They even controlled the number of women who had relatives who had breast cancer. Remember, we are talking about women between the ages of 50 and 79 who participated in the study, not 35 to 40 year old women! How many women in that age group do you know who would qualify for this study? In fact this study represents less than twenty percent of the population.
According to Dr. David Zava " you can't extrapolate study results from a population of healthy women to the entire population. The results are actually much worse than they appear to be because of the selection bias. The downplaying of the risk of using HRT is a travesty. The late John R. Lee MD and author of "What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Breast Cancer" suggested that it has become "unethical" for doctors to prescribe HRT to women. To suggest as some do to use HRT for only two or three years seems ridiculous in light of the fact that the study was only a five-year study. The study clearly shows that heart attacks, strokes and blood clots affecting women began from day one of the study and continued though out the study. That would mean that the risks would always be present for anyone who goes on short term HRT. While it is tempting to say that this is all the healthcare system's problem or that it is the fault of the profit driven pharmaceutical companies, the solution may lay closer to home.
It appears that we are being told what we are eager to hear and only being sold what we are eager to buy. A pill to solve our hot flashes, make us beautiful as we age and prevent our diseases all without effort on our part. We want shortcuts and we want them now! The WHI-HRT study was a good thing, maybe even a great thing. What it truly told us is that a large percentage of healthy women who use drug therapies to deal with hormone challenges will get sick...breast cancer, heart attacks, strokes, blood clots in their lungs just to name a few. Women who are not healthy... should not go near HRT because of the potential for life threatening drug induced disease.
The good news for women who decide to discontinue traditional (synthetic) hormone replacement therapy is that there are a number of safe, effective and natural alternatives to choose from. It is critical that women become informed and take control of their own hormone health. The decision is up to us and it may be the most important decision we will ever make!
This Article IsCopyright 2007 Jackie L. Harvey & Saliva Testing.com
Jackie Harvey is a nutritional speaker who shares her interest and information on hormonal health and women's saliva hormone testing throughout North America in her popular "Let's Talk About Hormones" seminar. Visit Jackie's informative website SalivaTesting.com for a schedule of events in your area and for more information about her Best Selling 1-hour DVD "Let's Talk About Hormones with Jackie Harvey".