I just read through the Women’s Health Initiative reports. This trial was a 600 million dollar venture with placebo prescriptions and huge numbers of women and the results should give us pause. Let me explain.
I completed my internship at naturopathic medical school in the early 90’s, and hormones, especially natural hormones, were the rage. I was even caught up in prescribing “natural hormones” –women came to the office asking for hormones because of the benefits they had heard or read about. The promises were great: better skin, reverse aging, better sex, prevent heart attacks, and no side effects! No side effect? I should have known better and do now.
Here is the conclusion of daily estrogen with progestin: increased the risk for heart attacks and strokes, reduced the risk for hip fractures and total fractures, increased the risk for breast cancer that crossed the monitoring threshold. Later studies also showed that there were increases in the development of mild cognitive impairment and dementia.
What happened to no side effects and can it be called anti-aging if it causes cancer and dementia? The Women’s Health Initiative Study was great in it’s scope but shows our arrogance. Prescription hormones should be used cautiously and conservatively – your physician should be quick to offer the downsides to any hormone prescription that is not essential.