Hey Doc…

I recently read a front page article which said that hormones for the menopause cause a definite increase in breast cancer.  My doctor has told me the benefits outweigh the risks.  Is this true?                                                                                                       -B.L. in Palm Springs-


Dear B.L.,

The original Women’s Health Initiative study was published in 2002 and raised questions about the safety of Premarin and progestins.  It was suggested at that time to discuss the issue with your health care practitioner.  This new study is a continuation of the original and this time they are more definitive, stating that now the benefits do not outweigh the risks.

So, again, women will be asking, “now what do I do?”  Here is what I would recommend:

1)      Seek out a doctor who knows bio-identical hormones, not just a doctor who prescribes them.

2)      Determine whether you actually need estrogen – most women never stop producing this hormone (even if they do not have ovaries) and thereby do not need it.

3)      Women do stop making progesterone – not to be confused with synthetic progestins that do cause cancer.  Bio-identical progesterone should always be replaced.  However, it is important to use the correct dosage and route of administration.  In this way, progesterone not only prevents breast cancer, it actually kills breast cancer cells.

An important factor is that estrogen causes prostate cancer in men which can be prevented with progesterone as well.

“Hey Doc” is a weekly series of questions & answers pertaining to common medical issues. It was published in the Palm Springs area, as well as the Beverly Hills Courier, not too long ago. The answers are strictly my beliefs and are intended to inform the reader of possible alternative approaches. Obviously, all questions regarding your health should be discussed with your own physician. ~Michael E. Platt M.D.