Hey Doc…

I am 48 years old and I have a history of breast cancer.  I am having symptoms of early menopause.  My doctors say that I can never go on hormones.  Is this true?

-V.S. in Rancho Mirage-


Dear V.S.,

One of the problems the health care industry in this country faces is the inadequate training doctors receive in medical school with regard to hormones.  The education they receive is based on research done by drug companies who have no interest in natural hormones because they cannot be patented.  In most cases, the occurrence of breast cancer requires two events – the presence of certain types of estrogen and a lack of natural progesterone to prevent it.  Progesterone not only prevents breast cancer it actually potentiates the cell death of breast cancer cells.  Keep in mind that women on birth control pills are not ovulating so they have no natural progesterone to protect them.  Most, if not all, of the symptoms of the perimenopause are related to a drop in progesterone, not estrogen.

So the answer to your question is ‘no’ it is not true – your need for progesterone at this point is imperative since these levels are dropping.  Of course it is important to use the correct type of natural progesterone along with the correct dosage.  Another point to consider is that, if it becomes necessary, there is a natural type of estrogen that can be used which is called estriol.  Estriol is so safe they have even utilized it to treat breast cancer – it is even more effective than Tamoxifen.  And, it is the only estrogen that is beneficial for vaginal dryness.

“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.