Transcript: Plant-Based Bioidentical Hormones
Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.
As Martha Rosenberg noted (the author of an excellent book, Born with a Junk Food Deficiency), just as this lithograph tells you everything you need to know about slavery, the fact that electroconvulsive therapy (electroshock treatments) were prescribed for menopause in the United States tells you everything you need to know about Western medicine’s view about aging women.
Here, in this 1946 medical journal ad, amphetamines (speed) was recommended, in conjunction “with such fundamental measures as electric shock and estrogenic therapy.” Doctors could throw in a little thorazine, too, while they’re at it.
Hormone replacement therapy grew to prominence in the 1990s, when millions of women were sold hormones from pregnant mare urine, on the promise that it would prevent age-related diseases. But instead, it may have caused them. Women on hormone replacement therapy suffered increased risk of heart disease, stroke, pulmonary embolism, and invasive breast cancer. They said it would help preserve women’s memory—but may have, in fact, caused dementia, as it shrinks women’s brains.
When the truth got out in 2002, and the number of prescriptions dropped, so did the rates of breast cancer. And, horses got to walk around once again.
Thanks to high-profile celebrity endorsements, though, interest then switched to so-called compounded bioidentical hormones—from plant rather than equine sources, and advertised as not carrying the same risks.
What does the science say? A bunch of new reviews on the subject out from the American College of OB/GYNs, the Mayo Clinic, to the editors-in-chief of the Journal of the International Menopause Society. All concluded that bioidentical hormones, being bioidentical, carried the same risks, benefits, and side effects—which is not a good thing.
And, even worse, when the FDA actually analyzed them to see if the contents matched the label, nearly a third failed the analysis. Even in the same bottle, doses could be all over the place.
Okay, all universally opposed, but, look, how do we know everyone isn’t just in the pocket of the pharmaceutical industry—you know, just doesn’t want the competition?
Well, whenever I’m skeptical, I turn to The Medical Letter on Drugs and Therapeutics, considered to be one of the least-biased sources in medicine. They’re kind of like the Consumer Reports of the drug world, and, in fact, was actually co-founded by the co-founder of the publisher of Consumer Reports, more than 50 years ago.
As they like to brag on their website, The Medical Letter does not accept grants— from any source; donations—from any one; funding—from any entity. They won’t let their work be used for promotional purposes, and they don’t accept any advertising.
They recently reviewed bioidentical hormones, and came to the same conclusion: “There is no acceptable evidence that ‘bioidentical’ hormones are safe or effective. Patients should be discouraged from taking them.”
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