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Moving Toward Better Health

The official blog of Konicki Schumacher Chiropractic


Hormone Replacement Therapy

Posted by Dr. Tom Konicki
Dr. Tom Konicki
Dr. Thomas Konicki earned his B.S. in Biology at the University of Cincinnati and then went on to the Los Ange...
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in Women and Children

Question: I am going through menopause and am confused whether to take estrogen or not. Are there any natural supplements that can help?

Answer: Yes, there are natural ways to reduce your symptoms of menopause. But first, let me explain some of the risks and benefits of hormone replacement therapy (HRT).

Menopause usually occurs during the ages of 45 and 55, during which menstruation ends and the ovaries produce lower level of sex hormones -- estrogen and progesterone. Many women experience hot flashes, night sweats, sleeplessness, mood swings and vaginal dryness. Osteoporosis, heart attack and angina (heart pain) is also more common.
HRT usually involves taking estrogen alone or estrogen in combination with progesterone. Progestin is a synthetic hormone that can be used as a substitute.

Do the benefits outweigh the risks? The Women's Health Initiative studied 16,000 healthy women, ages 50-79, who took either hormones or a placebo. The trial was discontinued in 2002 when investigators reported the overall risks of estrogen plus Progestin outweighed the benefits.

The various risks included an increase in dementia by 50%, blood clots by 50%, stroke by 41%, heart disease by 29% and breast cancer by 26%. The benefits included relief of menopausal symptoms, fewer cases of hip and spine fractures and reduction of risk of colon cancer by 37%.

There is recent research that questions the increased risk of breast cancer with HRT. In 2006, Harvard University's Nurses Health Study looked at estrogen use among 28,835 nurses. This showed there was no significant increase in breast cancer risk with up to 20 years of estrogen use. After 20 years, the risk of breast cancer jumped by 42%. There may be slightly lower risk of breast cancer during the first 10 years of HRT.

Also in 2006, the Women's Health Initiative reported that using estrogen for 7 years did not increase the risk of breast cancer. Obviously, this contradicts what they said earlier in 2002.

No wonder you are confused whether to take hormones or not.

The Nurses Health Study showed that thin women have higher risk than overweight women when taking estrogen. The theory is that overweight women have more natural circulating estrogen from body fat and so HRT is less of shock to their system than for a thin woman. After 20 years of use, thin women had a 77% higher risk for breast cancer compared with overweight women who had a 25% higher risk.

HRT has short-term benefits, but there has not been any benefit proven for long-term relief. In order to benefit, you have to keep taking the hormone, which eventually poses risks.

What can you do naturally? Exercise regularly to keep bones strong. Eat healthy foods and do not smoke. Take 1200-1500 mg of calcium per day.

There are estrogen-containing foods that may help. These include soy-based products, whole-grain cereals, fruits and vegetables. Supplements including evening primrose, black cohosh, dong quai, vitamin E, vitamin B complex and hormone creams may all help. The risks and benefits of these agents are not definitely proven, but may help with your symptoms. Consult with your family doctor, pharmacist or chiropractor before taking any supplements as this may counteract prescription medication.

Copyright © 2008 - Konicki Schumacher Chiropractic. All rights reserved.

Dr. Tom Konicki is a board certified chiropractic orthopedist and has practiced for many years in South Dayton. You can reach him at www.kschiro.com or mail your questions to Ask the Chiropractor, 2165 Miamisburg-Centerville Road, Dayton, Ohio 45459.

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