The Safety of Estrogen

In: Health and Fitness

13 Dec 2010

Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine have the ability to detect energetic changes that occur in the body and quickly relieve symptoms such as hot flashes, foggy mind, and irritability. There are scientific studies of herbal remedies used to treat menopausal symptoms in the U.S. They have been small, but the results are encouraging. When I started having my first menopausal symptoms, I felt totally confused and concerned because it was all so new to me. I didn’t have a computer then and the few news reports about HRT didn’t really give me the answer to the question “Which risk do I want to take?” So, I did nothing!

Nearly 39,000 women in two years, 44 percent of whom are minorities, received free screenings through the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program (IBCCP). Since taking office, the Governor has also added $4 million more in state funding to support breast and cervical cancer screening and education. Half of those women took estrogen and testosterone and the other half took estrogen and an inactive placebo. After five and a half months, the women switched treatments. The first compares your results to other women of the same age as you; the second number (T-score) compares your results to a healthy 30-year-old female (the norm). Results indicate if your bones are more dense (+), or less dense (-), or the same density as the healthy 30-year old female (this is when peak bone density is achieved and which should be maintained for life).

These women have lower initial bone mineral content and thus lighter bones at the onset of maturity than men or large-framed women. Not only are the bones of many women lighter than those of men, but loss of this bone accelerates at meno-pause, particularly the first three years after menopause. Recent studies have shown that women who had their ovaries removed early in life have a very low incidence of breast cancer. Similarly, rats and mice whose ovaries have been removed develop few if any breast tumors. In women who have gone through menopause, they can block estrogen production and reduce estrogen levels by more than 90%.

It has been proposed that, through their ability to act like oestrogen, phytoestrogens could decrease bone turnover and attenuate the loss of bone mineral density (BMD) at menopause. The aims of this research were to determine the pattern of intake of isoflavonoids and lignans in 500 women from food and supplements and to assess a questionnaire used to estimate intake using excretion in a sub-sample of 141 women.

Menopausal status based on menstrual history was significantly related to two groups of symptoms: vasomotor symptoms, which increased through the menopausal transition; and general somatic symptoms which were more frequent in the perimenopause. Analysis of variance of factor scores found fewer symptoms with increasing years of education, better self-rated health, the use of fewer non-prescription medications, the absence of chronic health conditions, a low level of interpersonal stress, the absence of premenstrual complaints, not currently smoking, exercise at least once a week, and positive attitudes to ageing and menopause. Black cohosh may be effective for menopausal symptoms, especially hot flashes, but the lack of adequate long-term safety data (mainly on estrogenic stimulation of the breast or endometrium) precludes recommending long-term use. Single clinical trials have found that dong quai, evening primrose oil, a Chinese herb mixture, vitamin E, and acupuncture do not affect hot flashes; two trials have shown that red clover has no benefit for treating hot flashes. Of the respondents, 79% reported onset of significant physical symptoms and 63% significant emotional symptoms during the menopause. Among the participants, 65% had varying degrees of depression as determined by the Zung self-rating depression scale.

Nevertheless, the symptoms of the 15 women who received oestrogen first returned after the cross-over to placebo without any suggestion of a placebo response. In contrast, the other group who took placebo first did not deteriorate after changing to oestrogen.

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