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Hormone Replacement Therapy, when Is It Necessary?(Part 4)

July 04, 2001 | 33,043 views

Part 4 of 5 (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 5)

Tim O'Shea

Osteoporosis

As if cancer risk is not bad enough, let's look at another of women's greatest fears: osteoporosis after menopause. Here is a simple topic about which most women have been completely duped. Standard "common sense" inculcated by media, advertising, and their Ob/Gyn-drug reps warns women that they must take estrogen and calcium or else they will experience bone loss. This false notion is one of the truly great masterpieces of modern disinformation.

First of all, there are no valid, randomized clinical studies which demonstrate increased bone mineralization following HRT.

Bone is not what you see left on your plate after you're done with your medium rare T-bone steak. In the body, bone is living tissue, with rich networks of blood vessels and nerves. Bone is constantly being torn down and replaced by specialized blood cells. Every seven years, your entire skeleton is completely replaced.

Bone has a matrix, or framework, on which calcium is laid down. In America, everyone gets enough calcium. True calcium deficiency results in a disease called kwashiorkor, which is found only in Third World starvation countries, not in America. Osteoporosis is not a disease of calcium deficiency.

It's a disease of matrix deficiency: the framework got flimsier. There isn't as much matrix to attach the calcium to. There's plenty of available calcium. Calcium is an inert mineral contained in most foods. The body maintains the blood levels of calcium at a certain level. Anything extra, like in calcium supplements, is spilled out of the body by the kidneys, because it's over the normal blood levels. If there's only so much framework, it really doesn't matter how much calcium is in the blood; the excess is spilled out.

Keep in mind that most calcium supplements don't even make it into the bloodstream, especially if they're tablets. They never even dissolved in the digestive tract; they pass right out of the body. This you can prove to yourself by placing a calcium tablet in a glass of water and leaving it there all night. Most of them don't dissolve.

Even the calcium supplements that do make it into the bloodstream are mostly spilled out, for the above reasons.

In short, calcium supplementation will not increase bone density in premenopausal women, nor prevent it post-menopause. (Ettinger)

American women don't get osteoporosis because they lack calcium, or estrogen. Anybody who does a little research knows this. The countries with the highest rates of osteoporosis on earth are Scandinavia, England, Australia, and the U.S. These are also the places with the highest consumption of dairy products.(McDougall, p176) It is pasteurized milk, cheese, and butter which leach calcium from the body, since these enzymeless, artificial, modern foods cannot be easily metabolized. The processes of removal from the blood takes a lot of calcium stores from the teeth and bones. (Recker).

The definition of pasteurization is removal of all enzymes via heat. One of the enzymes in milk thus denatured is phosphatase. Its purpose? Calcium absorption. Without phosphatase, calcium absorption doesn't happen.

But wait! What about milk as a source of calcium, building strong bones and good teeth and all that? ... and you never outgrow your need for it, and all those movie stars with the moustaches? Marketing. Advertising. Promotion.

Who do you think pays for the dietary educational tools used in American schools since the 1950s - you know, the four food groups, and all that? The American Dairy Council and the dairy industry. The whole story is better told in Twogood's book No Milk, available anywhere.

Processed foods are indigestible. The stomach keeps pouring out the gastric juices, in the form of HCl (hydrochloric acid) but it's not enough to break down these weird manmade chemically preserved foods. The food just sits there in the stomach and rots. The abundant HCl may get splashed backward into the esophagus, causing reflux (heartburn).

What Is The Medical Solution?

Prilosec, which does what? Right. Inhibits production of HCl. Does this aid digestion? No. The undigested food still sits there and rots. Worse news: guess what is required for calcium absorption in the stomach. HCl. Prilosec in this way directly contributes to osteoporosis.

Another reason Americans lose calcium from bones and teeth is acid-forming foods: soft drinks, too much meat, white sugar. All these tend to acidify the blood. If the blood gets too acidic, death will result. For self-preservation, the body must neutralize all this acid, maintain blood pH between 7.3 and 7.45. The process is called buffering, and it requires calcium.

When there isn't enough available, the body steals calcium from the bones and teeth. This is why Robert Heaney MD says that eating a high protein diet is like pouring acid rain on your bones. It is a high protein diet that is the primary cause of osteoporosis. (McDougall, p171)

The point is, it's true that Americans have a high rate of osteoporosis, not just women. But this has nothing to do with estrogen.

Do horses gets osteoporosis? Never. What do they eat? Grass. How about cows? Are they taking Cal-Mag? Do they take Premarin? Calcium is in all foods.

Do menopausal horses get osteoporosis? Negative. Do menopausal third world women get osteoporosis? Negative.

So if HRT is not going to reverse osteoporosis, what will? Reducing dairy intake, and other artificial foods, like white sugar and soft drinks.

Not only is there no proof to support the fantasy so many doctors offer their patients - HRT will save you from osteoporosis - there is abundant research that shows that synthetic hormones actually have no effect whatsoever on preventing bone loss. One of the most noted of these is the 14 Oct 1993 study in the NEJM, which conclusively shows that the risk of hip fractures for women over 75 is the same whether or not the woman took synthetic estrogen.

Hip fractures are the greatest fear of aging people, as well as a prime indicator of osteoporosis. The article goes on to note that most women believe their physicians when they say that HRT will prevent osteoporosis, yet here is proof that it doesn't. The authors state that estrogen therapy is simply unable to prevent loss of bone density.

Taking synthetic estrogen cannot rebuild bones. It can temporarily slow the rate of bone loss, but when the HRT is stopped, osteoporosis soon catches up like the woman never took HRT at all. Is that temporary benefit worth a 9-14 times greater risk of cancer? Dr. Lee thinks not. (Lee, p152)

In addition, many common drugs cause osteoporosis. Millions have been duped into the thyroid scam - told they were overweight because they were 'hypothyroid.' Synthroid to the rescue. What the doctor never tells you is that Synthroid stimulates osteoclasts to resorb bone. Remember how bone is built by living tissue? Well, that happens with the simultaneous action of two complementary types of blood cells: osteoclasts for tearing down old bone, and osteoblasts for building new bone. Obviously an imbalance in either one of these will cause a problem.

Other non-estrogen drugs which are prescribed to supposedly reduce the chance of osteoporosis, have serious side effects. In his video, Dr. John Lee outlines the dangers of a very popular drug named Fosamax.

It's actually quite simple. Again, living healthy bone must go through a constant process of old cells being replaced by new cells, so that every few years we have an entire new skeleton. Osteoclasts are cells that tear down bone; osteoblasts build new cells in those spaces. Got that? OK. The intellects behind Fosamax have decided that if they can stop the osteoclasts from doing their normal job of tearing down bone, this will prevent osteoporosis.

How?

By the buildup of Fosamax crystals in the bone, which just stay there long after a normal lifespan, which artificially stops the removal system - the osteoclasts. Now there are no spaces in which new bone cells can form. The Fosamax crystals cannot be broken down by the body, and remain in the bone for 15 or 20 years, taking up space, and offering an artificial, plastic-like composition in what should be normal healthy bone.

Dr. Lee tells us that modern Fosamax is 1000 times more potent than the original biphosphonate.

Even the manufacturers caution against indiscriminate long term use of this drug: on p 1657-8 of the 1998 Physicians Desk Reference we find that: "bone formation ... is ultimately reduced ... Fosamax decreases the rate of bone resorption [tearing down] directly, which leads to an indirect decrease in bone formation."

Decreased bone formation? Does that sound like something that's going to maintain normal bone and prevent osteoporosis in your golden years? Dr. Lee and many others don't think so.

The PDR also tells us that they have no idea what effects Fosamax may have after four years! (p1661)

Here we have a prime example of the philosophical difference between allopathic and holistic medicine: they forgot that Mother Nature always bats last. You can't arbitrarily interfere with one half of a complete life process like bone synthesis and expect no adverse consequences.

With Fosamax, we have arrogantly overpowered the body's normal system of bone building which has developed and maintained the skeleton just fine for the person's whole life, by pretending that one phase of that system exists in isolation from the whole rest of the endocrine Internet, and can be omitted with no consequences.

Doctors trick women by telling them that Fosamax will increase "bone mineral density" but what they don't tell them is that the new mineral is not calcium and is no longer part of the living dynamic process which has maintained their bones their entire lives.

This is not yet even mentioning the side effects of Fosamax:

  • kidney disease
  • ulcers
  • heartburn
  • joint pain
  • headache
  • rash

Fosamax is a risky, artificial approach to osteoporosis which pretends like the problem can be divided up into separate, distinct unrelated phases, like with a car. Same old idea, over and over: another drug in search of a market.

Same old story. Osteoporosis is big business. Big business to keep it happening, and big business to treat it. The dairy industry, the meat industry, the soft drink industry all keep it happening. The HRT industry, the nursing home industry, and the hospitals gain from the treatment of osteoporosis. John McDougall explains:

"The diagnosis and treatment of osteoporosis is so profitable because millions of people unwittingly weaken their bones, making them dependent for the rest of their life on diagnostic tests and drug therapy that slows the disorder ... but never cures it."
- The McDougall Plan p172

Another area of major disinformation with respect to HRT is

Heart Disease

Unsupported claims are made actually claiming that HRT will help prevent heart disease. There seems to be no limit to what they'll say. It's pretty hard to reconcile such a recommendation with the fact that cardiovascular disease is stated as a clear contraindication for most estrogen drugs. Contraindication means a situation where the drug can't be prescribed. (Br J of Obs and Gyn Feb 1997;104:163 also, PDR. 1998)

We all know that one in two deaths in the US is from heart disease. What is less commonly known is that heart attack in the premenopausal woman is virtually unheard of. Yet 10 years after menopause, and especially if the woman is on HRT, the rates soon come up equal to men's rates. Just a little research uncovers the likely reasons behind such a phenomenon.

In his videotape What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Menopause, John Lee MD notes that HRT is the number one cause of increased rates of heart attacks in postmenopausal women. Why? In a word, vasospasm. The word means tightening of a blood vessel.

The coronary arteries are the ones that supply the heart with blood. They are also the ones that get blocked in heart attacks, and therefore they are the site of bypass operations. They are what is bypassed. The most popular site is the Anterior Descending Coronary Artery.

In males who are screened for bypass, the Anterior Descending may be 80 to 95% blocked, and surgery will be recommended. If death comes first, on autopsy these high rates of blockage are observed.

In postmenopausal women, however, autopsies frequently showed only a 30-50% blockage of the artery, yet death was due to heart attack. Researchers couldn't understand what was happening for the longest time. So they began to do angiogram studies with Rhesus monkeys - animal abuse in the classic Pasteurian tradition.

Angiogram, you remember, is where they X-ray the arteries after injecting dye into them. Now monkeys don't go through menopause, so they had to create it for the study. The way they did it was to first remove the ovaries. To induce heart attack they injected Provera, which is a synthetic hormone used for human birth control.

The results were "unrelenting" vasospasm of the coronary artery which means that the artery which had as little as a 30% blockage constricted down to complete closure and would not open up again no matter what they tried. Obviously this killed Ms. Monkey in the ensuing heart attack.

So the researchers realized that HRT was the missing factor that was responsible for heart attacks in postmenopausal women whose coronary arteries were less than 50% blocked. Did you read that study anywhere in Newsweek or in the Chronicle?. Information like this that challenges a billion dollar HRT industry is systematically buried.

If natural progesterone is added to the Provera, the artery does not go into spasm. This data was according to a study done in England at the London Institute of Heart and Lung Research by Peter Collins MD.

Again the point here is that natural progesterone is unpatentable. It is not a drug. They can't make a ton of money from it, so it's not promoted. Natural progesterone is not routinely recommended, and most ob/gyn's don't even bother to learn about it because they can't make money from it.

Safe Estrogens - No Thanks

It is the same with estrogen. There are safe, natural sources of estrogen which could be recommended in place of drugs. Many plants have safe, mild estrogen substances called phytoestrogens which are available to the body in minute, physiologic doses, and which can be used to safely supplement a declining estrogen output.

Hormones are only needed and used by the body in tiny, very transient amounts. Transient means they only have to be around for a second or two. A physiologic dose would mean a natural hormone like a phytoestrogen or a wild yam-derived progesterone in the same amount as what might be produced by the body for its own needs.

Natural hormones can be swiftly broken down after they have performed their function. They don't just continue hour after hour like the synthetics or the xenoestrogens, which are given in sledgehammer amounts called pharmacologic doses. Big difference.

When the reality of this situation begins to sink in, it may sound a little harsh at first. Can it really be that if it comes to a choice between money and their patients' well-being, doctors will choose money most of the time? We can't be too hard on them - they've incurred a lot of debt in medical school.

John Lee and Lorraine Day, both medical doctors, well-respected in their fields, excuse their colleagues' ignorance and indifference about the value of natural progesterone by saying that the doctors are too busy with paperwork, hospital duties, and their own lives to have the time to read anything outside the medical library.

Since the medical journals in the medical library are very tightly controlled by the pharmaceutical companies, no natural non-drug therapies are allowed to appear, especially one like progesterone which actually does what synthetic estrogen is supposed to do, except with no side effects. So they tell us not to be too hard on doctors, because the doctors just don't know. So does that mean we should be forewarned that doctors are primarily reps for the drug companies, because that's all they have managed to learn?

It's frightening that to make an informed decision about embarking on any course of patentable drug therapy, these are the considerations that must be undertaken. The more you learn about it, the more naïve you realize you have been to have thought that things have ever been any other way.

Cancer


Since the beginning of estrogen drugs in the 1960s, the spectre of cancer has always been there, lurking about in the shadows. That's why progestins (synthetic progesterone) were added in the mid 1970s, changing ERT to HRT. Original studies were shaky, and the majority of modern studies show conclusively that HRT significantly increases the risk of both endometrial and breast cancer. Dr. Lee states flatly that HRT is the only known cause of endometrial cancer! (Lee, p220)

Abstracting ourselves for a moment away from citing 10 medical studies which prove this point, just use your common sense. Let's go back to the beginning of the chapter. What does natural estrogen do? Prepares for reproduction. What tissues does it affect? Those tissues that what? Right. Are rapidly dividing: endometrium, cervix, breast, ovaries. Now, what is cancer? Very simply, cancer begins when a cell has lost its ability to specialize, but not its ability to multiply, or proliferate.

Or divide rapidly. A tumor is a group of cells multiplying rapidly out of control, but unable to perform any life function. So therefore, which tissues do you think have the greatest tendency to become cancerous? Right - those which normally will tend to divide rapidly, like endometrial and breast tissue.

So estrogen and cancer have a lot in common from the get-go. Is it really that much of a surprise that dozens of controlled medical studies and research reviews have proven practically beyond dissent that HRT, which is estrogen gone wild, can cause cancer? So would it be too impertinent of me to pose the obvious: why is HRT still out there?

Let's see, it doesn't do what it's supposed to do - control menopause symptoms, it has no effect on osteoporosis and it's been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt to be a frequent spark for cancer.

The above-cited Boston Nurses Questionnaire Study involving over 121,000 participants found that taking estrogen therapy alone for at least ten years raised breast cancer risk by 40%. If they took progestins as well (synthetic progesterone) that figure went to 100%! (Australian Doctor, 29 Aug 97, p3)

A meta-analysis is when researchers compare several studies and come up with a conclusion. In 1991 a meta-analysis of 16 separate studies was written up in JAMA.. Their findings:

"After 15 years of estrogen use, we found a 30% increase in the risk of breast cancer.."
- Steinberg p1985 JAMA 1991

Different studies, different numbers. How about this one, in Sweden, from the New England Journal of Medicine, with over 23,000 women in the sample group:

"Overall we noted a 10% increase in the relative risk of breast cancer for 23,334 women for whom estrogens were prescribed for menopause. ... this risk to increase with increased duration of treatment to an excess risk of 70% in women with more than nine years of use."
- Bergkvist, p293 NEJM 3 Aug 89

Fairly credible sample size.

There are many other studies, but you can see where this is going. These are the top medical journals in the U.S. Doctors know that HRT causes breast cancer. Why is this happening? Just keep thinking about that $1 billion per year, and things will eventually come into focus. That's a thousand million per year.

Part 5


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