Current Review of the Dangers of Estrogen

Dear Dr. Dobson:

I hope and pray that this letter reaches the right person in your ministry who can respond to the serious concerns that I have about your broadcast on October 2, 1998. I have followed your radio broadcasts over the last thirteen years and realize that Dr. Joe McIlhaney, is your personal friend. I also attended the physician’s conference in Colorado Springs last November and realize that you have many other physician friends. Unfortunately, most of them do not have any deep understanding of natural medical therapies.

The October 2 broadcast was a prime example. You should know that I was a paid speaker for Wyeth Ayerst, the makers of Premarin. They used to fly me across the country to speak to physicians about the benefits of estrogen replacement. I thoroughly reviewed the literature and know it well with respect to what the studies showed.

I, too, preached the benefits of estrogen. Well, Doctor Dobson, I want you to know that I was dead wrong on this issue. The research was highly biased and largely based on funding by the pharmaceutical industry. I want you to fully understand that you were telling millions of your listeners to pursue health strategies that will cause them serious harm.

Let me cite specific examples. The main myth which was promoted on today’s broadcast was that estrogen does not cause breast cancer. This is simply untrue. Estrogen does not increase the risk of breast cancer; it actually causes breast cancer. The following two citations from earlier this year conclusively review and support this conclusion. Most expert researchers do not dispute this point. Estrogen causes breast cancer.

Hormone Replacement Causally Related to Breast Cancer

A review of available literature on the relationship between postmenopausal hormone use and breast cancer confirms current beliefs that hormone replacement therapy increases the risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women. Harvard Medical School researchers reviewed articles indexed on MEDLINE for evidence of a causal relationship between hormone replacement therapy and breast cancer. They found that the risk of breast cancer associated with each year of postmenopausal hormone use was equivalent to the risk associated with delaying menopause by a year. The conclusion is that it is evident that postmenopausal hormones cause breast cancer.

J Natl Cancer Inst June 3, 1998;90:814-823.

Analysis Links Estrogen Treatment with Relative Increase in Breast Cancer Risk

In a previous issue, the ever mounting evidence of estrogen's like was noted. Now, researchers for the Collaborative Group on Hormonal Factors in Breast Cancer in Oxford, England, report that the risk is increased after only one year of use, and increases by almost to 2.3% for each additional year. They reviewed about 90% of the worldwide epidemiological evidence on the relation between risk of breast cancer and use of hormone replacement therapy. The collective data provide information on more than 160,000 women who participated in 51 different epidemiologic investigations.

They also found that a delay in menopause is associated with an increase in the risk of breast cancer of 2.8% per year, which further supports the estrogen linkage. Fortunately, they noted that increased risk of breast cancer associated with estrogen therapy diminishes after cessation of the hormones, so that, after five years of non-use, there is no significant excess of breast cancer overall or in relation to duration of use. Additionally, women who use hormone replacement therapy (HRT) tend to be diagnosed with less advanced cancers compared with never users of the hormones. An accompanying editorial points out that this risk may even be worse since a significant number of women on the treatment were much older as they were taking it for osteoporosis and their risk of breast cancer is considerably lower than other women.

Lancet October 11, 1997;350:1041-1044,1047-1059.

One of the other myths that was promoted was that estrogen reduces heart disease. This is the strategy that the drug companies use to bypass the increase in breast cancer. It is a smoke screen. They want you to believe that even if a few people die of breast cancer that this is more than compensated for by the reduction in heart disease and all the lives that are saved. Nothing could be further from the truth. This article summarizes the fallacy in the logic that researchers made in reaching that conclusion. The women who were on estrogen had far fewer risk factors for heart disease to begin with. When those factors were taken into consideration, the benefit did not exist.

ERT Benefits Partly Explained by "Healthy-User Effect"

New findings support speculation that a "healthy-user effect" may be at least partially responsible for the mortality benefits associated with estrogen replacement therapy (ERT). Most previous studies of estrogen replacement therapy (ERT) and mortality have focused on younger women. These women may be healthier, in general, than the average ERT-using population.

Arch Intern Med 1997;157:2181-2187.

A study several weeks ago in the largest medical journal in the world was even more definitive. Estrogen promotes blood clots which cause strokes and increase the incidence of heart disease. This action more than nullifies any potential beneficial actions on cholesterol levels.

Hormone Replacement Therapy Does NOT Lower Risk of Heart Attack Death

Postmenopausal women with established heart disease who use estrogen-progestin therapy are not at lower risk of CHD-related death or nonfatal MI than control subjects. In the hormone group, the net reduction in LDL cholesterol was 11% and the net increase in HDL cholesterol was 10%. Yet the researchers found no significant difference between the groups in the incidence of heart attacks. The investigators also found that women in the hormone group were nearly 3 times more likely than women in the placebo group to experience venous thromboembolic events.

JAMA August 19, 1998;280:605-613, 650-652.

Another article supporting the same conclusion:

Estrogen Use Probably Does Not Prevent Heart Attacks In Postmenopausal Women

California researchers report that current use of estrogen or estrogen-progestogen does not significantly increase or decrease the risk of MI in postmenopausal women. Statistical analysis showed no significant change in the risk of MI among women who were currently taking hormones, whether or not they had a hysterectomy. Longer duration of hormone use was not associated with lower risk.

Ann Intern Med 1997;127:501-508.

An additional point that is frequently mentioned as a benefit to estrogen treatment is its improvement in brain function and decrease in the incidence of Alzheimers. Again, this has more recently been proved false. Estrogen simply does not do this.

Natural Estrogen Levels Do Not Correlate with Cognitive Decline

Although several studies have examined the link between cognitive decline and hormone replacement therapy, none has looked at the effect of endogenous estrogen on cognitive function. Differences in endogenous estrogen levels do not appear to be associated with cognitive performance or decline in older postmenopausal women. This new data is in conflict with previous reports that estrogen preserves brain function.

J Am Geriatr Soc 1998;46:816-821,918-920.

Estrogen Does Not Improve Brain Function:

Several studies have suggested that estrogen replacement therapy in postmenopausal women can improve cognitive function, cut down on risk of developing dementia, and -- if dementia does occur -- lessen its severity. But other studies have found no such effects. After reviewing relevant published studies, a team of San Francisco researchers concludes that there is not enough data to recommend estrogen as a therapy to prevent dementia. The researchers found 13 studies published since 1966 that addressed the effect of estrogen on cognitive function in healthy postmenopausal women. The largest and most methodologically sound observational study of the effect of estrogen use on cognition in non demented women showed no benefit. Given the known risks of estrogen therapy, the authors did NOT recommend estrogen for the prevention or treatment of Alzheimer disease or other dementia.

The Journal of the American Medical Association March 11, 1998;279:688- 695

Dr. Dobson, I am pleading with you to present the other side to this story which is natural progesterone. It is exactly what postmenopausal women need. Dr. McIlhaney, was promoting the synthetic progestin, namely, Provera. This is absolutely NOT progesterone and is potentially toxic. If a pregnant woman took this drug, it could precipitate a spontaneous abortion. It does this because it blocks the receptor sites for the real hormone, natural progesterone, which the baby needs to survive. The most common cause (90% or more) for first trimester miscarriages is natural progesterone deficiency. Providing this hormone for these women will allow most to carry the pregnancy to term. If they used Provera, the baby will abort in a matter of days.

The truth is that natural progesterone was the first hormone that was chemically made from plant steroids. Because it is a natural hormone, drug companies can not patent it. They are not interested in promoting treatments and research on which they cannot make a profit. I have put more than 1,000 women on this treatment with excellent results.

Dr. Dobson, my guess is that a significant percentage of your audience, perhaps even the majority, is interested in natural remedies. You have done a tremendous disservice by presenting a distorted perspective on this issue. I am requesting that you assign one of your research assistants to this area so they can report the truth to you.

The best reference work in this area is Dr. John Lee's book What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Menopause. He is a Harvard graduate and does an excellent job at covering the entire subject. The above references were published since the publication of the book. I have had the great privilege of lecturing with Dr. Lee in Chicago this past month.

I also serve as a monthly columnist in the Townsend Letter which is widely recognized as one of the leading natural medicine journals. My passion is the application of nutrition and natural, non-drug therapies to restore patients back to full health. I write a 20 page daily newsletter reviewing natural medicine which is distributed free all over the world . Past issues are available on my web site at Dr. David Stevens (CMDS head) and Dr. Richard Swenson (Margin) are or were on the mailing list of subscribers.

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