We age because our hormones decline. Some people are old at 21 and some people are young at 91. Time is a concept that humans created. Aging is not lost youth, but a new stage of opportunity and strength. In both men and women, hormone imbalances start from age 30 on, and by age 50, hormones are functioning at 50%, and this includes estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA, growth hormone, melatonin and thyroid. While genetics and a healthy lifestyle both play a role, at some point our organs will not produce the hormones we need to optimally age.
Why Restore Bioidentical Hormones?
People restore hormones because of symptoms they have, but a more compelling reason to restore it is the great potential to prevent degenerative diseases. Research has noted that every brain cell, heart cell, nerve cell, bone cell, vascular cell and skin cell has a receptor for estrogen, progesterone, testosterone and thyroid. So, it is clear that as hormones decline, so will the stimulation of all these cells, thus producing symptoms such as fatigue, mood swings, sexual dysfunction, weight gain, insomnia, anxiety, cognitive decline and degenerative medical conditions such as osteoporosis and coronary artery disease.
One of the first hormones to decline in women is progesterone at age 35. Symptoms like anxiety, menstrual changes, PMS, non-restorative sleep, mood swings, hot flashes, fibroids and breast/ovarian cysts occur. Progesterone is also responsible for bone building. Estrogen starts declining around age 45 and both progesterone and estrogen wane together at about age 50, in turn welcoming menopause. Declining estrogen levels make way for hot flashes, bone loss, cognitive decline, skin & vaginal dryness, and urinary incontinence.
Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) brings to light the looming question of risks related to breast cancer, strokes and heart attacks. Most women are protected during their 30’s when hormone levels are at their peak. Only after menopause is when women have the increased risks for breast cancer, stroke and heart attack. Why is that? To begin, progesterone, which prevents breast cell division, starts to decline in the late 30’s. Then in the 40’s, estrogen imbalance occurs. There are three types of estrogen… E1 (estrone), E2 (estradiol), E3 (estriol). E3, which is breast and clot protective, decreases from 80% to 10%. E1, which is breast and clot stimulating, increases from 10% to 80%. Since the increased levels of E1 are undesirable, it is converted to forms of estrogen that are carcinogenic and mutagenic to the breast. Restoration of protective hormones should be strongly considered as a possible preventative step against breast cancer.
The Women’s Health Initiative study (WHI) in 2002 was followed by a lot of confusion and fright about HRT. However, reanalysis of this study led to three following conclusions on hormone restoration. 1) when started early, hormones are protective for the heart and brain 2) PROGESTINS have been shown to increase clots and breast cancer in 5 trials compared with natural PROGESTERONE which is protective 3) bioidentical estradiol (E2) delivered through the skin is cardioprotective as opposed to estrone (E1) delivered orally (oral Premarin was used in the WHI study).
Do Men Have Menopause?
Andropause is the male menopause. Testosterone declines in men from the late 30’s onwards. This decline produces a loss of sexual desire, bone/joint pains, muscle atrophy & weakness, depression, moodiness, anxiety, and fat gain especially in the abdominal area. Restoration of testosterone not only addresses these unwanted symptoms, but research studies have show a protective role for testosterone against bone loss, cognitive decline and heart disease. Traditionally, testosterone restoration was thought to be linked with prostate cancer and heart attacks. But if this were the case, then men should be having prostate cancer and heart attacks in their 20’s, when testosterone levels are at the highest instead of after 50 when they are lowest. The New England Journal of Medicine in 2004 published the conclusion that it is low testosterone and high estrogen that are associated with prostate cancer. Cardiology literature has since shown that males who maintain testosterone levels in the upper ranges are at lower risk for cardiac and neurologic events.
Other hormones that decline with age in both males and females include DHEA (enhances strength, sexual energy, immunity), melatonin (needed for restful sleep and is one of the most powerful anti-cancer hormones due to natural killer cell activation), pregnenolone (important for memory and concentration), growth hormone (maintains integrity of joints/bones/skin/fat/cartilage and prevents frailty), thyroid hormone (maintains metabolism, energy, body temperature, skin, hair, mental agility). Keep in mind that thyroid levels may be “normal” but not “optimal.” They can also be “optimal” but not “functional” because of nutrient deficiencies involving ferritin, zinc and selenium. Also of note, glucose and insulin levels start getting imbalanced which leads to weight gain, pre-diabetes and increased risk for cardiac events. Insulin generally goes up in the early 40′s which can cause insulin resistance. Because of this, weight gain in insulin controlled areas such as the thighs, lower abdomen, under the arms and under the chin occur. Muscle also starts to be replaced with fat. Hormonal and nutritional restoration along with toxin clearance from the liver and bowel can correct the metabolic imbalances.
(references from “Anti-Aging Medicine? Reality or Myth” by Sangeeta Pati, MD)