Correct Oestrogen Deficiency in Women
Women are lucky in many respects: the female hormone oestrogen, for instance, has a highly protective effect on health. Women die of heart attacks far later than men, and one of the reasons for this is thought to be their higher levels of oestrogen up to the menopause. After this watershed, their risk of heart disease starts to rise rapidly to the same level as men. But how oestrogen protects against heart disease has, until recently, been a mystery as has homocysteine’s part in the drama.
Two recent studies examining the connection between H levels and heart disease show that oestrogen lowers blood levels of homocysteine. One, a study from Peking’s University Hospital, found that six weeks on low-dose oestrogen hormone replacement therapy (HRT) resulted in a 14 per cent decrease in homocysteine.4O Another found an 11 per cent decrease when low-dose oestrogen HRT was given to elderly meni“ The reason why oestrogen may help keep homocysteine at bay
is that it enhances the activity of an enzyme, TMG, that helps turn harmful homocysteine into its extremely helpful cousin, Same. However, before you rush out and start taking oestrogen HRT, there are some things you need to know. First, while being on HRT may decrease homocysteine, there is little evidence that it actually does much to reduce risk of heart disease. Four studies involving 20,000 women on HRT for an average of live years found no difference in heart attack incidence compared to those not on HRT, but did find an increased incidence in strokes.”
What’s more, the now well-established increased risk of breast and uterine cancer conferred by oestrogen and progestin HRT makes it impossible for us to recommend it to lower your homo« . cysteine levels.
So oestrogen HRT may lower homocysteine, but at a consider« able cost. The question is, how can you ensure optimal oestrogen without the risk?
Thanks to the excellent work of Dr John Lee, an expert in natural hormone replacement, we now know that the risk of breast
cancer associated with HRT’ is due to ‘oestrogen dominance’ -that is, too much oestrogen, unopposed by its balancing partner progesterone. We also know that progestins, which are messedup molecules that vaguely resemble the body’s own natural progesterone, increase this risk, while natural progesterone reverses it. All this is well explained in Dr Lee’s excellent book, What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Breast Cancer, co-authored with David Zava and Virginia Hopkins (Thorsons, 2002).
We also believe that many oestrogen-delicient postmenopausal women have B vitamin deficiencies, zinc and magnesium dehciencies, methylation deficiency, SAMe, nitric oxide and glutathione deficiencies, and high homocysteine levels.
So how do you ensure optimal oestrogen, balanced with progesterone? Our advice is if you are post-menopausal, you should see an informed doctor, or, failing that, a nutritional therapist. They can test your hormone balance using a saliva hormone test which is much more accurate than a blood test -and then recommend natural hormones, such as natural progesterone, possibly in conjunction with low-dose oestrogen. They can then retest you down the track to make sure everything is in balance.
By the way, the body makes its own oestrogen directly from progesterone. So supplementing natural progesterone, given as a transdermal skin cream, can often correct oestrogen deficiency with no possibility of oestrogen overload.
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