Bioidentical Hormones

Yes, Bioidentical Hormones are Safe and Effective, and Let’s Apply Caution and Common Sense.

Dear Oprah,

Ever since your shows on bioidentical hormones aired, my newsletter readers have showered me with emails requesting that I respond. Being a discriminating group, they realize that while your shows were wonderful and will help millions of women, there are a few points to be made that can help women use hormones with even greater wisdom and safety.

Once again you’ve shown amazing courage in speaking out on a touchy but important subject. Bioidentical hormones are on Big Pharma’s blacklist, and we know how many millions of advertising dollars they bring to television. I also applaud your choice of Dr. Christiane Northrup as an intelligent, rational, informed voice in bioidentical hormone replacement. She has been an articulate spokesperson for bioidenticals for many years.

Although I am a medical writer, not an M.D., I have been dedicated to educating women and health care professionals about bioidentical hormones for well over a decade. I co-authored four books, two of them best-sellers, about bioidentical hormones with the late, great Dr. John Lee, and continue our work with a website and newsletter, the Virginia Hopkins Health Watch. I stay in touch with physicians who use bioidentical hormones in their practices, and keep up on the research. As such, I would like to address a few concerns I have about the information on your show, and on your website.

Identifying Conflicts of Interest

I realize that it’s important to present both sides of an issue, but Dr. Wulf Utian and his North American Menopause Society (NAMS) are funded by the drug industry, and in particular by those whose bottom line is most threatened by bioidentical hormones. Dr. Utian’s extreme conflict of interest should be made clear to your audience.

I was disappointed to hear Dr. Lauren Streicher also speaking like a mouthpiece for Big Pharma, with sly half-truth answers and bashing of compounding pharmacies. Sure, she can provide her patients with the exact same hormones from FDA-approved products by giving them estradiol patches and progesterone pills, both bioidentical hormones. It’s a matter of semantics, not molecules. In fact, estrogen patches are by far the best way to deliver estrogen to the body—they work even better than creams. But progesterone doesn’t come in a patch, which means that, without a compounding pharmacy, Dr. Streicher can only offer her patients progesterone pills, suppositories, or injections, none of which work well. Progesterone cream is by far the superior method of delivering progesterone at this time. Creams made by compounding pharmacies can be made according to the individual needs of each woman. There are also high quality progesterone creams available over-the-counter.

Undoubtedly the bottom line of certain large (and recently acquired) drug companies is being eroded by the migration of millions of women away from conventional HRT and towards bioidenticals. Now if Big Pharma would turn its attention to creating a progesterone patch instead of trying to squash bioidenticals, they could create their own billion-dollar industry! In fact, if they had jumped on the bioidentical bandwagon a decade ago instead of trying to defend their dangerous synthetic hormones, they would be reaping the rewards of the bioidentical revolution right now.

You have a link on your website to the FDA page on bioidenticals, but that organization is almost exclusively an arm of the drug industry these days, and has little to do with protecting consumers. Their information is merely an echo of Big Pharma anti-bioidenticals propaganda.

Just in case you think this is a fringe point of view, here’s a quote from an article in the January 2009 New York Review of Books titled, Drug Companies & Doctors: A Story of Corruption by Marcia Angell:

“It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgment of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines. I take no pleasure in this conclusion, which I reached slowly and reluctantly over my two decades as an editor of TheNew England Journal of Medicine.”

One of the mantras of Big Pharma and their spokespeople (e.g. Utian, Streicher, FDA) is that there is no published clinical evidence of the safety and efficacy of bioidenticals. In fact, there are several large and excellent studies published in reputable European medical journals. The majority of French women on HRT have been using bioidenticals for many years, in the form of estradiol gel and progesterone pills. French research, done with tens of thousands of women, shows that this combination is well tolerated by the majority of women and does not increase the risk of breast cancer, stroke or heart disease, as the synthetics do.

Evidence of Bioidentical Hormone Safety and Efficacy

Below are listed some articles that will provide evidence-based medical research on the safety and efficacy of bioidentical hormones:

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