Rainbow Bridge, Australia The major content of this post is taken from Dr. Vliet's acceptance speech for the 2007 Arizona Voice of Women's Award, available as a ten-minute video here.
Dr. Vliet is a member of the International Menopause Society, the International Society of Gynecologic Endocrinology, American Society of Reproductive Medicine, the North American Menopause Society, and the American Medical Association. She is on the advisory board for The Alliance for Better Bone Health. Read her newsletter about this topic here.
In the WHI ( Women's Health Initiative ) Study concluded in 2002 on the effects of HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) on women, it was demonstrated that women on estrogen alone had a lower risk for developing breast cancer than women on no hormones, yet the press totally ignored that finding with the result that women believe that estrogen causes breast cancer.
The WHI studied only synthetic hormones manufactured by Wyeth (such as Premarin for estrogen and Prempro for a combination of estrogen and progesterone), and yet the media has called it the definitive study on hormones, causing millions of women the world over to fear taking hormones, or to stop taking hormones altogether. Many doctors have taken this stance as well, perhaps just to be on the safe side, despite the fact that the WHI study was incomplete, and hence warrants a far closer look, or at least an explanation that goes beyond estrogen causes breast cancer and so all women taking it should stop, which seems to be the only point that most people have taken without truly understanding it, as explained here.
"Media coverage did not specify that it was only Premarin and Prempro used in the WHI, not natural progesterone or the human form of estradiol." From Dr. Vliet's press release. Also: "Menopausal women were made to think that ALL hormones caused the same problems seen with Wyeth´s products. That is simply false. Worldwide clinical studies have shown otherwise for over 30 years."
And: "Media reports, many women’s health organizations and nationally known physicians have said we have no studies on bio-identical hormones. This is false.
There are many studies showing safety and effectiveness of these FDA-approved products. How else could they have gained FDA approval?"
The American FDA has approved bio-identical hormones in the USA since 1976, and yet only a miniscule percentage of women know about this.
Recent studies have shown that women taking hormones have 15-20% lower deaths from all causes as opposed to women not taking hormones, and yet the media ignored that finding and most women don't know it.
Further, earlier observational studies of women started early on hormones indicated at 30-40% lower risk of heart disease as compared to women not taking hormones, and yet the only information that we appear to be hearing from the WHI about elderly women is that hormones cause heart attacks.
Just as a note of interest, Viagra for men was approved by the FDA with only six months of study, whereas a testosterone patch for women is now required to have a five year study, and so men get their hormones in andropause, while women in menopause are prescribed anti-depressants which merely further depress their libido.
While women's life expectancy is greater than men's, women nevertheless tend to have a poorer quality of life as they age, worse health care, and more pain and disability.
"Recent worldwide research on hormone use has shown there is a “window of opportunity” early in the menopause transition for hormone therapy to prevent damage to various tissues and organs. Once this window of time is past, however, hormone therapy doesn’t reverse damages that have occurred." From Dr. Vliet's newsletter.
International research clearly shows that the right hormones at the right time in the right delivery in the right dose for the right women can profoundly improve the quality of life, reduce health care and nursing home cost, reduce disability and premature death, and reduce dependence from anywhere from 8-10 other medications that are costly and have side effects that women are being given to treat every symptom of the menopause triggered by the hormone changes.
It's time, Dr. Vliet states, that hormone baseline levels be tested in young healthy women in order to have that information when problems strike later in life.
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