HOPKINS HEALTH WATCH QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Bioidentical Hormones, Used Wisely, May Reduce Heart Disease Risk in Women
Q: Thanks for the important info on C-reactive protein [Heart Disease, Crestor and C-Reactive Protein] in the last issue of your newsletter. Can you tell me if bioidentical hormones affect CRP and other heart disease risk factors?
A: It’s long been known that conventional synthetic hormones (e.g. PremPro) tend to raise CRP levels, but thanks to outstanding research by Kenna Stephenson M.D. and her team at University of Texas Health Science Center in their year-long CHOICE study, we now know that women who use bioidentical (natural) hormones can significantly lower their CRP levels, by as much as 37%. This study also found that bioidentical hormones lowered blood pressure, and reduced fibrinogen and triglyceride levels. Stephenson recently presented the results of her year-long study to the American Heart Association 2008 Scientific Sessions.
It's important to know that, in the CHOICE study, the women's hormones were measured with a saliva test, and then bioidentical hormone creams were prescribed accordingly, in physiologic doses. A physiologic dose is one that approximates what the body would make when hormones are in balance. The women were retested at two months and doses were adjusted as needed. The typical progesterone dosage ranged from 20 to 40 mg daily.
A 2008 review of transdermal (creams or patches) bioidentical hormones in the prestigious European journal Maturitas, points to abundant evidence showing that progesterone lowers blood pressure, helps control insulin and glucose levels, improves cholesterol profiles, reduces heart disease risk factors associated with inflammation, helps prevent blood vessel spasm, does not increase the risk of stroke, protects the brain and the nervous system, and does not increase the risk of breast cancer. They conclude:
“HRT started at the menopausal transition and optimized through expert personalization (for example combining low doses of E2 [estradiol] given transdermally and micronized progesterone), will be cardioprotective and avoid an increased incidence of thromboembolic events as well as of breast cancer; it could eventually prevent to some extent the development of diabetes mellitus and possibly protect cognition.”
L’Hermite et al, “Could transdermal estradiol+progesterone be a safer postmenopausal HRT? A review,” Maturitas, Volume 60, Issue 3, Pages 185-201.