THANKS FOR ASKING
Virginia Responds to Reader Questions
How to Block Electromagnetic Fields
Are Blood Spot Results the Same as Saliva Results?
Is Blood Spot Testing More Accurate than Saliva?
Restoring Menstruation after Menopause: Cutting Edge or Living on the Edge?
How to Block Electromagnetic Fields (EMFs)
Q: I have had a gauss meter for several years now and because of it have moved my bed to the other side of the room. I found that in our new home, the electric meter was placed on the outside of the house right at the position where my pillow was at night. It is very expensive to move the meter and the corresponding wiring down in the basement, but I really need to do something to block the EMFs so that I can put my bed back. Do you know of any remedy? Perhaps something that can be placed on the wall behind the bed for a shield? My husband and I have been searching and can’t come up with anything. I would appreciate your help.
A: Almost any type of metal, including aluminum foil, will usually block EMFs. Some people use a metal screen. One person I know who was in a similar situation, put aluminum foil on the back of a large framed poster. Be sure to test the efficacy of this approach before moving your bed back! There are a variety of gauss meters available, but my favorite is the Dr. Gauss Meter.
Does the New Blood Spot Hormone Testing get the Same Results as Saliva?
Q: After all of those years of reading/hearing that Dr. Lee advocated only saliva testing, are we now to believe that it is OK to use a blood test and get the same results? I am postmenopausal and take transdermal progesterone and have always tested using saliva. I would love to use only the blood spot in place of saliva. Can you put my mind at ease that I will get an accurate reading? Love your newsletter! Thanks.
A: Thank you, and yes! The blood spot test is just as accurate as the saliva test for measuring bioavailable hormones. Dr. Zava spent years developing and perfecting this test, and I believe that Dr. Lee would have embraced it wholeheartedly, because saliva testing is such a hard sell to the doctors.
When you get the typical blood test ordered by your doctor, it’s measuring the hormones found in venous (vein) blood that were not delivered to tissues and that are returning to the heart. As Dr. Zava describes it, “Just as venous blood carries less oxygen on its journey back to the heart after oxygen has been distributed to the tissues, so does venous blood carry fewer hormones back to the heart after the hormones have been distributed to the tissues.” In other words, in venous blood, most of the bioavailable hormones (which is what we want to measure) have already been delivered to the tissue, and what’s left is tightly bound to proteins in preparation for elimination from the body.
In contrast, the blood spot test measures capillary blood that you get from a finger stick. This is an accurate way to measure bioavailable hormones because within seconds of applying progesterone cream, the progesterone is being distributed throughout the capillary beds of all tissues.
Q: Virginia, this is the first I have heard about the blood spot test and I will have to think long and hard about this approach. For the past 10 years we have successfully persuaded women to request a saliva test over a blood draw for a number of reasons, not to mention accuracy as being the driver. Now Dr. Zava is suggesting that the blood spot is more convenient for those who have dry mouth and do not want to go from one location to another for a blood draw.
The consumer wants information that will enable them to make a more informed decision in hopes of obtaining a good and safe outcome.
A: Thanks for your thoughtful response, and yes I would encourage you to re-read the article on my website, Measure Hormones in Blood Spot Test. I do understand that blood spot hormone testing can be an issue for health care professionals who have spent years educating women about why saliva testing was the best way to go, but this doesn't take away from saliva testing, it adds a new dimension to hormone testing in general.
Dr. Zava is definitely not claiming that the blood spot test is more accurate than the saliva test—they’re equally accurate. The blood spot test is more accurate than the conventional blood draw (see above). It’s also more accurate for women who use troches or drops under the tongue to deliver their hormones because of the proximity of the delivery site to the salivary glands.
For most people, saliva vs. blood spot boils down to a simple matter of personal preference. Personally I found it difficult to summon up enough saliva first thing in the morning, and I love the blood spot test because it’s so quick and easy: stick, dab, mail. On the other side of the coin is a good friend of mine who says she’ll stay with the saliva tests because she doesn’t want to stick her finger and is squeamish about blood (even a couple of drops)—and she has no trouble producing enough saliva.
Rather than think about this as a replacement for the saliva test, think of it as creating more choice for your patients.
Can Canadians Order Blood Spot Tests?
Q: Thank you for always sending such great information. I was reading about the blood spot test and wondered how it works for Canadians? Do you have to have a doctor analyze it, or does it come back simply letting you know whether you are high or low with certain hormones? Also how long does it take to get results back?
A: Canadians can order the blood spot test without a prescription and we’ve had minimal problems sending it back and forth across the border. Whether to have a doctor analyze it is up to you. Results are given as a number that you can compare to “normals” for your age, menopausal status, etc., so you can see exactly how high or low you are with each hormone tested. One of the great features of these saliva and blood spot tests is that you get a written explanation of your results, along with some basic recommendations. Once the sample reaches the lab, it typically takes 3 to 5 business days to process it. When the results report is complete you are sent an email with a link to a site where you can securely sign in and view/print/download your results. If you don't include an email address on the test kit requisition form, the results report will be snail mailed.
Q: I was wondering if you might address the [so-called] “cutting edge” treatment by some doctors these days using bioidentical hormones to “balance” postmenopausal women by bringing their hormone levels back to what they were before perimenopause, and as a result causing them to have regular menstrual cycles again. I know Dr. Lee never advocated this, but I was wondering if further research had uncovered new results that might make this a more healthy state for postmenopausal women. Thank you.
A: Dr. Lee disagreed with this concept and I haven’t seen a shred of evidence—either scientific or in the people using it—demonstrating that this is safe or smart or logical or helps women look and act younger. I understand there’s a calendar coming out that features women who are using a menstruation-restoring protocol. All it will prove is that everyone can look younger with good make-up, lighting and air brushing. I don’t think it’s cutting edge, I think it’s living on the edge because there’s every reason to believe it will increase your risk of breast cancer. Here’s why:
1) This protocol doesn’t create balance. It uses enormous doses of hormones that measure “normal” in a conventional venous blood test, but measure off-the-scale high when tested in saliva or blood spot.
2) Remember, one of the biggest risk factors for breast cancer is starting menstruation early and ending it late. This is likely because the breasts are exposed to more menstrual cycles over a lifetime and thus have more cyclical exposure to estrogen and possible estrogen dominance.
3) Asian women have 80 percent less risk of breast cancer compared to American women, and they also have overall much lower hormone levels than American women. The hormone dosages required to keep menstruation going are excessive and result in very high bioavailable hormone levels. This is not hormone balance.
4) As we age, our cells become more and more susceptible to the DNA damage that can lead to cancer. Why expose vulnerable aging cells to high levels of estrogen which can set in motion cancer, stroke and gallbladder disease?
Being menopausal I can certainly understand the basic urge to seek out anti-aging protocols, but the honest-to-God truth is that we’re all aging—no exceptions—and there’s nothing out there yet that will stop the process. Most women will feel a lot better if their hormones are balanced, and there’s a good chance that hormone balance will reduce the risk of breast cancer, stroke and gallbladder disease and relieve a lot of estrogen dominance symptoms. In that sense perhaps we can say that hormone balance may extend your life by keeping you healthier. So will staying away from sugar, exercising and getting enough sleep. Taking the excessive amounts of hormones necessary to bring back menstrual cycles will not stop the aging process or make you look younger, and may even be harmful… and from what I’ve seen it causes as many estrogen dominance symptoms as it cures.
The good news is that the most effective and proven anti-aging and longevity strategies are the simplest, least expensive and most commonsense: maintain a healthy weight, eat healthy, get moderate exercise, sleep well, manage stress and be moderate about your bad habits. I’m an enthusiastic fan of cutting edge protocols, gadgets and gizmos when there’s real benefit to be had, but so far there is zero evidence that there’s benefit in a menopausal woman having periods.