Valuable New Research on Bioidentical Hormones and Stroke
The large, ongoing French E3N study is providing valuable safety data for users of bioidentical hormones, most recently on estrogen, progesterone and the risk of stroke. The most common kind of hormone replacement therapy used by French women is a combination of estradiol patch or gel, and oral progesterone—both bioidentical hormones. The E3N study is following nearly 100,000 menopausal women over time.
Stroke is the third leading cause of death among women in the U.S., and although more men than women have strokes, more women die from them. The Women’s Health Initiative study found that users of the hormone replacement drug PremPro had a 41% higher risk of stroke, so it’s important to distinguish between the risk factors of the synthetic hormones in PremPro and the risk factors for bioidentical hormones.
The latest release of information from the E3N, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, examined the risk of stroke among women using oral (pill) estrogen, transdermal estrogen (patch or gel), different kinds of progestins, and progesterone. Bottom line, estrogen patches and gels are much safer than estrogen pills, and progesterone is safer than any of the progestins. In fact, women using estrogen patches and progesterone (in pill form) had a slightly lower risk of stroke compared to women not using any type of hormone replacement.
A nice little study recently published in the African Journal of Biotechnology compared endogenous (made in the body) hormone levels in women and men who had an ischemic stroke (blockage of an artery in the brain). The study measured estradiol and progesterone levels in 15 men and 15 women within 12 hours after an ischemic stroke, and compared them to a similar healthy group. The stroke group as a whole had lower progesterone levels than the control group, and a significantly lower progesterone to estrogen ratio.
Way back in 1998 my co-author Dr. John Lee stated in What Your Doctor May Not Tell You about Menopause that one of the keys to preventing stroke is proper balance between estrogen and progesterone. Dr. David Zava of ZRT Laboratory and our co-author of What Your Doctor May Not Tell You about Breast Cancer, has been measuring progesterone/estrogen ratios for many years in his saliva and blood spot tests, and includes them in test results.
For more info, read Progesterone and Stroke.
Canonico M, Fournier A, Carcaillon L, “Postmenopausal Hormone Therapy and Risk of Idiopathic Venous Thromboembolism: Results From the E3N Cohort Study,” Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology. 2010;30:340.
Sheikh N, Tavilani H, Rezaie A, “Decreased endogenous progesterone and ratio of progesterone to estrogen in stroke ischemia,” African Journal of Biotechnology Vol. 9(5), pp. 732-734, 1 February, 2010.