Grab Bag Controversy:
Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) and The Pill; a Conservative View
The article below spells out some arguments for one end of the HRT/Pill spectrum of opinions. Whatever your choice, it’s always beneficial to consider all sides of an issue.
Contraceptive Pill and Hormone Replacement Therapy – Don’t Take them
by Dr. Sarah Myhlll, MD*
January 5, 2009
Dr. Myhill is a UK-based physician known for practicing a combination of conventional and holistic medicine, with special interests in prevention, diet/nutrition, and fatigue.
A question that most of my female patients ask me at some stage is – what about the Pill and HRT [hormone replacement therapy]? In the last few years I have become increasingly unhappy about prescribing the Pill and HRT for my patients and I am now at the stage when I actively discourage patients from using either.
Essentially the Pill, especially progesterone, suppresses the immune system.
Progesterone is the pregnancy hormone ( pro – in favor of, gesterone – pregnancy). There is a very particular immune problem in pregnancy – that is, 50% of the growing baby genetically belongs to the father. What should happen immunologically is that the mother should reject this baby as a foreign body. Obviously, this is undesirable and to get round this the mother produces lots of sex hormones to turn off the normal immune reaction.
Women are only meant to have high levels of progesterone in pregnancy. Pregnancy is a potentially dangerous time with greatly increased risk of blood clotting, high blood pressure, cancer, mental disturbances, weight gain, hormone swings and immune suppression.
Women largely survive because it only goes on for nine months.
With the Pill and HRT there are unremitting high levels of these hormones with all these complications. Those which most concern the chronic fatigue syndrome [and Fibromyalgia] sufferer are the immune suppression, hormone disturbances and nutritional deficiencies. These hormones induce:
• B vitamin deficiencies,
• Essential fatty acid deficiencies,
• Raised copper,
• And low zinc.
How to come off the Pill and HRT
One of the problems of these drugs is that for some women they are addictive and they get terrible side effects when they try to stop them. This is compounded by the fact that the high doses in the Pill and HRT turn off the body’s own production of sex hormones.
This explains, for example, post Pill amenorrhea [absence of a menstrual period in a woman of reproductive age] – the pituitary gland is “turned off” by the Pill and HRT, and it may take months or years to recover. Some young women go straight into a menopause when they stop the Pill.
So these drugs have to be tailed off slowly (a combination of reducing the dose, taking alternate days, halving the tablets or cutting patches in half) over several months. If there are bad withdrawal symptoms, I would measure hormone levels and possibly prescribe for a short time some natural hormone replacement.
Which are the bad estrogens and progesterones?
The malign effects of progesterone and estrogen are extensions of their normal biological action. So they can all be bad, depending on the dose and delivery.
The normal action of hormones is kept in tight control by the body, which releases hormones in carefully balanced amounts which it adjusts from minute to minute – a far cry from a once daily dose or even a continuous seepage from a patch or cream. Any estrogen or progesterone, natural or synthetic, has the ability to cause great harm. It is a question of the dose and delivery. No hormone cream, patch or pill can exactly copy the body. All have serious problems.
Dr. Ellen Grant has written most extensively on this situation and the following is a book review I did which sums things up.
* * * *
Dr Ellen Grant: The effect of exogenous sex hormones on women’s health including increases in breast, endometrial, ovarian and cervical cancer, and sexually transmitted diseases.
(A summary of Sexual Chemistry: Understanding Our Hormones, the Pill, and HRT, by Ellen Grant. London: Cedar, Reed Books, 1994.ISBN 0-7493-1363-3 prepared by Dr. Sarah Myhill, MD.)
The combined oral contraceptive Pill has become widely accepted as a safe contraceptive for long-term use, and when it is being administered, usually the only issue up for discussion is its efficacy in preventing pregnancy. Dr Grant argues that its use causes a whole range of clinical problems. These side effects are an extension of physiological actions and are therefore dose dependent. For the same reason, it is irrelevant whether the hormones are of natural origin or have been artificially synthesized, are taken orally or transdermally [through the skin].
Corticosteroids and anabolic steroids are rightly used with caution. The female sex hormones in the Pill and HRT are related compounds with similarly profound and wide range of activity.
1. Female sex hormones stimulate target organs resulting in increases in all hormone-dependent cancers, particularly breast and cervical cancer. There is a clear link between unopposed estrogen use and endometrial cancer.
2. They affect the immune system depending on proportions of progestogen (which tends to suppress) and estrogen (which tends to stimulate). Grant argues that the immuno-dysregulation caused in this way has contributed to the increasing allergic diseases we now see.
3. They interfere with trace element metabolism, particularly lowering zinc and magnesium levels as well as disturbing B vitamins and essential fatty acids levels. Low zinc is associated with anorexia, birth defects and dyslexia which, argues Grant, are diseases exacerbated by the Pill. Low magnesium is associated with cardiovascular disease, the commonest cause of death in the UK.
4. They cause mental disturbances – estrogens tend to cause euphoria (and may be addictive), progestogens tend to cause depressive symptoms. Falling levels of both hormones cause depressive symptoms – this occurs naturally in PMT, post-natal depression and menopausal depression. Taking the Pill or HRT exacerbates these natural mood swings so there is a higher incidence of depression and suicide in Pill takers. This effect may be mediated by abnormal zinc/copper ratios.
5. They cause dilatation and/or hypertrophy of blood vessels leading to thrombosis (pulmonary embolus) and increased vascular disorders (hypertension, coronary artery disease, stroke). Again, this is a physiological effect which can be seen in the veins and arterioles of the uterus, but is exacerbated when used in the pharmacological levels used in the Pill and HRT.
6. The Pill is used as a first-line contraceptive in young women. This means condoms are rarely used and women are more likely to acquire sexually transmitted diseases.
7. A combination of the immuno-dysregulation, plus hormone stimulation of the cervix, plus exposure to sexually transmitted diseases with chronic inflammation and carcinogenicity of papilloma virus has led to an epidemic of aggressive cervical cancer in young women.
8. Acute pelvic inflammatory disease may lead to chronic pelvic infection and infertility.
The main reason why these disorders have not become more apparent in clinical trials is because the women who developed side effects early on in the trial stopped taking the Pill. This meant that the women who continued on the Pill were pre-selected because they were resistant to the malign effects of the Pill so the true overall long term side-effects of the Pill and HRT have been underestimated.
This view is now receiving considerable support particularly from the Dutch epidemiologists.
* This material is reproduced from Dr. Sarah Myhill’s patient-information website (http://www.Drmyhill.co.uk). R Sarah Myhill Limited, Registered in England and Wales: Reg. No. 4545198. Note: This information has not been evaluated by the FDA. It is generic and is not meant to prevent, diagnose, treat, or cure any illness, condition, or disease. It is essential that you make no decision about additions to or changes in your healthcare plan or health support regimen without first researching and discussing it in collaboration with your professional healthcare team.
Grab Bag Cosmetic Clean Up:
A new favorite and a tie for a previous product:
There’s NOTHING you can’t love about Jane Iredale’s cute little “blush in a tube”, In Touch Cream Blush. This product rates a 2 on Cosmeticsdatabase.com.
This little miracle product does it all…. blush, lipstick, eyeshadow, bronzer, you name it. And it has a wonderful scent, to boot. Sweep on cheeks, lips, brow bone, then throw a little Egyptian Magic on your fingertip, blend and baby, you GLOW! Five colors. Below enlarged is Connection, a tawny, pretty peach. Clarity looks hot pink in the tube, but mellows on the skin and is stunning on the lips with the Egyptian Magic. Can be found at About Faces salon in Santa Barbara, or other Iredale retailers, or online at JaneIredale.com.
And also from Jane Iredale, a mascara which I like just as well as the Honeybee Gardens mascara I have posted here before. She makes three mascaras, but I have tried the Longest Lash Mascara and find it really nice. Like Honeybee Garden’s, Iredale’s mascara leaves your lashes soft and just full enough, doesn’t flake and removes easily. Available at the same locations as mentioned above.
Grab Bag Useful Stuff:
For the “Best of”, from High Schools to Nursing Homes…. and many stops in between, bookmark this U.S. News and World Report site for their “Best of” lists. Note: This link can be permanently found in the right hand column under INFORMATION.
Grab Bag Matters:
Particularly appropriate for beautiful Santa Barbara, recovering from the third devasting wildfire in the last 10 months, this weekly tip from the Every Monday Matters book and website:
Thank a Firefighter
- There are over 1,100,000 firefighters.
- 73% of firefighters are volunteers, with 66% or more of fire departments staffed 100% by volunteers.
- More than 100 firefighters die in the line of duty each year.
- 1.5 million or more fires are reported annually.
- Fire kills more Americans than all natural disasters combined—over 4,000 deaths annually.
- The U.S. has one of the highest rates of death due to fire in the industrialized world.
TAKE ACTION TODAY
- When you see firefighters in uniform, walk up and thank them for keeping you and your community safe.
- Get out of the way: pull your car to the right when you hear a siren or see a fire truck with its lights on.
- Organize your friends, co-workers, neighborhood, or child’s class to create and deliver thank-you cards to your local fire station.
Become a Jr. Fire Marshall (for kids).
Develop a fire escape plan for your home.
Donate to firefighter benefits and causes! (Note from LK… please click SBfirefightersalliance.org to see what the Santa Barbara Firefighters Alliance is doing for the community).
Minimize your risk of fires — install smoke detectors, keep a fire extinguisher in your kitchen, don’t overload power plugs, clear brush from around your house, and don’t flick your cigarette butts.
Every day firefighters put their lives on the line to save people and property. Many of these firefighters are volunteers, so let’s “pay” them by showing our appreciation, thanking them for the valuable service they provide, and letting them know that we are very aware of the significant positive impact they have on our communities. Firefighters, whether paid or not, make an incredible difference in our lives—so let’s make a difference in theirs.
Grab Bag Brain Game:
Grab Bag Funny Stuff:
I sometimes grieve the demise of the old vinyl LP’s, mostly for the collection of album art that brings back such visual reminders of days gone by. Kids today…. they have no idea that music and art used to come together in one 12″ x 12″ square.
But take a look at these entries below…. actual album art that had actual production and actual sales (?). Makes a strong argument for an artless MP3, doesn’t it?
CAN’T GET ENOUGH? SEE THE 100 WORST ALBUM COVERS HERE
….. and DO share HOW MANY of these were in YOUR collection 🙂
And a video collage of some very funny TV ads….