Hormones, Menopause and Weight Gain in Women

Natural Hormones and their Impact on Women’s Health, Weight

By: Pamela Egan, NP-C, CDE, ABAAHP

When attempting to explain the role of hormones relative to weight gain in women, the non-organic beef industry makes for a great analogy.

Commercial cattle farmers figured out how to chemically and hormonally induce weight gain many, many years ago. But what exactly is it that is done to the cows in order to get them to gain so much weight, thus increasing their value? The anwer is really quite simple. The cows are fed a potent combination of antibiotics and hormones.

Antibiotics and Hormones?

The antibiotics destroy the cows’ intestinal flora (“good bacteria”), disrupting and slowing the rate of digestion. This means that the animals are burning fewer calories in a given period of time than they would if their digestive systems were operating at full capacity. The result of this, barring a decrease in food intake, is that the cows gain weight as a result of the fact that their metabolism is being deliberately slowed down as a result of the antibiotics. For more information about how this works, see this post about probiotics and weight loss.

The role of hormones as it pertains to weight and in particular, weight gain, is by-and-large not well understood by the very women gaining weight as a direct result of hormonal imbalance. In order to learn how each individual hormone works, the respective properties of each hormone and their individual effect on women’s health – particularly as it relates to weight gain, please see the following primer:

Estradiol

Estradiol is our major estrogen that keeps the skin beautiful, keeps our memory sharp, vaginal moisture, hair, skin, nail, bone health and it should be noted that there are estradiol receptors on every organ in our body from our brain, heart, lungs, bladder, etc.

Estriol

Estriol is our weaker estrogen that goes up during pregnancy. This hormone builds collagen and is used in Europe to prevent breast cancer and keep the skin beautiful. (For a provider to prescribe Estriol in the US, they must be registered with the FDA.)

Estrone

Estrone is the bad estrogen that goes up during peri-menopause and menopause. This is the estrogen that wreaks havoc on the body. It causes fibrocystic breast, breast cancer, weight gain, ovarian cyst, ovarian cancer, endometriosis, etc. I make sure to check an estrone level during blood lab work. If it is too high, there are things we do to knock it back down such as aerobic exercise, DIM, and Indole-3 carbinol. Furthermore, women should never take estrogen by mouth over the age of 45. When taken orally, it has to be metabolized by the liver which increases the risk of blood clots and methylates over to estrone. When restoring hormones, estradiol and estriol should only be given topically or transdermally. It should also be noted that not all breast cancer is caused from hormones. Many toxins can cause breast cancer such as pesticides, plastics, radiation, etc.

Natural Progesterone

Natural Progesterone that the body makes during ovulation is a good hormone. It is an anti-depressant, sleeping pill, anti-anxiety, builds bone, stops the proliferation of cancer cells hence helps prevent breast cancer. It helps to keep estrogen in check which helps with weight loss and all those things that bad estrogen can cause. Again, Progestin is NOT Progesterone. Progestins that are found in birth control pills, PremPro, and other synthetic hormones make women fat, makes them psychotic, and cause breast cancer.

Testosterone

Testosterone, which is not FDA approved for women, is also important because it builds bones thereby preventing osteoporosis. It also helps build muscle, increase stamina, help memory, increase libido. A small amount of testosterone after menopause is essential in maintaining young, healthy cells and aiding in weight loss.

Growth Hormone

Human Growth Hormone, sometimes abbreviated simply as HGH, is considered the fountain of youth. It also helps with weight loss, building muscle, bone, etc. Amino Acids can be taken to help stimulate the pituitary to release growth hormone.

Pamela Egan, NP-C, CDE, ABAAHP

Egan Wellness and Anti-Aging Clinic + Egan Skin Care Spa
1116 W. 21st Ave.
Covington, LA 70433
985-892-3031

[Areas Serviced: Covington, Mandeville, Madisonville, Abita Springs, Slidell, Goodbee, Lacombe, Folsom, Franklinton, Bogalusa, Pearl River]

Bio-Identical Hormone Therapy: Women Should Seek Out Well-Versed Practitioners

Is Your Practitioner Well Trained in Bio-Identical Hormone Therapy?

Before a patient allows just any practitioner to prescribe bio-identical hormones, make sure they are qualified and have received extensive training in this area.

Many practitioners claim to provide bio-identical hormones in their practice but have not received any formal training in hormones. One size does not fit all.

Certain hormones should not be given orally to women over 45 years old. These include Estrogen or Testosterone. Taking these hormones by mouth is too hard on the liver. The liver metholates estradiol to estrone, the bad estrogen, that wreaks havoc on the body.

Estrone is the bad estrogen that can cause breast cancer, fibrocystic breasts, ovarian cysts, fibroids, endometriosis, prostate cancer and more. It should always be checked in those women receiving hormone replacement therapy.

Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy for Men and Women

Premarin, Prempro, Fem-HRT, are not bio-identical hormones. These are synthetic chemicals that the body does not recognize. Because they are in oral form, this makes matters worse, because the liver changes them over to estrone, the bad estrogen. I’ve had women present to my clinic with grossly elevated estrone levels while on Premarin and Prempro. We then try to bind the bad estrone up with DIM or Ultra Indinol Plus.

There is no reason to give a women synthetic hormones this day and age. We now have FDA approved bio-identical hormones. The important point to remember is to NEVER, NEVER take Estrogen by mouth. It is bad for you and will increase your risk of breast cancer. If your provider orders oral estrogen or testosterone, that is a sign that they have not received proper training in hormones. You should seek another provider who is adequately trained in this field.

The American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine offers a Fellowship in Anti-Aging & Functional Medicine. This Fellowship Program is very extensive and takes years to complete, requires a board exam, and a preceptorship with another board certified Anti-Aging Physican. Mrs. Pamela Egan, NP, ABAAHP Diplomat is board certified in Anti-Aging & Functional Medicine.

Pamela Egan, DNP, CDE
EGAN WELLNESS, ANTI-AGING & SKIN CARE SPA
1116 West 21st Ave.
Covington, LA 70433
ofc. 985-892-3031
fax. 985-892-9504
www.pamelaegan.com

Causes of Female Weight Gain – Part 2: The Role of Hormones

The Role of Hormones in Female Weight Gain

This post is part two of a series of articles about why women gain weight as they age.

Part One: Top Causes of Female Weight Gain

Part Two: The Role of Hormones

Cortisol is a hormone that increases with stress. Cortisol is also a fat storing hormone, so it is no wonder that too much stress/ cortisol can make you fat.

Leptin is a hormone that tells the brain you’ve had enough to eat and also knocks out food cravings. Most women who are overweight are Leptin Resistant. In fact, childhood obesity has been linked to Leptin Resistance. Again, exercise, diet and supplements that contain Irvingia help to reverse Leptin resistance.

Hormones are a very complex issue and I consider myself an expert on this topic since I was hormonally imbalanced for 15 years and was forced to find the answers myself when I could not get help from conventional medicine. At the age of 35, after my fourth child, I weighed 103 pounds. My OB/GYN convinced me to have a bilateral tubal ligation. I literally gained 30 pounds within 3 months and 60 pounds within 6 months. I was aging prematurely, I looked like I was 60 years old, had aches and pains, was depressed cause I was gaining all of this weight, couldn’t sleep at night, had no sex drive, developed hypothryoidism which can also be caused from a hormone imbalance.

I went back to my physician begging for a hormone check and to 4 or 5 other physicians, but was told there was no good way to check hormones and there was no correlation to the tubal ligation. I was getting older and just needed to eat less and exercise more. I was an RN at the time and had not changed my eating or exercise habits but was literally blowing up like a “spaded dog”.

If you will google “Tubal Ligation Syndrome” you will now find that in a high percentage of women, their ovaries fail which leads to estrogen dominance which leads to weight gain, fibrocystic breast, ovarian cyst, fibroids, etc. which ultimately leads to a hysterectomy. In fact, by the age of 49, I had all of these things which required a complete hysterectomy. I was then handed a box of Premarin which I did not take but knew I had to get some answers to this hormone traversty. After taking some courses with “Pharmacy Compounding Centers of America”, I was led to and completed a Fellowship with the American Academy of Anti-Aging & Regenerative Medicine. This Fellowship literally saved my life. I actually look younger at the age of 55 then I did at 35 and have lost all the weight that I had gained back then.

Hormones have gotten a bad rap by the media since the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) was completed in 2002. The WHI was done on synthetic hormones Premarin (horse urine) and Prempro (horse urine and progestin-synthetic progesterone) Many physicians in America still think that these chemicals are hormones. They are not!

In actuality, it is hormones that keep women young. Just look at the commercials on TV right now regarding low testosterone levels in men. When hormones are perfectly balanced, it is much easier to lose weight and keep the cells young and healthy. So the men are going to be on the “anti-aging train” while the women are aging prematurely. How fair is that??

The Hormone Replacement Therapy Debate

Bioidentical Hormones vs. Synthetic Hormones

Now that more and more women are becoming educated on preventative medicine and anti-aging, the debate is heating up and the very bioidentical hormones that have been used safely for decades across the world are coming under fire in the US. Proponents of bioidentical hormones claim that they are safer than comparable synthetic and non human versions of Hormone Replacement Therapy. Of special concern is the fact that the FDA, big Pharma, state medical boards, and the media claim there is little or no evidence to support claims that bioidentical hormones are safer or more effective.

The term “bioidentical HRT” refers to the use of hormones that are exact copies of endogenous human hormones, including estriol, estradiol, and progesterone, as opposed to synthetic versions with different chemical structures or nonhuman versions, such as Conjugated Equine Estrogens. Bioidentical hormones are also often referred to as “natural hormones,” which can be confusing because bioidentical hormones are synthesized, while some estrogens from a natural source, such as equine urine, are not considered bioidentical because many of their components are foreign to the human body.

Women who had lost their quality of life because of Tubal Ligation Syndrome, hysterectomies, or hormone imbalances associated with aging, report getting their lives back with the use of bioidentical hormones. Many who complained of insomnia, weight gain, depression, memory problems, low libido, aging skin, were able to resolve these issues without anti-depressants, benzodiazapines, or sleeping pills. Those who discovered BHRT described a light bulb going back on and getting their lives back. So, if America is a free country, and a woman can choose whether she wants to use synthetic chemicals such as Prempro or Birth Control Pills, have an abortion, or use bioidentical hormones, why is she being denied the right to choose the latter? Why are physicians being threatened not to prescribe BHRT in the state of Louisiana and being forced to send their patients to Texas for treatment? Why are natural forms of Estriol being banned in America? It would appear that our governing bodies and the media are willing to sacrifice women’s health in the interest of protecting big pharma.

Menopause

Just this morning, Dr. Nancy Snyderman, the medical commentator on the Today Show, instructed all menopausal women not to take any Hormone Replacement Therapy. She cited the very negative outcomes that was seen with the Women’s Health Initiative. This was a vast clinical trial involving more than 100K women and looked at the effect of estrogen and progestin therapy. The study was stopped when it was recognized that women taking Prempro were at a 25% increased risk of developing invasive breast cancer and heart disease. Snyderman went on to express concerns about all forms of Hormone Replacement Therapy including bio-identical hormone replacement because according to her there was “no evidence” to support the claim that they are safer than commonly used synthetic hormones.

Studies Show Bioidentical HRT to be Safe

In actuality, there are hundreds of studies showing the safety of bioidentical hormone replacement therapy which would make one question the honesty of Dr. Snyderman and why she would purposely withhold the truth from women. Furthermore, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have ordered pharmacies to stop providing estriol, stating that it is a new, unapproved drug with unkown safety and effectiveness. This is the same FDA that has approved the use of synthetic birth control pills in 14 year olds to control acne and the use of the depo-provera shot for birth control in young women, which contains the same synthetic progestin as Prempro. Whose side are they on?

Nevertheless, estriol has been used for decades without reported safety concerns and is a component of medications approved for use worldwide. The FDA has acknowledged that it is unaware of any adverse events associated with the use of compounded medications containing estriol, and US Congress is considering a resolution (HR342) to reverse the FDA’s decision to restrict its use.

The definitive article on Bio-Identical Hormones versus Synthetic has been written by Kent Holtorf, MD published in Postgraduate Medicine, Volume 121, Issue 1, January 2009, which evaluates the evidence comparing bioidentical hormones, including progesterone, estradiol, and estriol, with the commonly used nonbioidentical versions of HRT for clinical efficacy, physiologic actions on breast tissue, and risks for breast cancer and cardiovascular disease.
Dr. Holtorf in his work did an exhaustive literature search and reviewed an array of Journal articles and published papers documenting human clinical studies, animal studies, and in vitro experimental work that compared bio-identical and non-bioidentical hormones as well as focusing on the physiological and biochemical aspects of the hormones.

Results showed that patients reported greater satisfaction with HRT’s that contain progesterone compared with those that contain a synthetic progestin. Bioidentical hormones have some distinctly different, potentially opposite, physiological effects compared with their synthetic counterparts, which have different chemical structures. Both physiological and clinical data have indicated that progesterone is associated with a diminished risk for breast cancer, compared with the increased risk associated with synthetic progestins. Estriol has some unique physiological effects, which differentiate it from estradiol, estrone, and conjugated equine estrogens. Estriol would be expected to carry less risk for breast cancer, although no randomized controlled trials have been documented. Synthetic progestins have a variety of negative cardiovascular effects, which may be avoided with progesterone.

Progesterone

                                                  Natural Progesterone

The effect of progesterone compared with Progestin, medroxyprogesterone acetate (MPA) included a 30% reduction in sleep problems, a 50% reduction in anxiety, a 60% reduction in depression, a 30% reduction in somatic symptoms, a 25% reduction in menstrual bleeding, a 40% reduction in cognitive difficulties, and a 30% improvement in sexual function. Overall, 65% of women felt that HRT combined with progesterone was better than the HRT combined with synthetic progestin, MPA.

In conclusion, physiological data and clinical outcomes demonstrate that bioidentical hormones are associated with lower risks, including lower risk of breast cancer and cardiovascular disease, and are more efficacious than their synthetic and animal derived counterparts. Until evidence is found to the contrary, bioidentical hormones remain the preferred method of HRT.

Pamela Egan, DNP, CDE
Doctor of Nursing Practice
MS, Metabolic & Nutritional Medicine
Fellow, Metabolic Medical Institute
MN, Gerontology Mental Health
Certified Diabetes Educator

She can be reached at 985-892-3031 or www.pamelaegan.com.