Anti-Aging Hormones

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It’s no secret that women are preoccupied with aging. We are willing to spend millions of dollars and subject ourselves to all kinds of treatments in our desperate attempts to stay young-looking. One treatment that has been in the news a lot lately has been the use of various hormones to retard or erase the effects of aging. The June 8, 2009 issue of Newsweek magazine had a cover story about the medical advice given on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and most of the article was about the controversy over the use of these hormones. [See story here.]

Suzanne Somers has been on “Oprah” more than once to share her anti-aging regime:

What's your verdict?
What's your verdict?

“Each morning, the 62-year-old actress and self-help author rubs a potent estrogen cream into the skin on her arm. She smears progesterone on her other arm two weeks a month. And once a day, she uses a syringe to inject estrogen directly into her vagina. The idea is to use these unregulated “bio-identical” hormones to restore her levels back to what they were when she was in her 30s, thus fooling her body into thinking she’s a younger woman.”

As you can see from the picture on the right, Somers is in great shape. (See more pictures on AskMen.com.) So when she says she’s found the fountain of youth, a lot of women are going to believe her. This concerns the American Medical Association, as we can see from the news story that came out today:

“The American Medical Association says there’s no scientific proof to back up claims for anti-aging hormones. At their annual meeting in Chicago on Monday, AMA delegates adopted a new policy on products such as HGH, DHEA and testosterone used as aging remedies. With HGH, or human growth hormone, the AMA says evidence suggests long-term use can present more risks than benefits. The risks include tissue swelling and diabetes.

“The AMA [also] says there’s no credible evidence that other hormones, so-called bio-identicals, are safer than traditional estrogen and progesterone products. The traditional hormones are only recommended for menopause symptoms at the lowest possible dose because of long-term health risks. The AMA says anti-aging hormone promoters need rigorous studies to prove, or disprove, their claims.” [Several sources carried the same story verbatim.]

The experts weigh in about biodentical hormone therapy in this WebMD article from January 15, 2009. One of the experts, Erika Schwartz, MD, a New York doctor who prescribes FDA-approved biodentical hormones and compounded bioidentical hormones, says there have been studies that support the safety of bioidentical hormones compared to other hormone therapy.

She asks, “If NAMS* or ACOG** says there are not enough studies, well, why haven’t you done the studies if you think you need more? If this had been men’s health, would we be having this conversation, or would we have answers?”

*NAMS (North American Menopause Society)
**ACOG (American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology)

Good point.

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Ellen Keim

Ellen is a freelance writer, essayist and copy editor, living with three cats and a husband in Columbus, OH.

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