Feb
02
2019

Hormones Helping In Menopause

Dr. Filomena Trindade presented a talk about hormones helping in menopause. This talk was part the 26th Anti-Aging Conference of the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine in Las Vegas from December 13 to 15, 2018. The exact title of her talk was “Women and cognition: insulin, menopause and Alzheimer’s”. Above the age of 80 Alzheimer’s disease in women becomes much more common compared to men. PET scans of the brain of postmenopausal women in comparison to PET scans of premenopausal women, often show more than 30% slow down of metabolism after menopause. Literature regarding that finding showed that it was mostly the decline in ovarian estrogen production that was responsible for the slow down in brain metabolism. Other factors that lead to Alzheimer’s disease are central adiposity (abdominal) and inflammation in the body.

Brain insulin resistance and Alzheimer’s

Older women with Alzheimer’s have more IGF-1 resistance and IGF-1 dysfunction. Other studies showed that minimal cognitive impairment (MCI) progressing into Alzheimer’s disease (AD) might be due to type-2 diabetes. One of the studies stated the following:

“We conclude that the term type 3 diabetes accurately reflects the fact that AD represents a form of diabetes that selectively involves the brain and has molecular and biochemical features that overlap with both type 1 DM and type 2 DM.“

Another publication said that type 3 DM is a neuroendocrine disorder that represents the progression of type 2 DM to Alzheimer’s disease.

Dr. Trindade presented several hormone studies in postmenopausal women who started to develop Alzheimer’s disease. Older women with existing Alzheimer’s did not respond to estrogen hormone replacement. They did not recover with regard to their memory loss. However, younger women who just entered menopause responded well to estrogen hormone replacement and many recovered from their memory loss.

Hormone changes in menopause

There are a number of hormones that experience changes with the onset of menopause. Estrogen production ceases in the ovaries. The production of progesterone in the ovaries also ends. In addition thyroid and adrenal gland hormone production decreases. Often insulin production is increased, but insulin resistance is present at the same time.

Stress can interfere with progesterone and aldosterone production as pregnenolone is the same precursor molecule for both hormones.

How stress interferes with Selye’s general adaptation syndrome

Stage 1 of Selye’s adaptation syndrome, called arousal, involves elevation of cortisol and DHEA. When stress is over, the patient recovers on his/her own.

Stage 2 is the adaptation stage, where cortisol is chronically elevated, but DHEA is declining. The patient feels stressed, has anxiety attacks and may experience mood swings and depressions.

Stage 3 is the exhaustion stage. The underlying cause of this stage is adrenal insufficiency. Both cortisol and DHEA blood levels are low. Patients often suffer from depression and chronic fatigue.

Other hormones and menopause

DHEA and cortisol (stress) have the same precursor (pregnenolone). This means that when a patient is stressed, DHEA production tends to suffer as most of the pregnenolone is used for the production of cortisol.

Dr. Trindade spent some time explaining the complicated details of thyroid hormones during menopause. In essence stress can interfere with the normal metabolism of thyroid hormones with respect to T3, T4 and reverse T3. The end result is that not enough functioning thyroid hormones are present and hypothyroidism may develop.

Both estrogen and progesterone are lower in menopause. In a longitudinal French study with over 80,000 postmenopausal patients the women that received replacement with bioidentical progesterone and estrogen did the best in terms of low Alzheimer’s rates and lower heart attack rates. You achieve optimal Alzheimer’s prevention best starting hormone replacement at the time when menopause starts. You need both estrogen to control hot flashes and to give you strong bones, and progesterone for preservation of your brain, your hair growth and a good complexion.

Hormones Helping In Menopause

Hormones Helping In Menopause

Conclusion

Hormones are missing in menopause and this becomes the starting point for many postmenopausal complaints of patients. The sooner the physician does blood tests to diagnose hormone deficiencies, the better. Various studies showed that the best result in terms of Alzheimer’s prevention is possible, when estrogen and bioidentical progesterone are replaced right at the beginning of menopause. This approach prevents neuroinflammation. There are no extracellular beta amyloid protein deposits and no intracellular tau protein deposits that typically are present with Alzheimer’s disease. In addition the cardiovascular system stays healthier for longer. It contributes to preventing heart attacks and strokes. A longitudinal French study with over 80,000 women who have received treatment with a combination of estrogen and bioidentical progesterone have excellent survival data. The women also enjoy excellent mental health, no cardiovascular complications and less cancer than controls without hormone treatment.

 

Jan
19
2019

Alzheimer’s disease is treatable with hormones

Dr. Thierry Hertoghe, an endocrinologist from Belgium, stated that Alzheimer’s disease is treatable with hormones. This talk was part the 26th Anti-Aging Conference of the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine in Las Vegas (from December 13 to 15, 2018).

First of all, Dr. Hertoghe treated many Alzheimer’s patients himself and noted that they often have multiple hormone deficiencies. Secondly, common deficiencies affect thyroid hormones, human growth hormone, estradiol for women and testosterone for men. But even vasopressin and oxytocin are hormones that may be lacking. Third,  after doing thorough blood tests to assess hormone levels, Dr. Hertoghe replaced what hormones were missing. Finally, many Alzheimer’s patients got their energy, muscle strength and memory back.

In the following I am summarizing what Dr. Hertoghe told the audience about the various hormones. Alzheimer’s disease is treatable with hormones. Later I provide the hormone doses that Dr. Hertoghe uses for replacement.

Progressive memory loss

Generally, patients who develop Alzheimer’s disease start losing short-term memory first, but in time they will also lose long-term memory. Often this disease process starts in the 60’s as age-associated cognitive impairment. In the 70’s it may progress further to mild cognitive impairment, only to take off in the 80’s as Alzheimer’s disease. The astute clinician may order some screening blood tests in the 60’s and 70’s. In a male low testosterone, low DHEAS and low thyroid hormones may be present. Certainly, blood tests will show this readily. Frequently, in women low estradiol, low thyroid and low DHEAS may also be present. The reason this is important is that simple hormone replacement can return a person back to normal. Yes, this is right: hormone replacement can bring a person with age-associated cognitive impairment or mild cognitive impairment back to normal! In other words, Alzheimer’s disease is treatable with hormones.

Hormones important to monitor with Alzheimer’s disease

There are 6 hormones that are important for memory restoration in Alzheimer’s patients: IGF-1 (and growth hormone), thyroid hormones, estrogen and testosterone, vasopressin (and oxytocin) and pregnenolone. However, as Alzheimer’s patients often have sleep problems, another important hormone is melatonin.

Oxytocin to calm down aggressive Alzheimer’s patients

Notably, Dr. Hertoghe found that Alzheimer’s patients often are restless and can be aggressive. This makes it difficult to care for them in a home. Oxytocin is the hormone of trust, affection, sociability and concerns about others. It calms down aggressiveness. But with oxytocin treatment the Alzheimer’s patient feels better, becomes friendly, cooperative and warm-hearted.

As an illustration Dr. Hertoghe gave an example of one of his 80-year old patients with aggressive Alzheimer’s disease. She became unmanageable for her non-married son and other contacts. 5 IU of oxytocin sublingually changed this woman into a friendly, compassionate, warm-hearted woman, and the aggressiveness disappeared completely.

Insomnia in Alzheimer’s patients

About 45% of Alzheimer’s patients develop “sundowning”. When the sun goes down they start getting hyperactive, develop unacceptable behaviors and they become restless. Research papers showed that blood melatonin levels are low in these patients. Indeed, this is why they respond very well to small amounts of melatonin at bedtime. As a conclusion, within only a few days of starting this, their sundowning disappears, and they become easier to look after.

Dr. Hertoghe provided material from several research papers that showed that Alzheimer’s patients are often deficient for melatonin. Replacement with varying doses of melatonin solved even more complicated insomnia problems.

Melatonin is a powerful anti-oxidant. Interesting animal experiments have shown that melatonin has memory-enhancing properties. Researchers believe that melatonin improves the extracellular senile plaques with amyloid-beta peptide accumulation (first of 2 Alzheimer’s lesions). In addition melatonin also decreases the intracellular neurofibrillary degeneration tangles, the second of the two specific Alzheimer’s lesions.

IGF-1 and human growth hormone

Several studies have shown that Alzheimer’s patients have a significant drop in IGF-1 levels and growth hormone levels. This affects their short-term and long-term memory. Serum IGF-1 has an inverse correlation with cognitive impairment. Dr. Hertoghe said that IGF-1 treatment in Alzheimer’s patients increases their brain volume, increases the functional network of neurons in the brain and increases memory.

Brain atrophy in Alzheimer’s patients from chronically depleted IGF-1

Dr. Hertoghe showed a slide of a normal brain with a view from the outside and a cross section view of the brain. The same slide contained the view of an Alzheimer’s patient’s brain. It showed brain atrophy resulting in a much smaller brain and the cross section displayed an increase of the hollow spaces (e.g. the third and forth ventricle). He stressed that in his view the brain shrinkage of Alzheimer’s patients is due to prolonged low levels of IGF-1. This in turn is due to a lack of production of human growth hormone.

With IGF-1 treatment the serum IGF-1 was increasing and the cognitive function in older adults recovered. Dr. Hertoghe provided many literature citations to support this, which I will not repeat here.

Case report of a male patient with Alzheimer’s disease

Dr. Hertoghe presented one of his patients with Alzheimer’s. Lab tests showed that he had deficiencies of thyroid hormones, DHEA and testosterone. But despite replacement of these hormones he remained severely affected with Alzheimer’s. He did not remember his own name, could not go to the toilet on his own, spoke only a few words and suffered from severe fatigue. He received 4 injections around his eyes with IGF-1 and mesotherapy from his doctor (described below) with human growth hormone and IGF-1. Within a few weeks he had a complete reversal of his cognitive decline. He could return to his professional driving career doing halftime work with a delivery van in the city. He could read a newspaper and understood what he was reading. Alzheimer’s disease is treatable with hormones.

Thyroid hormones

According to Dr. Hertoghe thyroid hormones help to establish short-term and long-term memory and treat the apathetic depression in Alzheimer’s patients. Many Alzheimer’s patients are hypothyroid.With this deficiency they have swollen lower eyelids, a puffy face and paleness of the face. In a 1990 study a group of Alzheimer’s patients had 26% lower T3 levels when compared to normal controls. Many patients with hypothyroidism have memory loss, before their deficiency is corrected. Dr. Hertoghe stated that 13% of all dementia cases are reversible by proper thyroid hormone treatment.

Estradiol can improve long-term memory loss

Research showed that estradiol could improve long-term memory in dementia and Alzheimer’s disease cases. Many female Alzheimer’s patients are deficient in estrogens. If they do, they have dry eyes, a pale face and thin, dull hair. In a 2005 study 33 control women were compared to 48 women with Alzheimer’s disease. The estradiol levels in the Alzheimer’s disease group showed significant depletion compared to the normal control group. There was no significant difference found with regard to progesterone, testosterone and LH&HSH levels. Another study showed that in cerebrospinal fluid of women with Alzheimer’s disease the estradiol level was significantly reduced while the beta-amyloid levels were significantly increased.

Dr. Hertoghe reviewed several studies that showed that symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease disappeared with estradiol supplementation. Both memory and mood responded to the treatments.

Men with Alzheimer’s disease are often testosterone deficient

Testosterone is important for long-term memory. Men in andropause report erectile dysfunction, general weakness and memory loss. The physician needs to be aware that the patient may be starting to develop Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Hertoghe showed a slide based on a publication, which stressed that testosterone enhances memory. It increases brain blood flow and thickens the myelin sheets. Testosterone increases dendrite and synapses and in addition decreases amyloid beta-peptide production. Neurotoxicity is also reduced. The end result is improvement of Alzheimer’s in males with testosterone replacement.

Pregnenolone improves short-term memory

Pregnenolone gets synthesized in the brain, spinal cord and peripheral nerves. Dr. Hertoghe said that pregnenolone is a neurostimulating “neurosteroid”. Pregnenolone concentrations in brain tissue are about 25- to 35-fold higher than in the blood stream. Some cases of Alzheimer’s disease can come from a lack of pregnenolone and pregnenolone sulfate. Patients who have Alzheimer’s because of a lack of pregnenolone have blood levels that are 2.5-fold lower than pregnenolone levels in normal controls. When these patients are treated with pregnenolone, their memory improves. The mechanism of the effect of pregnenolone is by increasing acetylcholine by more than 50% in the hippocampus. It also protects the hippocampus from glutamate and amyloid beta. Pregnenolone improves short-term memory over a period of 3 to 4 months of treatment.

Vasopressin improves short-term and long-term memory loss

Postmortem studies on Alzheimer’s patients showed that there is decreased vasopressin in the brain cortex. In patients with alcoholic dementia (Korsakoff psychosis after recovery) there was decreased vasopressin in the cerebrospinal fluid. Often patients with diabetes insipidus have decreased vasopressin and are in danger of developing dementia. If not treated, they develop short-term and long-term memory loss. When treated with vasopressin or Desmopressin their memory recovers within 4 hours of starting therapy. Younger patients (50 to 73) do better with memory recovery than older patients (74 to 91).

Treatment details of hormone replacement for Alzheimer’s disease

Before hormone treatments are given to a patient it is important to do a battery of blood tests. This will help the physician to identify the missing hormones in a particular patient. Each of the missing hormones are then administered separately.

Oxytocin

This hormone can be given sublingually or intranasally. Sublingually 5-10 IU are given daily. With the sublingual approach 1 or 2 sprays are given daily. Each spray contains 8 IU of oxytocin. Improvement is visible within 2 to 5 days. A full recovery takes 2 to 3 months.

Melatonin

Most patients in the higher age group do no longer produce their own melatonin. With the oral route 1-3 mg are given every night before going to bed. An alternative is to use sublingual tables 0.5mg to 1.0mg at bedtime. The first improvement can be seen 2-5 days after the start of replacing melatonin, the full impact takes about 2-3 months from the start of the treatment.

IGF-1 and human growth hormone

Replacement of IGF-1 can be done by injecting IGF-1 or human growth hormone (HGH). HGH stimulates the liver to produce IGF-1. IGF-1 is somewhat cheaper than HGH. When IGF-1 is used, 0.3mg to 1mg is injected at bedtime. Progress is slow; the first improvement is visible at 2-4 months, it takes up to 24 to 36 months for a full recovery.

For severe memory impairment with Alzheimer’s, the doctor does a double treatment approach with both IGF-1 and HGH: first subcutaneous IGF-1 injections around the eyes 4 times per day (0.01mg each). Secondly, at the doctor’s office the doctor administers mesotherapy injections with 1mg of HGH and 1mg of IGF-1 and vasodilators 3 times per week. Two weeks later the doctor administers another course of mesotherapy. He may repeat this twice in 14-day intervals. Now the interval increases to monthly therapy for 3 months and finally every 3 to 4 months. The patient can use IGF-1 nose drops instead of subcutaneous IGF-1 injections.

Thyroid hormones

Dr. Hertoghe prefers desiccated animal thyroid hormone replacement as the T3/T4 ratio is best matched to what the ratio is in humans. Depending on the severity of thyroid hormone deficiency the patient takes 30-150mg of thyroid hormone every morning. Dr. Hertoghe starts with a low dose and slowly increases the dosage. Clinical progress is very slow. It takes until the second month before the first improvement takes place. Full improvement can take 8-12 months.

Estradiol

Replacement of estradiol in postmenopausal women with Alzheimer’s disease received ether more than 0.1mg per day or 0.625mg of conjugated equine estrogen daily. In both cases there were improvements of their memory and improvement on the Hamilton depression scale.

Dr. Hertoghe’s preferred way to treat postmenopausal women with Alzheimer’s disease is as follows. The first 25 days of each month he gives them 1-2mg of oral estradiol valerate each day and 100mg of micronized progesterone. If they prefer an estrogen cream, he gives them 1-3mg per day transdermal estradiol and 100mg micronized progesterone capsules.

The first improvement is visible after 2-4 months; there is further improvement the next 8-12 months.

Testosterone

There are two methods of how to do hormone replacement with testosterone, either by injection or as transdermal cream. The injection treatment uses 250mg of testosterone enanthate or cypionate every 2 -3 weeks. The patinet can also self-administer testosterone enanthate (50mg twice per week) for a more even blood level of testosterone. The transdermal approach involves 100-250mg transdermal, nanoliposomal testosterone daily.

The memory will improve 2-4 months into replacement therapy. The full improvement takes 8-12 months.

Pregnenolone

The replacement therapy is 100mg per day in the morning for the first 4 months. Then there is a dosage reduction to 50mg daily. Studies have shown that 30mg of pregnenolone is not enough to treat memory loss. Short-term memory improved after 3 to 4 months in about 75% of patients.

Vasopressin

The best vasopressin preparation to use is bio-identical vasopressin. It comes as 1 nasal spray with 10IU of vasopressin. Upon awakening the patient or caregiver applies 1-2 sprays into the nose. The patient receives the second dose 10 minutes before lunch by nasal spray.

Apart from hormones, lifestyle changes are also recommendable.

Alzheimer’s disease is treatable with hormones

Alzheimer’s disease is treatable with hormones

Conclusion

Who would have thought that Alzheimer’s disease could have anything to do with hormones? Dr. Hertoghe, the endocrinologist from Belgium did many hormone tests on Alzheimer’s patients and concluded that various degrees of hormone deficiencies can indeed cause Alzheimer’s disease. But what is more is that you can replace the missing hormones and see complete cures in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease is treatable with hormones. This is something conventional medicine can only dream of. At this point this hormonal approach is not yet mainstream medicine; but it would not be a surprise to me, if in 10 or 20 years interested physicians do this type of therapy routinely in their practice. When hormones are missing, replace them. When the memory is fading, think about testing for missing hormones! It will make a difference in the quality of life for the patient as well as for his family.

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Oct
13
2018

Distribution Of Obesity In Women And Men Is Different

The distribution of obesity in women and men is different, when they gain weight on a low fat/high carb diet. The distribution of fat follows a pear shape in women due to fat accumulated around the hips. In males excessive fat accumulates around the waist, which gives them an apple shape appearance.

Researchers at the University of California, Riverside (UCR) have done experiments using a mouse model. They wanted to see what changes take place when obesity develops. Djurdjica Coss was the lead researcher of the study from the UCR School of Medicine.

The reason why this study was thought to be necessary

Many men and women have relatively normal weights until their mid 50’s. But when women approach menopause, they tend to accumulate fat in the thigh areas (pear-shape obesity). When their weight continues to rise, they also accumulate weight in the abdominal area. It is general knowledge that the fat in the abdominal region is metabolically more active producing inflammatory kinins.

Men above the age of 50 or 60 are also accumulating fat, but typically in the abdominal area right away. The name for this is apple-shape obesity. Unfortunately this is the fat we just discussed, metabolically active with inflammatory kinins. It is known to be the cause for heart attacks and strokes as it accelerates hardening of the arteries in the whole body. Dr. Coss found in doing experiments on mice that estrogen plays a major role in the development of obesity as discussed below.

The mouse experiments to study the development of obesity

The research team of Dr. Coss compared a group of mice that had their ovaries taken out. The ovaries in females are the main source of estrogens. They fed them a high-fat diet comparing their weight gain to that of male controls on the same diet. Obesity leads to a change in metabolism, called metabolic syndrome. This condition has an association with the production of inflammatory substances originating from the abdominal fat accumulation. Both male and female mice underwent a series of blood tests. They were also physically inspected. The female mice had the pear-type accumulation of fat, the males an apple-type fat accumulation.

More details about what obesity did to the experimental mice

In males there was a reduction of sperm count in the obese group as well as low muscle strength. In addition they were low in energy, had a lack of libido and their testosterone levels were low. The sperm number and the testosterone level had fallen to 50% of what they were when their weight was normal. This is what happens in human obese males as well. The inflammatory substances, that the abdominal fat creates, broke down the blood/brain barrier, and this affected the brain.

Among the female mice there was no neuroinflammation in the brain. There was no change in their hormones, which was quite a remarkable finding. This was a surprise and points out that beside estrogens there are other mechanisms to protect females from the effects of obesity.

Brain inflammation from obesity

Dr. Cross explained that in male mice the fat accumulation was of the apple-type. Female mice had the pear type fat accumulation. The fatty tissue in females did not release inflammatory kinins. On the other hand, the abdominal fat in the males released inflammatory kinins. These attracted macrophages, which is a cell type of the immune system. Activated macrophages now became aggressive and broke down the blood/brain barrier. This resulted in neuroinflammation of the brain. The brain normally is an immune protected site because of the blood/brain barrier. When this breaks down because of the action of inflammatory kinins from abdominal fat, the brain starts to develop memory loss like in Alzheimer’s disease.

Women before and after menopause

In females who still produce enough estrogen, fat from the pear type obesity distribution does not produce inflammatory kinins. This explains the relative protection of premenstrual women from heart attacks and neuroinflammation. But menopausal women start accumulating fat around the abdomen as well. At that point they can also develop inflammatory kinins and neuroinflammation. This is why the heart attack and stroke rate increases in postmenopausal women with apple-shape obesity.

Other studies supporting the effects of obesity in men and women 

Inflammatory substances in obese people affecting their brain

This publication shows that in a group of 141 neurologically healthy obese individuals the anti-inflammatory defense in the brain was weakened. Subsequently, various brain conditions developed because of the inflammatory substances affecting the brain.

How obesity affects your body functions

Obesity affects the body in various ways. It is particularly the apple type obesity that causes inflammatory substances circulating in the blood. A multitude of conditions can develop from this.

  • The cholesterol shows an increase of the bad LDL cholesterol and a reduction of the good HDL cholesterol.
  • The blood pressure rises. Without treatment high blood pressure can cause strokes.
  • Type-2 diabetes often develops because the insulin production cannot keep up with the demand. A second factor is a loss of insulin receptor sensitivity. As a result the insulin receptors of the body cells become resistant to insulin.
  • The gallbladder often develops stones, which may require gallbladder surgery.
  • Some cancers are increasing in frequency: endometrial cancer, breast, colon, kidney, gallbladder, and liver cancer.
  • Anxiety, depression and other mental disorders are more common, in part because of the neuro-inflammatory processes that I mentioned before.
  • Body pain and problems with physical functioning: obese people have more back pains, hip and knee pains from the extra weight. Slim people are less likely to have these problems. Obese people require more hip and knee replacement surgeries for end-stage arthritis than slim people.

Difference of metabolism in pear-shape versus apple-shape obesity

Back to the pear versus apple distribution of fatty tissue in obesity. diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and strokes as the apple type obesity. The difference in metabolism between the two is explained in detail here.

Distribution Of Obesity In Women And Men Is Different

Distribution Of Obesity In Women And Men Is Different

Conclusion

You may have heard that women tend to accumulate fat more around their hips, possibly because of hormonal factors. This is a pear-type fat distribution. In men who turn obese the fat accumulation follows an apple pattern. This type has a more aggressive metabolism in the fat tissue with inflammatory kinins accessing the blood circulation. It also affects the blood/brain barrier. Normally this barrier does not allow proteins to enter the brain. But when a person is obese, inflammatory kinins and proteins can enter the brain freely causing mental illnesses like depression and anxiety. Many obese people also develop type-2 diabetes leading to heart attacks and strokes.

Low fat diet from the 1980’s

The low fat diet of the 1980’s has caused a lot of obesity around the world. The problem is that merchants who provide low fat products have replaced fat with refined sugar. The liver converts refined sugar into fatty acids and triglycerides. These end up as fatty tissue. Given enough time this is causing obesity. Those who are obese need to cut out refined sugar in its many disguises. In addition they also need to cut down their starchy food intake. In the gut starchy foods break down into sugar.

When you cut out sugar and starchy foods, a person will typically lose 50 pounds in 3 months, at which point they have lost the label of “obesity”. They will also feel more energetic. The best advise for you is to maintain your weight loss with a Mediterranean diet. Research studies have shown that it is beneficial and anti-inflammatory.

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Jul
14
2018

Less Chemotherapy For Breast Cancer Patients

A new clinical trial suggests that less chemotherapy for breast cancer patients is necessary than what is the custom today.

70% of the common form of breast cancer, which is estrogen positive, but HER2 negative (more info below) has received treatment with surgery and subsequent chemotherapy. However, there was no scientific basis for this and this is what this large clinical trial was all about. The trial is discussed under this link. It has its origin in a medical research paper in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Estrogen positive, HER-2 negative breast cancer

The majority of breast cancers belong into this category. They have no signs of metastases and the Oncotype DX Breast Recurrence Score test has a score between 0 and 10. A woman with breast cancer like this does not need to undergo chemotherapy, because her long-term survival will not be any better on chemotherapy, and she can save all of the complications of chemotherapy.

The Oncotype DX Breast Recurrence Score

With this relatively new test 21 genes are tested in breast tissue from biopsies and surgical specimens. Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical and scientific officer for the American Cancer Society, who was not part of the study explained: “What that test does is look at 21 different genes to see if each is turned on or off and then if it is over-expressed or not. So we have two yes-no answers for each gene. It looks at all 21 of those answers and gives that cancer a recurrent score between 0 and 100.” This number based on genetic cancer markers determines how likely the breast cancer is to reoccur in the next 10 years.

Relevance of genetic score test

A low score of between 0 and 10 on this test is indicative of good long-term survival. These patients will not need any chemotherapy. A medium score of 11 to 25 also has good survival as in this trial. However, scores of over 25 have an association with poor outcomes, when the patient receives only hormone therapy. In these cases the researchers say chemotherapy is also necessary in addition to hormone therapy.

Clinical trial regarding whether or not chemotherapy is necessary in the intermediate risk breast cancer patient

10,273 women were part of this trial between April 7, 2006, and October 6, 2010. 6,711 had test scores between 11 and 25, which placed them in the intermediate risk. Half of them received hormone therapy and chemotherapy. The other half received hormone therapy only. After an average of 9 years 83.3% of those on hormone therapy alone did not develop a recurrence of breast cancer. They also did not develop a second cancer. For the other group on both hormone and chemotherapy the rate was 84.3%. The difference between the two was not statistically significant. This established that the intermediate risk breast cancer patient does NOT require chemotherapy.

Results of clinical trial a surprise

This was a big surprise. Oncologists always included chemotherapy in the routine treatment schedule for these patients. But the trial clearly showed that hormone therapy alone was good enough! This allows thousands of breast cancer patients to avoid the devastating side effects of chemotherapy. Why would a woman undergo unnecessary chemotherapy, loose her hair, vomit and get stomach upsets? She may also suffer osteoporosis and undergo bone marrow suppression, which makes her more prone to serious infections.

Premenopausal women and those younger than 50 

There is a group of women where breast cancer is more aggressive. Research followed this subgroup of women (premenopausal women and women below the age of 50) separately in the trial. More deaths occurred in the group that received hormone therapy alone. But death rates were much lower with a combination of hormone therapy and chemotherapy. If the score in these women was 16 or higher these women should receive the regular treatment consisting of surgery and hormonal measure). But they should also receive chemotherapy at the same time to reduce complications from their breast cancers. It has been known for many years that breast cancer in this particular patient group has a more aggressive growing habit. This trial showed that survival was a lot better in the group that did receive chemotherapy as well.

Surface markers of breast cancer

1. BRCA1 and BRCA 2

BRCA1 and BRCA 2 are rare mutations in some women who get early breast cancer, often on both breasts and often ovarian cancer as well. These are women who benefit from bilateral mastectomies, even when there is no cancer present yet.

2. HER2

HER2 is a protein that is expressed on the cell surface of some breast cancers. It leads to faster cell proliferation. Only about 30% of all breast cancers are HER2 positive. They respond to Herceptin and other medications listed in this link. In the past the prognosis for HER2 breast cancer was poor, now with better medication against this condition it has one of the more favorable outcomes.

3. ER and PR surface receptors

Estrogen receptor (ER) positive cancer cells will lead to faster tumor growth, when the patient receives estrogen. It also grows faster under the influence of estrogen or progesterone. About 65% of all breast cancers are hormone receptor positive (ER or PR). They will respond to drugs like Tamoxifen and others.(See this link)

Less Chemotherapy For Breast Cancer Patients

Less Chemotherapy For Breast Cancer Patients

Conclusion

Breast cancer diagnosis and treatment is rapidly changing. A clinical trial from the New England Journal of Medicine with over 10,000 women with breast cancer showed the following:

It is safe to treat women with an intermediate risk of breast cancer with surgery of the primary cancer and follow this up with hormone therapy. In the past these women were undergoing chemotherapy in addition, which has not shown better survival rates. On the other hand, premenopausal women or women below the age of 50 should receive treatment with chemotherapy to improve their long-term survival. Other factors to consider are the hormone receptors (ER and PR) and the HER2 marker. The Oncotype DX Breast Recurrence Score test has added a completely new dimension to breast cancer treatment as the New England Journal of Medicine article has shown. Overall breast cancer treatment has improved, which is good news for women.

Jun
16
2018

Writing A Medical Book

In my 40’s when I was practicing medicine, I was dreaming about writing a medical book. This was in the mid 1980’s and I was busy seeing 30 to 40 patients a day. I would never have found the time to write a medical book at that time. I thought, perhaps I could show how patients could stay younger for longer by adopting the right life style in order to stay well. Fast forward 3 decades, and the medical book writing began. But instead of one book the project turned into 4 books. There were too many topics to cover to fit them all in one book.

Prior to writing a medical book

First of all, in 2002 I published a large website. Its structure is like a book on the Internet: Net Health Book . It contains descriptions of the major diseases, mental and physical, and their current treatment modalities. I still maintain this work. Furthermore, I started another website in 2003, a weekly blog, called “Ask Dr. Ray” . This is a compilation of interesting research. Some medical research papers can get too scientific. For this reason I translated it into easier language. The topics tend to be anti-aging topics. This blog comes out Saturdays.

Retirement hobby

When I retired in 2010 I revamped my websites. In the process the web developer suggested I should add to Net Health Book a blog (nethealthbook.com/news) where I review current health news that I find interesting. This is a weekly blog, which I publish on Wednesdays. All of this is still going on, and it gave me lots of opportunities to write and publish on a smaller scale. In addition, I finally started publishing books.

A Survivor’s Guide To Successful Aging

My first book came out with Amazon in 2014. I had joined the A4M (American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine) in the early 2000’s. The lectures at their conferences were very open-minded and pointed out details of what one could do to delay aging and avoid premature deaths. My own experience with changing our diet in 2001, starting bioidentical hormone replacement and changing my lifestyle became topics that were part of this book. I dedicated this book “to those who are willing to work on prevention in order to achieve a longer life without disabilities”. This is still the basis of prolonging your life.

Lifestyles can be deleterious

I start out in this book describing the obesity wave and how this changes the metabolism (metabolic syndrome). I used statistics from the Framingham Heart Study to show the detrimental effects of various lifestyles on mortality. Subsequent chapters deal with food, exercise, stress and missing hormones as life-shortening factors. There is a separate chapter on vitamins and supplements. They as a group can create 5.1% longer telomeres, which translated into 9.8 years of longer life expectancy (see also a study by Dr. Xu  in the book). Subsequently it describes how a change of your lifestyle can have a positive impact. Changing your eating habits and exercise activity will make a tremendous positive difference on the long term.

Successful Aging in the Kitchen

The book ends with an appendix, written by my wife: “Successful Aging in the Kitchen”. You are presented with recipes for 7 breakfasts, 7 lunches and 7 dinners. In addition she has provided 7 healthy desserts for you. Bon Appétit!

Healing Gone Wrong, Healing Done Right

In another book, which got appeared in 2016 I gave a few examples of how famous people were failed by medicine. It started already in the past: Ludwig van Beethoven’s physicians did harm instead of healing their patient. However, this is happening now as well: physicians mismanaged the health care of Elvis Presley, Churchill, Michael Jackson and JF Kennedy. The physicians treated symptoms, but they never properly attended to the causes of the ailments of their patients. The end result was premature death in all of them. Churchill who had good genetics made it to age 90, but during his last 15 years he suffered of severe disabilities.

Treatment of symptoms will fail, treatment of causes succeed

These examples of famous people’s health problems resemble to what happens to today’s patients in various office settings. Their symptoms are mostly being treated, but their causes often not. Simply treating symptoms will not work on the long term. It did not work in the past, and it does not work now.

Other chapters in this book

Other chapters in this book deal with preventing disease, keeping a healthy brain and keeping a healthy heart. Next I discuss why food matters, followed by the health of limbs and joints. Subsequently I am discussing how to keep toxins out. The next chapter deals with how to reduce the impact of cancer. It is always important to diagnose cancer as early as possible as removal by surgery has the highest success rate at an early cancer stage. The next chapter is entitled: “Stable hormones key to health”. If any of your hormones are missing (particularly around the age of menopause and/or andropause) it is time for nature identical hormone replacement. The next chapter gives you general thoughts on anti-aging. This is followed by “supplements yes, but do not overdo it”.

Alternative treatment for ADHD

A final chapter gives you an example of an alternative treatment for ADHD, where the idea of not just treating symptomatically, but treating causes is included. References and an index are also provided for the book.

Prostate Cancer Unmasked

Furthermore, I did not intend to write this book. But in early 2016 my PSA (prostate specific antigen) level jumped from 3 to 8.6. For years it had been in the 1.5 areas, then slowly increased to 3. But 8.6 was too high for comfort! I had an MRI scan done, which showed one lesion in my left prostate, which was suspicious for prostate cancer. I was referred to a urologist at the Vancouver Prostate Centre, one of the top clinics in Canada. But I had already researched the literature and came across research by Dr. Gary Onik from Ft. Lauderdale who warned me about the pitfalls of “standard therapy”.

The conservative urologist in Vancouver

The urologist in Vancouver told me that without a positive biopsy he cannot accept that the shadow on my MRI scan would be prostate cancer. And the only way they do a prostate biopsy was by random trans-rectal biopsies. He also wanted to include me in a random clinical trial where they would compare active intervention with active surveillance. I politely declined the trans-rectal prostate biopsy and the inclusion into a trial.

Assessment by Dr. Onik

I booked a flight to see Dr. Onik in Ft. Lauderdale. His method is well researched and orchestrated.

Initial assessment

He assesses you with a rectal ultrasound and he sees the prostate on a TV screen. He said right away that I had three separate lesions, one in the left as shown on the MRI scan and two in the right lobe, which was missed by the MRI scan. False negative lesions are common on MRI scans, which can become a source of cancer recurrence.

3-dimensional prostate biopsy

The following day he booked me for a 3-dimensional prostate biopsy via the perineal approach. The perineum is easy to sterilize, so there is no risk of septicemia. A metal grid with holes for biopsy needles was used to get 96 biopsies of my enlarged prostate. For a normal size prostate, Dr. Onik said about 60 biopsy needles are normal. You don’t feel anything, because you are asleep.

Cryoablation prostate surgery

Next was the cryoablation surgery of the 3 prostate cancer lesions. This happened one month after the biopsy. I was seen at the hospital in Ft. Lauderdale. The same grid from the biopsy was used to relocate exactly where the cancer lesions were. The pathologist had confirmed them as Gleason 6 and 7 prostate cancers. This was treated with Argon sounds and frozen twice. I felt nothing, because I was under a general anesthetic. But Dr. Onik told me that everything went very well. Some cancer was too close to the neurovascular bundle, so he used the NanoKnife, an invention where nano-size holes get blasted into cancer cells, but it leaves normal tissue intact.

I needed to do self-catheterization for about one month to empty my bladder, as there was a lot of swelling from the prostate hypertrophy and the surgery. But eventually my normal water works returned.

Follow-up blood work

My follow-up PSA blood work 3 months after the surgery was down to 1.0. Prior to the surgery the Oncoblot test was positive for prostate cancer. A repeat Oncoblot test 3 months after the surgery was now negative for prostate cancer. I realize that not every physician accepts this new cancer-screening test, but I felt a lot better to know that all the cancer markers were now gone.

9 cancer treatments reviewed

In my book I described a total of 9 prostate cancer treatments and their 10-year survival statistics. None of the other treatment methods were as good as Dr. Onik’s statistics. I believe it is linked to the precision of the 3-dimensional biopsy and the surgery being done through the same grid. If you do not perform the surgery this way, you miss cancer lesions and this becomes the source of failure 10 years down the road. My book details all these alternative treatments. It also has a section on lifestyle modifying factors. I needed to write this book as a service to any man who suddenly is faced with a possible diagnosis of prostate cancer.

Unmasking prostate cancer

Like me he needs to unmask the cancer. Is it really there? How far advanced is it? Which way to safely biopsy it (definitely NOT through the rectum for fear of blood poisoning=septicemia)? What is the best method to remove it? I came to the conclusion that Dr. Onik’s method was best for me. But with the information in this book you can decide what is best for you.

Medical Questions Answered

Finally I wrote my 4th book. From more than 4400 medical questions that I have answered on the site Quora.com I selected the most popular questions for this book. The editorial board of Quora said that I own the publishing rights for my answers. The questions were rephrased without changing the meaning. I selected more than 120 questions under 44 different headings.

Here are some of the areas that are covered: Acne, the best home remedies. Aging: can it be reversed? What is the limit for a human? Alcohol: how does it affect your body? Alzheimer’s disease: which foods promote brain health? Arthritis: what can you do about osteoarthritis? Back pain: what can I do about it? Cancer: why can cancer still not be cured? There are as well 15 other answers about cancer. Depression: will my depression ever go away? Diabetes: will a 600-calorie diet help diabetes control?

Further topics discussed

Diet: I want to get rid of sugar in my diet. How can I do this long-term? Other answers about diet are included. Exercise: How useful is cardiovascular exercise? Gut disease: Is “gluten free” food healthy? Heart disease: What can I do to clean out my arteries and reduce my risk for heart disease? Hormones: Is estrogen present in the male body? Life Expectancy: What is the theoretical life expectancy of humans? Lifestyle Habits: Can good habits change your life completely? Pain: Pain relief for a headache or other pain: Aleve, Advil or Tylenol? Pregnancy: Best age for a successful pregnancy? Prostate Cancer: How dangerous is prostate cancer? Does it kill you? Schizophrenia: What complementary approach may help a patient with schizophrenia? Sleep: What happens when you go to bed late every night? And many other answers under this topic.

And the book finishes with these topics

Sugar: will I be OK living without sugar? Vaccinations: Is there a connection between vaccinations and autism? Vitamins and supplements: Are taking vitamins and supplements healthy or are they harmful? Weight loss: I am working out every day, but I am not loosing weight. What should I do? There are many more answers under this topic. Younger for longer: What are three things I can do every day to stay younger for longer?

These are only a few selections of all of the topics dealt with in this book.

Writing A Medical Book

Writing A Medical Book

Conclusion

I have reviewed briefly why I published the books mentioned above. My prostate cancer book developed out of the necessity that I had to deal with my newly diagnosed prostate cancer in 2016. I felt that the review process I went through would be good for those men who have to face a similar situation. The anti-aging book comes from my interest in anti-aging medicine. “Healing Gone Wrong, Healing Done Right” developed from the observation that physicians in the past and often even now tend to only treat symptoms. But if a cause can be found, this should be treated, as this often leads to a permanent cure.

Treating symptoms only will not improve the patient’s condition

Treating symptoms only will not improve the patient’s condition. “Medical Questions Answered” is a collection of medical topics where I answered various medical questions. It was a way for me to cover a vast array of medical topics. Some of the topics are dealt with in depth (acne for instance); others are very short. I have also two medical blogs that come out on Wednesdays and Saturdays. I hope that some of that medical information will be useful to you.

May
12
2018

Sex Stimulates Your Brain

Sex usually causes positive feelings, but how is it that sex stimulates your brain? Recently this publication reviewed exactly what is going on. The reason both sexes seem to seek out sex is the fact that it is sex that stimulates the brain a certain way, which is pleasing to both partners. Due to the stimulation the brain will release hormones that make us feel good. Following sex there is post-coital afterglow for a period of time, which I have addressed under this link before. Here I am reviewing what physical stimulation of the brain takes place during sex. Next I will touch on the hormonal changes that happen during and after sex.

Diagnostic tests that show that sex stimulates your brain

Researchers performed  2005 positron emission tomography (PET scan) studies  during sex at the University of Groningen, the Netherlands. They studied males males while they were having sex. The question was what part of the brain would be receiving stimulation. Another question was, what part of the brain was resting during intercourse? They found that the right hemisphere and particularly one area, the right posterior insula received stimulation, when the penis was stimulated. This area allows the man to feel relaxed and it reduces pain perception. The secondary somatosensory cortex also showed stimulation on PET scans. The stimulation of the secondary somatosensory cortex is what carries him to the height of his arousal during intercourse. The hypothalamus, which also received stimulatioh with the initiation of sex, was very quiet during the active part of lovemaking. The thalamus and right amygdala were also quiet during that phase on PET scans.

More on feelings and losing oneself during the height of sex

The same group from the Netherlands did a 2003 study using PET scans to find out what happens during his ejaculation. Male subjects had sexual stimulation (penile stimulation) by their female partners. At the time of his ejaculation the PET scan showed increased brain activity in the ventral tegmental area (VTA) and the cerebellum. The frontal brain was remarkably quiet. Other authors point out that there are profound hormone releases during lovemaking. The release of neurotransmitters like noradrenaline, oxytocin and prolactin is taking place during orgasm. Other hormones like dopamine, opioids and serotonin join the hormonal symphony of lovemaking. This leads to detachedness at the height of the orgasm, to emotional closeness and pair bonding toward the end of lovemaking. The authors of the 2003 Netherlands study concluded:

“Our results correspond with reports of cerebellar activation during heroin rush, sexual arousal, listening to pleasurable music, and monetary reward.”

Female orgasm and brain studies showing that sex stimulates your brain

It is only fair that research also studied females, similarly to the male studies. Functional MRI scans were part of a 2017 study from Newark, NJ.

It showed a much broader stimulation of brains in females than in males. Female orgasm includes stimulation of the prefrontal cortex, the orbitofrontal cortex, the insula, the cingulate gyrus, and the cerebellum. These areas take part in the processing of emotions and of pain. There is also some metabolic processing and decision-making. With the male ejaculation study discussed above we had seen that there was no activity in the frontal brain of the male. At this stage of his sexual arousal there is no place for decision-making for the man. Women, however, are still able to think while having an orgasm. Other studies have shown that the rhythmic sexual stimulation during sex can get women into an altered state of consciousness that feels like a trance.

Hormonal activity during and after sex documenting that sex stimulates your brain

We learned already about the profound hormone releases during the height of his ejaculation and her orgasm (noradrenaline, oxytocin and prolactin). But other hormones were also part of it: dopamine, opioids and serotonin. There are two hormones that are particularly important: endorphins and oxytocin. Endorphins are part of the natural endorphins that the brain makes. They help us to feel good and they minimize pain. Their production takes place in the hypothalamus, one of the main hormone producing glands of the brain. The hypothalamus also produces the corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH), which releases ACTH in the pituitary gland. This and cortisol are the stress hormones that make us tense. With the release of endorphins during sex, the stress reaction becomes less. More sex means less stress.

Oxytocin, the cuddling hormone

Oxytocin from the posterior pituitary gland is the cuddling hormone. It is part of the symphony of hormones that show a release during sex. Oxytocin makes you feel close to your partner, but also very relaxed. It may be responsible for the afterglow that I mentioned  in the beginning of my review that can last for up to 2 days after sex.

When sex is painful

Sex can be a bad experience, particularly for women. Many women have experienced sexual abuse in the past, and when they grow up to mature women, the past bad memories often linger on. This is called postcoital dysphoria (PCD). A 2011 Australian/US study has studied this. 32.9% of the students of that study reported ever having experienced this. There were also cases of childhood sexual abuse that were more severe. The authors also found that sexual dysfunction was worse when co-existing anxiety or depression disorders were present.

Better sleep after sex

Prolactin, another brain hormone is released during sex as well. It is responsible for calming the frontal cortex down. This leads to better sleep, but in older men it also causes better cognitive functioning. Prolactin, released during sex is thought to improve memory and to improve cognitive impairment.

In women testosterone and oxytocin are released during sex. This can improve libido (testosterone) and makes you feel like cuddling.

Sex Stimulates Your Brain

Sex Stimulates Your Brain

Conclusion

Sex leads to a battery of hormones that the brain releases after ejaculation and/or orgasm. Both partners experience their own detachedness, which is due to a trance-like mental state where the partners experience each other intensely. The cuddling hormone oxytocin encourages bonding and contributes to a feeling of an intense closeness to each other. Endorphins release stress and amplify the emotional high. Brain studies on copulating couples have shown different stimulation patterns of parts of the brain in women and in men.

Differences in how men and women are wired

Men cannot think at the height of lovemaking because their frontal brain is completely blocked. Women, however, are able to continue to experience all emotions and are able to think at the same time. Having said that, women can easily enter into a trance from the repetitive movements of lovemaking. Whatever it is that we experience during and after sex, it is due to the relationship we have with each other, the past experience, the present experience and the hormone symphony that occurs during all of this. Enjoy what’s going on!

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Dec
23
2017

Birth Control Pill Increases The Risk Of Breast Cancer

A recent study showed that the birth control pill increases the risk of breast cancer. This publication did research on 1.8 million of women of Denmark who took various forms of contemporary birth control pills (BCP). They were under the age of 50 and the observation of the participants continued for about 11 years.

Risks for breast cancer

When a woman took the BCP for less than one year, the risk of developing breast cancer was 9% higher compared to controls. But this rate increased even more to 38% after the use of the BCP for over 10 years. Women who had used progestin only intrauterine devices had a risk of 21% to develop breast cancer. It did not make a difference whether the BCP was a mix of estrogen and progestin or progestin. Researchers expressed the risk in the following fashion:

  • Less than one-year exposure to BCP: a 1.09-fold risk to develop breast cancer
  • Over 10-years use of BCP: a 1.38% risk to develop breast cancer
  • IUD with progestin in uterus: a 1.21% risk to develop breast cancer

Strokes and Heart attacks from the BCP

At the 86th Annual Meeting of the Endocrine Society in New Orleans/Louisiana a Canadian delegation presented this data. They had done a meta-analysis of 14 trials regarding side effects of the birth control pill (BCP). These women had taken the BCP on a prolonged basis (Ref. 1). The researchers monitored the risk of heart attacks and strokes. They found an association with the prolonged use of the low dose estrogen BCP. Researchers examined all of the studies between 1980 and October of 2002. 14 independent studies qualified for the meta-analysis.

Metaanalysis of BCP caused heart attacks and strokes

The strength of such a meta-analysis lies in the pooling of data and the fact that the data comes from a much larger patient population, which generally makes the results more reliable. Dr. J. Baillargeon from the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire in Sherbrooke, Quebec/Canada, stated that they found a

  • 85-fold risk for developing heart attacks with long-term use of the BCP and at the same time there was a risk of
  • 54-fold of hemorrhagic strokes with long-term use of the low-dose BCP.

It is important that women who contemplate going on the BCP know not only about the dangers of developing breast cancer, but also about the dangers of heart attacks and hemorrhagic strokes.

Lessons learnt from the Women’s Health Initiative

The Women’s Health Initiative in 2002 showed that women who were on Premarin and progestin for hormone replacement in menopause came down with breast cancer, heart attacks, stroke, and thromboembolic events. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3127562/

They were using the synthetic hormones, namely conjugated equine estrogen and medroxyprogesterone acetate. The reason these women had to suffer these side effects was because their physicians insisted on using “pure hormones that a drug company had manufactured”. But these synthetic hormones were not pure hormones; they were hormones adulterated with side chains so that pharmaceutical companies could patent them.

Misfit of synthetic hormones with hormone receptors

These side chains made the synthetic hormones not fit the body’s hormone receptors. And this is the reason why the synthetic hormones created chaos in the body with breast cancer, strokes and heart attacks. In essence the mix of conjugated equine estrogen and the medroxyprogesterone were functioning like estrogens. So, there was an overdose of estrogenic hormones when taking these hormones and this use resulted in the development of breast cancer, heart attacks and strokes. The BCP is very similar to these hormones that are in the medication for hormone replacement therapy in menopause, but the hormone dosage in the BCP is much lower.

Other high-risk settings for women taking the BCP

There are other higher risk subpopulations of women who should avoid the BCP:

  • Had 1st degree relative with breast cancer on one breast :5-fold relative risk ; there is a genetic reason for breast cancer here
  • 1st degree relative with breast cancer on both breasts : 9.5-fold relative risk ; genetic risk more obvious.
  • No relative, but patient had history of breast cancer : 4-fold relative risk ;
  • First child born later than 30 years of age : 1.9-fold relative risk ; in comparison with a woman who has her first child prior to age 20
  • If woman consumes 3 oz. of alcohol per day : 2-fold risk; in comparison with woman not using alcohol or BCP
  • Prior radiation for Hodgkin’s disease (age 10 to 19) : 10- to 75-fold risk; radiation exposure during time of breast development leads to an enormous risk ratio about 15 years later

Mechanism of the BCP

The BCP or OC (oral contraception) utilizes the fact that ovulation (=release of a fertile egg) requires a complex interaction between hormones to occur. The gonadotropin hormones LH and FSH from the pituitary gland must stimulate the ovaries. The right mixture of estrogen and progesterone from the ovaries achieves this. Without that proper hormonal interaction ovulation will not take place leading to an infertile cycle. With contraception scientists were able to suppress ovulation for as long as patients are taking the birth control pill regularly. By giving a small amount of estrogen and progesterone like substance (called “progestin”) in the oral contraceptive form (the birth control pill) ovulation stops, the lining of the uterine cavity becomes stable through estrogen, and the mucous plug in the cervical canal thickens, making it much more difficult for sperm to enter.

Estrogen dominance from the BCP

The Women’s Health Initiative has taught physicians a tough lesson: you cannot mess with nature’s hormones or else you create a risk of strokes (41%), heart attacks (29% more), blood clots (twice as many), breast cancer (26% more), colorectal cancer (37% more) and the patient will have a higher risk for Alzheimer’s disease (76% more often). This was a trial involving over 16,000 postmenopausal women.

Although the hormones used in these women were slightly different in concentration, structurally they were very similar to the ones used for birth control purposes. What nature seems to tell us is that you cannot mess with hormone receptors, or you set up the body for one of the diseases mentioned.

Hormonal disruption

The truth is that the combination of  synthetic estrogen-like and progesterone-like substances  in the BCP are not bio-identical hormones. They suppress ovulation, which means they are creating progesterone deficiency in the woman who takes these synthetic hormones. The end result is that physicians create estrogen dominance in these women, which according to Dr. Lee is the reason for the above listed complications (Ref.2).

It makes more sense to use less invasive alternatives for birth control methods instead of the BCP. A well-fitted IUD (inserted by a gynecologist) is a good alternative. This will not create havoc with the woman’s hormones and will not create infertility after contraception is no longer needed. Bio-identical progesterone replacement using creams is being used to rebalance the original hormones when the BCP is discontinued.

Birth Control Pill Increases The Risk Of Breast Cancer

Birth Control Pill Increases The Risk Of Breast Cancer

Conclusion

The birth control pill (BCP) is a popular form of contraception. But there are significant risks of breast cancer, heart attacks and strokes associated with its use. According to the previous literature the risk of complications associated with the BCP was between 1.3- and 1.6-fold. The present study with smaller concentrations of hormones in the more modern BCP still showed a risk of 1.38-fold regarding breast cancer. It did not mention heart attacks and strokes as additional risk factors. The Danish study was supported by a grant from the Novo Nordisk Foundation. Novo Nordisk is a major producer of BCP’s in Europe and in the world. It would be in their interest to minimize the risks associated with the BCP. Any woman using the BCP should use it only as long as she really needs it. Ultimately she would be better advised to use alternatives like IUD’s and condoms.

References

  1. https://www.askdrray.com/birth-control-pill-increases-strokes-and-heart-attacks/
  2. John R. Lee, David Zava and Virginia Hopkins: “What your doctor may not tell you about breast cancer – How hormone balance can help save your life”, Wellness Central, Hachette Book Group USA, 2005. Page 360 to 374 explains xenohormones.
Oct
21
2017

Bioidentical Hormone Replacement

Recently Medical News Today published an article on bioidentical hormone replacement in the Sept. 19, 2017 edition.

Although it was partially informative, I felt that there was an underlying bias against the use of bioidentical hormone replacement. The article made it sound as if hormone replacement therapy would not be safe. But the opposite is true with bioidentical hormone replacement.

Why are many women afraid of bioidentical hormone replacement?

At the time when there was a lot of confusion about hormone replacement therapy (HRT) the results of the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) made it even more confusing. After all there was one trial to show once and for all that HRT would be beneficial. The expectation was that HRT prevents osteoporosis, heart attacks and breast cancer. But the results were quite different. Instead the study found a 41% increase in strokes, 29% increase in heart attacks, 26% increase in breast cancer, 22% increase in total cardiovascular disease and a doubling in the risk for blood clots.

Missing information about synthetic hormones

What the authors of the study did not explain was the fact that it was the properties of the synthetic hormones, progestin and Premarin were responsible for the negative effects. Had research insisted to perform the study with bioidentical hormones, the results would have been quite the opposite! With bioidentical hormone replacement we see the prevention of heart attacks and clots; cancer rates are lower than controls, and the prevention of osteoporosis is another benefit. The end result is a reduction in mortality rates. But the horrifying results that are due to the use of synthetic hormones and that the WHI warned about linger on in the minds of many women.

The use of bioidentical hormone replacement

Dr. John Lee pointed out in several of his books that the physician should only replace hormone loss with bioidentical hormones. He also pointed out that physicians should only replace those hormones that are at low levels or missing. This means that the woman should have confirmatory blood tests like FSH, LH, blood estrogen and salivary progesterone. If estrogen and progesterone are missing, the physician usually starts the woman on progesterone cream first. After two months, when laboratory tests show a saturation with progesterone , the addition of estrogen can follow, typically as the Bi-Est cream. This is a mix of estriol and estradiol.

Caution to balance against estrogen dominance

Progesterone is started first to balance against the potential cancer-inducing effect of estradiol. With the addition of progesterone a balance is the result, and estrogen will not cause breast cancer. This is also why Bi-Est is used: it is a mix of estriol and estradiol. Estriol is neutral with regard to causing breast cancer. Estradiol is the main natural estrogen in a woman, so some of it is necessary to make the woman feel normal. This is how the body receptors are functioning. But estradiol alone, when not in balance with progesterone, can cause breast cancer and uterine cancer.

The key is that only women who need bioidentical hormones should receive it. There are some women whose blood tests do not show a lack of estrogen, but only a lack of progesterone. These women should receive replacement with bioidentical progesterone to re-establish the hormone balance between estradiol and progesterone.

Safety of bioidentical hormone replacement products

As I have mentioned before, the Women’s Health Initiative in 2002 showed that on Premarin and progestin, two synthetic hormone products women came down with breast cancer, heart attacks, stroke, and thromboembolic events. They were using the synthetic drugs, namely conjugated equine estrogen and medroxyprogesterone acetate. The reason these women had to suffer these side effects was because their physicians insisted in using “pure hormones that a drug company had manufactured”. But these synthetic hormones were not pure hormones; they were adulterated with side chains so that pharmaceutical companies could patent them. These side chains made the synthetic hormones not fit the body’s hormone receptors. And this is the reason why the synthetic hormones created chaos in form of breast cancer, strokes and heart attacks.

Women’s Health Initiative authors whitewashed study results

Instead of admitting their mistakes, the full truth never became public. Instead the authors of the WHI study stated that it would be necessary to limit hormone replacement in menopause to the minimum amount of synthetic hormones to control symptoms, and their use should not exceed more than 5 years. These authors never distinguished between bioidentical hormones that fit the body’s hormone receptors and the synthetic hormones that irritated or blocked the body’s hormone receptors. There are thousands of women in Europe who have been on bioidentical hormones for decades, and they are doing just fine!

Bioidentical hormones in balance have no side effects

The truth is that bioidentical hormones –as long as they are kept in balance-do not have any side effects. Bioidentical hormones are the same that a woman produces in her ovaries before menopause sets in. The production of her bioidentical hormones kept her healthy. But the treating physician needs to carefully watch the balance of the hormones in the woman who is replaced with bioidentical estrogen and progesterone. This means that she needs to get enough progesterone to counterbalance estrogen stimulation. Hormones are constantly changing and if you don’t measure them, you don’t know what you are dealing with.

Dr. Lee said to measure hormone levels

John Lee showed a long time ago that you should measure hormones and identify those women who are truly hormone deficient. These are the ones who need hormone replacement. However, physicians should use only bioidentical hormones to replace what is missing. And they should also replace only as much as necessary to normalize the levels. This is also the level where postmenopausal symptoms disappear. Dr. Lee noted: “A 10-year French study of HRT using a low-dose estradiol patch plus oral progesterone shows no increased risk of breast cancer, strokes or heart attacks”.

How is bioidentical hormone replacement done?

The best method is usually a bioidentical hormone cream applied to the forearms or to the chest wall once per day. This avoids the first-pass metabolism where the hormones, if absorbed from a pill in the gut have to pass through the liver. Part of the hormones can get metabolized and some of the hormone effect may disappear. By applying bioidentical Bi-Est cream and progesterone cream to the skin, the hormones get directly absorbed into the blood stream and can do their job without interference. The treating physician can prescribe different amounts of the bioidentical hormones depending on saliva tests or blood tests. 1 or 2 months later repeat blood or saliva tests can follow to verify that the amounts of the replacement hormones and their absorption are adequate for the patient’s need.

What are the side effects of bioidentical hormone replacement?

Normally, when estrogen and progesterone are in balance, there should be no side effect. However, in the beginning of replacement therapy sometimes one of the hormones gets too high. If this happens with estrogen replacement, the woman becomes estrogen-dominant. She would experience symptoms of bloating, fatigue, weight gain, depression, headaches, loss of sex drive. She can also develop uterine fibroids, endometriosis and hypothyroidism. It was Dr. John Lee who first described this (Ref.1). There can also be mood swings, craving for sweets, irritability, and sluggishness in the morning. The key is to cut back on the estrogen dosage; alternatively, if progesterone is low in saliva tests, this hormone may need an increase, which would rebalance estrogen. At the end of fine-tuning of bioidentical hormone replacement the woman will feel normal and have no negative side effects, but the process of fine-tuning may take several months.

Difficulties to measure progesterone levels

Dr. David Zava, PhD gave a talk on breast cancer risks. This was a presentation at the 24th Annual World Congress on Anti-Aging Medicine (Dec. 9-11, 2016) in Las Vegas that I attended. Dr. Zava, who runs the ZRT laboratory spent some time to explain how to measure progesterone in a physiological way.

Blood (serum) progesterone levels do not adequately reflect what the hormone tissue level is like in a woman’s breasts. On the other hand saliva hormone levels are giving an accurate account of what breast tissue levels are like.

Progesterone blood levels versus progesterone tissues levels

Dr. Zava gave an example of a woman who received an application of 30 mg of topical progesterone. Next, laboratory tests observed hourly progesterone levels in the serum and in the saliva. The serum progesterone levels remained at around 2 ng/ml, while the saliva progesterone levels peaked 3 to 5 hours after the application. It reached 16 ng/ml in saliva, which also represents the breast tissue progesterone level. Dr. Zava said that the important lesson to learn from this is not to trust blood progesterone levels. Too many physicians fall into this trap and order too much progesterone cream based on a misleading blood test. This leads to overdosing progesterone. With salivary progesterone levels you see the physiological tissue levels, with blood tests you don’t. Dr. Zava emphasized that testing blood or urine as progesterone hormone tests will underestimate bio-potency and lead to overdosing the patient.

Bioidentical Hormone Replacement

Bioidentical Hormone Replacement

Conclusion

Bioidentical hormone replacement, properly done, does not cause cancer, does not cause blood clots and prevents heart attacks and strokes. It also prevents osteoporosis and the associated fractures in older women. The key is that the natural hormones fit the body’s own hormone receptors. The reason why menopausal symptoms appear is that natural hormones (estrogen and progesterone) are missing. With the replacement of the missing hormones in a menopausal woman through bioidentical hormone replacement, the menopausal symptoms disappear. Contrary to the Women’s Health Initiative in 2002 when patients received synthetic hormones, there are no breast cancers, no heart attacks and no strokes with bioidentical hormone replacement. What is even better is that these women will live without all the postmenopausal problems, and their life expectancy will be about 10 years longer than without bioidentical hormone replacement.

References

Ref. 1. Dr. John R. Lee: “What your doctor may not tell you about menopause: the breakthrough book on natural hormone balance”. Sept. 2004.

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Aug
26
2017

Decreased Sperm Counts In Men

What do decreased sperm counts in men tell us about our world? A recent study has shown that over the past 40 years males in many centers that tested for sperm counts have lost 50% of the sperm count that was normal in the 1970’s. The question is, what could have caused this? Nobody has definite answers. But here are the factors that the Mayo Clinic lists for low sperm counts.

Medical causes of decreased sperm counts in men

  • A varicocele: A varicocele is dilatation of veins close to the testicles. It is presumed that this leads to a higher temperature inside the testicles and this causes a lowered sperm count and poor sperm quality.
  • Antisperm antibodies can cause infertility. Due to low sperm counts.
  • Infections in the testicles reduce sperm production. Gonorrhea and HIV infection are some of the common infections.
  • Some men develop retrograde ejaculation. With this the sperm enter the bladder on ejaculation instead of coming out from the tip of the penis. Alpha-blockers, a type of blood pressure medication can do this as a side effect. But there are also various health problems that can cause retrograde ejaculation like diabetes, surgery to the prostate, urethra and bladder. Spinal injuries can be also a cause of retrograde ejaculations. In many cases the sperm production in the testicles is still present and sperm could be sampled from there for artificial insemination.
  • Tumors of the pituitary gland can interfere with hormone production of testosterone and sperm counts will fall or stop. But other pituitary hormones, thyroid hormone and adrenal gland hormones are needed for fertility.
  • Chromosome defects like Klinefelter syndrome and others can be a cause of abnormal development of the male genitals with low or missing sperm production.
  • Celiac disease is a bowel disease that is due to gluten sensitivity. It causes low sperm counts and infertility, which responds to a gluten free diet. Sperm counts normalize with this diet.
  • There are medications that can decrease sperm production like chemotherapy, anabolic steroid use, antifungals and certain antibiotic medications and some ulcer medications.

Lifestyle causes leading to decreased sperm counts in men

Certain lifestyles and occupations can cause a man to have a decreased sperm count.

  • Drinking alcohol excessively can reduce testosterone production, which decreases sperm count.
  • Recreational drug use: steroids to increase muscle mass cause testicular atrophy and decreased sperm count. Cocaine and marihuana also decreases the sperm count.
  • Certain occupations like welding from exposure to heat and truck driving from prolonged sitting have been associated in some studies with infertility. But there are other studies that could not confirm this correlation.
  • Smoking: Men who smoke have lower sperm counts than men who don’t smoke.
  • Excessive weight: Obese men transform some of their testosterone into estrogen through the action of the enzyme aromatase, which is amply present in fat cells. This leads to low testosterone levels and low sperm counts.

Environmental causes of decreased sperm counts in men

The environment in terms of heat production around the scrotum or exposure to chemicals or ionizing radiation can lower sperm counts in men.

  • Heat around the testicles: studies do not all agree, but there is a tendency for low sperm counts when using saunas and hot tubs frequently. Sitting for longer times or using a laptop computer for longer periods can also increase the temperature of a man’s scrotum and lead to a low sperm count.
  • Exposure to heavy metals like lead, mercury and others can be the cause of infertility.
  • Exposure to radiation can reduce sperm production. With high doses of radiation sperm production may cease entirely. With lower radiation exposures sperm counts may be down for several years before they recover to normal.
  • Industrial chemicals: exposure to fumes from certain chemicals can lead to low sperm counts; benzenes, herbicides, pesticides, xylene, toluene, painting materials and organic solvents are on this list.

Recent study about decreased sperm counts in men as an indicator

We have now reviewed the major causes of low sperm counts in men. I like to revisit the recent sperm study I mentioned in the beginning of this blog. It is unlikely that men in North America, Europe and Australia would spontaneously produce less than 50% of the sperm than men 40 years earlier had produced. The next puzzling fact is that the study found normal sperm production in men in Africa, South America and Asia.

This points to epidemiological differences that reduce the sperm count in men in North America, Europe and Australia. In view of the multitude of possible causes it will require a task force that does a comparative study worldwide looking at exposure history, diets, social habits and other factors.

Fertility clinics are thriving because couples want children. With low sperm counts of males there is more infertility than there was in the past. Density gradient centrifugation is a reliable method of enriching sperm counts.

In the past a couple had no problem getting a successful pregnancy when they wanted it. Now couples often have to be assessed in a fertility clinic because of problems with regard to decreased sperm counts in men, which can cause infertility.

Decreased Sperm Counts In Men

Decreased Sperm Counts In Men

Conclusion

A new study has noticed that over the past 40 years many men have developed low sperm counts. This has caused significant problems with fertility among couples. Fertility clinics are busy trying to help these couples. Density gradient centrifugation has become a common technique to enrich sperm samples prior to artificial insemination. It is a puzzle why the recent study has found normal sperm counts in samples of men living in Africa, South America and Asia. In contrast men living in Europe, North America and Australia have 50% lower sperm counts. The reason may be multifactorial. It will require a team of experts to sort out this discrepancy and hopefully find an answer for men in Europe, North America and Australia to bring their sperm counts back to normal.

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Jul
29
2017

Some Drink Milk, Others Are Lactose Intolerant

Some drink milk, others are lactose intolerant; this is the fact about drinking milk.

For a long time the dairy marketing board advertised with the slogan: “Got milk?”. But dairy milk consumption has declined over the past decades.

Why this is has been reviewed in this article. I like to review the problem of lactose intolerance, milk as a source of calcium to prevent osteoporosis and offer alternatives to milk consumption.

Lactose intolerance

Milk cows have been around in Europe for about 6000 years. But not everybody can tolerate milk products. Most of the Europeans, North Americans and Australians have adjusted the digestive enzymes in their duodenum to produce enzymes, called lactase that digest milk sugar (lactose) into glucose and galactose. But up to 75% of the world population (Africa, South America, Asia) is lactase deficient; they cannot tolerate dairy products. They get abdominal cramping, intestinal gas, bloating, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting from drinking a glass of dairy milk. This link explains why goat milk is better than cow’s milk for those who cannot tolerate cow’s milk.

It is also interesting that many people who are lactase deficient can tolerate cheeses, yogurt and other fermented milk products as the fermenting bacteria have digested the lactose.

Other problems with dairy products

Problems with mass production of dairy items are the following:

  • Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO) are responsible for the majority of milk products on grocery market shelves. This means that the animals are fed unnatural corn, which leads to deficiencies and omega-6 fatty acids in the milk products.
  • Herds of animals receive antibiotics to prevent infections.
  • Farmers are administering bovine growth hormone (bST, bovine somatotropin) to stimulate more milk production. The antibiotics lead to superbugs in humans, the bST may be causing autoimmune diseases and breast cancer in humans. The healthiest milk is milk from grass-fed cows. It is high in omega-3 fatty acids. All of the milk products derived from this type of milk are also healthy.

Milk as a source of calcium

One key advertising slogan of the dairy industry used to be that milk would be such a good source of calcium, which would prevent osteoporosis. But milk also has a lot of animal protein in it, which acidifies blood. This means that the kidneys use calcium to neutralize acidic blood and excrete calcium. The net result is that there is more calcium leaving the body. Some of the calcium from the bone serves to keep the balance between acidity and alkalinity neutral.

This 12 year long Harvard Nurses’ Health Study involving 77, 761 women between the ages of 34 to 59 showed that a higher consumption of milk did not protect against hip and wrist fractures.

The myth that full fat milk causes heart attacks and strokes

There is another myth floating around, namely that full fat milk would be bad for the heart because of increased saturated fatty acids. But an Australian study showed that full fat milk is healthier for you than milk with less fat.

After 14.4 years of follow-up the group that consumed the most milk compared to the lowest fat intake group had a 69% lower death rate from cardiovascular disease!

A 2016 study showed that consumption of plain yogurt was associated with better health outcomes on the long term. Be more concerned about the sugar content than the fat content of yogurt!

Prevention of osteoporosis

For years numerous sources have indoctrinated us to accept a false concept. It is the concept of increasing milk consumption (“Got milk?”) for increased calcium intake and possible osteoporosis prevention. The sales mantra went like this: Milk-calcium-osteoporosis prevention. Now we know the real truth. Milk provides protein and calcium.  But  absorption of calcium is poor and the acidified blood is alkalinized through calcium from milk and from the bone leaking calcium into the blood and into the urine. The end result is a net loss of calcium from the bone, as it is more important to the body to keep the blood’s acid/base stable than to increase the calcium level in the bone. Sadly all the high consumers of milk from the Harvard Nurses’ Health Study ended up having fractures from osteoporotic bones.

Prevention of osteoporosis requires intake of vitamin D3, vitamin K2 and calcium (supplement or diet) as I have reviewed in this blog. In addition regular exercise is also very beneficial as is bioidentical sex-hormone replacement. It is interesting that a large clinical trial that I mentioned in this blog showed after 7 years that there were 35% to 38% less fractures of the hip than in the placebo group. Vitamin K2 is essential to keep calcium in the bones and to keep calcium out of the blood vessel walls. Vitamin D3 is important for calcium absorption through the gut wall and to deposit calcium into bone. Without all of these ingredients it is not possible to prevent osteoporosis.

Alternatives to milk consumption

  1. One obvious step is to replace cow’s milk by goat milk. As you can see from this link, there are many advantages to goat milk. What I find important is the fact that those with lactase deficiency often can tolerate goat milk while they would otherwise react to cow’s milk. There are also many goat milk products like cheese and yogurt, all of which are very healthy. They do not contain any antibiotics or bovine growth hormone (bST), the use of which is confined to cows. Goat milk products are also an excellent source of protein.
  2. You can eat a more vegetable-based diet. A lot of vegetables and fruit have calcium and protein in them.
  3. You can consume almond milk instead of cow’s milk. The downside to know is the fact that almond milk is not a significant source of protein. It has the advantage of being slightly alkaline; this will ensure that the calcium absorbed in the gut will reach the bones as long as you also supplement with vitamin D3 and vitamin K2. The many “fake milk” products such as rice milk, coconut milk and hemp milk are also poor protein sources. The only product higher in protein is soymilk. But soy has its own problems: over 90 % of the crop in North America is genetically engineered, and soy is a known allergen. As of recent, another product based on pea protein is available, and the protein content is excellent, so it is worth looking for it (It is called “Ripple”).
Some Drink Milk, Others Are Lactose Intolerant

Some Drink Milk, Others Are Lactose Intolerant

Conclusion

Drinking milk as a source of protein and calcium has become an obsession a few decades back. In the meantime it turned out that drinking milk tips the acid-base balance in the direction of acidity. This causes osteoporosis, as the kidneys excrete all of the calcium from milk that is absorbed. On top of that even more calcium is taken out from bones to recalibrate the acid-base balance.

Up to 75% of the world population is lactose intolerant. They get sick from drinking cow’s milk. But they usually tolerate goat milk quite well. Considering the fact that antibiotics are used in cow milk production and recombinant bovine growth hormone as well, I have joined the crowd that prefers goat milk instead of cow’s milk. I take the supplements I mentioned for bone maintenance (vitamin D3 and K2) and I get lots of calcium also from vegetables and salads. I have no lactose intolerance, but that’s my take on milk.

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