Synthetic vs. Bio-identical Hormones

Bio-identical hormones are exactly the same molecules as the hormones we used to produce. Synthetic hormones are similar but have a different chemical structure than our naturally occurring hormones and bio-identical hormones as you can see in the picture above.  Synthetic hormones can cause unpleasant and even life-threatening side effects because they interfere or block proper hormone receptor function in our bodies.

Let's talk about progesterone......
Progesterone is very active and beneficial for breast tissue because it blocks estrogen stimulation of the breast, thereby decreasing breast cancer and breast cancer risk. It prevents the lining of the uterus, the endometrium, from overgrowing and becoming cancerous. Surprisingly, progesterone also decreases the risk of heart disease and helps protect your bones to some extent.

Now let's go over progestins (synthetic progesterone)......
Progestins are a class of progestogen compounds synthesized to act like progesterone does in the body. They DO NOT however reproduce the same actions of natural progesterone in the body. Provera or medroxyprogesterone when added to estrogens will prevent overgrowth of the uterine lining, but it can cause an increase in breast tissue proliferation and cause cancer due to estrogen receptor stimulation. This is why the Women's Health Initiative Study that I mentioned in my last blog was halted early. Women taking synthetic progestins, had a much higher rate of breast cancer than those who did not take them. Synthetic progestin does not protect the heart either.

The dangers of synthetic hormones have been discussed in medical literature for years. In 2007 the lead article in The Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, stated "There is a crucial difference in the way bio-identical progesterone and synthetic progestins affect the androgen receptor". (E. Friedman). In 2008 the E3N Cohort Study reported on 80,377 women that had been followed for 8.1 years.This study verified that hormone replacement therapy using medroxyprogesterone (Provera) was dangerous and resulted in a 48% increase in the rate of invasive breast cancer compared to the control group! But possibly more importantly, they confirmed that bio-identical hormone replacement therapy does not increase the risk of invasive breast cancer.

Going back to 2005 a meta analysis of 196 studies concluded that: "physiologic data and clinical outcomes demonstrate that bio-identical hormones are associated with lower risks, including the risk of breast cancer and cardiovascular disease, and are more efficacious than their synthetic and animal-derived counterparts. Until evidence is found to the contrary, bio-identical hormones remain the preferred method of hormone replacement therapy."

I hope this blog has touched sufficientlyon the need to avoid synthetic hormones, and in this case synthetic progesterone (progestins, Provera, medroxyprogesterone, and many others). Bio-identical hormones are preferred, hands down. #progesterone #htca #bhrt #bioidentical #menopause

Anne R Trussell MD
Sei Bella Med Spa

Literature sources:
Anderson, Carl W., and Ettorre Apella 2005, Postranslational modification of p53: Upstream signaling pathways. In the p53 Tumor Suppressor Pathway and Cancer, New York

Fournier, Agnes, Franco Berrino, and Francois Clavell-Chapelon 2008. Unequal risks for breast cancer associated with different hormone replacement therapies: E3N Cohort Study. British Cancer Research and Treatment 107 (1):103-11

JAMA 2002;288(3):321-333