If you are in any doubt about conventional HRT after watching the documentary programme on HRT shown on BBC1 TV on Thursday 20th April, presented by Kirsty Wark titled ‘Menopause and Me’, then please read the information below about another study published just under a week later.

Both studies refer to the oestrogen called oestradiol which is the one linked to cancer and this is mainly used in conventional HRT. Our bodies also naturally produce it, but its harmful effects are negated by the higher levels of progesterone produced by the ovaries during regular established menstrual cycles of pre-menopausal women.

On April 25th, 2017, an article was published in a national newspaper about recent research which shows that if girls are exposed to oestrogen much earlier than normal they are at a higher risk of developing breast and endometrial cancer later on which increases dramatically for every year they are exposed to oestrogen.

This is an exert form the article:

‘A girl of 11 going through puberty has a 28% higher chance of getting endometrial (womb) cancer than a girl of 12. The danger of getting breast cancer later in life rises 6% for each early year of exposure to oestrogen. ‘

The study was conducted at the University of Cambridge which raised concerns as so many overweight children are reaching puberty early. Dr John Perry said that this is the best evidence yet that early puberty leads to higher risks of breast cancer and may cause ovarian cancer too. This is due to girls of nine or ten being exposed to the hormone oestrogen more in a lifetime, which can fuel certain types of cancer. Boys can also be affected if they are exposed to oestrogen early and will be at higher risk of prostate cancer later in life. The connection is that fat cells produce more oestrogen and the fatter a child or adult is, the more oestrogen is produced, mainly oestradiol which at high levels initiates puberty in children. One way to understand the cell proliferating effects of oestradiol is that if a man were to continuously supplement with it, he would grow breasts in the same way a woman who took large amounts of testosterone would grow a beard and may develop male pattern baldness.

The study also mentioned that the longer women are exposed to hormones by having a late menopause the greater they are at risk of cancer. This is a time when a woman will be oestrogen dominant due to a drop in progesterone and will be at a higher risk of breast and endometrial cancer.

The study was published in the journal Nature Genetics.

Now let us compare this information with the advice given in the ‘Menopause and Me’ documentary which was broadcast just a few days earlier. It was stated that HRT containing oestradiol is not a risk of breast cancer and that major studies conducted 10 years earlier, that overwhelmingly showed that it did put women at a much higher risk of breast cancer, were flawed. It was said that the latest research is now showing that there is no risk of developing breast cancer when oestradiol is given alone and only a small risk when given with a synthetic progestogen which is routine if a woman still has a uterus. This is because there is a risk of uterine cancer if oestradiol is given alone. However, the higher than normal risk of breast cancer for unopposed oestradiol being given to a woman who has had a hysterectomy was completely understated.

Also, the programme showed how women at risk of developing osteoporosis, would benefit from taking oestradiol in HRT saying it protected against bone loss. It failed to mention that although oestradiol can slow bone loss down, it does not prevent bone loss or significantly regrow new bone and once it is stopped, the bone is lost at the same rate as before. As HRT is usually only recommended for 5 years and mainly for women between 50 and 60, the problem will have to be addressed again later.

Like many programmes and media publications on the menopause, progesterone was conspicuous in its absence as many women will now recognise having researched it for themselves. Why is such an important hormone in the intricacies of hormonal functions, and particularly as it is the hormone that is actually involved in new bone formation, so neglected? This is so confusing when you know that there are mainly two hormones involved with the ebb and flow of the monthly cycles. They work synergistically together with progesterone protecting against the over stimulus of oestradiol’s effects on oestrogen sensitive tissue. We do not run out of oestrogen at menopause, which is often erroneously reported as being the case by those who should know better. We firstly splutter out of eggs and hence progesterone drops to lower levels than oestrogen during the run up to menopause. This is called the peri-menopause and is a time when oestrogen is still high, but doesn’t have the protection of progesterone it once did. Interestingly, it is also a time when breast cancer is more prevalent.

After the drop in progesterone comes the drop in oestradiol after menopause, but it only drops to about 40% – 60% of its normal levels, just enough to stop the build-up of the bloody lining of the uterus each month. It has been known as the angel of life and the angle of death due to its dynamic effects in the body. Most breast cancers are oestrogen driven which shows how important it is to acknowledge that there is a very real risk with taking this hormone especially without any form of progestogen to protect the uterus, but made worse for breast cancer by taking synthetic progestogen if a woman does have a uterus. It is not hard to see how natural progesterone could solve this problem as it protects both the uterus and the breasts as it once did during the pre-menopausal years. It does this by following the body’s natural hormonal pathway unlike the synthetic versions.

Even though natural bio-identical progesterone can be readily sourced and is exactly the same hormone naturally produced by the ovaries to balance oestradiol, for some reason, the synthetic versions with all their harmful side-effects continue to be the hormones of choice in conventional HRT.

If you are still in any doubt as to the risks of HRT, please listen to this audio tape of Valerie Beral (see below) who is a professor of epidemiology specialising in the study of HRT and the risk of breast cancer and has won awards for her work in this area. In the interview, she stands her ground with facts and figures, but the doctor in opposition seems to feel that philosophy is more important and that he believes that breast cancer is going up mainly due to woman’s unhealthy lifestyles such as being overweight and drinking too much alcohol. This is a direct connection to the Cambridge study on children and the dangers of exposure to oestrogen. However, this does not account for all those women who are healthy and of normal weight developing breast cancer with incidences still on the rise.

For more information regarding the ‘selective’ studies that show how safe HRT now is, please see how they were compiled and how many different combinations of HRT there are. Importantly, see the study that was used to show how safe the use of natural progesterone and a little natural oestrogen was, and how it improved bone density. However, woman who rush off to obtain HRT and doctors who believe it is now safe to prescribe, will not know these small and deeply buried details and will, most likely, end up using the worst kind of HRT in the worse combinations.

To listen to Professor Dame Valerie Beral’s audio tape interview, please go to my website here: http://www.progesteronelink.com/news.shtml It can be located under the news titled ‘Jenni Murray, Radio 4 presenter, is deeply worried about the latest HRT studies claiming that HRT is now safe and she has every right to be’. Published 28th November 2012.