Balancing Hormones Naturally

Balancing Hormones Naturally

By Judy Evans ND

Introduction

More than 267,000 new cases of cancer were diagnosed in the UK in 2002.  In women, breast cancer is by far the most common cancer, with 41,300 new cases diagnosed in 1999. This figure  continues to rise at two per cent a year and there are alarming  predictions that one woman in eight will develop breast cancer during a lifetime. As for men, prostate cancer is the most common cancer and the number of new cases being diagnosed has been rising significantly with 24,710 registered in 1999.

In this article I shall be concentrating mainly on breast cancer. However, it is interesting to note the number of studies which make a common bond between the causes of breast cancer and others such as prostate and colon, although it is important to know that this is not always the case. I will show how the natural hormone progesterone, can protect against the harmful effects of too much oestrogen.

Natural Progesterone

Over the last seven years, I have been running a support group called Progesterone Link for women who have been benefiting from using natural progesterone in place of HRT or the pill (when used for menstrual disorders), but cannot find support from elsewhere.  I started the group after intensively researching the benefits of natural hormones, in particular, natural progesterone after reading Dr John Lees book (see below). Natural progesterone is synthesised in a laboratory from certain plants and is biologically identical, in every way, to that which is synthesised in the body, so that it will be recognised and used in the body as nature intended.

I was amazed to discover the many roles natural progesterone plays in our well being, and how it naturally protects against cancer by balancing the harmful effects of too much oestrogen.  Dr Lee argues that most women in Western cultures are now suffering from oestrogen dominance, against a background of progesterone deficiency.  There is now much evidence to show that it may be   progesterone that women  need the most, especially when it comes to hormone therapies.

The Dangers

Consider the many changes that have taken place over the last century, especially since the 1930s when toxic chemicals were introduced into every aspect of our lives. It was not well known then that many of these chemicals could mimic the hormone oestrogen, which can become dangerously carcinogenic in excess amounts. 

Chemicals

This fact was discovered by English and American scientists in the early 80s and 90s, after accidentally establishing that oestrogen-mimicking chemicals could leach out from many plastics and exert an oestrogenic effect in the body when it wasnt needed - or block an oestrogenic effect when it was needed.  This could cause a myriad of health problems, as was discovered with similar chemicals used in pesticides and hormonal treatments, since the 1950s, which were later banned.  The scientists had no idea that the chemicals in nearly all products used in every part of our lives could mimic the hormone oestrogen.  They were disturbed to find that groups of chemicals known as nonyphenols and phthalates, widely used in nearly all plastics, could leach out and and accumulate in body tissue.

These chemicals are used in industry, and in many domestic products.  They are versatile, have smooth-flowing properties and can be used in paints, industrial detergents, lubricating oils, toiletries, agrochemicals and as additives to plastics.  They last for many years in the environment, because they are synthetic and cannot be broken down by natures natural processes.

Many scientists consider that this could affect the very existence of future generations, if we do not do something right now.  Professors Anna Soto and Carlos Sonnenschein published their findings on this in 1991 in a report in the Environmental Health Perspectives.

Oestrogen

Also, more than ever, we are exposed to oestrogen drugs, such as HRT or the contraceptive pill, which have all been linked to cancer - especially breast cancer.  I am often perplexed why the so-called "experts" report that the underlying cause of breast cancer and other diseases are unknown - yet at the same time acknowledge that oestrogen can cause such symptoms.  For example, it was reported in many papers that if a woman postpones motherhood she will have a higher risk of breast cancer, due to the longer exposure to her own oestrogen levels without a break. In other words, the more times you are pregnant when you are young, the more protected you are from breast cancer.  This also correlates with the high progesterone levels produced during pregnancy (300 to 400mg a day compared to 25 to 30mg a day normally). Other examples are breast cancers which are treated with Tamoxifen, an anti-oestrogen drug.  Also the fact that HRT or the pill are not recommended for those women with a history of breast cancer.

At the start of a womans menstrual cycle, low levels of oestrogen and progesterone signal the hypothalamus (a part of the brain that monitors hormone levels) to send a hormone to the pituitary, which gives the message to send a follicle-stimulating hormone to the ovaries to initiate the maturing of eggs in the follicles.  As the eggs mature they release oestrogen, which becomes the dominant hormone during the first half of the month.  The rising levels of oestrogen promote proliferation of the cells of the endometrium ( womb) lining.  In about 10 days the high oestrogen levels signal the pituitary to release another hormone, called the luteinizing hormone, which promotes ovulation and the production of progesterone which will be approximately 25mg a day. 

Progesterone

Progesterone now becomes the dominant hormone during the second half of the month. It curtails the effects of oestrogen and changes the proliferation of the cells to the ripening stages in preparation for a fertilized egg.  If no pregnancy occurs, then both hormones will drop and the whole cycle will start again.

If there is a pregnancy, progesterone levels will rise to 300mg / 400mg during the third trimester in order to maintain pregnancy.  Around this time the placenta takes over the large production of progesterone.  This is one of its many roles in the body, hence pro-gestation, and could be the reason why so many women feel so well during pregnancy and also why post natal depression occurs immediately after pregnancy when there is a huge drop in progesterone levels.

Dr Lee and other experts strongly argue that one of the many roles of progesterone is to balance the harmful effects of too much oestrogen as it does naturally in the body.  Yet this fact has not been acknowledged by mainstream medicine who only use it in its synthetic form, for example as part of HRT, to stop a woman developing cancer of the uterus, which would be a high  risk if she were to be given oestrogen alone.  This is because the synthetic form of progesterone mimics some of the anti-cancer effects of natural progesterone. Sadly, it also comes with a list of side effects.

If a woman no longer has her uterus due to a hysterectomy, she will be given oestrogen alone and the protective effects of progesterone are completely overlooked.  This is staggering when you know that there is a strong and proven link between breast cancer and oestrogen.

There is so much evidence to show how protective progesterone is against breast cancer, and yet this never seems to be given much importance. A recent study conducted in Londons Guys Hospital, and published in CANCER on November 15 1999, showed that if a pre-menopausal woman has surgery for breast cancer during the second half of her menstrual cycle - when her progesterone levels are high and oestrogen levels are low - her survival rate 10 years later increases from 45 to 75 per cent.  Yet this life-saving information never seems to be given the importance it deserves - especially to those it concerns the most.

Progesterone is a remarkable hormone and is vital to our health.  There is only one natural progesterone hormone, and it is the precursor to nearly all our other steroid hormones - including all corticosteroids and oestrogens. On the other hand, there are many different natural oestrogens, which are usually produced in microgram levels throughout our lives yet only drop by around 40 to 60 per cent during menopause - just enough to stop a period.
  
When we stop ovulating, due to the menopause or hysterectomy, we no longer produce progesterone in any significant amounts. The adrenals take over at this time, but only producing around three per cent of the original amount. This should be enough to balance the lower levels of oestrogen, but may not be enough to cope with excessive toxic chemicals which mimic oestrogen and find their way into our bodies.

Its easy to see how our adrenals are often exhausted, through trying to keep up with the demand on them to balance the overload of oestrogens,  not leaving sufficient to carry out many of their other functions.  Eventually something has to give. This can manifest itself in the form of menstrual disorders, menopause, osteoporosis, fibroids, endometriosis, postnatal depression, fertility problems, and cancer. 

These diseases are all on the increase, and the causes are often stated as unknown by most experts. But when you look at what is happening to our world, and study the reports of numerous experts, indicating that toxic chemicals in our environment can exert an oestrogenic effect, it becomes  frighteningly clear. 

For further information about how to obtain natural progesterone cream, or a free information pack, contact Judy Evans at the Progesterone Link Support Group on:
TELEPHONE:
01935 474343.
Website: http://www.progesterone-link.com

E-mail: info@progesteronelink.co.uk

Extracts taken from What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Breast Cancer by Dr John Lee ISBN: 0007142986
Our Stolen Future by Theo Colborn ISBN0349108781
and The Feminisation of Nature by Deborah Cadbury ISBN: 0241137462 - no longer in print.


About Judy Evans

Judy is a registered naturopath and medical herbalist with many years experience working in complementary medicine.  She specialises in natural hormone balancing for women and is continuously researching the subject always endeavouring to keep up to date with the latest developments.

Judy first discovered the benefits of natural progesterone in 1996.  She had been suffering with PMS for many years; the condition was escalating and were beginning to resemble menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes, tiredness, foggy thinking, achy joints and backache.

She avoided taking HRT after she came across Dr John Lees book, What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Menopause.  Everything in this book made more sense to Judy than anything else she had ever heard or read about PMS, menopause, infertility, breast cancer, osteoporosis and many other symptoms relating to hormone imbalances.

Dr Lee explained why women suffer so much and how specific hormones, particularly oestrogen and progesterone, affect womens bodies.  The most important information for Judy was that most women in Western societies are experiencing a syndrome know as oestrogen dominance due to low or insufficient progesterone levels to keep it in balance.  The reasons for this are many, not least environmental factors.  Importantly, there is an enormous difference between natural and synthetic hormones.   Those hormones which are bio-identical to those of our own bodies are far better for us if we need to supplement with them.

After using natural progesterone and experiencing "instant relief" from her symptoms, Judy started the Progesterone Link Support Group.  The group was created to help women who benefited from using natural progesterone cream, share their experiences and keep up to date with the latest research.  It started with ten members, but now Judy provides information about the alternatives to conventional HRT to thousands of women via her website at: www.progesteronelink.com

 

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