When there is a perfectly valid and proven treatment for osteoporosis in natural progesterone you do have to wonder why scientists want to pursue a course of treatment that is now widely accepted as having serious side effects? Oestrogen dominance, or excess oestrogen in relation to progesterone, is known to be linked to cancer, strokes and heart disease and although oestrogen is part of the treatment for osteoporosis it is only part while the other essential ingredient, natural progesterone, has been neglected. Bone is a living tissue and, like all living tissues in the body, it is constantly being built up and broken down.
Both progesterone and oestrogen are necessary for prevention and treatment of osteoporosis, however most women have sufficient oestrogen naturally produced at or after menopause from the fact cells of the abdomen, hips and thighs without having to supplement. Oestrogen can help retain old bone for longer, but progesterone is needed for actual bone building and renewal. The answer to this neglect sadly is fairly simple; progesterone is a natural hormone and not patentable and therefore not profitable to the major pharmaceutical companies who fund most research with the aim of finding a new treatment. Although some women do indeed need supplementing with oestrogen, but preferably always balanced by progesterone to offset its negative effects in excess.
Swedish Researchers at the Centre for Bone and Arthritis Research at the Sahlgrenska Academy have had their findings reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and to me it makes no sense. On the one hand they do acknowledge that treatment of osteoporosis with oestrogen is associated with serious side effects such as breast cancer and blood clots. Their research was aimed at looking to develop an oestrogen treatment that utilizes the hormone’s favorable effects but not its side effects. To do this they analyzed which parts of the oestrogen receptor are most important in enabling oestrogen to act on bone and other tissues.
Their experiment was conducted on mice in the laboratory and as this is the first study to analyze the significance of different parts of a particular type of oestrogen receptor they believe it enables them to differentiate the favorable effects of oestrogen in bone tissue from the adverse effects in other tissues. The researchers believe that by developing new special oestrogens that are tailored to bone specifically this may lead to a more targeted and effective treatment for osteoporosis with minimal side effects.
Well yes it may, but this is off in the future so wouldn’t women be better informed that there are other, natural, hormone treatments available?
What is osteoporosis?
Statistically one in two women and one in five men over the age of 50 in the UK will fracture a bone, mainly as a result of osteoporosis. Broken wrists, hips and spinal bones are the most common fractures in people with osteoporosis and it is more widespread as we age. In practice you cannot tell by looking if you have osteoporosis – it can only be diagnosed with a bone scan – and it means that the bone is not as strong as it should be and there is therefore an increased risk of fractures. If you are breaking bones more frequently even on slight impact, and/or you have any family history of the disease, then please ask your Doctor for a scan.
The safe alternative
As well as oestrogen supplementation, conventional treatment for osteoporosis has potential health problems with alendronic acid and drugs such as Fosamax. These drugs are not pleasant to take and can lead to digestive problems, oesophageal ulceration and can increase the risk of arterial fibrillation. This means they are often stopped by the patient who can find them too unpleasant to take long-term.
What such research, and mainstream medicine, is ignoring is a whole body of work initiated by the late Dr John Lee whose championing of progesterone for osteoporosis is still largely under applied but gratefully received by his many patients and taken up up by a new generation of bioidentical doctors. He certainly advocated that it was never too late to take progesterone for osteoporosis and indeed he had elderly patients on it who showed good results.
The fact that our bones continue to grow throughout our lives means we have to provide the optimum conditions to help them do that and progesterone is essential for building new bone so even though damage may be severe there is still the opportunity to build healthy bone.