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The Alternative Hormone Treatment Controversy

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The controversy over alternative hormone treatments for aging is receiving widespread publicity and the American Medical Association is getting involved.

The so-called “natural” hormones are said to contain the same chemical and molecular structure as hormones that the human body produces. They promise to be plant-based but because they are not FDA-approved, their exact ingredients are not known and could contain synthetic products. As a result, the Association is interested in getting the Food and Drug Administration to oversee and regulate “bioidentical” hormones.

A big concern is that women seeking relief for menopausal symptoms are being misled into thinking that they are safer than conventional hormones that have been prescribed to them in the past. Without a registry tracking adverse events, there is no way to measure the safety of bioidentical hormone treatment.

Suzanne Somers in her book recommends their use as alternatives to the estrogen and progestin supplements that were once widely used for hot flashes and other menopause symptoms. The national best-selling book contends that these treatments can also reverse the aging process and keep people mentally sharp, physically fit, and sexually active.

Promoters of this treatment look cynically at the pharmaceutical companies that produce hormone pills and their lobbying efforts to prevent bioidenticals from becoming available to all women.

American Medical Association, on the other hand expresses concerns about safety, although they admit that to date there’s no evidence that the hormone compounds are not safe.

Once the group has voted for stricter Food and Drug Administration oversight and regulation of these products, the safety issue will be addressed. More information on their effectiveness and side effects will be available and women will be in a better position to choose whether to take them.


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