Bio-identical Hormones and Osteoporosis
“Osteoporosis” refers to the gradual, progressive, decreasing bone density affecting millions of Americans. “Osteo,” the Greek term for bone, and “poros,” which means porous. Bio-identical hormones and Osteoporosis are closely tied.
Both women and men share the risk of experiencing Osteoporosis as they age. This condition typically begins around the age of 50. The primary reason for this bone loss is due to declining hormone levels, specifically estrogen. The loss of these critical hormones accelerates as women experience a sharp decline in hormone production.
Men are also at increased risk of Osteoporosis after 50. This risk is due to the drop in testosterone’s ability to be converted to estrogen. Testosterone levels begin to decline around age 30. However, this happens at a much slower rate than in women.
Bone cells dissolve and grow throughout our lives. In fact, in a 10-year period, the human skeletal structure is replaced entirely. These changes are called “remodeling.” When bone cells dissolve faster than they grow, the bones become more porous and lose density. That, in a nutshell, is s Osteoporosis. When bones become thin and brittle, they are at a greater risk for fracture. In fact, Osteoporosis increases the risk of fractures by over 50%.
Osteopenia occurs before Osteoporosis and starts when the bones lose their density. This is the first stage of an imbalance in the bone remodeling process.
Causes of Osteoporosis:
- Decreases in estrogen levels in women and testosterone levels in men.
- Insufficient Vitamin D levels. Vitamin D works just like a hormone. One of its most important functions is to help the body with calcium absorption.
- Sedentary lifestyle. Bones need gentle stresses applied to them regularly to keep them strong. Walking, weight-bearing exercise, and weight training all help maintain healthy bone density levels.
- Smoking. Cigarettes block the body’s ability to use estrogen and reduce calcium and Vitamin D absorption.
- Alcohol. Consuming too much alcohol can stop bone remodeling and increase calcium loss.
- Insufficient calcium levels in the blood. Many organs in the body depend on calcium to function correctly. They will “borrow” calcium from bones when calcium levels are too low.
- Parathyroid imbalance. This crucial gland is in the neck, just behind the thyroid gland. When calcium levels are lacking in the blood, it secretes more hormones. If these glands don’t function properly, calcium levels can fall.
- Too much diet cola consumption. Studies show that parathyroid levels increase after drinking diet colas. This change causes an increase in blood calcium levels by stimulating bone breakdown.
Research on Bio-identical Hormones and Osteoporosis
Until the early ’90s, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) was the primary method for treating Osteoporosis. The findings of the Women’s Health Initiative study changed that. Treating Osteoporosis with HRT showed a 30% reduction in overall fractures and up to a 40% reduction in hip fractures.
The Women’s Health Initiative, initially launched in 1993, is ongoing. It is a long-term, national study focused on preventing heart disease, breast cancer, colon cancer, and fractures from Osteoporosis in postmenopausal women.
The initial results showed the risks of HRT outweighed the benefits, especially regarding breast cancer, endometrial cancer, heart disease, stroke in women, and prostate cancer in men. After these results were published, estrogen treatment for Osteoporosis was no longer viable.
However, it is essential to note that this study used SYNTHETIC hormones. Synthetic hormones contain molecules altered in a lab and are not the same as those produced in the human body. Conversely, bioidentical hormones are made from plant sources and are molecularly the same as those produced in the body.
Current research with the Women’s Health Initiative Study has included using Bio-identical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT).
Seven national studies have shown that progesterone (Bioidentical) decreases breast cancer risk. Another study involving 31,000 women suggested that Estriol (the bioidentical version of Estrogen) poses no increased risk for breast cancer. Research has also shown that combining Bio-identical hormones offers superior benefits and protection against Osteoporosis.
Meanwhile, Testosterone studies have shown that BHRT does NOT increase the risk of prostate cancer. This makes BHRT a viable and safe choice for treating Osteoporosis in men.
This evidence shows that BHRT is not only safe and can prevent Osteoporosis from progressing, it can also reverse it! Because estrogen aids in strengthening the bones, it is a safe and easy way to keep them healthy. It is also essential to get plenty of Vitamin D and regular exercise. If you are experiencing the symptoms of Osteoporosis, Menopause, or Andropause (decreased Testosterone levels in men), the doctors at Integrative Health and Rehabilitation can help. Schedule a free consultation to discuss your concerns.