Author of Two's CompanyDecember 2017
Actress and best-selling author Suzanne Somers has written an inspirational new book.
A highly personal memoir, Two’s Company reveals Suzanne’s personal career and health struggles as she found success as an actress, conquered cancer on her terms and took on the drug industry with regard to the dangers of conventional hormone replacement therapy for women.
The author of more than 25 books, Suzanne has focused on enlightening the public about life-enhancing alternatives to conventional medical practice.
Two’s Company provides intriguing insight into Suzanne’s personal life, including her early relationship challenges and the uniquely successful marriage she has with Alan Hamel.
In this new interview with Life Extension®, Suzanne Somers discusses how she turned her serious health problems into a roadmap for millions of women to improve their health to get the most out of life.
LE: You revolutionized menopause for millions of women by educating them about bioidentical hormones so that they could avoid hormone drugs that were shown to increase disease risks.
SS: My books made a significant dent in the synthetic hormone business, a fact I’m sure the drug companies were not enjoying. Since the introduction of bioidentical hormones, the synthetic hormone business has dropped by a whopping 72%. If I were them, I’d probably want to shut me up.
LE: That is a huge accomplishment and a major change in how women age. How did you discover bioidentical hormones?
SS: I couldn’t sleep. From my research for the books I was writing, I knew sleep was vitally important for optimal health. What was wrong? When you don’t sleep for nights on end, you’re just not in the best mood. My leg itched fiercely and I was gaining weight again. My sex drive, which is normally off the charts, was nonexistent.
LE: So this was the first sign that something was wrong. What did you decide to do?
SS: I went from doctor to doctor and was offered sleeping pills, antidepressants, cholesterol-lowering pills, and diuretics. All the doctors had to offer was drugs and more drugs. One doc said to me, “The drug companies know best, dear!” I finally said to one doctor, “Are you joking? Is this the best you can offer women?” I left his office determined to figure out how to turn the problem of menopause into an asset.
LE: That’s a huge realization. What happened next?
SS: I suddenly became aware of how many pills my friends were taking: pills to go to sleep, pills to wake up, pills to lose weight, pills to take away menopausal symptoms, pills to get erections. No one was doing or feeling well, but doctors were providing the “solutions” to mask their patients’ problems and symptoms with pills, pills and more pills until they became walking, talking, confused messes. Not for me—I didn’t want to be all drugged up.
LE: It’s very dispiriting when you know the doctors don’t have the answers that you need. It shouldn’t be this way. There are good doctors out there but you really have to search them out.
SS: Finally, I heard about the endocrinologist Dr. Diana Schwarzbein in Santa Barbara. I sent in my blood work, then drove like a maniac on my appointment day. As she looked at my lab results, she said, “You poor thing—you must feel awful.” She explained that I had virtually no progesterone left (the feel good hormone) and almost no estrogen. I was like a car running without gas and oil. We humans rely on precise regulation of our biochemistry and a woman’s hormonal makeup is particularly complex.
LE: You were very fortunate to find exactly the right doctor who could help you. So many people go from doctor to doctor and still don’t get better.
SS: I didn’t know it then, but this day would be a life-changer for me, the beginning of a huge new reinvention. The day I began to learn about bioidentical hormone replacement was the day I got on track to get my life back. Using natural bioidentical hormone replacement week by week, I eventually got “me” back. I didn’t itch, I didn’t sweat, and my weight was normalized. I felt good all the time, I was upbeat, and I had great clarity. By changing my diet and my thoughts, fixing my sleep, and replacing missing hormones, I dodged a bullet.
LE: That is a remarkable turn-around. It’s unfortunate that all the other doctors you saw weren’t able to solve this problem for you.
SS: I had never realized the profound effect of hormones on human health and well-being. And I never realized so little was known about menopause. Researching natural hormone replacement, I learned the critical importance of hormonal balance. In my cancer scenario, I was what is called estrogen dominant. This means that while my estrogen production was low, I stopped producing sufficient progesterone. When your progesterone production slows or stops and you become estrogen dominant, with no progesterone to control abnormal cell proliferation, you are set up for certain cancers.
LE: Life Extension has been reporting on this for years. It’s time the medical community caught up. Glad you are spreading the word and living by example.
SS: So many women enter menopause and spend the rest of their lives white-knuckling, dealing with debilitating symptoms. As I learned everything I could about replacement, I quickly realized that the pharmaceutical hormone business is designed to keep women essentially bandaged. Synthetic hormones don’t fix the problem, because they don’t balance the missing hormones and aren’t human hormones. They’re not a solution, just a way to calm women down. And women get fat on this protocol. Women not knowing or understanding how it works figure it’s just a midlife trade-off. These synthetic hormones are responsible for putting a woman’s body into a state of imbalance rather than balance. Imbalance is where cancer has its opportunities. With this information, why would these dangerous hormones still be prescribed? This knowledge made bioidentical hormone replacement even more exciting to me. If menopausal women could safely rebalance our hormones, then we could essentially trick the brain into believing we are still reproductive.
LE: You were on the cutting edge when you discovered bioidentical hormone replacement. The amazing thing is that you were able to share your knowledge with millions of women through your books.
SS: What I loved the most was the win/win aspect. I had taken my problem and turned it into a great asset for myself and for others. My interviews with cutting-edge, knowledgeable doctors allowed women to age in a new way, without drugs, while keeping their memories intact, their sex lives active, and their beauty restored.
The book outraged many doctors. I believe because it exposed their ignorance of how this natural passage, menopause, really works, and of the realities of real hormone replacement. The solution is not in a synthetic pill that matches nothing a woman makes in her own body—that only confuses the body and it’s not good for the human body to be confused. The drug companies took shots at me and ridiculed me. The book was a phenomenal success. I was becoming the messenger for a new kind of health, one that changed the way women age. I went on every talk show, and the response from the public was overwhelmingly positive. The book sold over one million copies! Without looking for it, I found a new life mission, taking care of women in a way no one had.
LE: A million copies means you were changing a lot of minds!
SS: A movement was starting to take place and it was growing fast. Women were demanding better treatment and relief from their doctors. They were calling their doctors in droves saying they had read Suzanne Somers’s book and “wanted what she had.” It has been my experience that doctors are “down on what they are not up on,” and BHRT (bioidentical hormone replacement therapy) was not and still is not taught at medical school. So frankly I felt and feel that in many cases I knew more than a lot of the doctors about this subject. I was a walking, talking example of BHRT’s health-giving, life-enhancing power. Other doctors came to my lectures, and they saw and heard that my research was science-based and backed up by credible doctors. They were aware that the information in my books was given to me by knowing doctors and scientists who gave generously of their time.
LE: Can you specifically talk about what changes you created for women?
SS: Up until then, women went through their passages with a pill for every ailment, and here I was saying there is another way. My life without drugs was inspiring to many women. The concept of putting back what you lost in the aging process with natural remedies appealed to so many. Hormone replacement has to be individualized. There is no one pill that fits all. What I need is different from what the next woman needs. Without hormonal balance, lives were being ruined, and women were losing themselves. I called hormone balance the “Juice of youth,” the answer to good health.
LE: Let’s step back a bit. Before your discovery of bioidentical hormones, you were diagnosed with cancer. For many people, a cancer diagnosis may seem like a death sentence. What was your reaction when you were diagnosed with cancer? In what ways did your life change?
SS: I decided cancer was a gift from which I would learn. From that moment I would eat as though my life depended upon it, which it does. I would change my life in every way. I had been working too hard into the early mornings. I was staying up regularly until three and four a.m. I’d get into bed afterward and then have trouble sleeping.
Sleep is a game changer. If you don’t sleep seven to eight hours a night, the repair work the body depends upon for life and health can’t happen. I was going to eat, sleep, and think like an athlete. A great athlete thinks to win. I would win. I would be able to use this experience to help others.
LE: Through your books and lectures, you have influenced millions of women to not accept aging as a part of their lives. You are a pioneer and an explorer and bring back lifesaving information from your journeys. Tell us about one of your breakthrough experiences of surviving cancer.
SS: I would become the first American woman to legally regrow my breast using my own stem cells and my fat. I had heard about Dr. Kotaro Yoshimura of the University of Tokyo—he had successfully regrown the breasts of over four hundred Japanese women using their own stem cells. In 2011 I took a chance and called him. Lucky for me he had heard of me and my books. He graciously agreed to come to America and teach the procedure to my friend Dr. Joel Aronowitz, who was involved with stem cells and research. The goal was to obtain permission from the FDA to qualify for a clinical trial to regrow my breast. It took three years for the permission to be granted, and as soon as we received it, we went to work to make it happen.
LE: You certainly don’t give up easily and are brave to try these medical procedures on yourself.
SS: It was about more than my becoming whole again; it was about a breakthrough for all women. At present, women in my position are offered implants or a TRAM flap (which often has very disappointing results and is generally unattractive, with much scarring and a long painful recovery). To do the surgery, they removed fat from my stomach, spun out the stem cells, discarded the weak ones, and injected the strong cells back into my removed fat. That fat was then injected in my once-cancerous breast until it was the same size as the other one.
LE: What were your thoughts after the operation?
SS: I had adjusted to losing half of my breast, figuring that being alive was the better option. But to become whole again would be a great experience. The surgery was a fantastic success. I awoke and looked down and saw myself perfect back together. Once again, I had two beautiful breasts, and they were all me. Nothing plastic or foreign. It was a huge step forward for women. Since then over a thousand women have been able to take advantage of this incredible procedure.
LE: Your readers are fortunate that you were curious enough to seek out this type of procedure and to take the risk of having it done.
SS: Once again, a problem became an opportunity.
LE: Now that you have optimized your health, written more than two dozen books and changed women’s health forever, what’s next for you?
SS: For the last year, I’ve been back performing nightly off and on in Vegas as well as on occasional random stages around the country. I’m grateful every minute for having achieved superb health. It allows me the energy, strength, strong bones and fast-working brain needed to be out there night after night at 70. I thought age 70 was supposed to be old, but for me it’s not. The body is a magnificent machine. What craziness to abuse something so valuable. That has become my life’s work: getting people to value their bodies. I want to change the thinking. Age is a number only; living at any age is about vitality and energy. And that’s how I live my life. I’m as young as my energy.
LE: What words of wisdom would you like to impart to our readers?
SS: Health is all we have, yet our choices belie that fact. We seem to take a great working body for granted, and that is a dangerous mindset. It takes a long time to wise up. You can’t give up. Ever! Happiness takes work. A great relationship takes work. Every choice matters; every thought creates. We are all in control of our joy. Inevitably, it’s the dark times and negatives that are our best teachers. Life is the process of learning from all of it. The lucky ones do.
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To order a copy of Two’s Company, call 1-800-544-4440