Life Extension Update
|March 04, 2004|
|Life Extension Update Exclusive |
Estrogen-only trial halted
The Women's Health Initiative includes more than 161,000 participants involved in studies investigating preventive measures for heart disease, fractures, breast and colorectal cancer. In addition to studying the effects of hormone replacement therapy, ongoing trials are studying the effects of a low-fat diet as well as supplementation calcium and vitamin D.
Concerning the current study, the National Institutes of Health have concluded that while estrogen alone does not increase or decrease the risk of heart disease or breast cancer, and while hip fracture risk was reduced, the risk of stroke was increased. Preliminary findings of a separate WHI study examining the effect of estrogen alone on memory suggest that estrogen alone is associated with an increased risk of dementia and/or mild cognitive impairment compared to placebo.
The NIH believes the current findings concerning increased stroke risk are unacceptable in a healthy study population, particularly if estrogen alone has no benefit in heart disease. They have also determined that adequate data have been collected at this point in the trial to assess estrogen's benefits and risks.
Female Hormone Replacement Therapy
A fascinating early study involved 60 women who were given standardized black cohosh extract, Valium, or Premarin (synthetic estrogen) for menopausal symptoms. The women in the black cohosh group were relieved of their depression and anxiety more effectively than the women in the Valium or Premarin groups (Warnecke 1985).
Another early study of black cohosh extract involved women under age 40 who produced very little natural estrogen or progesterone because their ovaries had been removed by hysterectomy. One group received estriol (a weak, but safer form of estrogen); the second group received Premarin; the third took Premarin and a progestin drug; the fourth group was given black cohosh extract; and the fifth group received a placebo. This 24-week study rated the women according to symptoms, including hot flashes, irritability, heart palpitations, etc. The results of the study demonstrated that women in all groups receiving different forms of estrogen-progestin and black cohosh extract experienced a 30% improvement. No improvement was seen in the placebo group. At the conclusion of the study, the majority of women receiving the estrogen drugs or black cohosh extract were symptom free. Most importantly, the women receiving the black cohosh extract reported fewer side effects. This study showed that phytotherapy with standardized black cohosh worked as well as estrogen drugs, but produced fewer uncomfortable and dangerous side effects (Lehmann-Willenbrock et al. 1988).
In an attempt to provide aging women with the multiple health effects of estrogen without side effects, scientists have developed plant extracts with estrogenic activity (phytoestrogens).
Natural Estrogen is one answer to concerns about the risks of synthetic estrogen replacement. Although women can go “cold turkey” from estrogen drugs to Natural Estrogen without adverse side effects, it is recommended that women who have been taking estrogen drugs gradually wean themselves off these drugs.
Pregnenolone is biochemically, the “mother hormone,” made directly from cholesterol within the mitochondria.
A partial list of pregnenolone's diverse benefits include:
No negative feedback loop: once produced, pregnenolone leaves the mitochondria so it cannot inhibit its own synthesis.
By two different pathways, it converts to DHEA and progesterone (which cannot be made from DHEA).
Enzyme repair: pregnenolone stimulates the cytochrome P-450 enzyme system which is important in neutralizing cellular toxins.
Protection from cortisol/cortisone: cortisol levels increase with normal aging causing a host of age-related maladies. Pregnenolone protects against adrenal atrophy when withdrawing cortisone therapy, and helps protect against the effects of elevated cortisol.
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