An Exclusive Interview with Suzanne Somers
|LE Magazine October 2004|
|An Exclusive Interview with Suzanne Somers|
Sex isn’t why most people would want to have hormonal balance. But having sexual desire keeps us vital. It’s nature’s “de-stressor.” It’s a wonderful gift to have back, as in my case. I had so zeroed out on my hormones that I lost everything that gave me quality of life, including my sex drive, all of which has returned.
WF: How many copies of your book The Sexy Years have been printed?
SS: It’s in its eighth printing after only one month. In the first month, we sold over 1 million copies. It shows that there is such hunger for a solution to this problem. I think that’s what the big rush to get this book has been about.
I gave my first lecture in Redondo Beach. It was interesting to me because I didn’t have time to do any promotion—no print interview, no radio or television, nothing. I just showed up. To my surprise, there were a thousand women in that room with a hundred walk-ins that morning, because they’re starving for an answer to this awful condition they’re going through.
WF: You stated on “Larry King Live” that you consider writing The Sexy Years to be your greatest accomplishment. Has the book made the impact you anticipated it would?
SS: Well beyond it. I was on a Canadian radio show this morning and the host said, “You can’t imagine what is happening up here in Vancouver with this book. We’re having seminars, the bookstores are having seminars, people are getting together to discuss The Sexy Years. It has had a phenomenal effect.” And I thought “If this is all I came to Earth to do, what a privilege it is to deliver this message.”
This book originated from my own search, as all my books have. I needed to understand what was happening to me. I needed a satisfactory solution and I wasn’t able to get it from my doctors. It’s very important that your readers understand that I am not anti-pharmaceuticals or anti-Western doctors or medicine. I’ve had cancer and I needed drugs to get through my cancer. I needed my doctors and I love my doctors. But I object to doctors working outside their area of expertise. A gynecologist calling himself or herself a “hormone specialist” is like a dermatologist saying, “I also do heart bypass surgery.”
It’s not our doctors’ fault. They weren’t taught about hormones. It’s really the fault of the medical schools, and they have to change. Because our doctors are so misinformed and uninformed, all of us—men and women—have to go out and find this for ourselves. This passage of our lives takes more managing and handling than any other we’ve lived through. What you put into it is what you get out of it. It’s worth what you have to go through, and I’ve done the legwork for everyone. If you read this book cover to cover, you will be empowered with the information you need to go to your doctor, ask the right questions, and know if he or she is the right doctor or not. All the information in my book is from the latest advanced medical reports and studies.
WF: I don’t get impressed by very many books, but yours intrigued me. Dr. Eugene Shippen’s book, The Testosterone Syndrome, was another one. Your book is having an impact similar to that of The Testosterone Syndrome.
SS: Absolutely. As you know, I interviewed Dr. Shippen for my book. He is doing spectacular work. Male menopause—andropause—is a really neglected subject. Most men don’t even know it exists. All they notice is a general lack of energy and vitality. They’re ashamed to bring it up.
My husband kept saying, “I don’t know what it is. I keep working out and my muscles are shrinking.” I would notice that he was sleeping and napping all the time, didn’t want to go out, didn’t want to get dressed up, wasn’t very interested in the business. Completely contrary to the man I had known. I sent him to my doctor. She took a blood test, found out he was low in testosterone and DHEA, and prescribed a bioidentical hormone compound customized just for him. It’s incredible what’s happened to him since then and the difference it has made. Men can lose their testosterone at any age.
WF: You’ve been on “Larry King Live” and the Home Shopping Network, done radio shows, and made book appearances. Is there anything else you’ve been doing to promote your book?
SS: One of the things I want to do is lecture to groups so that they can really understand hormone replacement. I would love to see the gynecologists embrace it. I know they didn’t learn it in medical school, but I did the research and found it, and I’m a layperson. They can learn it, too. Doctors want to heal instead of putting women on a one-pill-fits-all prescription drug. With all of the health problems that arise from synthetic hormones, women come in and complain that they’re still not feeling well, and doctors don’t know what else to do, so they prescribe an antidepressant or antipsychotic.
As I was interviewing women, I couldn’t get over how many women were on Prozac®, Paxil®, Zoloft®, etc. Once you’re on that, you’re on it for life, because it makes you feel better. But when you stop, you feel bad again, so you go right back on it. The thing that seems to affect women the most is that if you stay on antidepressants, you’re going to get fat, because everything slows down, including your metabolism. You’re not going to have any sex drive, and it creates hormonal imbalances. So the remedy just exacerbates the problem. My hope is that I can turn people on to bioidentical hormone replacement, and then each person who does it will turn on another 10 people.
The doctors are the problem, because I’ve seen it on my website over and over again. Women run to their doctors and say, “I read this book by Suzanne Somers and I want bioidentical hormones.” The doctors, who don’t know anything about it, first dismiss me. “You’re listening to Suzanne Somers? About hormones? What does she know?” That’s the first obstacle. The second thing they say is that it doesn’t work. That’s the problem.
WF: You are empowering patients. We know what that’s like. When we introduced coenzyme Q10, cardiologists would say it’s not worth anything. But when patients keep telling their doctors, “This is how it has to be done,” at some point the doctors do change.
SS: They do. I think that’s how it will happen. I’ve talked to more women who have brought this book to their gynecologists and said to them, “I would appreciate if you could read this so that you know what I’m doing and you and I can work on this together.” I think that’s what you have to do. Your doctor’s going to be embarrassed when he doesn’t know about it. When doctors don’t know something, they dismiss it. You are going to have to demand of your doctor, “I want bioidentical hormones.” I forced my doctor to spell it out for me. It’s on pages 78-80 in my book. You say, “The first thing I want you to do is to get my baseline hormone levels through lab work.” Then you take those levels to your compounding pharmacist, who will know that if you’re within this or that range, then you need this much estradiol, this much progesterone, and this much testosterone.
Women who lose their sex drive think all they have to do is get testosterone cream from their gynecologist, slap that on, and it stirs things up a little. But here’s what happens. If you stay on that, you’re going to create additional hormonal imbalance and get fat. On testosterone, you’re going to gain weight if you’re not balancing all the other hormones. The other thing that’s going to happen is that your voice will deepen, you’ll grow a beard, and you’ll get oily skin and pimples. None of that is pleasant. Then, after a while, when your hormones get further and further out of whack, even the testosterone cream can’t jump-start your sexual drive. It all has to be in balance, it can’t be too much or too little. That’s why it has to be done through blood work and a qualified doctor.
[Editor’s note: Suzanne Somers was diagnosed and treated for breast cancer almost four years ago. She describes in meticulous detail her diagnosis, treatment, and recovery in The Sexy Years.]
WF: You were able to access the cancer drug Iscador®, which is not approved by the FDA. Iscador® is frequently prescribed in Europe as a complementary treatment in addition to conventional cancer therapies, radiation, surgery, and chemotherapy. We believe American cancer patients should have the right to access any drug they want. What are your feelings about the FDA making it difficult, if not impossible, for most cancer patients to access experimental therapies?
SS: Cancer is such a devastating diagnosis. It sends you into a tailspin. Going from oncologist to oncologist, I found they were prescribing for me the recommended common course of therapy, which is surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and then follow-up drugs for breast cancer like tamoxifen.
WF: Or they prescribe Arimidex® to suppress as much estrogen as possible.
SS: Right. And how is that supposed to help you get your health back, when you’re battling hormonal imbalance on top of it? That’s the other thing they recommended to me—giving up my hormones. Tamoxifen is the first thing I researched, and I was shocked. I said to my doctors, “Is this the best that you have to offer women? For a 10% better chance that the cancer won’t recur, I get in exchange a 40% increased risk of heart attack, stroke, and pulmonary embolism, as well as a complete blunting of all my hormones such that I’ll be in a state of depression for the five years they want me to stay on this drug?” Would you take it? It does not make sense.
Everyone has to take an individual approach to chemotherapy. When I looked at chemotherapy, I thought, “I’ve worked so hard to balance my system, get my metabolism working optimally, and build my healthy cells. Now you want me to take something that’s going to kill all my cells and hope that the good ones come back?” It just didn’t appeal to me. I took the most massive dose of radiation that my body could tolerate just because I was scared.
Then I came across Iscador®. I’ve always admired the Rudolph Steiner clinics in Europe, which have used Iscador® since the 1920s to treat cancer in place of chemotherapy. According to them, it has the exact same results but with no side effects. Once I started looking at Iscador®, I then talked with the medical circle I’d gathered from writing my books. I thought, this appeals to me because Iscador® builds the immune system to be so strong that anything that tries to invade or attack it cannot. I thought that between Iscador®, balanced hormones, and the way I eat and take care of my body, I’m going to treat my cancer myself.
I can’t tell anybody to do what I do because I’ve got another year of therapy before I’m officially out of the woods, but I haven’t been sick in the four years that I’ve been on this. I feel strong and I judge good health by nails and hair. My manicurist always says, “You’ve got the strongest nails,” and my hairdresser is always saying, “You’ve got such great hair, it’s so thick and shiny.” I think that indicates I’m on the right track.
WF: Are you measuring blood tumor biomarkers?
SS: I am. I don’t do it too often, because you can drive yourself crazy. I just had a major full-body MRI at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles. I also had my first breast MRI done at City of Hope, which is also near Los Angeles. Only two machines in the country are doing this. Next week I’m going to do the other breast. For some reason, they can only do one at a time. I had a large tumor and there’s always the chance that rogue cells might have broken off somewhere else. I don’t want the cancer back. I also don’t want anyone saying, “Well, if she was on hormones, no wonder.” The hormones, to me, are my best defense against a recurrence.
From all the reading I’ve done, I firmly believe that an environment of balanced hormones prevents disease. Every doctor I talked to concurred. The other day I was talking to Dr. Robert Greene, who wrote the forward to my book. He said, “I put women who are diagnosed with breast cancer on bioidentical hormones, because I understand that radiation, chemotherapy, and tamoxifen are going to constantly blunt all their hormone production. Restoring that production on a daily basis and keeping a woman in balance is her best defense against the recurrence of cancer.”
I think that further down the road, we’re going to find out—as all the doctors have said to me—that hormonal imbalance is at the root of every human ailment and disease, and that we should look there before we start with surgery and drugs.