Bioidentical Hormones vs. Synthetic Hormones

What are bioidentical hormones?

Bioidentical hormones are one form of therapy for menopausal symptoms (WebMD). Bio-identical hormone preparations are medications that contain hormones that are an exact chemical match to those made naturally by humans (JoAnn Manson, MD, DrPH, via WedMD). Some bioidentical hormones are made by drug companies, are approved by the FDA, and are sold in standard doses. Other bioidentical hormone preparations are made at special pharmacies called compounding pharmacies, which make the preparations on a case-by-case basis for each patient. These hormone are the desired hormones for use with hormone replacement therapy due to the body being able to metabolize the hormone entirely.

What are synthetic hormones?

Synthetic hormones on the other hand – simply put, a synthetic hormone is a hormone synthesized in a pharmaceutical laboratory from synthetic (man-made) chemical compounds. (Magonlia Miller via Healthline, 2013) The significant difference between synthetic hormones and bioidentical hormones, however, is how they act in the human body. Synthetic hormones, like Premarin, a synthetic estrogen, and Prempro, a synthetic progesterone, have a molecular bond which is not recognized by the human body. Therefore, they are not metabolized efficiently, and can, according to some researchers, release toxins into the body. (Magonlia Miller via Healthline, 2013)
However, as a huge contrast to bioidentical hormones, synthetic hormones are linked to an increased risk of breast cancer. There is data that shows that Bio-identical hormone are preventive against cancer and other deadly diseases.

A new study published in the October 2010 issue of Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reviewed 11 years of data from the Women’s Health Initiative Study. (1)

The author, Dr.Chlebowski, concluded that the synthetic Prempro Pill used in the study increases breast cancer, and these cancers tend to be the more aggressive. As might be expected, there was also increased breast cancer mortality in the synthetic hormone group. Note: PremPro is made by Wyeth (Pfizer) and is a combination of a horse estrogen- Premarin plus progestin-Provera (medroxyprogesterone).

In an accompanying editorial, Dr Bach comments that finding is, in fact old news, and this increased breast cancer from Progestin, a synthetic hormone, was not surprising to him. Previous studies had anticipated the effect.(2) (Jeffery Dach via OpenEdNews, 2010)

Why are bioidentical hormones preferable?

Feeling Good

Somers endorses the use of bioidentical hormones not just for the relief of menopausal symptoms but as a veritable fountain of youth. She says that it “gives you back your lean body, shining hair, and thick skin, provided you are eating correctly and exercising in moderation. This new medicine allows your brain to work perfectly and offers the greatest defense against cancer, heart attack, and Alzheimer’s disease.” According to Somers, bioidenticals work by tricking the body into thinking it’s still “reproductive.” Ironically, similar claims were made for hormone replacement therapy (HRT), now called hormone therapy (HT), in the late 1960s by the British gynecologist Robert Wilson in his book Feminine Forever. Wilson wrote that HRT reversed a postmenopausal woman’s status as a “castrate” and ensured that she wouldn’t “become dull and unattractive.” Like Wilson, Somers appears to view menopause as a deficiency disease and hormone replacement as a lifelong necessity. (Harvard Women’s Health Watch, 2011)

But here’s the bulleted list of benefits according to Dr. Wayne Bonlie, MD:

For Men and Women

  • Balanced Moods: Hormone fluctuations can cause mood swings due to hormonal interference with blood sugar and brain chemistry. Balanced hormones can remedy feelings of anger, anxiety, and depression.
  • Increased Muscle Mass: A testosterone deficiency can occur in both men and women. Testosterone directly affects the building of muscle. If testosterone levels are too low muscle mass will decrease.
  • Fat Loss: Muscle influences the burning of calories. When muscle is abundant, fat stores are tapped into in order to sustain energy. If estrogen is low for either a man or woman, the body attempts to conserve estrogen by storing extra fat. This is because fat contains estrogen. Adding regular amounts of estrogen to the body can decrease fat storage.
  • Higher Libido: If hormone levels are decreased, then desire for sexual activity is also decreased. When hormones are restored to normal levels, libido is boosted.
  • Healthier Sleeping Patterns: The body’s internal clock sets sleeping patterns and is located in the part of the brain known as the hypothalamus. Hormonal imbalances can interfere with signals in the hypothalamus and create disturbed sleep.
  • Increased Vitality: Fluctuations of hormones can cause blood sugar to not be processed properly, and this can cause feelings of fatigue. When hormones are balanced, the body can effectively produce energy to restore and increase vitality.
  • Higher Bone Density: Estrogen and testosterone influence the way bones absorb calcium. If the bones cannot properly absorb calcium, they become weak, which leads to osteoporosis. Balanced hormones can regulate calcium absorption to keep bones healthy and strong.

For Women:

  • Decreased Hot Flashes: The hypothalamus is the body’s internal thermometer. Hormonal deficiencies can cause signals going to the hypothalamus to get crossed, and this can result in hot flashes and night sweats.
  • Increased Vaginal Lubrication: Vaginal tissue needs estrogen to be healthy. Low estrogen levels can cause vaginal dryness. By supplementing the deficient hormones, vaginal dryness can be relieved.
  • Increased Skin Elasticity: Collagen is responsible for skin youth and elasticity. When the collagen bonds break apart, skin can appear dry or wrinkled. Vitamin C and estrogen influence the formation of collagen and help keep skin youthful.

For Men:

  • Improved Erectile Function: Testosterone directly affects reproductive functions. Sexual functions may be decreased when testosterone is deficient and improved when testosterone levels are brought back to normal.
  • Reduced Hair Thinning: Testosterone assists hair follicles in the producing of hair, and cells can die away due to a lack of hormonal production and dryness.
  • Restored Muscle Mass: When testosterone levels decline, men can lose between 12 or 15 pounds of lean muscle mass. Restoring testosterone to healthy levels improves the ability of muscles to regenerate with exercise.