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Don Colbert, MD

Our country is under siege from health epidemics. Nearly two in five people are obese. One in ten has Type 2 diabetes. Heart disease is the cause of one in four deaths. But, to most people’s surprise, the root cause of these diseases is usually suboptimal hormone levels.

It’s true that diet, exercise and lifestyle habits are important in combating ailments that plague us as we age, but “optimizing” our hormones using bioidentical hormones is the key optimum health. If you’ve developed symptoms that negatively impact your life, then optimizing your hormone levels through hormone therapy is your answer.

Importantly, “optimizing” hormones is different than “balancing” hormones. Balancing hormones brings levels into what’s considered a normal range. Balanced hormones are better than hormones out of balance, but symptoms often persist. But optimizing hormone levels — pushing them to the upper end of normal where they were in your 20s — reverses symptoms and prevents disease.

Those who optimize their hormone levels using bioidentical hormones report feeling completely transformed. Within three to six months their energy levels are up and they’ve regained their vitality.

Unfortunately, hormones have been caught in a whirlpool of confusion for decades. Questions swirl around the safety of using hormone therapy. Here are seven causes of hormone confusion and the facts disputing them:

1. It’s a woman thing. Hormones have been seen as a women’s issue, but men need hormone replacement therapy as much as women. In fact, men who are developing belly fat probably have low testosterone levels and high estrogen levels, putting them at huge risk for several major health issues. Hormones are not a woman thing; hormones are a human thing, and both men and women need to pay attention to their hormone levels.

2. All hormones are created equal. Synthetic hormones aren’t the same as a bioidentical hormones. Bioidentical hormones are a good match and work well with your body at the cellular level. Synthetic hormones, while they can bind to hormone receptors, produce a message that’s not exactly the messages produced by the body’s hormones. Their different chemical structure results in less-effective treatment of symptoms. Bioidentical hormones have the same chemical composition as hormones produced in the body and perform all the functions of hormones. What’s concerning is how often synthetic hormones are prescribed, along with all the negative side effects, when bioidentical hormones are readily available and have far fewer side effects.

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Dr. Colbert’s New Book, The Hormone Health Zone

3. Hormone therapy causes breast cancer. In addition to supposedly causing breast cancer, hormone therapy is claimed to cause high blood pressure, heart attacks and blood clots. Obviously nobody wants that. But it isn’t true for bioidentical hormones. They actually provide protection from heart disease and don’t increase the risk of blood clots, Alzheimer’s, breast cancer or other chronic illnesses. The same can’t be said for synthetic hormones. Several studies have found that synthetic hormones significantly increase risk for cancer and other diseases.

4. My doctor says it’s something else. When we go to the doctor with debilitating symptoms, doctors do their best to treat us. For example, if patients say they’re stressed, depressed or anxious, an antidepressant is often prescribed. But the known side effects of antidepressants include insomnia, nausea, anxiety, dizziness, decreased sex drive, weight gain, dry mouth, tremors, fatigue, diarrhea, constipation and headaches. Many of these symptoms lead to prescribing another medication, creating a vicious cycle. Meanwhile, more than nine out of ten people with depression who optimize their hormones find their depression goes away. Not only that, but they get back their energy, their mood is improved and they don’t experience that long list of side effects.

5. My doctor says my hormones are in range. Doctors and patients alike need to look at the numbers associated with their hormone levels. The different lab companies that run the blood tests intended to check your hormone levels, such as LabCorp or Quest Diagnostics, have differing ranges for normal, and those may be lowered every few years. The “normal” range for testosterone, for example, is moving lower and lower as the population grows fatter and fatter. Also, ranges are incredibly wide. If you have symptoms and your numbers are low, you may need hormone replacement therapy to bring those numbers up. Trust your body and your symptoms more than you trust the ranges.

6. My doctor doesn’t test for that. Typically, doctors don’t have time to dig deep enough to find the core issue ailing you. The doctor will check your complete blood count (CBC) to see if you’re anemic, a chemistry panel to see if your electrolytes are normal and your liver and kidney are functioning well, and a lipid panel to check your cholesterol. If the numbers are in range, no action is taken. But you may need a full battery of hormone tests to find the real reason behind your symptoms. The good news is that these tests exist. The bad news is it may take some work convincing your doctor to run them.

7. Studies prove hormone treatment is dangerous. The well-known U.S. Women’s Health Initiative study, begun in 1991, was conducted in part to see if estrogen hormone treatment increased women’s risk of heart disease, cancer and osteoporosis. Because of negative impacts on participants, the hormone therapy components were stopped. Later, researchers accurately questioned the findings. The estrogen hormone used, Premarin, is a synthetic hormone with known side effects. Condemning all estrogen hormone therapy because of one synthetic type was scientifically illogical. Two other studies conducted to analyze risks associated with testosterone therapy in men both vilified testosterone and falsely claimed it increased heart attack risks in men. These studies, too, were found to be severely flawed.

So many of the hormone scares, myths and flawed studies have prevented the use of bioidentical hormones, which are proven to prevent many conditions plaguing us. For anyone over 40, get annual blood tests and, working with a physician that practices bioidentical hormone therapy, optimize your hormone levels to enjoy optimal health.