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Synthetic vs Bioidentical

Synthetic Hormones and Traditional Hormone Replacement Therapy – What is the Truth?

All women have seen the headlines regarding the potential risks associated with hormone replacement therapy. Thousands of articles have been released with varying viewpoints from big pharmaceutical companies attempting to distract women from the truth to the results of the Women’s Health Initiative of 2002 demonstrating a clear link between breast cancer, stroke, heart disease, and blood clots.

The Women’s Health Initiative Trials analyzed the effects of conjugated equine estrogens (made from horse urine) and synthetic progestins (manmade progesterone) on females. With their structure appropriate for horses, these hormones are only approximately 30% identical to human hormones. These estrogens and progestins are not naturally found in humans and are the active ingredients in several well-recognized commercial hormone products including PremPro, Provera, and Premarin.

Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy is “A safer, more natural alternative to synthetic progestin.” (International Journal of Pharmaceutical Compounding). In order to be referred to as “bioidentical,” they must be the exact copy of endogenous human hormones. Bioidentical hormones use progesterone, estriol, and estradiol either as single or multiple-ingredient prescription medications. Since they are available in many dosage forms and strengths, compounding pharmacies are able to individualize the treatment to fit your hormone levels, needs, and symptoms.

The Journal of Postgraduate Medicine compiled the results of four trials studying women who have switched from synthetic progestin to natural progesterone, all women “reported greater satisfaction, fewer side effects, and improved quality of life…” (Postgraduate Medicine). In a study performed on rats on the risks of progesterone, progestin, and estrogen causing breast cancer, the results displayed that “progesterone inhibited breast cancer cell proliferation at higher estrogen levels”. In contrast, “synthetic progestins had the potential to stimulate breast cancer cell proliferation when combined with the synthetic estrogens.” (Postgraduate Medicine). Based on the clinical and physiological results found in these studies, evidence demonstrates that bioidentical hormones are associated with lower risks than their nonbioidentical counterparts.