Bioidentical hormones, also known as natural hormone therapy, have been endorsed by celebrities like Oprah Winfrey and Suzanne Somers as being a great option for curbing postmenopausal symptoms and making women at that age feel younger.
Though companies tout that users of bioidenticals have fewer long-term risks and side effects than other treatments, CBS News reports that there is no evidence that the ingredients are “safe,” albeit from a natural origin, or that they work better than other treatments on the market.
What Are Bioidenticals?
- Bioidenticals are another form of Hormone Replacement Therapy (HPT) used to alleviate some of the symptoms associated with menopause, such as hot flashes, trouble sleeping, vaginal and urinary problems, shifts in mood, and osteoporosis.
- HRTs have come under attack since 2002 when a major study linked longer-term use of a combination estrogen-progestin pill to increased risk of heart disease, breast cancer, and other serious conditions.
- Bioidenticals are mixtures of hormones that are manufactured to have an identical molecular structure to what the patient naturally produces, according to Harvard Health Publications.
- The preliminary structure of the hormone is made from soy and yam plants, but are chemically modified to mimic estrogen and progestin.
- Bioidenticals can be taken through a patch, pill, cream, and other vaginal applications.
Concerns about Bioidenticals
- Though some bioidentical products are FDA approved, not all of them are, especially when a consumer requests a custom-made blend from a compounding pharmacy.
- One of the main concerns is that the amount of each hormone used is not monitored when produced in a compounding pharmacy, and compound pharmacies are not subjected to the same quality standards as other facilities regulated by the FDA.
- In 2012, a compounding pharmacy in Massachusetts was shut down after producing contaminated steroids that were linked to more than 60 deaths and 700 cases of fungal meningitis and other related illnesses; the FDA has since become stricter with these pharmacies.
- Medical professionals claim custom-tailored medications are just not quite there yet, in terms of safety for widespread use.
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