Bio-Identical Hormones and Anti-Aging Medicine: Quick Fix or Slippery Slope?

Problems with Bio Identical Hormones and Anti Aging Medicine

Paul A. Goldberg, MPH,DC,DACBN,DCBCN

As the baby boomers reach advanced ages, there has been an upsurge of interest in “anti-aging medicine” and supposed fixes for aging. This has set off a flurry of new products and services to capture the marketplace of a public intent on restoring their youth. A mob of “anti-aging, functional medicine, integrative medicine, complimentary medicine” practitioners are eager to take advantage of them.

I spoke at a conference a few years ago where another speaker gave a speech on “anti-aging medicine,” primarily the topic of "correcting" hormonal imbalances/deficiencies of both women and men by giving Bio-Identical Hormones. I was not impressed. Seminars of this type pushing estrogen like compounds to women, testosterone to men and other glandular compounds including the very widely mis-utilized Thyroid Hormones have now attracted many practitioners looking to expand their practices.

I am concerned that many medical and “alternative” doctors are pushing exogenous hormones without understanding the very serious repercussions that may result. This is being done without addressing the core reasons for premature aging, impaired health and the causal factors needing to be addressed.

I am concerned that many medical and “alternative” doctors are pushing exogenous hormones without understanding the serious repercussions that may result. This is being done without addressing the core reasons for premature aging, impaired health and the causal factors needing to be addressed.

At The Goldberg Clinic we contend that the deluge of hormone based creams, injections and pills being readily taken by an age fearing public consumed with wrinkles, age spots, erectile dysfunction, lack of sex drive and other associated signs of aging, pose potentially serious negative effects to an unsuspecting public clamoring for a quick fix.

Four decades of focusing on patients with chronic disease conditions has made me aware of the numerous factors behind chronic health problems and premature aging. It is of importance that these factors be addressed as opposed to simply applying medical treatments carrying with them potentially harmful side effects. Are we looking to market quick fixes that pose potential health risks to patients or take the time and make the effort to understand and address the causes of our declining health? To put it another we go for the illusionary magic or for the real?

Is Aging Something to be Treated?

Aging is a natural process… not a disease to be treated. Taking hormones of any type can be hazardous to your health by throwing the endocrine system in disarray, whether they be standard or “Bio-identical Hormones,” an enticing but deceptive name. A hormone is a hormone and assuming that tossing hormones into our bodies will restore youthfulness can open a pandora’s box of ill effects.

Repeatedly we have seen women and men with chronic complaints including fatigue, lack of sex drive, aches and pains, depression, etc. and found their histories to include having gone to so called “Functional, Integrative, Alternative, Naturopathic, Complimentary, Holistic” Practitioners or so called “Progressive Medical Centers” and received hormone creams, pellets or injections only to discover that within a short time not only do their symptoms get worse but that others appear as a result of the disarray the exogenous hormones throw their bodies into. See video interview to the right in which a patient discusses some of the problems she experienced taking Bio-Identical Hormones.

Some side effects we have seen patients develop from taking hormones include the patient’s glands decreasing or even halting production of their own hormones resulting in an amplification of the symptoms they started with. In the case of female hormone administration, a greater propensity towards the development of estrogen dependent cancers including breast, ovarian, uterine, and cervical cancer can occur. Taking hormones can present a threat to our well being whether they are called "Bio-identical" or not! 

When we test estrogen derivative ratios (which we often suggest for women), we find that those women with a history of taking Bio-identical Hormones tend to have significantly increased imbalances contributing to the potential development of an estrogen dependent cancer.

Men taking testosterone rarely achieve the results they seek (despite slickly produced advertised claims to the contrary) and often experience side effects, including not addressing the causes of the low testosterone levels. When testosterone or other hormone levels are low, the overall health needs to be looked at carefully and the causes for poor health identified and addressed. When we have the opportunity to do this and the patient follows through, hormone levels tend to normalize, blood sugar levels improve, weight balances, depression lifts, vitality soars and the patient’s appearance looks dramatically younger and fresher…all this in our clinic assessed and documented by both laboratory evaluation and patient reports. (see video interviews to the right)

Our method? An evaluation including an extensive case history looking at all aspects of a patient’s health, a physical examination and appropriate standard and functional laboratory analysis to determine individual needs followed by guidance and monitoring as the patient puts their plan into action. Causes Identified, Causes Addressed…Health Restored. Going for the real rather than quick and dangerous “treatment” fixes. Is there effort on the part of the patient involved? Of course...but the long lasting results are well worth it.

Keeping on top of our hormones and taking appropriate steps as we age to keep them balanced and retard the aging process requires addressing individual factors that influence health rather than fixes and fads. Reasonable methods of health evaluation and sensible ways to address hormone levels that have become imbalanced due to aging, stress, chronic illness or improper use of hormones and other drugs are available. Improve and protect your health by identifying and addressing causal factors and then taking the appropriate steps to achieve a high state of vitality.

The Goldberg Clinic