Natural health researchers and providers in the US have expressed their concern over the results of a recent study on hormone replacement therapy. They are urging women to look for safe, natural alternatives to HRT.
The HERS study, sponsored by pharmaceutical company Wyeth Ayerst, was carried out by the Stanford University School of Medicine and involved nearly 2,800 women with heart disease who were checked on for three years.
Participants in the study were randomly assigned to receive the oestrogen-progestin supplement Prempro for three years or a placebo. Prempro is made by Wyeth-Ayerst. The study demonstrated there was no measurable protective effect against heart attacks or mortality due to heart disease or overall positive changes to quality of life.
Hormone replacement therapy was once seen as a wonder treatment for women aged 50 and over suffering from menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, mood swings, vaginal dryness, lowered libido and trouble sleeping. But the results of the study have "considerably weakened the case for standard HRT in favour of natural non-drug alternatives", according to naturopathic physician Alyssa DiRienzo.
"We are not surprised at these findings," said Betty Kamen, author of the book Hormone Replacement Therapy, Yes or No? "We have been advocating alternatives to conventional HRT for many years, favouring treatments based on natural progesterone or its vegetable-derived precursors.
"Among other problems with the standard regimen is that the progestin component of the oestrogen/progestin mix used in the HERS study is not the same as natural progesterone. Progesterone is the key hormone to replace and this can be accomplished through natural metabolic pathways that remain viable in most women well past menopause. What is needed is the right mix of precursors, and these can be obtained from certain plants."
Impax Therapy makes PrimeTime Rx, a low dose transdermal natural progesterone cream with female specific herbs that are said to support a women's natural hormone balance without the negative side effects associated with conventional HRT.
Robert Rudelic, independent researcher and president of Impax, said: "We are very concerned with the results of the study. The HRT group had significantly higher rates of bile duct surgery and urinary incontinence, and slightly higher overall mortality (92 deaths for HRT versus 76 for placebo).
"The researchers' statistical analysis indicate that the chances of the increased overall mortality (being purely random) are only about one in five. After studying these results, I believe that an important question needs to be asked - does HRT hasten death?"