Numerous medical publications from around the world containing conflicting findings relating to menopause have entered the public arena this week causing ever increasing confusion about treatment options and long-term health prospects. With muddled messages in the news, it’s understandable that women, as well as their health care providers, are feeling utterly bewildered. No one seems to be interpreting the science providing clear understanding what the research really means to a woman going through the menopause.
HRT or not HRT?
The United States Preventive Services Task Force, in their latest draft recommendations, have given HRT a D Notice which means they are voting against the use of HRT as a treatment for women going through the menopause. Imagine how many other experts are leaping up and down accusing them of misconstruing the research.
HRT might be a small term but it certainly is a huge subject surrounded by uncertainty and even fear about long-term health outcomes. It comes in so many forms, some of which are thought to be safe in at least the short term, but some have caused the FDA in the USA to order the manufacturing companies to remove their products from the market.
Apart from the usual concern about the increased risk of breast cancer, heart disease and stroke with HRT which is enough to deter many women, this week saw a study published in the Pharmaceutical Journal concluded that later menopause and long-term use of HRT is linked to a higher risk of hearing loss.
A study published in the Cleveland Clinical Journal of Medicine reported that oestrogen deficiency may be the cause of periodontal disease in menopause and post-menopausal women. This sounds as if they are inferring that all women should be taking hormone replacement therapy to prevent gum disease at the time of the menopause and beyond once their oestrogen levels have fallen. What the research fails to explain is that oestrogen levels can be topped up naturally by consuming plant substances that mimic oestrogen. Mother Nature provides us with foods rich in plant oestrogen allowing us to continue with circulating oestrogen in our system way after the menopause but as most women and even fewer doctors know much about this new research is likely to deliver more problems than solutions.
Phytoestrogen rich alternatives
Another study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition this week found that dairy products rich in calcium and vitamin D could help prevent early menopause. They specifically mentioned they didn’t get the same result with supplements containing vitamin D and calcium but didn’t mention any other nutrient dense foods or drinks inferring that we have to consume dairy products in order to get these nutrients. They failed to explain that correcting levels of calcium and vitamin D, likely to have a normalising effect on hormone function, can be achieved by consuming many foods or drinks that contain these important nutrients. This includes phytoestrogen rich soya milk which is usually fortified to contain similar amounts of calcium and Vitamin D as dairy milk. We could be forgiven for thinking that this particular study could have been funded by the dairy industry.
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If you feel completely confused it's hardly surprising. Hopefully, in the coming weeks and months, we will get to ask some of the researchers more about their work during interviews I intend to conduct to get some clarity. In the meantime, join me in my group Facebook Group Natural Menopause Making the Midlife Switch as I'm focussing on interpreting the science and providing tips and advice about how to cruise through menopause naturally based on the programme pioneered by the Natural Health Advisory Service which has been helping menopause women to overcome their symptoms naturally for over 25 years