Estrogen : The Facts Can Change Your Life

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9780060926021: Estrogen : The Facts Can Change Your Life

Highlighting new, groundbreaking discoveries in hormone replacement therapy's benefits, the nation's foremost authority offers a complete examination of this popular treatment used to counter the negative effects of menopause.

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About the Author:

Lila E. Nachtigall, M.D., is professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at New York University School of Medicine and director of the Women's Wellness Center at NYU Medical Center. She has worked in the field of clinical research on HRT for the last thirty years.

Joan Rattner Heilman is a highly respected health writer, with more than a dozen books and hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles to her credit. She is the former women's editor of a national magazine.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Estrogen: Should You or Shouldn't You?

If you're confused about taking estrogen after menopause, wondering if you really need it or whether it's safe, you are certainly not alone. Hormone replacement confuses many women today and it even confounds many physicians.

Can most of the minor discomforts and major health problems of menopause be blamed on a lack of estrogen? Is hormone replacement therapy the most effective way to protect your bones from the ravages of osteoporosis? Is it the only way to preserve your sex life? Can it keep your arteries younger and healthier? Do women who use it live significantly longer than those who don't? Does it banish unrelenting urinary and vaginal infections? Will it keep your skin younger and firmer? Is it the best method of eliminating hot flashes, insomnia, strange skin sensations, and the other uncomfortable menopausal symptoms?

Even if the answer to all these questions is yes--which it is--is it worth it? Is it safe? Won't it cause cancer or other dire diseases? Should you take drugs that aren't absolutely necessary? Can you get along without it? In other words, should you take estrogen or shouldn't you?

In this book, we are going to give you the last word, the most current scientific information available about hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and what it can and cannot do for you. You'll learn about its benefits, its side effects, and its potential problems. You'll know the trade-offs if you decide against it and all the available alternatives, natural and otherwise, to HRT. And, most important, you will learn the facts about menopause and what happens to your body when you lose the primary source of your female hormones.

When you know all the facts, you can make your own informed decision about whether it is right for you and whether you want to take it.

Taking Estrogen Safely

This book will tell you exactly how to take estrogen--if you need it and want it--so you need not worry about your future health. HRT has radically changed in the last few years. It is safe today. In fact, it is better than safe. Taking estrogen correctly--combined with progesterone, the second major female hormone--will not increase your chances of uterine cancer. Instead it will help protect you against it. It will cut your risk of heart disease in half and prevent osteoporosis, the brittle bones disease. And, according to the foremost experts in the field, it will not put you at higher risk of developing breast cancer.

Who Is Telling You This?

As a physician, I see thousands of menopausal women, as well as younger women with hormonal problems, every year. As a scientist, I have been involved in the research behind virtually every new development in hormone replacement therapy over the last three decades.

I am a reproductive endocrinologist, a specialist in female hormones. I am also professor of obstetrics and gynecology at New York University Medical Center, one of the most prestigious medical centers in the world, as well as the director of the NYU Medical Center Women's Wellness program. For 25 years, I was director of gynecologic endocrinology at New York's Goldwater Memorial Hospital where I headed the team that made the first long-term prospective study of the effects of HRT on women's health.

All this does not mean that I know everything about estrogen, but it does mean I probably know everything there is to know about it at this writing. That knowledge is what I and my co-author, a respected health writer, are going to share with you.

First, a disclaimer: We are under no obligation to any pharmaceutical company and have no financial interest in any product. Therefore, the information here is as scientifically honest and unbiased as we can possibly make it.

Fear of Estrogen: Is It Valid?

Both physicians and women come to me, as a specialist in female hormones, for information about menopause and estrogen. Not a day goes by that I am not asked at least five times for my position on replacement therapy.

I see women every week who are desperate and miserable because of menopausal symptoms and physical changes so uncomfortable that they can't function normally. But their friends and relations warn them to beware of estrogen--"You'll get cancer!"--and even their doctors often don't have the answers to their questions.

When Anne G. first came to me about six months after she stopped having periods, she was having 30 to 40 drenching hot flashes every day and night. She had severe insomnia, never got a good night's sleep. She suffered from alarming palpitations. And because she had menopause early, at 41, and had a small frame, she was a prime candidate for developing osteoporosis. She was also more likely to develop coronary artery disease and to lose her ability to have normal sexual intercourse by 55 or 60 because it would have become too painful.

But she was terrified of estrogen. "Oh no," she protested, "I wouldn't take that. It gives you cancer."

What she didn't know was that if she took estrogen correctly, she was less likely to get cancer than before. The incidence of uterine cancer is significantly lower among women on HRT, while the incidence of breast cancer is not affected one way or the other. What's more, according to a new study from the American Cancer Society, the risk of fatal colon cancer is also decreased among women who take HRT.

On the average, women on HRT tend to live significantly longer than other women. They have stronger bones. And they have healthier arteries, lower LDL cholesterol levels, higher HDL, and fewer heart attacks or strokes. They may even have an increased ability to dissolve potentially dangerous blood clots.

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