Benefits of HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy)

In 1990, there was a landmark article published by Dr. Daniel Rudman in the New England Journal of Medicine. He and others showed that hormone deficiency was in part responsible for increased body fat, decreased muscle, decreased strength, decreased bone and skin thickness. Replacement of hormones resulted in overwhelming improvement in signs and symptoms of getting old. The findings of this famous study were consistent with the hypothesis that it was the deficiency of a hormone that contributed to the age-related changes. Many studies have since shown the same clinical utility of hormone replacement to effect clinical improvement in many of the signs and symptoms we encounter with aging.

Investigators are now combining various hormones and are seeing even more improvement. Dr. Mark Blackman, an endocrinologist from John Hopkins, recently published his findings in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. In this five-year study, he combines testosterone, estrogen and progesterone. Although there were different arms within the study, all men and women benefited from hormones, while those not on hormones did not. This investigator discovered again that the deficiency of hormones leads to symptoms and illness that were improved and prevented by hormones. Improvements seen were:

  1. Increased breakdown of fat, weight loss and reduced body fat.
  2. Decreased incidence of heart disease and atherosclerotic plaque.
  3. Increased energy and exercise capacity.
  4. Improved vitality and quality of life.
  5. Increased strength, endurance and muscle tone.
  6. Improvement in hair, skin and nails.
  7. Improved sleep and well-being.
  8. Reduced levels of cholesterol and triglycerides.
  9. Less incidence of heart disease and diabetes.
  10. No increase in cancer was seen with any hormone.
  11. Progesterone decreases the incidence of breast cancer.

All hormones showed beneficial health effects, improvement in body composition, lipid profiles, cardiovascular risk factors, and increase in muscle strength and fitness. What is difficult to understand is why this article did not make national headlines? It can be concluded from this and other studies that hormone supplementation can reduce the incidence of major illness and thereby prolong life. It is not only the longevity that is important, but more so the quality of life, free of illness and disability. It should be every physician’s goal to extend the health and vigor of our middle-aged years into the latter years. The research and science is there. Physicians just need to learn to apply it. HRT is the ultimate of preventive medicine.

Hormone deficiency is responsible for many of the symptoms that occur as we get older. Hormone deficiency is a relatively simple malady to treat. Severe deficiency over prolonged periods might result in illness, physical impairment, disability and increased morbidity and mortality. Despite this evidence, patients are being seriously undertreated or ignored. Barriers to treatment can be addressed by educational programs aimed at increasing awareness and knowledge about natural hormone replacement therapy and its effectiveness.  In spite of effective treatments being available, most individuals go without treatment. It is disturbing that the medical research papers and advances in diagnosing and treating hormone deficiencies has not revolutionized treatment practice. I frequently lecture to medical specialty academies to introduce the concept and the medical basis for such therapy. Optimal hormone therapy can help improve the outcome of treatments for many medical specialties. It might take years for medical school curriculum to teach this information and even longer for it to become the standard of care.

The benefits of HRT are dramatically enhanced with exercise. Hormone replacement along with a strength training program greatly enhances exercise tolerance, muscle strength, endurance and prevents fatigue. Exercise enhances our sense of well-being, decreases weight and helps lower cholesterol. Many people complain that they see no weight loss, strength improvement, fat reduction or better endurance in spite of consistent exercise. This is frustrating for them. However, when hormones are added to the formula improvements are seen. Hormone replacement also assists one in gaining the energy and desire to exercise.

The basics for optimal health and longevity are proper diet, exercise, nutritional supplementation and natural hormone replacement. HRT slows cellular degeneration and allows improved function and healing. This results in less disease and illness, a slowing of the aging process and a better quality of life. The scientific research has been impressive, the results dramatic, the public demand incredible. Don’t be without it!