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Hormone therapy for anti-aging starts with clearing misconceptions

Article-Hormone therapy for anti-aging starts with clearing misconceptions

Key iconKey Points

  • Research in recent years has shed new light on the role of hormones in cellular aging.
  • As natural an approach as hormone therapy may seem in the treatment and/or prevention of diseases of aging, it's a delicate balancing act and still shrouded in mystery, misinformation and prejudice for many.

Searching for the Fountain of Youth is an age-old quest, and the desire to slow or reverse the effects of aging remains alive and well today. Technical and medical advances have provided new treatments and procedures to address the results of aging. Now, research is equipping physicians with insights on innate biological factors to delay or prevent aging at the cellular level.

Dr. Kane
In specific, considerable research in recent years has shed new light on the role hormones play in cellular aging. This has yielded insights into the potential of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or enhancement in the treatment of diseases of aging — including HRT's possible aesthetic indications. It seems a sensible, noninvasive, natural approach: simply replace or support what's already innate to the body and biological processes. But, like so much in patient treatment, it's not that simple.

Dean P. Kane, M.D., F.A.C.S., board-certified plastic surgeon, head of the Center for Anti-Aging Medicine and Cosmetic Surgery in Baltimore, and a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, keeps his finger on the pulse of the evolving understanding about how hormones influence aging.

"In order to achieve a greater longevity, we will need to conquer the gene and modulate potential disease or modify mutations which cause diseases that shorten life," he tells Cosmetic Surgery Times.

"In the middle — between prevention and longevity — is stimulation of the current gene to optimize health to that of the physiology of a healthy 30-year-old. Currently, this [optimal state can be achieved] with cell mediators or hormones."

As natural and beautiful an approach as hormone therapy may seem in the treatment and/or prevention of diseases of aging, the experts CST spoke with emphasize that it's a delicate balancing act still somewhat shrouded in mystery, misinformation and prejudice for many — lay-people and physicians alike.


Neal Rouzier, M.D., medical director of the Preventive Medicine Clinics of the Desert, Palm Springs, Calif., who has done extensive study of hormone replacement and balancing, says that he tells his patients, "Hormones are not drugs. Hormones are natural substances which function as messengers to stimulate cells to heal, reproduce and rejuvenate. Disease and symptoms of aging occur when hormone levels decline."

Dr. Rouzier, a board-certified emergency room physician, specializes in bio-identical hormone replacement therapy — a subject he believes is widely misunderstood — beginning with the definition of the nature of bio-identical hormones.

"A bio-identical hormone has the same molecular structure that is normally found in the body," he explains. "The word 'synthetic' is used to describe a chemically-altered or chemically-different hormone that's normally not found in the body."

Dr. Rouzier notes that most of the studies that have been published in the last several years — many of which have generated negative publicity regarding HRT — have been conducted using the synthetic, chemically-altered hormones, such as Premarin (conjugated estrogens) and Provera (medroxyprogesterone acetate).

"Most of those studies have shown those hormones to be harmful, and as a result, many women now run from hormones, and hormone replacement has gotten a bad name."

Dr. Rouzier believes that this negative reputation is an unfortunate — and undeserved — consequence of great misunderstanding and misinformation regarding bio-identical hormones. One factor, he says, is disequilibrium in reporting study results.

"Very often-ignored studies that compare the bio-identical and synthetic hormones have shown that the synthetic hormones cause harm and damage and the bio-identicals do not," he explains.

To illustrate this, he cites, "A recent French study that proved that Premarin and Provera increase risk of breast cancer, whereas utilizing natural progesterone reduced the incidence of breast cancer."1

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