Women can’t rely on using supplements alone after age 40 to prevent Osteoporosis, testosterone and estradiol are also needed.
Osteoporosis is a side effect of aging and is one of the diseases that affects aging women more than aging men. Osteoporosis can lead to fractures of fragile bones, spinal stenosis, chronic back pain, and inability to walk or take care of ones-self. In the aging population it is one of the diseases that leads to women being admitted to nursing homes.
The disease occurs in women more than men for two reasons. Bone thickness is stimulated by the hormones estradiol and testosterone, and testosterone builds bone better than estradiol. Men have ten times as much of it than women! Therefore, men have stronger bones to begin with, before their testosterone starts to drop, and men never totally lose testosterone like women do! The second reason is that women lose both testosterone and estradiol earlier and more completely than men lose testosterone, so their bones start to thin over a decade before men. Osteoporosis is a women’s disease and the cause of many women’s deaths.
A bit about how bones grow: Your bones are dynamic and always growing and breaking down. When we are young our bones grow at a much more rapid rate than they break down. They are under the stimulation of growth hormone and low doses of sex hormones as well. After age 40 the breakdown process occurs at a faster rate than the building of bone unless testosterone and estradiol are replaced. I bet you thought your bones stopped growing when you reached your adult height, and were static…doing nothing until they started to dissolve?
When I went to medical school, (late 1970s) we knew that hormone loss was the cause of osteoporosis, but it was not such an epidemic as it is today. In the 70’s, women were routinely given estrogens when they went through menopause and stayed on them for years, which counteracted their loss of bone. Result? No osteoporosis!
We didn’t even need to look for a solution for osteoporosis because women didn’t get it! The reason the use of estrogens ended was that they were given without progesterone, and some women got uterine cancer from un-opposed estrogen. It is a generally a very treatable cancer, but the use of estrogen was banned because like all governmental medical decisions, the US government overreacted to a small subset of women getting uterine cancer instead of looking for a way to give estradiol safely. The resultant ban of the use of estrogen resulted in a current epidemic of osteoporosis.
In the 1990’s the people that control medicine in the US realized the danger of osteoporosis to women and the drug companies created drugs to treat it! Instead of using the best treatment for osteoporosis, estrogen and now we know testosterone, they reinvented the wheel and created bisphosphonates, Fosamax an Alendronate. These drugs have many side effects, but we have found over time that the only thing that these drugs do for bones is to make them look denser on Xray, but they are NOT stronger! What a mess! This disease is very slow to cause fractures therefore finding out that bisphosphonates don’t work to prevent fractures! The drugs however did make billions of dollars for the pharmaceutical companies!
Now we are in another century, and we have discovered that treating women with Estradiol and testosterone is the best treatment to prevent fracture! An old trick that should have been found decades ago and saved many lives. My patients can improve their bone density in 2-3 years on E2+ T pellets, from osteopenia (mild thinning of the bones) to normal. It takes a little longer with patients who have overt osteoporosis, but it works.
Some patients depend on Vitamin D3 and Vitamin K2 to treat their osteoporosis after menopause. That is really just fooling yourself! These two nutrients are necessary for bone growth and should be taken with the two hormones, but after menopause without hormones, they don’t make bone. It is like putting plant food in the potted plant and putting the plant in the closet. Hormones are the sun that make bones grow. I know about this problem intimately because my mother the herbalist refused to take estradiol after menopause. She literally died in excruciating pain because her vertebrae collapsed and there was no bone left to repair her. She had to wait for death in hospice because her bones had dissolved.
So, what if you are under the delusion that because you have dark eyes, dark skin, and dark hair you have great bones? Nope….your coloring doesn’t necessarily determine your bone density!
My mother had osteoporosis and was blond with blue eyes, however I look like my dad but have my mom’s bones! Add Lupron for endometriosis, too many diet cokes, and no Vitamin D3 in my diet and you get Osteoporosis in my 40s! At age 47 I was treated with T and E2 pellets and two years after that my hormones built my bones back to normal density! I knew bisphosphonates didn’t work so I never would have taken them…I also didn’t prescribe them unless I couldn’t treat a patient with anything else!
So, if you think that you can use supplements to build bone after age 40, or that you are immune because of what you look like, or your heritage, think again. The only guarantee to prevent osteoporosis and dying like my mom or of a broken hip is to replace the hormones that you had when you were young!
This Health cast was written and presented by Dr. Kathy Maupin, M.D., Bio-identical Hormone Replacement Expert and Author. www.BioBalanceHealth.com (314) 993-0963
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