Controversy years ago over hormone replacement therapy after menopause, caused many women to stop taking their hormones.
And that's when dermatologist began seeing women's skin become dry, wrinkled and thin, fast.
But now the latest studies are changing the minds for doctors about how important "body identical" non-oral hormones are for health and beauty, head to toe, especially with the skin.
Celebrity Suzanne Somers, 65, long ago told her fans her secret to anti-aging. "I call it restoration verses deterioration. Put back what we lost in the aging process which happens earlier and earlier," said Somers about being on hormone therapy after menopause.
Doctors agree. Youthful, feminine skin starts with the hormone girls' ovaries have been producing their entire lives, estrogen.
"It was no mystery to dermatologists. We know for a very long time that estrogens are very good for the aging of the skin. It prevents it. It helps reverse it," explained New Orleans dermatologist Dr. Mary Lupo.
But for the first time in human history, women are living half of their lives after menopause, that's when the ovaries stop making three hormones important to every cell in the body, estrogen, progesterone, and yes the male hormone, testosterone. Dermatologists see the dramatic side effects of women not on HRT.
"Certainly estrogen is very important as your skin ages. We know that post menopausally when women's estrogen drops out, that they begin to break down collagen at a fairly rapid rate of about two percent per year. We also know that if you go back with hormone replacement or supplement that estrogen, that that collagen breakdown diminishes," said Metairie dermatologist Dr. Patricia Farris, who is the national spokeswomen for the American Academy of Dermatology.
Top doctors in menopause management worldwide, such as Dr. John Studd, are writing extensively why, in general, females need their hormones from the womb to the tomb.
"I'm a big proponent of all over estrogen because you get benefits," said Dr. Shane French, an obstetrician and gynecologist at Ochsner.
Studies published by the International and European Menopause Societies find post menopausal women on hormones: have less heart disease, strokes, new diabetes, better metabolism, some lose weight and the mannish looking upper body and belly fat returning to a more feminine hour glass shape, fewer bone fractures, less breast cancer, colon cancer, dementia, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, better immune systems, fewer migraines, better sex drive, sex without pain from vaginal dryness and atrophy, better moods, fewer urinary tract infections and live longer with a 40 percent reduction in dying early from any cause.
Current science suggests the one-size-fits-all oral hormones used in older studies, break up in the liver and don't get to the blood stream, so don't give the benefit body identical hormones do. Those are custom dosed for you through implanting tiny pellets under the skin, by using patches on the skin, through injections and through gels and creams. Renown menopause doctors such as Dr. Studd and Dr. Hermann P. G. Schneider, now criticize past oral hormone studies such as the Women's Health Initiative.
"The media is causing a lot of this fear and women produce estrogen their entire lives, especially when they are young, they produce massive amounts of estrogen that we know is good for so many different things in your body," said Ochsner obstetrician and gynecologist Dr. Shane French. "There is a minimal, in some studies, minimal increased risk of breast cancer associated with estrogen therapy on a long term basis, but there are also studies that show it actually helps with breast cancer as far as preventing it."
There are well known doctors, such as Dr. Barry Wren, and even local oncologists, who say estrogen does not cause breast cancer. It can make an estrogen positive breast cancer grow, and show up sooner so it can be treated sooner. Doctors give those women testosterone replacement alone for skin, body and quality of life benefits.
Seven years ago, Wrinkle Free Friday showed how using vaginal estrogen cream on the face, plumped and thickened the skin, reducing wrinkles, tearing and bruising. Those prescription creams, Estrace and Premarin, can be used on the face with your doctor's approval since some will absorb into your blood stream.
And now women have another option. Sisters, Kentucky gynecologist and hormonal wellness expert Dr. Rebecca Booth and Cecil Booth of Chicago, a veteran in the beauty industry, have a non-prescription plant estrogen solution called VENeffect.
"The phytoestrogens are naturally anti-inflammatory. They are antioxidants. They come from some of the healthiest foods that you eat so they are generally thought of as little miracle ingredients." said Cecil Booth, a co-founder of VENeffect.
"This is a higher platform to raise awareness through something that is safe and effective and an easy way to help give women understanding that hormones are not their enemy," explained Dr. Booth who is also a co-founder of VENeffect.
In Dr. Booth's book, The Venus Week, she explains where right before ovulation in young women, estrogen soars up creating the most attractive skin and waistline, high energy and mood, a sharper brain and decreased appetite. She says there are more estrogen receptors in the facial skin than on breast and thigh skin.
"There are actually more estrogen receptors in the dermis and epidermis of the human face than the skin of the human breast and that's simply because mother nature again wants us to reflect our esthetic in our face and so much of the esthetic is wrapped around fertility. So a women actually does receive that gift of a glow when she receives that Venus week," explained Dr. Booth.
The Booth sisters say VENeffect can be used from the late 20's on through menopausal years. They say studies and tests on their patients with VENeffect show it works and it's safe. But other hormone doctors say plant estrogen is not near as effective as human estrogen in prescription creams. The Booths counter that saying unlike the prescription creams, their plant based estrogen cream brightens the skin, hitting receptors in two layers and can be used by all women.
So while there will always be disagreement about hormones among doctors, mother nature makes it clear. Estrogen is anti-aging.
"Not just on your face. It's the skin on your hands. It's the skin on your feet. It's the skin on areas that we can't talk about on TV, " said Dr. French.
Dermatologists say estrogen creams are not a substitute for the number one wrinkle fighter, prescription retinods such as Retin-A, Renova, Tazorac, Differin and other Rx brands. But they say the topical treatments can be used together.
Dr. Patricia Farris is no relation to Medical Reporter Meg Farris. The doctors in the story are board certified in either dermatology or obstetrics and gynecology. Menopause expert, Ochsner OB-GYN Dr. Charles Farris Junior was consulted for this story. He is the father of Medical Reporter Meg Farris.
Free talk on hormones:
Women’s Health Topics to be discussed:
• Is Hormone Replacement Therapy For Me?
• Changing Seasons, Managing Pre-Menopause
• New Age of GYN Surgery
• Importance of Paps & Preventing Cervical Cancer
Ochsner Baptist Physician Speakers include: Dr. Jennifer Brunet, Dr. Charles Farris Junior, Dr. Elizabeth Shane French, Dr. Jody Morris.
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Refreshments served at 6:30 p.m. / Program starts at 7 p.m. / FREE ADMISSION
Junior League of New Orleans Headquarters
4319 Carondelet Street
New Orleans, LA 70115
To reserve your spot, or for more information, call 504-842-9885.