In search of ‘natural’ hormone replacement therapy

Drs. Tristi Muir and Catherine Hansen

Drs. Tristi Muir and Catherine Hansen

Our Bodies, Our Lives

For women going through menopause, current popular advice about the safety of different kinds of hormone replacement therapies can be confusing.

It’s important that every woman trying to make a decision about hormone replacement find a knowledgeable health-care provider with whom to discuss this important issue.

Your menopause is yours. Don’t let entrepreneurs and celebrities determine what you put into or onto your body.

Historically, women have used hormonal therapies long before they even lived long enough to experience menopause. Thinking that it would promote youthfulness and vigor, women used preparations made from female or male urine, crushed tissue or fluid from animal ovaries.

Eventually, commercial preparations became available. The first “bio-identical” hormone, extracted from the urine of pregnant women, was discovered in 1928 by a German chemist, earning him a Nobel Prize. Mass production of hormone medication made from the urine of pregnant mares began in 1942.

Major advancements in hormone production began in the 1950s and 60s, culminating in a new treatment for menopause symptoms — estrogen replacement therapy. Continue reading

Develop a personal plan if still fatigued

Dr. Victor Sierpina

Dr. Victor Sierpina

I took a look at the common medical complaint of fatigue in last week’s column.

Frequent causes of chronic fatigue are poor sleep hygiene, lack of exercise, depression, boredom and lack of motivation.

To those, I would add poor nutrition. Without the essential energy provided by a healthful diet, the body’s cells can’t get the fuel they need to function optimally, resulting in just feeling tired a lot.

Eating sugary, highly refined carbohydrates and saturated fats might give you an energy burst, but it is like a rocket going up, then quickly falling down like a stick.

Without sustained energy provided by whole grains, lean proteins, fruits, vegetables and healthy fats, the body is quickly starved of reliable, steady sources of energy.

It is like a fuel pump in your car that is partially blocked or works on and off. It is hard to get much distance without the right amount or kind of fuel.

If you suffer from chronic fatigue and it doesn’t seem to be from any clear cause, you definitely need to have your physician do a comprehensive history and physical examination including blood work plus other tests as needed.

Fatigue can come from multiple causes and as a result of problems with any organ system. Continue reading

For some men, it’s “T” time – test or no test. Dr. Baillargeon explains.

Prescriptions for testosterone therapy have increased significantly during the last 10 years, according to a study in the current issue of JAMA Internal Medicine conducted by researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch.

About 50 percent of the men in the study who had received testosterone therapy had been diagnosed as having hypogonadism, a condition where a man is unable to produce the normal levels of testosterone.

But the study also found that, among new users of a prescription androgen product, about 25 percent did not have their testosterone levels tested before starting the treatment.  In addition, it’s unclear what proportion of the 75 percent who were tested had a low level of testosterone.

Dr. Jacques Baillargeon, lead author of the study and an associate professor in preventive medicine and community health at UTMB, said that he believes this is the first national population-based study of testosterone-prescribing patterns.  

(See video of Dr. Baillargeon explaining main findings of the study) Continue reading

One-Third of Women Undergo Unnecessary Breast Biopsy Surgery

By Molly Dannenmaier | UTMB at Galveston

MINIMUM INTRUSION, MAXIMUM RESULTS— Jennifer Thomas, a mammographer at The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, shows the needle used to extract breast tissue in minimally invasive breast biopsies.

MINIMUM INTRUSION, MAXIMUM RESULTS—
Jennifer Thomas, a mammographer at The
University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston,
shows the needle used to extract breast tissue in
minimally invasive breast biopsies.

Roughly a third of Texas women with a breast lump end up having an old-fashioned surgical biopsy to determine whether the lump is cancerous.

Yet since 2001, the American Society of Breast Surgeons, the American College of Radiology, and the National Cancer Center Network have recommended nonsurgical, minimally invasive biopsies as the first course of action for women with breast lumps or masses. These less invasive methods of sampling breast tissue provide results that are as accurate as surgical biopsies, the organizations say.

“We need to get the word out to women across the state that surgery is not the procedure of choice for definitive diagnosis of a breast mass,” said Taylor Riall, M.D., associate professor of surgery at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston.

Riall is a lead investigator of new research performed by UTMB researchers and published in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons, which reveals that despite national recommendations, invasive and expensive surgical breast biopsies were the first diagnostic step for 35 percent of Texas women diagnosed with a breast mass between 2000 and 2008. The findings were based on an exhaustive analysis of Texas Medicare data during that six-year period which gleaned information on a total of 87,000 breast biopsies. Continue reading