What is Progesterone? Do women need progesterone after a hysterectomy? Does it cause cancer as some have been told? Does it disrupt the thyroid as some also have been told? What is truth? What is fiction? What does the evidence show?
Let’s work through some of these questions systematically.
What is Progesterone?
Progesterone is the hormone a woman’s body produces after ovulation each month. It balances the effect of estrogen in the uterus and throughout the body. When everything is working well in your body, estrogen and progesterone balance each other to create a normal menstrual cycle. However, when progesterone levels fall and estrogen dominates, a woman can experience heavy bleeding, irregular cycles, PMS, weight gain…
Some folks would have you believe that synthetic progestins (especially Provera) are identical to progesterone. This just isn’t true. They are not similar in http://ww5.komen.org/, structure, or function. Progestins and progesterone do both protect of the lining of the uterus from excess estrogen. But that is where the similarities stop!
Race for the Cure… and a Better Understanding of Women’s Health
Breast cancer research has received a lot of attention lately through wonderful campaigns like Race for the Cure, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and similar efforts. All of this research has given us some wonderful insights into women’s health in general. Specifically, the research has revealed clear distinctions between bio-identical progesterone and synthetic progestins.
Numerous large studies have shown that synthetic progestins, such as Provera, increase a woman’s risk of breast cancer. In contrast, bio-identical progesterone can reduce a woman’s risk of breast cancer. This has been clearly tested and consistently confirmed. In fact, just having low progesterone levels makes a woman 5.4 times more likely to get premenopausal breast cancer. Even worse, such women are significantly less likely to survive a fight with breast cancer.
As a doctor, I am horrified by these statistics, and I want to help—through my own practice and through an attempt with many other doctors to educate women.
As a scientist, I am amazed that something as simple as progesterone deficiency results in a higher breast cancer risk.
Still Not Convinced?
Here’s a quick summary of the down and dirty science. Estrogen is a powerful stimulant to breast cell growth. (Remember, cancer is unregulated cell growth). When researchers added synthetic progestin, the growth of breast cells increased significantly. In contrast, when researchers added progesterone, breast cell growth decreased by 400%.
And here’s what that means. A woman’s body needs progesterone even after a hysterectomy. Progesterone doesn’t cause cancer—in fact, the opposite is true! Finally, a woman’s thyroid is not disrupted by progesterone—again, the opposite is true!
Progesterone is safe. Women’s bodies produce it for a reason. They need it.