One of the most controversial subjects in the medical world today is hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for women going through menopause. Many doctors bitterly oppose synthetic HRT in favor of bio-identical hormones. Others note that bio-identical hormone use hasn’t been around long enough to know if it’s safe.

Keep in mind that there is a physiological reason for hormone levels to drop when you get older. As the body ages, it was not meant to be exposed to high levels of certain hormones. Therefore, any form of hormone replacement – through pills, creams, or shots and whether synthetic or bio-identical – is not something the aging human body is genetically adapted to.

Every woman has to decide for herself whether the benefits – relief of menopausal symptoms and the potential reduction of osteoporosis – outweigh the increased risk of cancer, heart attack, stroke, and other serious conditions.

If you must use hormone replacement to relieve your menopausal symptoms (or because of other health issues you may have), use the lowest dosage that works and for the shortest period of time. And be aware that there are plenty of natural, proven methods for limiting your risks of age-related disease.

Exercise, weight training, calcium, and vitamin D are a few good options for reducing the risk of osteoporosis. The risk of heart disease, stroke, and mental decline can be reduced through diet, exercise, lowering stress , yoga, deep sleep, and by taking certain natural herbs and supplements.

Humans have lived on this planet for a long, long time – but only in the last few decades have doctors been prescribing hormone replacement therapy to a large number of women. If, a decade or two from now, research shows bio-identical hormone use to be safe, I will wholeheartedly promote it. Until then, women who are using these hormones, particularly in high dosages and for prolonged periods, are taking a gamble.

Does HRT increase or decrease mortality? The answer is not yet in.

[Ed. Note: For more on HRT – and dozens of nutritional supplements – visit the natural healing website of Ray Sahelian, MD, at www.raysahelian.com.]

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