Just How Safe are Bioidentical Hormones?

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07/26/2013
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Interviewer: How safe are bioidentical hormones? You hear a lot about those at these conventions.

Dr. David Zava: Yeah. There's no hormone that you can say is completely safe.

Interviewer: Mm-hmm.

Dr. David Zava: Bioidentical hormones are safer than synthetic hormones. I say that kind of globally and that doesn't answer your question at all. But what we know, I'm going to give an example. Progesterone which is bioidentical, is safer than synthetic progestins. They're derivatives. They're something Mother Nature has never seen.

And I've always said, when I lecture on this stuff, I say, you know what, any time you take a synthetic anything the body's never seen, Mother Nature's just going to slap you real hard. ,

Interviewer: Mm-hmm.

Dr. David Zava: Eventually, she's going to just slap you real, real hard. And all you have to do is just go watch TV. 1-800-baddrugs.

Interviewer: Mm-hmm. Yeah.

Dr. David Zava: It's like, oh, that was the one they put out last year they were bragging about.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Dr. David Zava: So that's all synthetic stuff. Those are things that the body has never seen. And that's what this conference is all about. This is what we do. We talk about all those things that we're trying to regain health without taking things that are foreign to our bodies. So a bioidentical hormone is a hormone that is identical to the hormones that your body make. 

Now you're taking it from an exogenous source. It might be made from plants. Whatever. It's a synthesized molecule, but synthesized in exactly the same way that they're produced in the body. 

Interviewer: Mm.

Dr. David Zava: So that's why they call them bioidentical. The problem with a synthetic progestin, for example, is it binds to the same receptor that progesterone binds to. But is has lots of other things. That's the metabolism of that hormone . . . 

Interviewer: Mm-hmm.

Dr. David Zava: . . . the body, the liver and the brain and other tissues don't really quite know what to do with it. Because the human body has spent eons figuring out what to do with progesterone, just exactly how to get rid of it in your body.

Interviewer: Mm-hmm.

Dr. David Zava: And it's probably not so much the interaction of the synthetic progestin with the receptor it's supposed to interact with. It would, for example, a synthetic progestin used to prevent overgrowth of the uterine lining that's been stimulated by estrogen. So it protects. Women use the synthetic progestin in combination with an estrogen. 

It's the other things. It's the effect that synthetic progestin on the cardiovascular system which is bad. The increased risk for breast cancer because it's metabolized. It's doing other things. And it's a bit schizophrenic. It's a molecule that is promiscuous. It'll interact with glucocorticoid receptors. It might interact with androgen receptors. Mother Nature made progesterone to interact with progesterone receptor and not to mess around with the other receptors at a physiologic level.

Interviewer: Mm-hmm.

Dr. David Zava: The synthetic progestins will bind progesterone receptor just as they're made to do, but they play around with the other receptors. They play around with, as I said, glucocorticoid. They play around in a negative way with androgens. They didn't study that when they designed these.

Interviewer: Mm-hmm.

Dr. David Zava: And that's what I'm saying when I say Mother nature is going to slap you real hard, eventually . . .

Interviewer: Mm.

Dr. David Zava: . . . using these things. With birth control pills, so many women I talk to about, they'll say, oh, I went into some other person. I became this other person. I think it's really bad that they try to sell these because they block the formation of acne in young girls. But yet they don't realize . . . 

Interviewer: Mm.

Dr. David Zava: . . . that those are the same type of synthetic progestins that cause breast cancer in women later on in life. And if you're giving it to a teenage girl, you have a synthetic progestin in the breast. Stem cells are just starting to grow and proliferate, so you could potentially create damage in the breast tissue from that. 

Interviewer: Mm.

Dr. David Zava: So I'm concerned about that.

Interviewer: Mm-hmm.

Dr. David Zava: And we talked about it in the book a little bit.

Interviewer: Mm-hmm.

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Dr. David Zava helps answer that question. He discusses the difference between synthetic and bioidentical hormones and how the body determines the difference between the two.

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