Let’s just talk about the big 5 for now: Diabetes (specifically Type 2), Obesity, Osteoporosis, Prostate Cancer, and Alzheimer’s.
The Big 5 (in Alphabetical order) Diabetes (Type 2)
This is a big one because diabetes is a disease which leads to some rather unsavory symptoms and even to further disease. So, the more cases of Type 2 diabetes that we can prevent, the better!
But What is Type 2 Diabetes?
“Diabetes is a disease in which levels of glucose (sugar) in the bloodstream are too high. The body produces glucose from the foods you eat. The liver also releases sugars when you are not eating. The pancreas produces the hormone insulin, which allows glucose from the bloodstream to enter the body’s cells where it is used for energy. In type 2 diabetes, too little insulin is produced, or the body cannot use insulin properly, or both. This results in a build-up of glucose in the blood.” – hormone.org
People with diabetes are at risk for developing serious health problems (complications). If your blood glucose level stays too high for too long, complications can include:
- Kidney disease and failure Nerve damage can result in nerve pain or injury to the feet or other extremities without feeling pain
- “Silent” heart attacks (without symptoms)
For many people, weight loss through diet and exercise is enough to bring blood glucose levels back to normal. If diet and exercise alone don’t work, several medications and hormone intervention are available to manage the disease. Getting screened is an important first step. Knowing your blood glucose levels and working with your doctor to keep your levels as close to normal as possible will help you to enjoy a long and healthy life.
Fun fact: About 30-40% or over 2.1 billion adults are estimated to have overweight or obese. Both overweight and obesity can make it more likely that you will develop serious health complications.
Just like Type 2 Diabetes, obesity is a disease which leads to additional complicated and highly dangerous issues. The irony here is that obesity can either cause or be caused by diabetes, and vice versa.
“Obesity is very complex and not just a simple problem of willpower or self-control. In general, it results from a combination of eating too much, getting too little physical activity, and genetics. Overweight or obesity occurs when, over time, the body takes in more calories than it burns. However, some people do gain weight more easily than others.” – hormone.org
Another possible cause of obesity is a hormone imbalance, as in hypothyroidism (under active thyroid gland) or Cushing’s syndrome. These are rare, though.
There is another potential cause of obesity and that is hormone imbalance. Hypothyroidism (or underactive thyroid gland) is one of the more common instances of this correlation, although it’s worth noting that these cases are relatively rare.
It is possible that hormone replacement therapy, properly paired with lifestyle and diet changes, could help in combating obesity and preventing related diseases.
This is one of the ones you’ve almost definitely heard about and if you’re a woman you have very likely been warned about. Osteoporosis is relatively common, especially in postmenopausal women, so naturally we see patients dealing with it all the time.
In the United States, 44 million Americans are at risk for osteoporosis. Ten million already have the disease. Women make up 80 percent of cases. Certain risk factors make it more likely that you will develop osteoporosis.
Other factors that can lead to osteoporosis include:
- Hormonal conditions (such as hyperparathyroidism, hyperthyroidism, diabetes, hypercortisolism, or hyperprolactinemia)
- Anorexia nervosa (a condition associated with very poor nutrition and abnormal ovarian function)
- Too much exercise or stress that leads to loss of menstrual periods
If you’re concerned that you might have osteoporosis, there is a test called the DXA Scan (bone density test) which can help determine your risk of fracture. If you’re a woman over 65 or a man over 70, it’s a good idea to have a DXA Scan done.
Fortunately, properly administered Hormone Replacement Therapy can help improve bone density and prevent further bone loss which is often experienced post-menopause.
This is not a disease reserved for women, despite common misconceptions:
“Hypogonadism is a major cause of secondary osteoporosis in men. Up to 20% of men with symptomatic, pathologic vertebral fractures and 50% of men with hip fractures are found to be hypogonadal. In a study of 72 hypogonadal men, testosterone replacement was associated with an average 39% increase in bone density in the first year. Bone density eventually increased into the normal range and was maintained there throughout the study.” – Indian Journal of Urology
Speaking of the Indian Journal of Urology, they published a fantastic study in 2012 which covered the safety and efficacy of testosterone replacement in men with relation to prostate cancer. This is one of the more ominous diseases we’re faced with and as many as 1 in 6 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime. Don’t get too worked up, though, for as serious as the disease is, about 1 in 33 will die of the disease.
In short, this study and countless others displayed the positive impact testosterone replacement therapy can have on patients presenting with prostate cancer, especially those whose cancer was directly related to hypogonadism. There is also a strong indication that TRT has no negative impact on the level of risk of developing prostate cancer, which was previously a contested and widely debated topic.
Alzheimer’s is a scary, saddening disease that I’m sure you’ve heard of. You may even know someone who is or has dealt with this neurodegenerative disease. Alzheimer’s is also one of the great medical mysteries of our time as we’re still developing our understanding of its causes – there is no known cure to Alzheimer’s, currently.
That said, there have been some fantastic strides in medical research with regards to preventing and reducing Alzheimer’s. One of the most promising discoveries being results of studies and meta-analysis which indicated that estrogen therapy does have beneficial effects on neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s Disease. Notably, neurodegenerative diseases are associated with internal energy and material metabolism disorders, which are not limited to reproductive hormones.
So How Do I Get Started?
If you’re interested in HRT, be sure to Jnd a provider who only prescribes bio-identical hormones. Also make sure to Jnd a provider who specializes in the treatment, not just dabbles; HRT is a balancing act which should be carefully planned and monitored to ensure healthy, long-lasting benefits.
Located in Beverly Hills, California, CraftCare is led by Dr. Perrin Khanh, M.D., an integrative Functional Medicine Physician who specializes in bio-identical hormone replacement therapy for men and women.