Until fairly recently, the medical profession believed unquestioningly that menopause meant the catastrophic decline of a woman’s reproductive potential. And that this decline stemmed primarily from her main hormone production shutting down. That main hormone was estrogen. Supplying the woman’s menopausal body with stacks more estrogen was the logic behind HRT, hormone replacement therapy. Women were also told that estrogen would protect them from cancer.
Instead, HRT actually caused an 800% increase in uterine cancer. Today, we know that it is an excess of estrogen, not a deficiency, that triggers neoplasms (cancerous growths.)
Most female hormonal problems are caused by an excess of estrogen. This excess can be relative or actual. In cases where progesterone levels are too low (which is typical during perimenopause), estrogen levels will be artficially high. This is because the progesterone: estrogen ratio is out of whack. These women will need to supplement their progesterone, usually with a topical natural progesterone cream.
In cases where there is little or no progesterone deficiency, there is an actual estrogen excess. This can be caused by many factors: longterm use of pharmaceutical medications, pesticides, exhaust fumes, chronic stress, poor diet or incorrect food combining, food additives such as High Fructose Corn Syrup, and many other toxic chemicals in plastics and food processing such as BPA. Many toxins and artificial substances in food and the air today are Xeno-estrogens. This means that their molecular structure is very similar to estrogen itself. Which means that these chemicals will bond with estrogen receptors on cells, inducing the body into an artificial state of high-estrogen activation. In many cases this will lead on to cancers. We are now slowly beginning to recognize that electromagnetic pollution from cell-phones, wi-fi and microwaves is having similar disruptive effects.
We know that estrogen excess will cause weight gain. Also that higher levels of body fat lead to higher incidence of heart disease, diabetes and even decline of brain and cognitive functioning. There has also always been a huge societal pressure on women to look thin.
So will thinness protect you from having bone fractures in later life?
No, actually the reverse. Thinness is in fact one of the risk factors for bone fractures. Along with Vitamin D deficiency, family history of fractures and overload of toxins, thinness is actually a leading risk factor for bone fractures in older women.
Contrary to popular belief, the ovaries continue to produce hormones many decades after menopause. And fat deposits in the female body are essential for converting these androstenedeoine hormones from the ovaries into estrones. “Older ovaries, replete with stroma material, are now understood to actively produce androstenedeione – the hormone that, in the menopausal woman, is converted to estrone, in the fat deposits of the body. This pathway can be significant in preventing osteoporosis.” (1)
This flow of hormones will protect a woman’s body against osteoporosis and bone fracturing. So being excessively thin will be a major disadvantage.
It is very important to realize that just as there are good fats and bad fats in diet, so there are good and bad aspects of fat in our body. The tremendous social negativity against fat should not blind us to several valuable protections that it brings to us.
The old saying, “You can never be too rich or too thin” mirrors a social ideal. Yet excessive thinness will mean that your bones cannot be nourished by the hormones from the womb.
In a sense, your womb continues to be a kind of parent to your bones, even in late life. The hormones it supplies continue to feed the bones like children , keeping them strong, and protecting them from fracturing.
In traditional Chinese Medicine, bones are understood to depend on the strength of the Water Element and the Kidney energy. This was an ancient way of speaking about the reproductive system. So humans have actually intuitively recognized for thousands of years that the ovaries, body fat and bones are all part of an extended family.
(1) Prior JC. Ovulatory changes with perimenopause. Endocrine Ageing in Women. In: Endocrine Facets of Ageing in the Human and Experimental Animal. Veldhuis JD, LaronZ, eds. London: Wiley Publishers (in press), 2001.