Menopausal Women at Risk of Cancer due to “Natural” Alternative to HRT


Experts from the field of medical studies and practices for women are calling for direct action against the prescription of bioidentical hormone therapy prescribed by General Practitioners (GP), that goes unregulated and may house a serious threat to perimenopause women.

Menopausal women suffering from symptoms like hot flashes, vaginal dryness, wait gain and more, who till recent times turned to hormone replacement therapy (HRT), have been prescribed the ‘natural’ replacement of the same, called bioidentical hormone therapy, claimed to be far more effective than its precedent. However, new studies bring a different truth to light. Menopause experts Susan Davis and Elizabeth Farrell discuss the dangers of bioidentical hormone treatment.

Endocrinologist Susan Davis, a professor of women’s health at Monash University and President of the International Menopause Society and Elizabeth Farrell, a gynecologist and medical director of Jean Hailes for Women’s Health, have serious concerns about the treatment. Both stating an unchecked dosage can put women who are administered at risk of cancer.

Women are prescribed the treatment by a GP, and the prescription is then made into a cream, lozenge or implant by a compounding pharmacist (who customizes the medication). The problem according to them is, that bioidentical hormone treatments are mainly creams, and progesterone does not get absorbed through the skin.

“The most important thing is the role of progesterone in protecting the endometrium of the uterus,” Dr Farrell said.

“If you’re having estrogen alone, and you have a uterus, and don’t have the added progesterone, there’s an increased risk of thickening of the lining of your uterus, and then over many years, the development of a uterine cancer.”

The unregulated prescribing of bioidentical hormone therapy also means there is a risk of excessive estrogen dosage, according to Dr Davis.

Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and the Pharmacy Board of Australia (PBA), both have been intimated on the seriousness of its unregulated distribution and prescription by GPs. However, both bodies unlike their international counterparts have been reluctant in issuing a notice to the practitioners. The Australian Medical Board commented that it is working on regulating the practitioners. The matter remains largely unresolved.