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Pamela Tames: Keeping Ahead On Estrogen

By Anonymous
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Have you ever wondered if your doctor is up on the latest in medicine?

I have, and for good reason. When I wrote my book on menopause (www.RideThePinkElephant.com), I got a first hand glimpse at the huge gap between scientific research (what happens in a laboratory) and clinical medicine (what happens between doctors and patients).
It’s as though medicine is ten years behind.

Recently, I experienced this first-hand when I went to a talk being given by Dr. Roberta Diaz Brinton about the estrogen and the female brain.

Dr. Brinton is R. Peter Vanderveen Endowed Chair in Therapeutic Discovery and Development, Professor of Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Sciences, and Professor of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Southern California. In 2005 she was listed on the US News and World Report’s 10 Best Minds. It’s safe to say, she’s someone worth listening to.

Dr. Brinton is working on understanding why 68% of people with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) are women. At her talk, she presented an overview of her scientific findings, the gist of which I’ve never heard coming out of a doctor’s mouth.

For example, Dr. Brinton’s lab is showing healthy female brain cells (neurons) are protected from damage by estrogen. Estrogen also appears to trigger formation of new cells in the brain’s memory center (hippocampus) and its decision-making center (pre-frontal cortex).

In her paper (Trends In Neurosciences, Vol.31 No.10, 2008), she writes that findings predict, “estrogen therapy, if initiated at the time of peri- to menopause, when neurological health is not yet compromised, will be of benefit, as manifested as reduced risk for age-associated neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.”

Talk to most medical doctors these days, however, and they’re busy steering peri- and menopausal women away from estrogen based mostly on the negative findings of one study (the Women’s Health Initiative). This is a study that is now fairly well accepted as having been misinterpreted.

As I’ve told many a girlfriend lately, “it’s easier for a woman in menopause to get her hands on crack cocaine at the local mall than get a prescription for estrogen.”

I kid to make a point. And, of course, I do understand that no one wants to take a chance promoting a medical therapy or approach that isn’t proven. But, then even I remember the class action lawsuits against drugs such as Fen-Phen and the Cox-2 Inhibitors, both of which were FDA-approved. It all makes me wonder, at what point can we really be sure of anything?

I guess it’s just something we have to figure out on our own. For myself, it gets down to commonsense, asking a lot of questions to get the whole picture, paying attention to what the scientists are doing, and never settling for an answer I don’t understand. Sure, I don’t have an M.D. after my name but you know what, I don’t need one to figure out what’s right for me.


Everyone knows you only talk about sex in secret. Everyone but me that is. I’m Pamela Tames and you can hear more about my take on sex and the older woman at http://seasonedsex.com/. Who’s doing it, how they’re doing it, and what keeps them doing it. Now, for those all thinking, ‘that’s got to be one short website,’ let me respectfully say, ‘oh, so wrong.’ Just see for yourself.

To share your menopausal experience with the EmpowHer community visit https://www.empowher.com/share

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.