How the Medical Establishment And Big Pharma Turned Menopause Into A Disease - https://saveourbones.com

The Medical Establishment has a track record of redefining natural physical processes as diseases. Often, the development of new drugs drives this dangerous pattern.

The Big Pharma companies that own the drug patents wield their influence, turning normal physiological changes into diseases that can only be treated with their products. But over time, this practice has been uncovered through scientific examination.

Today, we'll look at a very clear example of this pattern: the pathologization of menopause. It's a history that Savers will find familiar: it bears a striking resemblance to the invention of osteoporosis and osteopenia and the subsequent creation and prescription of bisphosphonates and other drugs.

Menopause Is Not A Disease

Menopause is a normal process in aging females caused by a reduction in the levels of estrogen and progesterone produced by the ovaries– usually between the ages of 45 and 55. After menopause, the ovaries produce less of those hormones, halting the menstrual cycle.

This hormonal change typically results in hot flashes, trouble sleeping, weight changes, irregular periods, and other symptoms. All of these experiences are normal.

And yet, the natural physical changes that accompany menopause are often treated as if they are the symptoms of a disease. However, that wasn't always the case.

In 1942, the FDA approved a new drug called Premarin that boosted estrogen levels. It was intended as a treatment for women who experienced frequent and severe hot flashes. The drug was effective within this limited scope.1

But then in the 1960s doctors began to prescribe the drug for other reasons. An influential book with the title Forever Feminine argued that menopause was a form of “hormone deficiency” instead of a natural change.

The book's author Robert A. Wilson spread the absurd idea that postmenopausal women are no longer women because of reduced estrogen levels. This unscientific conflation of biology and gender convinced many women to undergo estrogen therapy.

This marked the beginning of the redefinition of menopause as a disease. The Medical Establishment embraced the idea that menopause causes a “hormone deficiency,” even though that reduction in hormone levels is completely natural.1

Synopsis

Menopause is a normal process in females that accompanies aging. Over the course of the 20th century, alongside the emergence of drugs that boost estrogen levels, the Medical Establishment redefined menopause as a disease that causes “hormone deficiencies.”

The Harmful History Of Hormone Replacement Therapy

Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is a pharmaceutical intervention that increases estrogen levels. The drug Premarin was the first and most common drug prescribed for this purpose.

However, in the 1970s, estrogen supplementation was linked to endometrial cancer. As a result, HRT was used less often. Then researchers found that combining estrogen with progesterone reduced the risk of endometrial cancer, and this new version of HRT became popular.1

This popularity was driven by a wave of speculation in the Medical Establishment that HRT provided protection against a wide variety of diseases and conditions, including cardiovascular disease. However, those uses were not approved by the FDA.

Because of the extensive prescription of HRT for unapproved uses (often referred to as “off-label prescription”), the FDA required new studies to test those claims. This new research found that HRT caused an increase in coronary events, including coronary heart disease death.1

Then, in 1991, the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) began. The WHI was the largest randomized study designed to evaluate the effect of HRT on common causes of death and disability in postmenopausal women.

The WHI found increases in breast cancer, heart disease, strokes, and blood clots in the study participants who received HRT. The results were so stark that the researchers stopped the study early, so as not to cause undue harm to the participants1.

The study of HRT continues. Researchers are investigating its effects on more specific age groups and populations to see which deadly side effects are more or less present. But all investigations of HRT are ultimately chasing the same phantom: a treatment for a disease that doesn't exist.

Synopsis

Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is a pharmaceutical intervention that supplements hormone levels, usually in postmenopausal women. HRT's popularity increased after it was marketed as a way to remain “feminine forever” and later, as a way to prevent a variety of health conditions. However, studies found that HRT caused increases in breast cancer, heart disease, strokes, and blood clots.

Aging Is Not A Disease

The changes our bodies undergo as we age are not outside threats to be eliminated. They are natural and normal internal shifts. We should be supporting our bodies, not filling them with chemicals in an attempt to undo our natural biological processes.

When menopause was rebranded as a disease, the result was the overprescription of a drug well beyond its intended purpose.

This pattern of finding a drug and inventing a disease for it to treat is a recurring problem with the Medical Establishment. Big Pharma spends untold millions funding this dangerous pattern and they continue to be successful, so it's up to us to be aware that it's happening.

Synopsis

The changes our bodies undergo as we age are not outside threats to be eliminated. Big Pharma funds the invention of new diseases to profit from drugs created to “treat” them. We must be vigilant to recognize when a natural part of aging is redefined as a disease in need of treatment.

Osteoporosis And Osteopenia Are Not Diseases

Like menopause, osteoporosis is not a disease. Before 1994, a diagnosis of osteoporosis was only given to people who had already experienced a fracture. But the International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF), under the influence of a corporate advisory board of Big Pharma companies, decided to change that.

They decided that osteoporosis is a disease of low bone density, and the World Health Organization agreed. Their rationale was that reduced bone density increases the risk of fracture.

Then, in 1995, the pharmaceutical company Merck introduced a drug to increase bone mineral density: Fosamax. By changing the definition of osteoporosis, the IOF provided Merck with a new disease to treat.

Then the Medical Establishment found a way to diagnose even more people. They invented osteopenia— a “disease” of reduced bone density that indicates the risk of an increased risk of a fracture.2

All the while, studies clearly indicate that bone density isn't the only or best indicator of bone health or of fracture risk.3 Millions of prescriptions have been written for osteoporosis drugs, even though they have well-documented and horrific side effects.

Much like Hormone Replacement Therapy, a natural part of aging -reduced bone density- was redefined as a disease and used to sell ineffective and dangerous drugs.

Synopsis

Osteoporosis and osteopenia were invented in the 90s after the International Osteoporosis Foundation decided that age-related bone loss was a disease that required pharmaceutical intervention. In fact, bone loss is a natural part of aging and is only one factor of fracture risk– not the sole determining factor. Big Pharma is still profiting from this invented disease.

What This Means To You

Don't let the Medical Establishment convince you that you're sick, simply because your body is undergoing perfectly natural changes. You can stay healthy, strong, and independent throughout those changes by making smart choices about diet, exercise, and lifestyle.

Aging, and the bone loss that can accompany it, does not need to be met with a barrage of drugs. The Osteoporosis Reversal Program details a natural, drug-free approach to building stronger bones that can resist fracture and a healthier life.

References

1 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6780820/

2 https://www.bmj.com/rapid-response/2011/10/28/osteoporosis-risk-factor-not-disease

3 https://www.utsa.edu/today/2019/10/story/bone-density.html

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Comments on this article are closed.

  1. Tracy DeWitt

    I too am disappointed with this article. Going on HRT is an individual decision based on your health history, family history and symptoms. I had no energy, heart palpitations, night sweats, brain fog, insomnia, and low bone density. HRT changed my life snd I feel normal again. Quality is better than quantity of life. I don’t like big Pharma and resist any pharm drugs adamantly but HRT saved my life.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Tracy, not everyone reacts the same way to medications. I understand that the symptoms you experienced were difficult to tolerate, but there are other natural ways to mitigate them, as with homeopathy.

  2. Rose

    I am using over the counter progesterone cream. Is this bad too?

    Anyone figure out how to get off prolia safely. My doctor told me if I stopped my bones would break. I thought it was suppose to help me not hurt me.

    Thanks

  3. Grace

    I have done a lot of research around hormones. (I am 56 and not menopausal yet and have a vested interest.) Using bioidentical hormones is not the same as using synthetic hormones that were used in the study and are still too often prescribed. Bioidentical hormones do not have the same bad effects that synthetic do. Many doctors are still looking at the old study using the synthetic, but new studies have been done. Certainly it is between each woman and her doctor what is best for her, but to “sweep” all hormone replacement away is incorrect. I am disappointed as well in this article and makes me question now some of the other things I have believed on this blog.

    • Cora

      Thank you Vivian for all your research.
      It enlightens my path toward personal health and well-being. The more we know, the more we can feel empowered to make sensible choices that aren’t dictated by drugs / pharmaceutical companies.
      My paternal grandma passed away not long ago – she lived to just a few months short of 110 years. She is one of my best role models for enjoying nutrition, life, family and people with minimal health problems.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Grace, while bioidentical hormones are often considered less dangerous and more effective than HRT, there have not been large-scale, reputable studies that can be used to confirm that.

  4. Nora

    I find this a disappointing summary. I have been taking estradiol and progesterone for more than 20 years Since my 50s and menopause and I think it has helped me in every way.., Psychologically and Especially my bones!. Fortunately I began when I was living in France and I use one pump of the bio identical estradiol gel. Here in the US it’s so expensive I have to go to Canada for it. My sisters live in Canada and they are also taking it. There is no reason we have to deprive our bodies and minds of this hormone just because we are old.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Nora, not everyone suffers from the side effects of HRT, and I’m glad you’re among those!

  5. Carolyn

    I was placed on HRT for 17 years. I wanted to stop, but was assured that it would prevent heart disease. I ended up with a double by pass at age 65. I have often wondered if there was a connection.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      I’m so sorry you had to go through that, Carolyn! And I hope you’re well now and that you stopped the HRT.

  6. Diane

    Like some others, this is the first time I’ve experienced disappointment reading one of Vivian’s articles. Shortly after reaching menopause, I started experiencing serious uro-vaginal atrophy. My tissues were dry, fragile and tearing and clearly needed an intervention which came in a estradiol patch, applied weekly. My relief was quick and utterly relieving! I blessed the endocrinologist who prescribed the pharma solution! I had my life back, without constant pain and discomfort. It seems married women having regular sexual relations do not suffer from lack of of estrogen. Those of us in the single realm need a boost from pharma and I am glad for it! I enjoy most of the articles but this one left some of us out in the cold. Diane

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      There are some safe homeopathic treatments that could have helped you just as well, Diane. There’s also scientific evidence that acupuncture can help relieve common menopausal symptoms.

  7. Deborah Willis

    Do you have any suggestions to use for hormone replacement?

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Deborah, I don’t recommend hormone therapy. However, non-toxic homeopathic remedies can effectively manage menopausal symptoms.

  8. Renate

    Vivian is correct!

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      🙂

  9. Jo Bakal

    This is a disappointing and irresponsible article. There is enough division in the world and polarization of health care has no place. Yes big pharma pushes their agenda and now you are pushing yours. There isn’t a black or white situation. And menopause in my world wasn’t and isn’t a disease. Things do change after a certain age and not everyone should be treated with HRT as a result. There are people who have to way the risks to determine if this is an appropriate treatment. Doctors shouldn’t be pushing any meds unnecessarily. We have to be educated with real information not polarization!

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Jo, this article is based on scientific evidence and the irrefutable truth that the Medical Establishment and Big Pharma create “diseases” that soon after their invention have drugs to “treat” them.

    • Caroline

      I don’t find this article be be polarizing at all. I am grateful for the education that this site provides. It gives me an opportunity to explore different points of view and make my own decision about what feels right to me. I watched my mother suffer from breast cancer after taking HRT (hormone replacement therapy) for years and years. I knew she should stop, but her doctor kept telling her that she needed it. It didn’t make sense to me that she needed to replace hormones that had naturally decreased with age. I have not taken HRT and am much healthier at the same age she was when she died.

      • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

        Thanks for chiming in, Caroline! And I’m so sorry about what happened to your mother.

  10. K. Gopal Rao

    I’m a man but I hv a Q abt Menopause. Does it lead to sudden spikes in blood pressure? My daughter has been suffering them for some years now She just turned 51 last year, but the spikes in BP started 3-4 yrs ago. The local docs attributed it to a phenomenon called peri-menopause. They prescribed BP reducing medications in heavy doses, after which the frequency decreased, but it still occurred from time to time R we on the right track?

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      I suggest you consult about this with a reputable functional medicine or naturopathic doctor.

  11. Jillydeejay

    I too am very disappointed with this article and like Patricia Wheway I have always found your articles very enlightening and interesting in the past. Menopause is a hormone deficiency which, like Diabetes or Thyroid problems, need replacement hormones to help symptoms. Women need oestrogen, testosterone and if they have a womb, progesterone. We have oestrogen and testosterone receptors all through our body, including our bones & brain and without these hormones we are more at risk of heart disease, osteoporosis, dementia, certain cancers, stroke to name a few. The WHI study 20 years ago was seriously flawed and new studies are proving that there is an actual protection from breast cancer when taking body identical HRT. The benefits far outweigh any risks. Yes, we still need to lead a healthy lifestyle, HRT isn’t a panacea to go and drink and eat what we want without consequence, but our bodies are far healthier with our hormones than without. I think this article is pretty misleading and adds to the scaremongering regarding breast cancer.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Indeed, this is a controversial topic and we’re all entitled to our own opinions. As you mention breast cancer, notice that 80% of breast cancer tumor cells grow in response to the hormone estrogen (ER-positive). About 65% are also “PR-positive.” meaning they grow in response to the hormone progesterone.

  12. Patricia Wheway

    I have always read your articles with great interest but I was extremely disappointed by your article on menopause which I found to be very misleading. The WHI research 20 years ago was found to be seriously flawed. Also the HRT being used in those days was synthetic and taken in tablet form which had far greater side effects. HRT now is bio identical and Estrogen is given either in patches or gel which doesn’t go through the liver so has far less side effects.
    You say that the menopause is a natural process which women should embrace and find natural solutions for. That’s all very well but when you have tried almost every natural solution available and still suffer terribly, HRT offers a safe and effective way for women to get their lives back. Historically, women often didn’t live beyond the age of menopause and if they did they were considered to be old hags. I don’t particularly want that for myself or for my fellow women sufferers.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      This is clearly a controversial topic, Patricia. You wrote that “HRT offers a safe and effective way for women to get their lives back.” Unfortunately, science has shown that HRT is not a safe treatment.

  13. YK

    Good and useful informations, Vivian keep telling us the truth .
    Pharma interested to make money and no regards to well being of others.
    .

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      I will continue to bring out the truth, YK!

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