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Archive for the ‘women's health’ Category

Yesterday, Pat and I did a segment on Good Morning America’s health program. I think it went well. Check it out here.

I was a guest on Dr. Ronald Hoffman’s show on WOR. Listen to the podcast.

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I understand why women would want to take estrogen to relieve really bad hot flashes, and many doctors think that it’s worth the risk IF you take a low dose for only a couple of years around the time of menopause.  But I am always surprised when otherwise well-informed and health-conscious women take estrogen strictly for cosmetic reasons — specifically to keep their skin looking younger. There’s no science behind that and the risks outweigh the benefits for many women.

A new paper presented at the American Academy of Dermatology’s Summer meeting in Boston confirms this. Dermatologist Margaret E. Parsons of the University of California at Davis in Sacramento reviewed many studies and concluded that estrogen is less effective than  cosmetic procedures (performed by dermatologists, of course) or even topical creams containing retinoids.  She also says using sunscreen is the best way to protect aging skin.

It’s certainly true that estrogen improves women’s skin. During pregnancy estrogen levels zoom, and many women notice that their skin is glowing. After menopause, skin seems drier and less elastic. That’s partly because of the loss of estrogen but it’s also because of the effects of aging, genetics and damage from smoking and sun exposure. Taking estogen won’t fix the environmental damage.

The jury’s not totally in on this question, however. Dr. Parsons said further research is needed to see how the timing and duration of estrogen therapy affects skin. It’s also possible that estrogen might work better on skin in on some parts of the body (where environmental damage is less severe) but not on other parts. She cited one study that showed that applying topical estrogen to sun-damaged facial skin and sun-protected skin on the hip of post-menopausal women resulted in stimulated collagen production and less wrinkling in the sun-protected hip skin, but no noticeable improvement in the sun-damaged facial skin.

In the meantime, enjoy the beach but don’t forget the sunscreen.

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