Breast Cancer Survivors
Sign, but by itself it does not mean you shouldn't take estrogen. Cynthia was unwilling to take the risk because her aunt had suffered from breast cancer. Her sister Myra did take the risk and benefited greatly from estrogen replacement therapy. During the last couple of decades, improved technology in early breast cancer detection has tilted the balance in favor of estrogen therapy, which is why I recommended it for Cynthia.
Genetics is the holy grail of new technology in medicine. There is a lot of hype, which reaches a crescendo with every breakthrough, be it the cloning of sheep or a new treatment for breast cancer. But in my view, the hype is justified. An incredible number of diseases are primarily genetic in origin, and we have little to no idea as to how to treat them, except for therapies that treat the symptoms but not the disease itself. As our knowledge about human genetic structure and function grows, more and more genetically engineered treatments will emerge. Eventually, some of our science fiction fantasies will be transformed into human reality.
How about a male estrogen to prevent not only memory loss but also heart attacks and strokes that are more common in men than in women There is work afoot to try to develop compounds that retain many of the properties of estrogen without producing its feminizing effects such as changes in breast size and other physical features. The antiosteoporosis medication raloxifene (Evista), which some have informally labeled as estrogen-light, has fewer feminizing properties than regular estrogen, but it is still not suitable for use by men. A recent study in women showed that Evista was much less likely to lead to breast cancer than estrogen, and this compound may be worth testing in women with mild memory loss.
Chemotherapy and radiation treatments for cancer can also induce memory loss. Researchers from M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston recently assessed memory and other cognitive functions in women with breast cancer before and during chemotherapy. The study, published in the journal Cancer in 2004, found that 33 percent of the women had deficits in one or more of the following areas learning and memory, processing speed, attention, and visual perception before starting chemotherapy and that 61 percent had impairments within six months after starting chemotherapy. Cognitive problems caused by chemotherapy are often transient half of the women who experienced them in the M. D. Anderson study found that their deficits improved one year after treatment ended.
Estrogen is only now being directly tested as both a preventive and treatment strategy for mild memory loss due to aging. Even though the results are not yet out, the weight of the evidence supporting its promemory properties is strong. Also, estrogen has broad antiaging properties that include actions against osteoporosis and heart disease, which helped it get top billing. Gynecologic monitoring is essential because of the potential risk of uterine and breast cancer, though using an estrogen-progesterone combination virtually eliminates the increased risk of cancer of the uterus. You need a prescription from your doctor for Premarin 0.625 mg daily (or equivalent), or estrogen-progesterone combinations such as Prempro (over a dozen such combination medications exist).
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