October 2013

Progesterone vs. Progestin

The hormone you take may affect your risk of breast cancer

Progesterone is a naturally occurring hormone in women. Progesterone is added to estrogen therapy to reduce the risk of endometrial cancer. Initially, progesterone was not available in a form that could be well absorbed, so pharmaceutical manufacturers created a synthetic progestin (progesterone derivative), medroxyprogesterone acetate. Now, progesterone is available in a micronized form that is better absorbed; allowing women to receive progesterone instead of a synthetic progestin as part of their hormone therapy. While both progesterone and synthetic progestins protect the endometrium, there are significant differences in their effect on breast tissue: progesterone induces death of breast cancer cells while progestins may significantly increase estrogen-stimulated breast cell proliferation, which can contribute to the development of breast cancer.

In a study of over 80,000 postmenopausal women, the following breast cancer risk was observed:

  • Women who used estrogen only were found to have a 29% increased risk of breast cancer compared to women who had never used Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)
  • Women who used estrogen plus a synthetic progestin were found to have a 69% increased risk of breast cancer compared to women who had never used HRT
  • Women who used estrogen plus progesterone were found to have no increased risk for breast cancer

“These findings suggest that the choice of the progestagen component in combined HRT is of importance regarding breast cancer risk; it could be preferable to use progesterone.” (Progestagen – also spelled progestogen – is the class of hormones that includes progesterone and progestins.)
Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2008; 107(1):103-111.

The Developmental Endocrinology Branch, National Institutes of Health, had previously shown that the addition of natural testosterone (not METHYLtestosterone) to conventional hormone therapy for postmenopausal women does not increase and may indeed reduce the risk of breast cancer.
Menopause. 2004 Sep-Oct;11(5):531-5.

A study of the influence of topically administered estradiol and progesterone on human breast tissue concluded that progesterone administration decreases estrogen-induced breast cell proliferation by 400%.
Fertil Steril. 1995;63(4): 785-791.

We work together with physicians and nurse practitioners and their patients to customize Hormone Therapy in the most appropriate dose and dosage form for each

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

breast cancer awareness monthIf you are a woman over the age of 40, or have had a mother or sister diagnosed with breast cancer, you may be at greater risk of developing breast cancer. Knowing your risk factor for breast cancer can help you create a health program best suited to your individual needs. Proper nutrition and exercise as well as screening with mammograms and self-exams are all important for breast health.

Many women seeking treatment for menopausal symptoms (such as hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, depression and weight gain) will opt to use a form of hormone therapy. Certain types of hormone therapy may increase your risk for breast cancer. For example, in the Women’s Health Initiative studies, researchers found that the synthetic progestin medroxyprogesterone acetate, when used in conjunction with estrogen therapy, increased the risk of breast cancer.

We alleviate the symptoms caused by the natural decrease in production of hormones by supplementing with hormones that are identical to those normally produced by the human body. Our compounding pharmacists will work with you and your doctor or nurse practitioner to test your hormone levels and determine the best treatment for you. You are unique, and our compounding pharmacy can customize your hormones in strengths and dosage forms to meet YOUR unique needs.

Visit and share “Beyond the Shock”, a breast cancer educational resource, with friends and family. We also invite you to stop in at either of our locations today to speak with one of experienced compounding pharmacists and find out how we can help you.