By Jen Landa, M.D.
The hot new news from the summer meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology is that estrogen has an anti-aging function for your face. New data from the KEEPS trial shows that estrogen supplementation can increase type 3 collagen by 50% within a few years of menopause. I have been watching the results of the KEEPS trial for some time now because it is a trial looking at the use of bioidentical transdermal estrogen plus progesterone. The trial is looking at giving the combination of hormones to both young women and to older women and what the effects are. The study has already shown a positive effect on the risk of cardiovascular disease for women who take the hormones at a younger age. Now the results are looking to be the same for skin aging.
Collagen stimulation is one of the most important things we need to do to keep our skin from wrinkling and sagging. When collagen decreases in the skin, wrinkling and sagging increase. Estrogen seems to promote skin thickening and tightening. Additionally, estrogen helps skin to improve its water-binding properties by increasing the production of slimy sebum and mucopolysaccharides that help keep skin moist. The bottom line is that when estrogen drops, skin aging starts to pick up quickly. I have been adding estrogens to my patient’s skin creams for years to help them receive these benefits.
Estrogen replacement for menopausal women has long been thought of as a fountain of youth. A study back in 2002 burst the estrogen bubble, but unnecessarily. In 2002 one type of hormone replacement was proven to be risky for women. This was the hormone combo pill, Prempro, made of estrogens from horse urine and an artificial form of progesterone called medroxyprogesterone acetate (MPA). MPA when added to estrogens has been proven to increase the risk of breast cancer and heart disease and was likely the culprit for the negative study outcomes and the negative press.
According to data from the KEEPs trial and other trials, estrogen seems to have anti-aging qualities, especially when used within the first few years of estrogen depletion (menopause). The first few years of menopause is when skin aging is fastest, bone depletion is most accelerated and during the first 10 years after menopause, the lack of estrogen seems to increase the formation of atherosclerotic plaques. Transdermal estrogen combined with progesterone in studies has reduced skin aging, osteoporosis and heart disease all without an increased the risk of breast cancer.
Over and over again, we are seeing mounting evidence that starting estrogen early in menopause is beneficial from both a health and beauty perspective. The most important thing is to consult with a physician who understands the difference between the different methods of hormone replacement who can help guide you to the safest and most effective combination that will work for you. This should include bio-identical hormones – those that are the same as the hormones that occur naturally inside your body. Avoid hormones that are bio-similar. These are similar, but not the same as your natural hormones. Studies have shown that bio-identical hormones are safer than bio-similar hormones (as an example, note the information on MPA above).
I would shout it from the mountains and rooftops if I could. Hormone replacement helps to reduce the signs and symptoms of aging. When the proper hormones are prescribed by a knowledgeable physician, women can receive the benefits of estrogen without excessive risks of cancer.
Dr. Jen Landa is the Chief Medical Officer of BodyLogicMD. This esteemed network of physicians is the largest and most-highly-skilled group of experts specializing in bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. This team of medical professionals have become renowned as leaders in the field of anti-aging medicine and cutting-edge therapies to enhance the health and quality of life of each and every patient. Get started on your journey toward total wellness with a BodyLogicMD physician nearest you!