Question: My sister started taking hormones during menopause and she says its keeping her young. She says she has more energy, better moods and is delighted that her hair seems less dry and fragile. She does looks great, but I’ m afraid of risks like blood clots and breast cancer. What would you advise? And did I mention how great she looked?
Answer: October was Breast Cancer Awareness Month and its the right time to answer this question. When estrogen is given during menopause, it can have a definate impact on the skin. Estrogen stimulates collagen production and during menopause, estrogen naturally declines. In fact certain types of collagen decrease as much as 50% in the few three years of menopause. Estrogen also regulates melanin production and a decline fo this hormone increases brown spots and irregular pigmentation.
As collagen declines, the skin loses elasticity and starts to sag. Estrogen also regulates production of oil and hyaluronic acid. Both substances are important to keeping the skin hydrated– an important reason why the skin becomes so dry over age 50.
Given the impact of estrogen on collagen, pigmentation and dryness, its not surprising that your sister looks so good. But I am still not a fan of hormone replacement therapy ( HRT). There are too many studies that link estrogen therapy with increased risk of breast and uterine cancer. And rather than protect aginst heart dsease there seems to be an increased risk of blood clots and strokes with HRT.
Fortunately there are numerous safe ways to increase collagen in the skin, including retinoids ( eg Retin A-Micro) ,lasers ( eg Forever Beautiful), and radio frequency( Pelleve). You can combine these prescription products and in office treatments with weekly home exfoliation and daily mineral sunscreen for safe, proven anti-aging tools.To bottom line it, I would not recommend HRT as a beauty treatment.