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HRT is More Trouble Than it's Worth

More Harm than Good

If you’re not convinced yet that synthetic, mainstream hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is more trouble than it’s worth, then here’s yet another reason: Researchers have found that hormone pills seem to worsen urinary incontinence, especially the leakage brought on by sneezing, laughing, coughing, or walking.

Women on HRT have more than double the risk of developing this particular type of incontinence, the study concluded, and the risk was especially acute for those taking pills containing estrogen alone as opposed to the combination pill of estrogen and progestin. Those taking estrogen-only pills had a 53 percent greater chance of developing any type of incontinence by the end of one year than women who were given a placebo. Women given pills containing both hormones experienced a 39 percent increase in risk.

For those who were already experiencing problems with urinary incontinence, hormones were found to make it worse. Those taking estrogen faced a nearly 60 percent higher risk of worsening symptoms over the course of a year; women given a combination pill saw their risk climb 20 percent higher than those taking a placebo.

The findings come from the same government study that over the past few years have linked the supplements to a higher risk of heart attacks, strokes, breast cancer, and dementia in women taking them to relieve symptoms of menopause. The study followed 27,347 women, ages 50 to 79, as part of the Women’s Health Initiative.

This latest finding is particularly startling because it completely contradicted what all of the “experts” thought was true: that estrogen and progestin actually lessened or prevented incontinence in menopausal women.

This is just one more reason to opt for bio-identical HRT instead of the synthetic, problem-laden variety. If you’d like to look into this option, you might want to refer to the many resources Dr. Wright has shared with his patients and readers, including his book Natural Hormone Replacement for Women over 45 (available in most bookstores and from and the numerous Nutrition & Healing articles he’s written on this topic. Some of the most recent articles appeared in the December 2003, August 2003, and September 2002 issues. Subscribers can download these articles for free by visiting and signing on using the log-on information listed on page 8 of your most recent newsletter. (If you’re not already a subscriber, the website also contains complete details on how to become one.)


A message in a bottle

Q: Is there anything that can be done to restore hair color?

JVW: There are some natural options to try to combat graying hair. Studies have reported that the combination of 100 mg of pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), 200 mg of PABA, and 50 g. of brewer’s yeast have proven effective in restoring hair color. Keep in mind that you won’t see drastic overnight results using these supplements; any results will be seen gradually over the course of a few months. And it should also be noted that if you stop taking these supplements, you will lose any benefit you gained and the gray will return.

If you’d prefer to get rid of the gray entirely (and sooner), with a more herbal-based, non-chemical product, try henna, which can change your hair color without endangering your health. Studies have shown that women who used chemical-based dyes for long periods have a much higher incidence of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and other cancers. The good news is, there seem to be more and more non-chemical products to choose from.

If the above doesn’t work, you can always remain philosophical about it: with age comes wisdom. Why cover that up?


What is….urinary incontinence?

Urinary incontinence is a disorder that affects primarily older people, particularly women. It occurs when the the efficiency of the muscles surrounding the urethra declines. There are many different forms of the disorder: stress incontinence, brought on by laughing, sneezing or heavy lifting; urge incontinence which is frequently triggered by a sudden change in position; total incontinence, which is a complete lack of bladder control; and overflow incontinence, a condition where the person is unable to empty the bladder normally, often because of an obstruction.

Yours in good health,
Amanda Ross
Managing Editor
Nutrition & Healing


Hendrix S, et al. “Effects of estrogen with and without progestin on urinary incontinence.” Journal of the American Medical Association 2005; 293(8): 935-948.