Suzanne Somers, Breast Cancer, and Hormone Therapy: A Reminder About the REAL Data

August 18, 2023

By: Dr. Angela DeRosa, DO, MBA, CPE

Recently, I learned that Suzanne Somers has a reoccurrence of her breast cancer, which was originally diagnosed in 2000. Through years of work and personal experiences, Suzanne Somers was instrumental in bringing forward a voice for women to better understand the role of hormones and their bodies, as well as the compounding pharmacy industry, which is vital for the delivery of safe and effective hormone replacement therapies. This is especially true, as women are the victims of extreme gender bias in medicine. Nothing is more evident of this bias than the fact that the commercial industry does not even have a single FDA-approved testosterone product for women, but so many for men that I have lost count.

As news of Ms. Somers reoccurrence spreads, I am 100% confident that many uneducated providers and laypersons are going to attack and blame the hormonal therapies she has taken over the years. This is due to the fact people still believe — based on the falsely reported Women’s Health Initiative Study —that all hormones cause breast cancer. Nothing could be further from the truth!

Let us review the evidence.

  • After a close review of the original CEE plus MPA (Prempro) trial results from 2002, as well as subsequent publications for 2006 and 2010, they clearly demonstrate that the hazard ratio (HR) for breast cancer was not properly interpreted for provider or the patients they treat. The increased HR for breast cancer reported from this arm of the trial was not due to an increased incidence rate of breast cancer in the women randomized to Prempro therapy. Instead, it was due to a decreased incidence rate of breast cancer in the women randomized to the placebo group who used hormone therapy prior to randomization to the WHI trial; a previous use of hormones protected patients. Therefore, after decades of study, the preponderance of data showed a null effect on breast cancer when patients are treated with CEE plus MPA.
  • Compared to women who received placebo, women in the WHI CEE (Premarin) trial showed a 21% (hazard ratio of 0.79, 95% confidence interval, 0.5-1.02) non-significant reduction in breast cancer after a median of 7.2 years of randomized treatment with 7 fewer breast cancer cases/10,000 women/year of CEE Premarin therapy. Among women who were taking their study pills and were at least 80% compliant with CEE therapy, breast cancer risk was statistically significantly reduced by 32% (HR 0.67; 95% CI, 90.47-0.97) relative to placebo. In addition, across all women regardless of compliance, ductal carcinoma was statistically significantly reduced by 29% (HR 0.71; 95% CI 0.52-0.99) by taking CEE therapy relative to placebo after 7.1 years of follow up.
  • After 18 years for cumulative follow up of the WHI CEE cohort, breast cancer mortality was statistically significantly reduced by 45% (HR 0.55, CI 0.33-0.92). This may be the most overlooked finding of the WHI CEE trial. Even the endocrine-targeted agents (Tamoxifen, Raloxifene, aromatase inhibitors) do NOT reduce mortality from breast cancers. A woman’s risk of death from cardiovascular disease went up after 5 years of these agents, which is likely contributed to the lack of hormones, which are highly protective of the cardiovascular system.
  • Testosterone is the most abundant hormone during a women’s reproductive lifetime, which is not fully appreciated by the medical community or community at large. Testosterone effects women in the same way as it does men. It aids in mood, energy, endurance and recovery, libido and sexual enhancement, cognition, bone health, glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity, weight control, to name a few of its positive effects. Another very important role of testosterone is to protect the breast from developing breast cancer. Testosterone decreases inflammation, decreases proliferation/hyperplasia, increases ER-B which inhibits proliferation of the breast cells, increases cell death (Pro-apoptotic), and decreases invasive breast cancer cell growth.
  • Testosterone pellets have been used to treat testosterone deficiency in women since 1937. Additionally, testosterone pellets have been used to treat invasive breast cancer. There is mounting evidence to support the use of testosterone (pellets in particular) to lower breast cancer risk, as well as reoccurrence rates in women who have breast cancer; all the while dramatically improving a patient’s quality of life while undergoing treatment for breast cancer.
  • Breast cancer risk is often multifactorial and women who are not on hormones still develop breast cancer, and in fact, those patients often have worse outcomes. Risk factors for developing breast cancer include (but not limited to): age, obesity, sedentary lifestyle, alcohol use/abuse, being a flight attendant, BRCA 1 and 2 mutations, family history, dense breasts etc.

After two decades from the release of the WHI dataset, it is alarming that the conventional thinking has not evolved to support the truth. This lack of evolution, only creates confusion and harms the overall health of female patients. My only hope is that Suzanne Somers’ voice in support of hormones isn’t drowned out by her current diagnosis and the likely onslaught of naysayers. Suzanne would not want her voice and message to be in vain. She is a fighter, and I know she will not only survive this, but thrive through adversity as she always does.

Angela DeRosa, DO, MBA, CPE

Founder/CEO of the Hormonal Health Institute

Medical Director, Belmar Pharma Solutions


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