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Sex, Lies and Menopause

Aired September 2, 2003 - 20:46   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: There's a provocative new book out today about women and menopause, adding more fuel to the fire in the debate on hormone replacement therapy. It argues that women who delay child bearing and use synthetic hormone replacements take serious health risks. The book is called "Sex, Lies and Menopause: The Shocking Truth About Hormone Replacement Therapy"
Author T.S. Wiley and Collaborator Dr. Julie Taguchi join us from our Los Angeles bureau tonight. Welcome.

DR. JULIE TAGUCHI, AUTHOR, "SEX, LIES AND MENOPAUSE": Thank you.

T.S. WILEY, AUTHOR, "SEX, LIES AND MENOPAUSE": Hi.

ZAHN: So T.S., what we have come to know as hormone replacement therapy you argue is not therapy at all. Why?

Well, women in this country have never been offered hormones nor replacements. Prempro, the drug studied by the Women's Health Initiative was a synthetic combination drug that has hormone-like effects. But genuine bioidentical molecules of plant-derived hormones which could be prescribed in a cyclical rhythm would are more accurate.

ZAHN: Now Dr. Taguchi, one thing T.S. Wiley recommends is natural hormone replacement, but you would even have to acknowledge the tests don't really support this in any major way, do they?

TAGUCHI: Well, they don't support them because they don't exist. There are no tests on -- or research on bio identical estrodiacal (ph) or progesterone. And actually, that's one of the purposes of the book, is that women need to insist that we actually have more research on using bioidentical or natural hormones. Because, you know, these hormones actually are good for you.

ZAHN: And why is do you think these tests aren't being done?

TAGUCHI: Well, the reason why there are no clinical research studies is, natural hormones are not profitable. And the hormones are actually plant derived, like from a soy plant. And because they are plant derived, they're considered foods. And if they're a food, they're not patentable or profitable.

ZAHN: And you also, I think, in this book address the fact that a lot of doctors are uneasy prescribing them, because they don't have the tests to back up their prescriptions? TAGUCHI: Absolutely. Physicians really rely on large, clinical randomized trials to make a dent, or change medical practices. And we don't have this available to prescribe, or to assure physicians, or make them comfortable in prescribing this. Except, you know -- go ahead.

ZAHN: T.S., what I wanted to move on to is something, I think, that frightened a lot of people when they read about an excerpt in this book suggesting that women who delay having children are facing serious health consequences as a result of that.

WILEY: Well, there's a biological imperative. And women and children are the process of life on this planet. And when you delay child-bearing you miss developmental milestones that have to happen hormonally.

Breast-feeding is one of them. And massive studies on breast- feeding and breast cancer conclude that the more breast-feeding you do, and you can't do that unless you have a child, the less breast cancer you have.

ZAHN: So what age are you suggesting that women need to have their children by to avoid this risk?

WILEY: We would never presume to suggest an age for a woman to have a child. The reality is, on the biological level, that 18, 20 years old. And you can pretty much assume you're never going to have breast cancer if you give birth at that age. And we know from a large sifted study of women with breast cancer, and without, who had children, that every year you breast-feed reduces your risk of breast cancer by 4.3 percent. Every child you have reduces your risk of breast cancer by 7 percent. And every year earlier than age 28 that you have those children reduces your risk by 3 more percent.

TAGUCHI: I'd like to clarify, too, that it's reduction in risk, not a preventive. Just because you have a child under the age of 20 does not guarantee you will not get breast cancer. I just wanted to clarify.

ZAHN: Good point.

WILEY: It does -- it does change the molecular balance in the cell. It's a developmental milestone.

ZAHN: We're going to have to leave it there. T.S. Wiley, Dr. Julie Taguchi, thanks for coming on to talk about your joint collaboration there.

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