Confusion exists, even among leading experts in the field of hormone research, between the terms progesterone, progestin, and progestogen. Although these terms are often used interchangeably, they are not synonymous.
Until an authoritative definition is formally adopted, the following reflects the current culture of the usage of these terms, and clarifies how they are used by Women in Balance: “progesterone” refers to the hormone produced in the body, or produced from a plant source but still chemically and structurally identical to human progesterone, and it is therefore referred to as “bioidentical” or “natural”.
In contrast, “progestin” refers to a hormone that is synthetically produced and differs in structure from progesterone. There are numerous synthetic progestins used in hormone therapy, in contrast to only one molecule referred to as progesterone. “Progestogen” (sometimes spelled “progestagen”) is a general term for hormones that act like progesterone in the uterus, and therefore includes both progesterone and progestins.
There is increasing evidence that, by virtue of their different chemical structures, synthetic progestins do not always act as progesterone would at the same target tissues. This has long been understood with respect to treatment of pregnancy and fertility issues, when progesterone is effectively prescribed, yet synthetic progestins are contraindicated.
While synthetic progestins may mimic some of progesterone's effects, progestins may react differently with progesterone receptors in the body. A significant consequence of the side effects seen with synthetic progestins has been an increase in the risk of developing breast cancer. Clinical trials such as the Women’s Health Initiative, in which more breast cancer was seen in the group taking progestins, did not study natural progesterone.
With thanks to http://www.womeninbalance.org
Progesterone and cancer
Does progesterone cause Cancer?
Many, including state authorities, make the mistake that progesterone and the synthetic progestins are one and the same. They are not. Therein lies the root of the misinformation that natural progesterone poses a cancer threat.
Emory University has been studying progesterone for 20 years now and have only found benefits. In fact a study they completed last year on brain trauma victims, found it remarkable at reversing the oedema that formed after the injury, with no adverse side affects. Interestingly 71% of the victims were men.
I do understand your concern, so below you will find links to several research papers on various cancers. Several of these studies show how progesterone actually protects against cancer by activating the gene p53, which is the gene involved in apoptosis. If this gene is inactive cells keep growing.
The hormone oestrogen is a known initiator of heart disease and cancer, progesterone inhibits the production of oestrogen.
There are many, many research papers showing the protective role progesterone plays in the body. It protects against hypertension, lowers blood fats, it prevents coronary hyperactivity, a sign of coronary artery disease, it does not increase breast, endometrial and ovarian cancer risk and can be protective against it, can prevent epilepsy, it improves vasomotor symptoms, it prevents miscarriages and many more.
Here is a paper I wrote to help you get a better understanding of the role of progesterone relative to cancer...
Cancer of hormonally sensitive tissue
There is increasing evidence that 95% of cancers are caused by environmental factors such as pollutants from agriculture and industry, processed food and the misuse of prescription drugs such as oestrogen, whereas only 5% are related to our genes.
Numerous studies show we can alter the way our genes are expressed by changing the factors that influence them, such as those stated above. Continuing research, first started during the 90's, has identified a few genes that help control cell growth by producing substances that regulate cell division. If these genes are damaged by pollutants, by oxidation or by a lack of certain nutrients, the cells multiply rapidly and cancer can be the result.
Homocysteine (H) has been identified as a reliable marker for low levels of certain B vitamins and is indicative of a possible risk for getting over fifty common diseases, amongst them being cancer. There is now evidence that having a high H score adversely affects the rate of tumour growth.
A study reported in Cancer in 2002 found an increase in cancers due to a lack of UV-B and vitamin D3. The researchers believe that mortality rates could be reduced by careful exposure to sunlight and taking vitamin D3 supplements.
It has now been recognised that if a mother has been exposed to high levels of natural or xeno-oestrogens whilst pregnant, the foetus could be affected, leading to breast, ovarian and endometrial cancer in women and testicular, prostate and increasingly breast cancer in men.
Research has shown that the longer a women is exposed to her own natural oestrogen, i.e. a long reproductive lifetime, the greater the chances of her getting cancer. Women with low levels of progesterone have a 5.4 greater chance of getting breast cancer with 10 times a greater chance of dying from all cancers. Breast cancer recurrence after a mastectomy is more likely if the surgery is performed in the first half of the cycle when oestrogen is dominant than in the second half.
The Pill increases the risk of getting cervical cancer, the longer the duration of taking it, the greater the risk.
HRT (hormone replacement therapy), unopposed by progesterone, causes endometrial cancer. 2 studies published in 1995 found that women who had been exposed to HRT for longer than 5 years had a 32% increased risk of getting breast cancer, if combined with a progestin it went up to 41% and for those women who were post menopausal the risk went up to 71%, while the risk of getting ovarian cancer went up by 72%.
The latest evidence of oestrogen and progestin causing problems in women comes from the Women's Health Initiative, which ended in 2003, three years early due to an increase in breast cancer, heart disease and strokes. The FDA has now ordered pharmaceutical firms to include a warning label on HRT boxes stating the increase. By 2004 the latest oestrogen only arm of the WHI was halted due to an increase in the incidents of stroke.
Tamoxifen, a weak oestrogenic drug used in the treatment of breast cancer, is classified as a carcinogen. It causes an increase in both endometrial and liver cancer.
As water is now contaminated with oestrogen from HRT and The Pill, plus those generated by industry, men are increasingly subject to an excess, and with this comes an increase in the oestrogen related cancers, prostate and testicular. If treated with oestrogen for prostate cancer or after transsexual surgery there is an increased risk of men getting breast cancer. The older a man gets the more likely he is to suffer from oestrogen dominance, which causes a decrease in his testosterone levels and an increase in di-hydrotestosterone, this in turn leads to a drop in libido and an increased likelihood of getting prostate hyperplasia or cancer.
There are at least 40 if not more carcinogens to which we are exposed on a daily basis. Of main concern are: alcohol; artificial sweeteners; bleaches used for whitening flour etc; charred food e.g. toast and browned meat; chlorine in drinking water; fluoride; food preservatives; all mineral oil, inc liquid paraffin; oestrogen and xeno-oestrogens; pesticides; industrial chemicals such as dioxin, PCB's and phthalates; plastics; radiation from the sun, nuclear power stations, TV sets, computers and cell phones; refined cooking oil and margarine; tobacco smoke; vehicle exhaust fumes; x-rays.
Progesterone: Use between 100-200mg of progesterone daily, this equates to 3-6ml of Natpro. More might be needed, vary the amount used following symptoms as a guide. If radiation therapy is called for put the cream directly on the burn, as it has soothing, pain reducing and regenerative properties. Progesterone is neuroprotective, it prevents lipid peroxidation and confers vascular protection. As an anti-inflammatory agent, progesterone has been shown to reduce the response of natural killer cells as well as other known initiators of inflammation.
Cancer is a mentally stressful disease, stress in turn causes a rise in cortisol and adrenaline. Adrenaline prevents cancer cells from dying, it is also an excitatory hormone. Progesterone counters the rise in adrenaline by activating the GABA receptor sites. GABA is the major calming neurotransmitter in the brain.
Nutrients: Take daily a high level of all the anti-oxidants:1000-6000mg L-arginine; 1000-6000mg N-acetyl cysteine; 10,000-25,000 IU vitamin A; 1-10gm vitamin C; 100-1000 IU vitamin E; 15-50mg zinc and in particular 200-300mcg selenium, which has been found to decrease the risk of getting cancer by nearly 50%, probably because it activates gene p53. 1000-3000 IU vitamin D3; 3-6 capsules probiotics, in particular Lactobacilus acidophilus and L. bulgaricus, these have a remarkable ability to activate the immune system; 100-1000mcg vitamin B12; 400-1000mcg folic acid; 25-100mg vitamin B6; 10-50mg vitamin B2; 8gm L-glutamine, to heal the gut from chemo damage; 1000mg glycine; 500mg methionine; 5-10ml fish oil with EPA and DHA or 15 to 60ml Omega 3 flax oil; 100mg Co enzyme Q10; 1-10gm MSM (methylsulfonyl-methane); 300mg milk thistle extract; digestive enzymes (as directed on label).
It has been calculated that we can reduce our risk of getting cancer by 70% if the above guidelines are followed.
The phytochemicals found in certain plants have been found to be beneficial. A study carried out by the WHO in 50 countries found that hormone related cancers in the West were from 10 to 20 times higher than that found in Asian countries. The low level has been ascribed to their diet high in phytochemicals.
Lignans are phytochemicals. These are cyclic molecules found in the highest concentration in flax seed. These should always be ground before consumption (take 15 to 60ml/day). Lignans have anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral properties.
Some therapists recommend alternating enemas of coffee, flax oil and wheat grass. The ‘green foods’, spirulina, chlorella, barleygrass and wheatgrass are not only nutrient dense, but being partly 'digested' are easily assimilated into the gut. Because of damage to the lining of the gut with chemotherapy, nutrient intake is usually far too low in cancer patients on the therapy.
Note: If pregnant or breastfeeding take no more than 10,000IU of vitamin A
Avoid: all forms of oestrogen, the Pill, (change to another form of contraceptive); HRT; Tamoxifen; mammograms; exposure to the above carcinogens; dairy products, red meat and chicken, unless organic, as these often contain oestrogenic growth hormones; sugar and artificial sweeteners, especially aspartame; all forms of processed foods but particularly those containing sugar, i.e. carbonated drinks, including the 'diet' drinks, fruit juices (including freshly squeezed), biscuits, cakes, white breads, canned foods, sauces, sweets, (cancers live off sugar); oxidised fats, (ie margarine, refined oils, deep fried foods); pasteurised milk; smoking; stimulants such as alcohol, coffee, black tea, wheat in any form, and the other gluten containing grains- barley, kamut, oats, rye, spelt, triticale and triticum, also any by-products such as bran, bulgar and couscous.
There is strong evidence that certain peptides (protein fragments) found in gluten interfere with our immune system. Gluten can also damage the lining of the gut, commonly known as leaky gut, found in the majority of people eating a diet high in gluten containing grain. This leads to malabsorption of vital nutrients that the body needs to defend itself against any disease, including cancer. An interesting parallel has been noted between our increased consumption of gluten over the past century and a rise in cancer from 2.5% in 1900 to 33% to date. Please note that all grains are converted to sugar by the body.
Food should be natural, unprocessed and if possible organic and include both protein and fibre.Small frequent meals are often a help for blood sugar imbalances. After a large meal there is a temporary drop in the level of progesterone, due to an increased metabolic clearance rate of that hormone, so symptoms can become worse for a while.
Food should be natural, unprocessed and if possible organic and include both protein and fibre, particularly the gel forming fibre such as apple pectin, guar gum and oat bran as these have been shown to stabilise blood sugar, as has unrefined buckwheat. More on healthy diet see here.
As a substitute for sugar use xylitol, isomalt or stevia. Stevia is a natural extract from the plant Stevia rebaudiana, a member of the daisy family, native to Paraguay. The extract is 200-300 times sweeter than sugar, but has none of the drawbacks and does not affect blood sugar in any way. The fresh or dried leaves are easier to use and taste better. Xylitol and isomalt are sugar alcohols, which look and taste like sugar, but are metabolized by the body at a much slower rate, they have respectively 2.4 and 2.1 calories per gram. A beneficial affect is their ability to reduce pathogenic bacteria and to act as a prebiotic for the good bacteria, a drawback is the high cost. If used in large quantities they can cause flatulence and have a laxative affect.