Dr John Lee Hated Tamoxifen, He Advocated Progesterone


Photo courtesy of rgbstock.com and lusi

Photo courtesy of rgbstock.com and lusi

Dr John Lee Advocated Progesterone

Dr John Lee, a rather amazing renegade Harvard educated doctor, internationally acknowledged as a pioneer and expert in the study and use of the hormone progesterone, and on the subject of hormone replacement therapy for women, absolutely hated tamoxifen, a well known breast cancer drug.

He stated “In my opinion, progesterone alone opposes the undesirable effects of estrogen very effectively, and if oncologists understood this they would be prescribing progesterone for their breast cancer patients instead of tamoxifen and Femara.

Dr Lee was worried about the harmful side effects of tamoxifen and said that it doesn’t address the underlying issues of DNA damage and lack of progesterone, which he felt were some of the root causes of breast cancer.   In 2002, Dr Lee co-wrote “What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Breast Cancer – How Hormone Balance Can Help Save Your Life“, along with David Zava, Ph.D. and Virginia Hopkins.

Partly based on what I read in this book, I decided against Tamoxifen.  I just wasn’t willing to risk the side effects.

Instead, Dr Lee advocated hormone balancing and treating imbalances with natural progesterone rather than synthetic estrogen (which you won’t be given anyway if you’ve had breast cancer).

An Interesting 2001 Study

There was an interesting article on Dr Lee’s website (johnleemd.com) where he discussed the results of a study done in 2001:

The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center released study results in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (July 2001) showing that women taking tamoxifen for treatment of first breast cancer are more likely to develop estrogen receptor-negative tumors in the other breast. These tumors are particularly aggressive and difficult to treat with conventional medicine.

The study looked at 9,000 women who survived breast cancer, about half of whom were being treated with tamoxifen. Some 27 percent of the tamoxifen group had estrogen receptor-negative tumors in the other breast, while only 4 percent of the tamoxifen-free group developed estrogen-negative tumors.

It’s frustrating to me that this huge study didn’t look more closely at the relationship between progesterone receptors and tamoxifen. Estrogen and progesterone are dependent upon each other for keeping their respective receptors active. In other words, estrogen is needed to maintain progesterone receptors, and progesterone is needed to maintain estrogen receptors. Thus, a drug like tamoxifen that blocks estrogen would be likely to severely down-regulate progesterone receptors, which would in turn down-regulate estrogen receptors, which would of course create a hormone receptor-negative milieu in the breasts.

The researchers said that this study should not discourage women from using tamoxifen, but to me it’s just one more reason to run from it. Tamoxifen also increases the risk of uterine cancer, blood clots and eye problems, and its benefits don’t last beyond about three to five years.

In Memoriam

Dr Lee passed away in 2003 but his work lives on.  From his website: “Dr. Lee s colleagues, family, and friends will carry on his legacy, as will the millions of others whose lives he touched over the years. We know that many of you will write, asking What can we do? The most meaningful way to remember John R. Lee, M.D. and carry on his work is to educate others, one-to-one, and give them the gift of optimal health, as he gave us.

That’s what I’m doing here – my best to educate others.

If you’d like to stay connected, sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, or “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com) and I’ll do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey.

The Down & Dirty on Aromatase Inhibitors for Breast Cancer Treatment


The Down & Dirty on Aromatase Inhibitors for Breast Cancer Treatment

Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net and adamr

The Down & Dirty on Aromatase Inhibitors for Breast Cancer Treatment

The subject of aromatase inhibitors was huge for me when I was going through my treatment for breast cancer, and I know it is for others so I believe it deserves a bit of room today in my blog post.

What are Aromatase Inhibitors?

Okay, so what the heck are aromatase inhibitors?  They are drugs that stop the production of estrogen in post-menopausal women – they work by blocking the enzyme aromatase, which turns the hormone “androgen” into small amounts of estrogen in the body.

This means that less estrogen is available to stimulate the growth of hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer cells.  They are only recommended for post-menopausal women because they cannot keep the ovaries from making estrogen. 

Why Doctors Recommend Aromatase Inhibitors

A number of studies have been done on aromatase inhibitors, and based on the results of those studies, most doctors recommend that after initial treatment (surgery and possibly chemotherapy and radiation therapy), women take aromatase inhibitors because when treating early-stage, hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer, aromatase inhibitors were shown by the drug studies to have more benefits and fewer serious side effects than tamoxifen.

Additionally, the studies showed that switching to an aromatase inhibitor after taking tamoxifen for 2 to 3 years (for a total of 5 years of hormonal therapy) offered more benefits than 5 years of tamoxifen.  The studies also indicated that taking an aromatase inhibitor for 5 years after taking tamoxifen for 5 years continued to reduce the risk of the cancer coming back, compared to no treatment after tamoxifen.

Why Women Hate Aromatase Inhibitors

The problem is the side effects of these drugs.  One woman reported “hot flashes/night sweats, general muscle and joint aches, and memory failings.  But most alarming, arthritis-like pain in finger joints has been making everyday tasks difficult.”  Another woman said she had stiffness in her limbs, lots of pain and/or numbness in her hands and feet upon waking, her knees cracked when she walked up and down the steps, she had difficulty stepping on and off of buses, stiffness in her hips when getting out of chairs and had to limp a lot!

These were relatively younger women – feeling like they were in their 90’s.  Considering the fact that the doctors recommend we be on these drugs for 5 years or more, that’s a very long time to feel like that.  Apparently there is also a risk of increased osteoporosis.  Great.

Having said that, there are many cases where it’s an excellent idea to be taking these drugs.  It’s beyond my scope of knowledge to tell you which of you should be taking them.  My advice follows.

My Advice

Obviously I am not a doctor and I cannot tell you what to do here – that’s not my purpose.  I only want to present the facts and the research that I have done.  For myself, I chose not to take aromatase inhibitors or tamoxifen.  This might not be the right decision for you.  I would recommend you take a long look at the research, see what others have said about it, talk to your doctors, and additionally seek the advice of a trained naturopath (natural medicine doctor).

Update:  I have written an article on natural aromatase inhibitors.  Whatever you decide, make it YOUR choice.  This is your body and you have every right to decide what goes in it!

For More Information:





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