WF: Going back to the point about coronary artery disease, we've uncovered hundreds of papers that associate testosterone deficiency with increased risks of coronary artery disease. We've also identified, through these published papers, the specific mechanisms by which low testosterone increases the risks of contracting coronary blockage and then allowing it to progress further. Yet you found, as we did, that when you talk to cardiologists about this, some of them actually say, "Well, isn't testosterone dangerous for the heart?" Testosterone replacement is not even a consideration for them, no matter how much scientific evidence we present. This is one of the battles we're waging.
SS: I think the more your magazine gets out, the more effective it will be in changing these attitudes. When I have a friend of mine who just doesn't want to hear it from me, I'll throw an issue of Life Extension in front of him.
My husband is on testosterone, DHEA, pregnenolone, progesterone, growth hormone, vitamin B, and other supplements that are prescribed just for him. He works out with weights, he's cut and defined, he has energy and libido, he has his executive capabilities, he's always thinking about the future. I feel it's never too late for anyone to improve their health. For me, it's about energy. It doesn't matter that I'm going to be 60; my energy is that of a 35-year-old. My insides are young, my organs are young. My brain thinks I can have a baby, because I take my hormones in a template that it recognizes as reproductive. This is my own experiment on myself and people say, "Yeah, but what if?" And I say, "What if what? What's the alternative?"
I look around me and I see people who aren't doing this. They're not looking well, they're not feeling well, they don't have energy, and they can't lose that weight. I'm at the same weight I was when I was doing "Three's Company."
WF: That's remarkable.
SS: I do yoga three or four times a week, walk a little, and eat good food. My body‘s not fighting weight gain. Before, when I was working out with a trainer every single day, running, doing squats and sit-ups, not eating anything, skipping meals, and doing all those crazy things, I couldn't lose the weight. Women get so unhappy when they're overweight.
WF: They sure do, and that's a big motivation for people to buy your book. A lot of women have polycystic ovary syndrome and have to deal with excess insulin production if they're ever going to lose any weight. You mention thyroid hormone in your book. We've long told people to keep their TSH levels below 2. The thyroid has such wide-ranging effects throughout the body.
SS: I know that thyroid function came up a lot in Dr. Rothenberg's interview in my book. This is where patients need information. You need to say to your doctor when he's testing for thyroid, "Will you also test for T-3?" They generally only measure T-4.
And by the way, you should also ask your doctor for a high-sensitivity C-reactive protein test. This test will provide you with a great deal of important information to help you avoid getting sick. Little things like this can empower patients to get better care for themselves, especially if they're with a doctor who hasn't kept up with the latest science.
WF: That's one of the reasons we established our blood testing service in 1996. The doctors weren't allowing their patients to take certain tests. Our members would educate themselves and want those tests, so that they would know exactly where they stood.
Your book provides reinforcement and enlightenment to our members who have been resistant to hormone replacement. I'm hoping they'll be inspired by the success stories, the case histories, the doctor's reports, and your reporting. Of course, we have a lot of new Life Extension members who are still unfamiliar with the virtues of balancing hormones.
SS: I think you'll get a lot of new members from this book, because my audience probably doesn't know about Life Extension yet, and that's very sad. After all my research, I can now just look at my male friends and know which of them needs testosterone. I'll ask, "Why don't you have your testosterone checked?" And I hear this one answer all the time: "Oh, I've had it checked. My doctor says I not only have testosterone, I have more than I need, way more than I need." And then I'll say, "Yeah, but have they checked your SHBG [sex hormone binding globulin]?" Because if that number's not right, it doesn't matter how high your testosterone is.
WF: That's correct. The problem is, medical labs just check for total testosterone, which means nothing. It's the free testosterone and other sex hormone tests that matter. We normally recommend men test for free testosterone and for estrogen, because a lot of men will have low free testosterone and very high estradiol, which means they're aromatizing the testosterone they're producing into estradiol. In some cases, just taking an aromatase inhibitor can balance that out very nicely.
SS: It's very exciting what's available now if you just do a little digging and seek out cutting-edge doctors. It's fantastic, because there's a level and element of caring that hasn't existed in medicine for quite some time. The only thing that bothers me is that it's hard for poor people to get this kind of care. So many women are insured by HMOs that won't pay for an endocrinologist or for bioidentical hormones. Of course, they'll pay for synthetic hormones, which are dangerous. If the government understood the benefits and long-term health ramifications of keeping people hormonally balanced, it wouldn't be footing such a large health care bill. We would not have so many sick people with degenerative diseases. Government is not seeing the big picture, and therefore the poorer people in this country don't have access to these therapies. That's something I'd like to work on, but I don't know how to do it yet.
WF: We're working on that in a couple of different ways. We offer very low-cost blood testing directly to the public. We're also working on a new way to offer very low-cost prescription drugs. We should soon be able to refer men to mail-order sources of natural testosterone replacement for as little as $28 a month, as opposed to the brand-name prescription drugs that cost maybe $160 a month.
We've been fighting the drug industry now for three decades, we know the ins and outs of it, and we think we know how to provide our members with access to prescription drugs at substantially lower prices than anybody is doing right now.
SS: If you do that, let me know and I'll shout it from the rooftops, because it should be available to everyone.
WF: The reason we can do this is that the drugs themselves cost nothing. It's all the bureaucratic regulation that costs money, from the time the drug is manufactured to when it gets to the consumer. We feel we have some ways that we can make these drugs available to people at extremely low prices.
SS: That's fantastic. You're doing amazing work. It's such a benefit to society. You know, I have a motto at my company, "I'm doing well while doing good." And I always say, everyone's entitled to do well, but if you can do well while you're doing good, that's the perfect scenario.
WF: If people stay away from brand-name products, I think a person could put together a hormone replacement program, including a blood work-up, for about $800 to $1,000 a year. I think a budget-conscious program could be put together that would give people a lot of benefit.
SS: It's a matter of priorities, too. I remember when I was a troubled young woman, I found myself in therapy. I couldn't afford it at the time. But when I told my therapist that, she said, "I want getting well to be your priority." So I found a way to afford it. When I look at people today, I know some people legitimately can't afford it. For other people, I think, "If you had your priorities straight and really understood the beauty and bliss and value of good health, there might be some things that you could do without to make sure you get the right kind of treatment and medication for yourself."
WF: We have the tools. It's just a matter of accessing them.
SS: I love that we're all doing this. It's a privilege to put the message out, isn't it?
WF: It is. I've seen the benefits in people over decades, not just years, and I know where they would have been had they done nothing. Many of them were told by doctors, "You've got a few more months to live, or maybe a year or two at best," and then they took charge of their own health and made a real difference. When you see that, you realize that the power is within us, both to improve our own health and to disseminate the information to others.
SS: Absolutely. And the rewards are huge.
WF: Yes, they are. We're helping people to live longer and more productive lives, and to avoid the debilitating diseases associated with aging.
SS: When I was a little girl, my grandfather used to say the same thing over and over: "As long as you have your health . . ." Wow, was he ever right. That's what it's all about. If you don't have your health, it doesn't matter how much money you have, because you really don't have anything.
WF: Absolutely. That's why young people seem to enjoy themselves so much, even without money. They've got their health to look forward to every morning.
SS: And yet, I can't tell you how many 30-year-old women have come up to me after a lecture and said, "I'm only 30 years old, I have no sex drive at all, I don't sleep well at all." I look at them and think, "You're 30. It's the stress that's blunting all this hormone production." And nobody at that age ever thinks that it has anything to do with their hormones.
WF: Let me just tell you what I've observed. In the 1980s, I was involved in anti-aging medicine. Everyone thought it was ridiculous. You were just supposed to get old and die. Starting around 1994 or 1995, a change took place and nobody ridiculed it anymore. I'm talking about people who didn't have any health problems but were saying, "I don't want to get old. I don't want to look old. I don't want to feel old." I was thinking, "What a change." I haven't heard anybody criticize the concept of what we're trying to achieve in a long time.
SS: Yes, that's very positive, and you're right. I think in 10 or 20 years, this will be the way medicine is practiced. Bioidentical hormones will be seen as the beautiful replenishment that they are and the healthy way to go, and anti-aging medicine will just be a part of standard health care. I really believe with all my heart that down the road, future generations are going to be the major recipients of all the good work you've put into this.
WF: I absolutely believe that, too, and I've seen it with my own eyes, the positive changes that people have expressed to me. Suzanne, it's been great talking to you.
SS: Thank you so much.