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Hormones and Anti-Aging Therapies (June 29, 2011)

As the body ages, natural hormone levels drop and the body starts gradually aging. Anti-aging therapies are designed to help slow the aging process. The therapies vary between different hospitals and doctors, but many use hormone replacement therapy as a method of keeping the body younger, healthier and less prone to the signs of aging.

Hormone testing is the first part of any anti-aging therapy that uses a hormone replacement or any type of hormonal option. Hormone testing takes a body fluid sample, such as blood or saliva, and then tests for specific hormone levels in the body.

A blood test is used to determine which hormones in the body are imbalanced or low. For example, a woman experiencing menopause would show lower than average levels of estrogen in the body while a problem with the thyroid that causes problems with aging like sudden weight gain would show abnormal levels of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). Doctors always take time for hormone testing to ensure the aging problem is properly identified before starting any therapy.

Once doctors identify the problem, they determine the appropriate hormone therapy to combat the aging process.

Estradiol Hormone Therapy

Estradiol is an anti-aging hormone replacement therapy designed for women. When women start going through menopause, unpleasant symptoms such as hot flashes occur. Estradiol is a type of estrogen that a woman’s body normally produces and the treatment with estradiol helps lessen the discomfort of menopause. Menopause is not the only anti-aging use of estradiol. It is also used to treat osteoporosis in some women whose bones begin weakening as they get older.

IGF-1 Anti-aging

Insulin-like growth factor 1, otherwise known as IGF-1, is another hormonal anti-aging therapy available. This particular therapy is designed specifically for anti-aging rather than a specific component of aging. It is structurally related to insulin, but it is not quite the same. This hormone helps regulate reproductive development, aging in general, the way the body resists oxidized stress, a resistance to hypoxia and helps the body fight off some types of bacterial pathogens. As a result, it is useful in anti-aging therapies.

DHEA Hormone Therapy

DHEAS, otherwise called Dehydroepiadrosterone Sulfate, is a hormone that is found in the blood. It is one of the hormones produced by the adrenal gland and when a DHEAS test shows that the blood has low levels of the hormone, doctors can determine the cause. Studies have found that lower levels of DHEAS in the blood result in a shorter longevity while those who have higher levels of this particular hormone are more likely to live longer, particularly in men.

Testosterone Therapy

As men age, their testosterone levels start to drop. Lower testosterone levels result in gradual aging. Unlike women, who have sudden drops in estrogen due to menopause, the level of testosterone in men gradually decreases over time. While testosterone therapy is not helpful to prevent aging while young, any man with lower than normal testosterone levels can benefit from taking a supplement to augment testosterone levels and help treat male aging.

HGH Anti-aging

Human growth hormone, or HGH, is a complex protein hormone in the body that gradually diminishes as we age. The gradual loss of HGH in the body increases the rate at which the body ages, resulting in menopause or andropause. Human growth hormone injections have been shown to reduce fat and increase muscle mass in older men when compared to men who did not take the supplement. While it is not exactly a cure for aging, it does help increase muscle mass, which can in turn help the body stay fit and healthy.

Estrogen Therapy

Estrogen replacement therapy is perhaps one of the most studied hormone therapies for anti-aging in women. Supplementation of estrogen began during the 1950s and is still used for some women in modern times. The main use of estrogen therapy is to help alleviate the problems that come with menopause. In general, the FDA suggests keeping estrogen therapy to a minimum because prolonged use of the hormone therapy in post-menopausal women increases the risk of developing endometrial cancer. 

All of these hormone therapy options are designed to either slow the aging process or make symptoms of aging like hot flashes less dramatic. They are not a cure for aging.