Book Review – Hormone Balance for Men by John R. Lee, MD
Dr. John R. Lee’s book Hormone Balance for Men gives us a primer on the workings of the prostate gland and how it may malfunction. He argues that a major factor in understanding men’s hormones is “the matter of achieving balance. Hormone balance refers not to absolute concentrations of any given hormone, but to the ratio of one hormone with another.”
Many factors may cause estrogen dominance (such as insulin resistance, stress, and exposure to various chemical substances) which, in turn, might disturb prostate function. Dr. Lee writes: “Even if a middle-aged man’s testosterone levels are normal, if his estradiol levels are high he can have estrogen dominance symptoms such as weight gain, larger-than-normal breasts, gall bladder problems, anxiety and insomnia, and prostate enlargement that leads to urinary problems.” Fortunately, these symptoms may be addressed by carefully rebalancing hormone levels.
Debunking Testosterone Misconceptions
Hormone Balance for Men specifically addresses the work of Dr. Charles Huggins, who in 1941 reported that castration slowed the progression of prostate cancer. Dr. Huggins assumed that testosterone was the culprit. Today’s conventional treatments adhere to that theory: men with prostate cancer are still faced with castration, either by surgery or chemically by using drugs to block hormone receptors.
Dr. Lee offers three lists in his references of studies that indicate prostate cancer has no relationship to testosterone and studies that show that low testosterone increases the risk of prostate cancer and finally, studies that show that estrogen is the culprit in prostate cancer.
Progesterone and Prostate Health
Progesterone is a forgotten hormone in men. Dr. Lee writes that progesterone is a 5 alpha-reductase inhibitor, and thus helps manage the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Progesterone has anabolic–or energy-raising qualities–and, like testosterone, promotes the p53 gene that allows for normal cell death. “Maintaining good levels of both progesterone and testosterone should be the goal of men for preventing, and for treating, prostate cancer,” writes Dr. Lee.
Finally, Dr. Lee discusses the problems of relying on prostate-specific antigen (PSA) tests as a marker for prostate cancer and to determine treatment options, including the use of drugs that lower PSA levels. However, Dr. Lee observes that PSA is a “marker for increased crowding of normal prostate cells,” and should be viewed as a defense factor rather than an underlying cause of prostate cancer. “This is an example of blaming the messenger rather than understanding the message,” he writes.
The bottom line is that we’re still in an era of experimentation with regard to creating natural hormone balance in men and treating prostate problems. we know a lot, but there may be subtleties in treatment and individual variations in biochemistry that require approaches that we haven’t recognized yet. this makes it important for men using supplemental hormones to take full responsibility for any hormone treatment: to become as educated as possible; to keep up with research on the subject; to track symptoms carefully; to get regular saliva hormone levels tests; and if at all possible to work with a health care professional who can help with all of the above.
This book provides a concise summary for anyone questioning the prevailing attitudes towards prostate issues and cancer.