As we step into 2017 ready to further our understanding of how hormone imbalance affects health, we wanted to take a brief moment to reflect on the top stories of 2016 that captured your attention on the ZRT Blog.
Following is a round-up of 2016's most popular posts for practitioners.
Thirty minutes after awakening from a good night's sleep, cortisol levels are at the highest they'll be all day. Following the morning peak, cortisol levels then fall to less than half that peak level by noon. They continue to drop to very low levels at night where they stay low during the sleep hours. Some individuals have a sharp rise to reach morning levels, others a more gradual incline. Looking at cortisol levels graphed during the day, any abnormal elevation, or depression of levels, or a loss of the expected curve with its characteristic morning peak and swooping decline towards evening may suggest HPA axis dysfunction – which is what we're most interested in assessing when we're looking at a 4-point salivary cortisol test.
Reliable contraception is a monumental achievement of the last century. Very effective at preventing pregnancy, oral contraceptives, generally referred to as "the Pill," are commonly prescribed to women of reproductive age. Aside from contraceptive purposes, the Pill can also be used to treat gynecological disorders such as irregular or excessive bleeding, polycystic ovarian syndrome, severe menstrual cramping, acne, and endometriosis-associated pain, and their use has been associated with a reduced risk of endometrial cancer.
In our current medical paradigm, screening for cancer is considered a preventive measure by virtue of providing an earlier diagnosis. Getting an early jump on a disease process like cancer makes treatment exponentially easier and outcomes generally better. Under the current guidelines, that early jump on prostate cancer starts at age 55 for men at low to moderate risk and 40-45 for men at high risk. It takes years for cancer to grow to a detectable point after the tumor's initial induction from a normal cell to a cancerous one. There's been a lot of research done to determine what those inducers are and how they work. Three of these inducers are simple to test for and completely modifiable with treatment and/or avoidance:
- Bisphenol A
- Catechol estrogens
Many times when I am talking to a practitioner about a patient with PCOS and/or weight issues, I commonly get the response – "His/her blood sugar is normal." However, when we are looking at the health of PCOS and weight-challenged patients, their insulin response is of primary importance, and not just their blood sugar.
When we are fasting, both blood sugar and insulin levels should be at a steady state. Blood sugar is generally between 70-90 mg/dL and insulin levels between 1-8 µIU/mL. When we eat a meal, blood sugar increases. In response, insulin is produced by the pancreatic beta cells to help shepherd glucose into all cells to be used as energy.
While not exactly from 2016, this blog from late 2015 was also very popular:
Hypothyroidism is defined as:
“lack of thyroid hormone production from the thyroid gland.”
However, many patients who produce sufficient hormone from the gland still suffer from low thyroid symptoms.
Two problems exist with this approach:
- If the patient has normal levels of T4 and T3—but a slightly elevated TSH—they are classified as “Subclinical Hypothyroid” and continue to suffer from symptoms.
- If the patient has low levels of T4 and/or T3, they are given thyroid replacement therapy—even though they may produce enough thyroid hormone from their thyroid gland endogenously.