Hormone Balance Hotline - Volume 3, Number 1

October 2011

In This Issue

Dear Friends,

Welcome to the Hormone Balance Hotline! Every October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we pause to reflect on what has happened over the last year in the fields of breast cancer treatment and research. Sadly, not much has changed since Dr. Lee and Dr. David Zava wrote their groundbreaking book, What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Breast Cancer, almost a decade ago. Doctors still rely on radiation and chemotherapy despite evidence that they do not save lives. Researchers still ignore the critical role that hormone imbalances play in breast cancer formation. Treatments such as Tamoxifen - a drug whose ineffectiveness and risks were clearly documented by Dr. Lee - are still commonly prescribed to patients.

While this state of affairs is discouraging, we see glimmers of hope in the midst of it all. In recent months, researchers, doctors, and government officials have questioned the effectiveness of conventional forms of breast cancer detection and treatment. We’ll share the latest news in our first article. In our second article, we’ll introduce two new research papers about breast cancer and natural progesterone that we have posted to JohnLeeMD.com in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Speaking of our website, many of you have told us that you were not aware of all the resources we offer on the Official Website of John Lee, M.D. Our third article gives you a quick tour of the site. Finally, after pausing to remember an esteemed colleague who passed way this summer, we will announce two new products that may interest you.

As you read this newsletter, please know that we are here to support you in your efforts to fight not only breast cancer, but also the misinformation and ignorance about its causes. That was an important part of my husband’s mission, and it remains a mission for all of us who continue his work. Thank you for being part of the solution!

Yours for good health,
Pat Lee

New Research Challenges Conventional Wisdom on Breast Cancer

Every October, the healthcare industry uses Breast Cancer Awareness Month to encourage women to get mammograms on an annual basis. However, before you trust what a mammogram tells you about your breasts, you should learn what a recent study says about the ineffectiveness of a tool that is heavily relied upon for studying mammograms. That tool, known as computer-aided detection (CAD), uses computer software to analyze mammograms and mark suspicious areas for radiologists to review.

Since its approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1998, CAD has grown to the point where it is used in at least 75% of all mammograms performed in the United States. This summer, however, an extensive study of more than 1.6 million mammograms revealed that CAD fails to improve breast cancer detection rates when compared to mammograms that are analyzed without CAD. Moreover, CAD fails to detect cancers at earlier stages in their development. As a result, CAD also fails to contribute to more positive treatment outcomes.

In addition, CAD makes it more likely that women will be mistakenly diagnosed with breast cancer. As Joshua Fenton, Assistant Professor at UC Davis and head of the research project, puts it, “In real-world practice, CAD increases the chances of being unnecessarily called back for further testing because of false-positive results without clear benefits to women.” Fenton’s team estimates that CAD costs Medicare more than $30 million a year. That does not include the costs born by other health insurance providers, not to mention the out-of-pocket costs and high levels of anxiety imposed on women who are recalled for further tests.

What Dr. Lee Said About Mammograms

As you might expect, Dr. Lee had a lot to say about mammograms. He acknowledged that they can, when used by skilled radiologists, detect tumors approximately one year before they can be detected by palpation. However, he also cited numerous statistical studies which indicate that this one-year “lead time” does not improve breast cancer survival rates. He also voiced concerns about the potential cancer risks of mammograms, as they involve compressing and potentially injuring breast tissue while exposing it to radiation. Here is what he had to say in the January 2002 issue of The John R. Lee, M.D. Medical Letter.

“In spite of little evidence of their effectiveness, mammograms became a routine exam in conventional medicine back in the early 1970s...After a decade or so, countries with socialized medicine where the government was spending the big bucks for routine mammograms, began to question their value and look more closely at the statistics in their huge national databases. What they discovered was that mammograms don’t save lives.”

While Dr. Lee never told women to avoid mammograms altogether, he did have grave reservations about their routine use every year or two. By contrast, he strongly encouraged women to examine their breasts on a monthly basis. The following quote from the same newsletter issue provides an excellent distillation of his advice.

“While I wholeheartedly support staying away from routine mammograms, you need to be very conscientious about checking your breasts for lumps at least once a month. Women who get routine annual mammograms have a tendency to turn over the responsibility of breast lump detection to the radiologist. That was never a good idea. It’s your body, they’re your breasts, and once you become familiar with how they look and feel, you’ll be able to detect something unusual. This does not mean that it’s your ‘fault’ if you don’t detect a breast cancer. Just do the best you can. If you do detect a lump in your breast, by all means go and get a mammogram.”

Another Breast Cancer Drug Fails

A month before the new mammography study hit the presses, an FDA panel rejected Avastin, a chemotherapy drug manufactured by Genentech, as ineffective in treating metastatic breast cancers. By a unanimous vote, the panelists rejected Genentech’s appeal of an FDA decision to revoke the approval it gave to Avastin in 2008. That approval was rushed through the FDA on the basis of a single study that indicated the drug could reduce cancer recurrence. Three subsequent studies failed to find any improvement in survival rates.

In addition, Avastin has been shown to cause a number of painful and dangerous side effects. These include nausea, vomiting, upper respiratory infections, low white blood cell counts, high blood pressure, gastrointestinal perforation, and hemorrhage (severe bleeding). Many of the side effects and health hazards of Avastin have also been reported for other chemotherapy drugs.

Avastin is not the only drug that has failed upon closer inspection to improve breast cancer outcomes. In December 2010, Novartis failed to demonstrate that Zometa provided any benefit in the treatment of early-stage breast cancer. Earlier in the same year, Pfizer had to admit that in two Phase III trials, its drug Sutent failed to improve breast cancer mortality.

While Dr. Lee always held out hope to breast cancer patients, he had grave doubts about the effectiveness of chemotherapy. As he said in What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Breast Cancer, “...chemotherapy is an attempt to poison the body just short of death in the hope of killing the cancer before the entire body is killed. Most of the time it doesn’t work.”

Fortunately, there are promising alternatives to chemotherapy. In What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Breast Cancer, Dr. Lee joined with Dr. David Zava, a leading researcher in the fields of hormones and breast cancer, to examine a vast body of research that underlines the importance of hormone balance as a tool for fighting the disease. Indeed, studies indicate that by keeping their hormones in balance through natural means and by addressing other risk factors, such as diet and exercise, women can prevent breast cancer from occurring in the first place and from recurring after it is detected and treated. Dr. Lee was joined in this conclusion by many scientists and doctors whose studies appear in the book.

If you have not read What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Breast Cancer, we would encourage you to do so. The research references, which by themselves take up 70 pages of the book, make it a worthwhile investment. You can learn more about Dr. Lee’s book and purchase it from our website. In addition, be sure to check out an excellent speech by Dr. Lee about breast cancer that we offer from the audio and video section of our site. Whether you read the book or listen to the speech (or both!), it could be the best thing you’ve ever done in celebration of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.


Fenton, J.J., et al. “Effectiveness of Computer-Aided Detection in Community Mammography Practice.” J Natl Cancer Inst 103(15) (2011): 1152-1161.

Lee, John R. “The Death of Routine Mammograms.” The JLMD Medical Letter 5(1) (2002): 1.

Now Available...Free Research on Breast Cancer and Natural Progesterone

If you have never visited the Articles section of the Official Website of John R. Lee, M.D., here is a new reason to do so. We just posted two new research articles that examine how natural progesterone may protect women against breast cancer. Here are brief summaries of the two articles.

  • Breast Cancer and Natural Progesterone - Part 1. With a few exceptions, the cells in our bodies are genetically programmed to die and make way for new cells. However, when cells become cancerous, they ignore this genetic programming and remain alive while continuing to multiply. One of the functions of progesterone is to “turn on” the genetic programming that tells both normal and cancerous cells to die at the proper time. By contrast, estrogen “turns off” this programming, which is one reason why excess estrogen poses a cancer risk. To learn more, read the entire article.

  • Breast Cancer and Natural Progesterone - Part 2. Scientists have conducted human studies that demonstrate the ability of natural progesterone to reduce cell proliferation in breast tissue. Other studies have shown that women who have normal progesterone levels when undergoing breast cancer surgery have better survival rates than women who undergo the same surgery with low progesterone levels. By contrast, scientists are well aware that estrogens are an important causative factor in the formation of breast cancers. To learn more, read the entire article.

One of our most important missions is to arm women and men with the information they need to balance their hormones naturally and take control of their own health decisions. That is why we continue to add free articles to this important section of our website. Be sure to visit our site every month or two to see what new information we’re offering!

Breast Cancer Resources on JohnLeeMD.com

If you need help with breast cancer, our website offers you the following resources.

To learn more about these resources, click on any of the above links. We are here to support you in your efforts to fight breast cancer.

Our Website...A Quick Tour

Many of our customers say, “I never knew you had that!” when we tell them about the resources they can find on JohnLeeMD.com - The Official Website of John R. Lee, M.D. That is unfortunate, because the site offers a wealth of education about bioidentical hormones and about Dr. Lee himself.

Since we don’t want you to miss out on anything we have to offer, here is a quick tour of our website. We’ve divided the site into the following sections to make it easier for you to find the resources you need.

  • Articles. This section contains dozens of free articles written by Dr. Lee and his colleagues on a wide variety of topics. Whether you’re just starting to learn about natural hormones or need detailed information on hormones and breast cancer, you’ll find articles designed for you.

  • Books. This section lets you learn about and purchase any of Dr. Lee’s nine books. If you’re wondering whether a book is right for you, just click on the “More Information” button next to each book to get all the details you need.

  • Audio/Video. Dr. Lee was a powerful and entertaining speaker, and that comes through in the products we offer here. We offer audio CDs, audio cassettes, and a highly informative two-hour workshop by Dr. Lee on DVD.

  • Hormone Tests. The best way to understand what hormone imbalances you may have is to get your hormones tested. That is why we offer many easy-to-take hormone tests from this section. Our saliva tests let you measure your sex hormones and adrenal hormones using the same method that Dr. Lee recommended in his books. Our blood spot tests give you a convenient alternative to conventional blood tests for a variety of hormones. By the way, we are one of very few websites that can offer hormone tests to California residents without written orders from their healthcare providers, so be sure to visit us if you live in that state.

    When you visit this section, be sure to take our free online Hormone Balance Test . Besides helping you to determine which hormones you may want to have analyzed, the Hormone Balance Test can give you insights into imbalances that you may have.

  • Newsletters. For several years before his death, Dr. Lee was the editor and chief writer of the John R. Lee M.D. Medical Letter . You can learn about and purchase back issues of this authoritative newsletter in this section of our site. Be sure to visit the comprehensive index to these newsletters where you can find back issues on virtually any topic related to hormone health. By the way, you can also access free back issues of our Hormone Balance Hotline from this section.

  • Resources. This handy section helps you to find doctors who work with natural hormones and find scientific articles on a variety of hormone-related topics. You can also find our list of progesterone creams here.

  • Other Products. Besides offering hormone tests and Dr. Lee’s research, we provide several products that can help you and your family to protect and maintain your health. You can learn more about those products and purchase them here.

Thank you for joining us on this quick tour of our website. We hope you visit us soon!

In Memoriam: Jesse Lynn Hanley, M.D.

In the course of his illustrious writing career, Dr. Lee worked with several dedicated colleagues who acted as editors and co-authors of his books. Among the co-authors was Jesse Lynn Hanley, M.D., a gifted and respected doctor who worked with Dr. Lee on What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Premenopause. It is with sadness, therefore, that we report that Dr. Hanley passed away on July 15, 2011 at her home in Ashland, Oregon.

Like Dr. Lee, Dr. Hanley made it her mission in life to think beyond the artificial boundaries that conventional medicine often imposes on itself. Her education went beyond that of traditional physicians to embrace Oriental Medicine, acupuncture, nutrition, herbs, and psychology. As Medical Director of the Malibu Health and Rehabilitation Center, she maintained a clinic that integrated professionals from multiple disciplines to offer holistic healing to patients. Her insights played a vital role in What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Premenopause, as many of the book’s case studies were drawn from her clinical experience with hundreds of women.

Dr. Hanley had a distinguished writing and speaking career beyond her collaboration with Dr. Lee. In 2002, she published a book on adrenal fatigue entitled Tired of Being Tired. Before her retirement in 2009, she spoke to 500 physicians at the Institute for Functional Medicine and to several thousand women at the California Governor’s Conference and Texas Governor’s Conference for Women.

As this brief biography makes clear, our community has lost a true friend and a genuine champion. Please join us in extending condolences and loving thoughts to all of Dr. Hanley’s family, friends, and colleagues.

Check Out Our Newest Products!

If you have not visited JohnLeeMD.com lately, here’s a good reason to drop in. We now offer a downloadable version of Dr. Lee’s most popular book for men and a highly informative, two-hour talk by Dr. Lee on digital video disc (DVD)! Here is some further information about our new products.

  • Managing Menopause - Now on DVD! This two-hour DVD features a full-length talk by Dr. Lee covering topics such as how hormones work, natural versus synthetic hormones, menopause, osteoporosis, hormones and heart disease, and more. If you never were able to attend one of Dr. Lee's talks, this is the next best thing to being there. If you have, you know that Dr. Lee's talks are clear, easy-to-understand, and often humorous introductions to the topic of how hormones work, and how to use progesterone and other natural hormones to manage menopausal symptoms.

  • Hormone Balance for Men - PDF Version. This long-awaited work by Dr. Lee sheds light on how men's hormones really work. Like women, men frequently suffer from estrogen dominance as they age. This syndrome can manifest itself in unique ways in men, including prostate enlargement and prostate cancer. Hormone Balance for Men sheds a light on this subject and helps men make informed decisions about supplementing with natural hormones. We now offer this booklet as a PDF file that can be downloaded for no shipping charge. This significantly reduces the cost of the book, especially for those who live outside the United States.

Right now, you can purchase Managing Menopause on DVD for $29.95 and Hormone Balance for Men as a downloadable PDF for just $10.95. To learn more about either product and to purchase it, just click on the product name.

Tell Your Friends...Get a Discount!

Before we sign off, we want to remind you that you can spread the good news about hormone health and save money on your next purchase. Just point your web browser to our Tell a Friend page. Use this page to provide us with the name and email address of a friend who could benefit from our website. We will send them an email that introduces them to our site and offers them a 10% discount on their first purchase. If your friend visits our website, you will receive a 10% discount on your next purchase as well!

Rest assured that we will not send unwanted “spam” to your friends or sell their email addresses to anyone. We will also make it easy for them to tell us if they do not wish to receive any further emails from us. So please...accept our offer and help those who are special to you by giving them an incentive to improve their health naturally!