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As more women have learned about the health risks of conventional hormone therapy drugs, many have started looking for natural alternatives, such as herbs, dietary supplements. One kind of alternative — natural hormones, or bio-identical hormones — has attracted a lot of new interest, driven in large part by claims by the companies and pharmacies that make and distribute so-called natural hormones that their products are safer than conventional hormone therapy drugs. Many of the claims made about these products are unproven, but most women don’t know that. They assume that natural products must be safer, but products are not necessarily safe just because they’re natural. The same questions we ask about drugs need to be answered for alternative therapies too. Women also think because natural hormones are prescribed by a doctor and sold in a pharmacy that they’ve been tested and proven to be safe and effective just like conventional drugs, but that?s not true either. The NWHN has been urging the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for years to exercise better oversight of natural hormones. Last month the FDA finally took action, telling the pharmacies that sell them that the safety and effectiveness claims they were making are unsupported by medical evidence, and are considered false and misleading by the agency. Groups that promote natural hormones have responded with an ad campaign that repeats the unproven claims and urges women to criticize the FDA’s actions. The NWHN believes women need to know about the unproven claims for natural hormones and supports the steps taken by the FDA.For more information on these products and about the FDA decision, read the National Women’s Health Network’s newly updated fact sheet on Natural Hormones at Menopause.

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