Bioidentical Hormone Articles featuring Dr. Mark Rosenbloom
Outside Opinion: Testosterone therapy helps executives
Foggy thinking. Memory lapses. Increased fatigue. Reduced confidence. Decreasing performance in the boardroom, the bedroom and the gym.
These are conditions reported by many of my patients. They are executives in Chicago and the North Shore. They work at Fortune 500 companies. They are entrepreneurs, doctors and lawyers.
They tell me they want to regain the energy of their youth. Some are barely 30 when they come to see me, but most are between 40 and 70.
Leading a successful business is difficult enough. To do it when your most important hormones (testosterone, thyroid and others) are declining up to 2 percent per year from age 30 on can needlessly compromise your effectiveness and the quality of your life. Fortunately for most, this decline is reversible with testosterone replacement, other therapies, and diet and exercise.
Some critics say this trend is about vanity, but they are wrong. These executives are not shallow or obsessed with keeping their six-figure jobs. They just want to keep doing what makes their lives vital and meaningful. That means competing at the highest levels of the business world.
One man who has benefited from testosterone therapy is John Geocaris, who owns Little Lady Foods, a custom food manufacturer in Elk Grove Village. He is 61 and says that treatments have increased his energy and concentration.
Another example is Jim Oborny, CEO of a Facebook applications developer called Bleapp, located in Glenview. He started on my program after coming to grips with his family history. “My brother died when he was 49. My grandfather died when he was 49. So I said I gotta do something to live past 49,” he recalled.
After a few months, Oborny reduced his body fat by 16 percent, gained 8 pounds of muscle, threw away his cholesterol medication and was no longer borderline diabetic. He is now, yes, 49.
Some critics claim that testosterone replacement therapy is of unproven benefit and may even cause prostate cancer. Testosterone therapy has actually been used successfully for decades. Hundreds of published studies attest to its health benefits and safety. Recent studies have proven that not only does it not cause prostate cancer, but testosterone therapy may decrease the risks of all cancers. Monthly testosterone treatment programs cost $195 to $495.
The bottom line: No one should accept fatigue and fuzzy thinking as “normal aging.”
The sooner you are examined and screened the better, as many of us suffer needlessly from cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and many other age-related diseases. Research provides ample evidence that integrative anti-aging medicine, which combines hormone therapy, diet changes, exercise, nutritional supplements and early screenings, can not only add many years to your life, but more important, many healthy years.
Rosenbloom is the founder of LIFEFORCE Medical Institute in Northfield and is opening an office in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood. LIFEFORCE specializes in bio-identical hormone replacement therapy for men and women.
The Price of Prevention
Dr. Mark Rosenbloom is trying to keep us healthier earlier, but can we afford it?
By Alex Lubischer
At first glance, LIFEFORCE Medical Institute eludes categorization. The Evanston-based practice provides an array of healthcare services including hormone replacement therapy, heart disease detection and a special needs division that offers holistic support to patients grappling with multiple sclerosis.
Its website, however, advertises LIFEFORCE’s more cosmetic advantages, offering to help its clients defy age array of anti-aging breakthroughs. These claims, coupled with the site’s images of a muscled clientele, calls to mind the services of a health club.
When asked to rate his institute on a scale of one to ten, with “one” denoting a health club and “ten” a strictly medical institute, LIFEFORCE founder Dr. Mark Rosenbloom gave a confident 13. “Everything I do is backed by medical research,” he said.
And everything he does can get pricey. Paying via insurance is not an automatic. LIFEFORCE will submit some tests and procedures, but the full amount of the services has to be paid upfront. If insurance will pick up part of the tab, a refund is sent to the patient.
This leaves the LIFEFORCE preventative approach to health and wellness out of reach for most Cook County residents. Its cheapest initial service is a $695 hormone review for women and $895 hormone review for men. Its priciest: a comprehensive health consultation for $3,495 for both men and women.
Still, those who can afford it get their money’s worth. The hormone review alone provides a full blood exam that analyzes hormone levels and triglycerides (a type of fat in the bloodstream whose high levels can increase a risk of heart disease) as well as a number of other health risk factors. This can alert patients of risks up to a decade in advance, leaving plenty of time for prevention. The comprehensive consultation includes a radiological iDXA scan that gives a molecular readout of body composition and a three-to-five hour consultation with Rosenbloom. Patients who opt for ongoing supplements and hormone therapy receive additional consultations and pay anywhere from $495 to $995 per month. The cost for an athletic trainer is additional, though one session does include meeting with a trainer to set up an initial workout regimen.
The program yields results. “I have a 45-year-old patient. She’s had constant Crohn’s disease for 25 years, and now she’s been on my program for about eight months, and she’s in complete remission for the first time in her adult life,” said Rosenbloom, who prescribes informed dieting and exercise in addition to supplements and prescription medication.
Mark Fournier, a 55-year-old avid hockey player, came to LIFEFORCE last summer because he wanted to stay healthy and preemptively combat the high risk of cancer that runs in his family. The program found and corrected a thyroid problem and vitamin D deficiency. He became fitter and healthier. Of his treatment, Fournier said, “Dr. Rosenbloom says, ‘OK. You’re healthy for a 55-year-old; let’s see if we can get you as healthy as a competing 30-year-old.’ He just raises the bar.”
So why won’t insurance companies foot the bill? According to Rosenbloom, the problem roots itself in the amount of time allotted to each patient. For a typical patient, Rosenbloom spends two to three hours reviewing the lab results and detailed health history before determining a patient-specific plan. He’ll then spend up to another three hours with the patient, going over everything in depth, from medication to diet and exercise.
“If I claim from insurance, they’ll give me an extended patient visit’ at $125 bucks,” said Rosenbloom, whose time spent with each patient far exceeds the $125 compensation. So payments most often come out of the pockets of patients who can afford this pioneering treatment without the aid of insurance.
The key to making LIFEFORCE’s prevention-as-treatment methods accessible to the general population hinges on establishing types of protocols that could be followed by family practice doctors. Rather than health plans and treatments tailored specifically to each individual patient, there would need to be a formation of 10 to 15 different protocols that could be applied to various patients, dependent on need.
“The way it’s practiced now, it’s too time intensive. It’s not going to be available to the general public because they can’t afford to pay a physician for five hours,” explained Rosenbloom, whose higher-end treatment is currently available only to higher-end patients. In the future, he insisted, “there will be ways to simplify this.”
Insurance-funded, doctor-prescribed treatments that focus on prevention could save billions of dollars yearly. “Ninety percent of our healthcare dollars are spent in the last few years of life, when quality of life is really, really poor. If we, insurance, society as a whole, just spent one-tenth of that toward prevention 20 years earlier, it would save a lot of money,” said Rosenbloom.
This would require a fundamental shift in the way that healthcare is delivered, which, Rosenbloom explained, would be resisted by the status quo. “Heart disease is about a 400-billion-dollar-a-year industry that is projected to rise to 1.2 trillion dollars a year in the next 20 to 25 years. Heart disease is something that some people say is 90 percent preventable,” said Rosenbloom. “The problem is, if a lot [fewer] people get heart disease or cancer, then there’s a lot less money spent on drugs or hospitals.”
According to Rosenbloom, a majority of what the healthcare industry calls prevention is actually early detection. “What you need is true prevention, which is going one step earlier and keeping the disease from ever occurring. There’s very little in medicine that does that. The only practical solution I see now is for the insurance-buying public to be very aware of how important true prevention is – not early detection – and to be willing to pay a slightly higher short-term premium in order to protect their longer term health.”
Upon closer inspection, LIFEFORCE delivers noteworthy wellness and prevention programs which, far from lacking merit, simply fall outside the parameters of what is deemed medically necessary by today’s healthcare and health insurance standards.
Rosenbloom is forging a new path into the future of healthcare; one in which a physician’s duty preempts treating sick patients by keeping them healthy in the first place. For now, however, Rosenbloom’s high standards come at a high price.
Study looks at effects of testosterone loss
Doctors looking into whether supplements would be beneficial or harmful to men
Henry Kelin, 73, is an active man who walks and plays golf regularly. But after he turned 65, he felt fatigued, less energetic and lost his sexual desire. His testosterone level tested low, so he questioned whether supplements would make a difference.
Now, after participating in a testosterone study run by Dr. Mark Molitch, endocrinologist at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Kelin has “more energy than ever,” said the Buffalo Grove resident. “I’ve got my sexual desire back. Even the pain I have from my rheumatoid arthritis is lessened.”
Kelin is one of 800 men 65 or older who are participating in the study at Northwestern and 11 other U.S. sites. They receive physicals, then are given a testosterone gel or a placebo. (Outside of the study, doctors also prescribe testosterone supplements in patch, injection or dissolving-pellet form.)
“This will teach us more about testosterone, which has been ignored for years,” said Molitch. “We still need to compare natural loss versus testosterone therapy (supplements).”
Known as the male hormone, testosterone is made in the testicles. Women have it in smaller amounts. Gradual testosterone loss begins in a man’s 30s and often goes unnoticed, said Molitch, but doctors know it affects bone and muscle mass, fat distribution, energy, and sexual functioning.
“We’re testing these and cognitive effects,” said Molitch. “And we’re testing the risks, including prostate enlargement, prostate cancer and heart issues.”
Another study at Northwestern, led by urologist Dr. Kevin McVary, is testing the effects of testosterone on urinary function, ejaculation, erectile dysfunction and the prostate. “In the past, some thought giving men testosterone exacerbated prostate problems,” he said. “This study is challenging that.”
The study is not blind; patients know they are taking testosterone. It is not part of a drug development program.
“Women know about estrogen loss and talk about it,” said McVary. “It’s abrupt; it hits them in the face. But with men, testosterone loss sneaks up. One day they realize they’re not getting results in the gym. Or they can’t get an erection in the morning, when testosterone levels are highest.”
“For a lot of cultural reasons, men don’t seek health care like women do,” said McVary. “I liken it to the Titanic — save the women and children first. Now, it’s time to get more lifeboats for the men.”
“Men are macho,” said Ralph Picker, of Glenview, who has been getting testosterone therapy from Dr. Mark Rosenbloom in Evanston for six months. “We don’t need help, like we don’t ask for directions. But with testosterone, we should get help.”
Before his therapy, Picker said, he was feeling sluggish and had a low libido. “With the therapy, I feel younger, sharper, stronger,” he said. “I have more muscle definition. I’m chasing my wife again. I have a lovely wife; I’d like to live long enough to spend a long time with her.”
Rosenbloom gives his patients a thorough physical before beginning testosterone therapy. “Your testosterone, estrogen, progesterone, thyroid, cortisol, insulin and vitamin levels are all tested because they’re interrelated,” he said. “We ask about your lifestyle, diet and exercise. Follow-up is equally intense, with repeat blood tests and office visits every six to eight weeks.”
Too often, said Rosenbloom, doctors “tell patients to take Viagra or get more sleep, but don’t test their testosterone.”
Obesity complicates matters because testosterone gets converted to estrogen in fat tissue, said Rosenbloom. “It becomes a vicious circle — they gain weight, exercise less, have lower testosterone,” he said. “So they have to lose weight.”
Baby boomers are leading the testosterone therapy path, said Rosenbloom. “Until it becomes a topic on a popular TV show, it’s not something everyone talks about,” he said. “But boomers are taking responsibility for their health.”
“We’re not sure every older man should have testosterone supplements,” said McVary. “But testing your testosterone level should at least be part of an annual exam.”