Suzanne Somers’ Forever Health Interview with Dr. Michael Carragher
“Age management medicine is not about making you 120, or 130, or 140 years old,” Forever Health physician, Dr. Mike Carragher explained in his interview with health advocate Suzanne Somers. “If you get there, great. However, it’s really about giving you the highest quality of life so that the last 30 years of your life doesn’t look like this [gestures downward] on a quality of life curve. Nobody wants to spend the last ten years of their lives in a wheelchair being spoon-fed and having their diapers changed and all that. We all want to go out and — however long we live — play that last tennis game and go to bed and not wake up. That’s sort of the ideal scenario.”
Both Dr. Carragher and Suzanne Somers agree that “it’s all about quality of life.”
“The new world of bioidentical hormones and hormone replacement has added quality of life to so many and what we are doing today is trying to convey to others who have not jumped on this fast-moving train as to why they might want to do this,” Suzanne Somers observed. “So if I were a man or a woman coming into your office today (and I can only speak from a female perspective), I would probably come in and say, ‘I can’t sleep, I’m gaining weight, I am bloated, I’m in a bad mood, I have zero libido, my hair is stringy, my skin is getting wrinkled . . . What can you do for me?’”
Dr. Carragher’s response to Suzanne Somers was that both sexes present with a number of similar complaints as they grow older. For men, these problems are often solved by testosterone, the primary male sex hormone. He dispels the myth that testosterone causes prostate cancer, which has prevented so many men from benefitting from this critical hormone. In fact, leading testosterone researcher Abraham Morgentaler, MD, is successfully treating prostate cancer patients with the hormone in clinical trials. (Despite this encouraging research, prostate cancer patients are advised to follow their physicians’ recommendations concerning the best treatments for their disease.)
Men who are seen in Dr. Carragher’s practice are requesting treatment for symptoms of low testosterone at increasingly younger ages. But while older men have a deficit in the production of testosterone by the cells of the testes or diminished numbers of these cells, the situation for younger men may be different. For this group, Dr. Carragher informed Suzanne Somers that he often prescribes human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), a hormone that stimulates the testicles to produce more testosterone. Treatment with HCG is a good option for younger men who want to start a family, since HCG does not negatively impact sperm count, as can occur with exogenous testosterone. For older men, Dr. Carragher recommends the use of transdermal testosterone cream, which delivers a regular supply of the hormone that ensures consistent serum levels. For men who don’t want to use a cream, weekly injections are an option, however, this leads to a trough of decreased testosterone toward the end of the week prior to the next injection, resulting in a level that is less even.
When asked by Suzanne Somers about the development of what appears to be a lack of response to hormone creams among some men after a period of successful use, Dr. Carragher explained that the cause of this occurrence is resistance to testosterone that develops in the cell receptors of one or more application sites, which can easily be prevented by rotating the application to varying areas of the body, including the scrotum, which Dr Carragher compares to a mucous membrane in terms of its superior capacity for absorption. (He cautions, however, that alcohol-based testosterone gels may be irritating to this sensitive area.)
“But it’s not just testosterone for men, is it?” Suzanne Somers asks.
The current emphasis placed on “Low T” by the media ignores the fact testosterone is not the only hormone men may need to replace as they grow older, Dr. Carragher concurs. Deficiencies in dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), growth hormone and thyroid hormones may also exist. Simultaneously, other hormones, including cortisol and insulin, may be too high (as well as too low in some cases). It is essential that anyone with suspected hormone abnormalities have a blood test panel administered to thoroughly evaluate their hormone status, so that the proper dose of supplemental hormones can be prescribed that will restore the body’s levels to ranges reflective of a youthful state.
An area that is frequently overlooked in male patients is the thyroid gland. Thyroid hormones (T3 and T4) often diminish during aging in both sexes. In the case of normal levels of production, hormone receptors can become resistant (analogous to insulin resistance), which can necessitate supplementation with a higher dosage of thyroid hormones than might otherwise be administered to someone diagnosed with hypothyroidism.
“It’s interesting because, as much progress as has been made, the buck still stops with men,” Suzanne Somers observed. “So there’s more stress in men’s lives, as a general rule than females.”
Despite unprecedented medical progress, the high stress levels that accompany modern living, excessive exposure to electromagnetic fields, consumption of pesticide-laden food, and more have created a situation unlike any that both men and women have ever been exposed to. Suzanne Somer’s recent book, Tox-Sick, documents the phenomenon. The presence of endocrine disruptors in the environment can impact hormone balance and compound the deficiencies that occur with aging. These chemicals attach to receptors intended for hormones or hormone precursors and interfere with hormone function. This can result in people experiencing a need for hormone therapy at a younger age — a phenomenon Dr. Carragher has observed in his practice.
Early on in his medical training, Dr. Carragher realized that he didn’t want to be the all-too-common doctor who automatically dispenses a prescription in response to the first complaint the patient is able to communicate within the short time allotted for their appointment. Combined with a strong desire to practice preventive medicine, his personal experience with hormone imbalance inspired him to become a physician who can evaluate others with this common and treatable condition. Bioidentical hormone replacement offers patients immediate benefits and significantly lowers the risk of chronic degenerative diseases that occur with aging, making it a gratifying life’s work.
“I think that hormone replacement should really be standard of care in medicine,” Dr. Carragher proclaimed. “As every single one of us get older I think that every family doctor should be optimizing hormones in their patients. I think there should be no question about it. I think the benefits so far outweigh any risks . . . and it’s sort of my mission to take that message out there to people.”
To learn more about Dr. Michael Carragher in West Hollywood, CA - visit his Forever Health profile.