by RON WILSON
Thanks to my late father, a drug made from animal waste is the most widely prescribed drug in the world today.
My father, Dr. Robert A. Wilson, penned the influential 1960s book “Feminine Forever,” which promoted and popularized the idea of menopause as a disease. Menopause is a “living decay,” he wrote, which often destroys a woman’s “character as well as her health.” He added, “The unpalatable truth must be faced that all postmenopausal woman are castrates. A man remains a man until the very end. The situation with a woman is very different. Her ovaries become inadequate relatively early in life. She is the only mammal who cannot reproduce after middle age.”
My father’s solution: abolish menopause altogether, through the use of estrogen drugs, and woman will stay “feminine forever.” The idea took. One hundred thousand copies of “Feminine Forever” were sold in its first seven months of publication, and in the late 1960s and early 1970s, newspapers and women’s magazines ran hundreds of articles promoting estrogen use. Doctors across the country jumped on the bandwagon, prescribing estrogen drugs for millions of women. Unfortunately, the estrogen drug that is most widely prescribed, Wyeth-Ayerst’s Premarin, has a secret ingredient that my father had no trouble accepting: animal suffering.
Premarin is made from the estrogen-rich urine of pregnant horses. To collect the urine, farmers in the United States and Canada confine some 75,000 mares to tiny stalls for six months at a stretch. Some of the horses receive exercise every few weeks, but most don’t see the light of day for months. The mares must also wear cumbersome urine-collection bags which chafe their legs and prevent them from ever lying down comfortably.
Farmers are encouraged to limit horses access to water so that their urine will yield more concentrated estrogens. A veterinarian who works on pregnant mares’ urine (PMU) farms told inspectors from the United States Department of Agriculture that this practice can cause mares to suffer from renal and liver problems.”
The 70,000 foals born on PMU farms every year fare little better than their mothers. Some are used to replace exhausted mares – many of whom are forced to stand on the “pee line” for up to 20 years! But most of the foals are sent to feedlots where they are fattened, then slaughtered for meat. Claude Bouvry, Canada’s leading horsemeat exporter, says the PMU industry is his “biggest source of supply.” Without the overseas demand for horsemeat, Bouvry says, “there would be no market for the young horses procured by [PMU] mares.”
These horses do not have to die. Synthetic and plant-based estrogen drugs are readily available, and many physicians prefer them to Premarin. Small wonder: The Food and Drug Administration cautions that “the urinary estrogen excretion by pregnant mares is widely variable.” Studies have shown that the amount of estradiol – one of the active hormones in Premarin – can vary by almost 400 percent from one batch to the next. Of even more concern, some studies suggest that long-term treatment with Premarin significantly increases breast cancer risk.
Sadly, my father’s contribution to medical science resulted in a prescription for animal cruelty. I encourage woman of all ages to learn more about Premarin and its many alternatives.