Suzanne Somers: Super Saleswoman

Not according to many medical experts. Dr. Adriane Fugh-Berman, an alternative medicine expert at Georgetown University, points out that there's no scientific data to prove Somers' disease-fighting claims. "To many people's surprise, it turns out that hormones do not prevent cardiovascular disease. They do increase the risk of stroke. They increase the risk of dementia. There is reason to believe they promote cancer."

While those risks were found in studies of standard hormone therapy, according to Fugh-Berman, "there's no reason to think that these hormones are safer than conventionally used pharmaceutical hormones."

Fugh-Berman said, Somers' own breast cancer in 2001 could have been caused by the bioidenticals. Somers blames other medications, including the birth control pills she took for many years. However, she acknowledges that a second serious condition -- uterine bleeding that led to a more recent hysterectomy -- may have been related. Somers feels that condition was likely due to an incorrect dosage of bioidenticals, and said the problem has since been resolved.

'Cutting Edge Experts'?

When ABC News asked Somers if she could promise women that no harm will come to them on these drugs, she said, "I do not make them that promise. I make them this promise: I'm doing it, too." She said she's so happy with the quality of life that she experiences on bioidenticals that her health scare was "not enough to make me stop taking these."

Somers bases her commitment to bioidentical hormones on the 16 doctors she hypes on the cover of her book. She calls them "cutting edge" experts, but ABC News found that most have published no original hormone research. And three of them turned out to have had serious professional disciplinary problems, including one whose medical license is under probation for five years for illegally selling drugs over the Internet.

Another expert in Somers' book, T.S. Wiley, is not a doctor, but a passionate layperson and published author with slim scientific credentials. She told us she attended a B.A. program in anthropology at Webster University in St. Louis, and displays a commencement picture on her Web site. However, the university told ABC News that Wiley received only a blank piece of paper that day, and never received a degree.

Turning the Clock Back to 20

Still, Wiley said up to 10,000 women gratefully follow the bioidentical program she devised, with almost no side effects. It's designed to mimic the level of hormones in a woman's body fromwhen she was an energetic 20 years old.

When we asked Wiley if it was a good idea to give 60-year-old women such high hormone doses, Wiley replied that "We don't know. [It] has to be studied."

As for the question of whether or not this is the safe thing to do, Wiley added, "I know that women in their 20s are generally, overall, healthier."

Somers' book also features Dr. Larry Webster, a former emergency room physician whose current anti-aging practice has mushroomed with the publication of "Ageless."

Webster also believes that bioidentical hormones are safer for women's bodies than the standard synthetic hormones but admits that long-term safety studies need to be done to prove that.

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