NEW YORK – The American Medical Association is taking on actress Suzanne Somers’ claim of finding a hormonal fountain of youth.

In her new book, “Ageless,” Somers touts new drugs called bioidentical hormones as a salve for the miseries of menopause and the changes that women face with age.

“What we are doing now is the same as the Industrial Revolution,” Somers told the New York Daily News, describing her six-week-old book as “a bible.”

But the AMA has asked the government to scrutinize the drugs and challenges many of the book’s claims.

Bioidentical hormones are commercially manufactured, or made-to-order, hormones whose chemical structure is the same as those produced by the body.

Proponents describe them as plant-based, natural alternatives to the synthetic hormones that were popular with postmenopausal women until a 2002 government study found they increased the risk of breast cancer and heart attacks.

But critics say the sources of the drugs’ ingredients aren’t always identified and their safety and benefits are unproven. It’s unknown how many women are taking them.

“We’re not necessarily saying these are better or worse. The important thing is, we don’t know,” said Dr. Robert Vigersky, a member of the Endocrine Society.

Somers and her guru, a self-proclaimed scientist named T.S. Wiley who lacks a college degree, dismiss their critics as well-paid lackeys of the pharmaceutical industry who are threatened by unconventional ideas to help suffering women.

“This is David and Goliath. But someone has to speak for women because the AMA is speaking for the pharmaceutical companies. The AMA does not understand menopause. The doctors are men,” Somers said.

Ironically, Somers’ and Wiley’s fiercest and most bitter critic may be a doctor who shares their aversion to traditional hormone-replacement therapy – and even prescribes other bioidenticals herself.

Somers and Wiley lack the credentials to do the same, said Manhattan internist Dr. Erika Schwartz.

She wrote to Somers’ publisher, Crown, protesting the book’s “gratuitous advice on significant medical issues … areas that are legally and ethically the domain of licensed medical practitioners.”

In recent days, as their bickering has reached a crescendo, the attacks have grown increasingly personal.

“This is not about turf because Suzanne Somers is not a physician. Why would anyone take advice from an actress? The health care system for women is not where it should be, but bringing in amateurs doesn’t help,” Schwartz sniffed.

Somers countered, “She writes a column for the National Enquirer. If she jumps on Suzanne Somers’ coattails, she can get a lot of patients for herself.”

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