Hormone Replacement Therapy Does Not Increase Early Death In Women

Hormone Replacement Therapy Does Not Increase Early Death In Women

Many women avoided or stopped using hormones for menopause symptoms since 2002, when the federally funded Women's Health Initiative (WHI) study linked the treatments containing man-made versions of the female hormones estrogen and progestin to an increased risk of breast cancer, heart attacks and strokes.

The follow-up found hormone users had similar rates of deaths from heart disease, breast cancer and other causes as those who took dummy pills.

Dr. JoAnn Manson poses December 12, 2002, with a printout from a study she directed on hormone replacement therapy for women at her office in Boston.

Click on the video below to hear her full interview. Hormone therapy is no longer widely recommended to prevent chronic disease like osteoporosis, heart disease or cancer, as they previously were.

The door may be opening again for menopausal women suffering from hot flashes and night sweats to receive some relief from a source once thought too unsafe to consider, researchers say.

A previous look at the same set of women on hormone therapy uncovered worrisome risks including blood clots, stroke and breast cancer.

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Hormones were once considered a fountain of youth for women entering menopause because of weak evidence suggesting a host of purported benefits including reducing heart disease and boosting memory.

"All women should be assessed at menopause for symptoms; bone health, sexual health and their overall medical condition and then be individualized and we have both hormonal and non-hormonal options for women", said Thacker.

The researchers found during the five to seven years of treatment, death rates were about 30 percent lower among women aged 50 to 59 when they received hormone therapy than when they received placebo.

The brands studied were Prempro estrogen-progestin pills and Premarin estrogen-only pills. "However, the findings do not provide support for the use of hormone therapy for the prevention of cardiovascular disease or other chronic diseases".

"This study does not mean that a woman can nonchalantly start hormone therapy and stay on it for the rest of her life", he said. Even so, many women and their doctors remain wary of hormone use. During the follow-up, 7,489 deaths occurred, more than twice as many deaths as were included in earlier reports that had shorter follow-up periods. They found the treatment did not lead to early death from any cause. When examined by ten-year age groups, mortality outcomes were more favorable among younger women who received hormone therapy when compared to older women who also received the therapy.

More research is needed on risks and benefits of other types of hormones including patches, Mason said.

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