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STUDY: Careful with those hormones
JOURNAL: Journal of the American Medical Association, October 1, 2003
AUTHORS: Dr. Jane A. Cauley
ABSTRACT: Even though hormone therapy reduces the risk of broken bones and womb cancer, the treatment's potential benefits are outweighed by a heightened risk of other diseases.
COMMENTARY: Last year, the Women's Health Initiative trial was stopped early after an increased risk of heart disease and certain cancers was seen among hormone users.
The current report represents a final analysis of data from that trial.
The trial included more than 16,000 older women who were treated with inactive placebo pills or with hormone therapy, which included a combination of estrogen and progestin. On average, the patients were followed for nearly 6 years.
According to Dr. Jane A. Cauley, of the University of Pittsburgh, and colleagues, 8.6 percent of women in the hormone group and 11.1 percent in the placebo group experienced a fracture. However, those in the hormone group were found to be at increased risk for a variety of diseases and death.
Even among women at high risk for fracture, the risks of hormone therapy appeared to outweigh the benefits, the authors note.
In a related study, Dr. Garnet l. Anderson, from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, and associates found that although hormone therapy seemed to protect against womb or endometrial cancer, this benefit was more than offset by an increase in the risk of ovarian cancer.
Anderson's group also noted an increased need for procedures to deal with womb bleeding in the hormone group. "These data provide additional support for caution in the use of...combined hormones," they conclude.