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STUDY: Risks of hormone replacement outweigh benefits
JOURNAL: Journal of the American Medical Association
AUTHORS: Dr. Jacques Rossouw
ABSTRACT: Not only did hormone replacement therapy not prevent heart disease, it actually increased the risk of heart disease, strokes and blood clots, say researchers.
The large federal study designed to help settle the raging debate over whether hormone replacement therapy benefits postmenopausal women has been abruptly halted, researchers said Tuesday. The reason: The overall health risks of the hormones taken by some six million American women exceed their benefits, the study showed.
COMMENTARY: For Years, doctors and patients alike have struggled with the question of whether the benefits of the drugs, estrogen and progestin, outweigh their risks.
Given to replace the hormones that naturally decline after menopause, the drugs relieve hot flashes, mood swings and night sweats. And early research suggested the hormones also improve a woman’s overall health.
Instead, the large Women’s Health Initiative has found that combined hormone replacement therapy raises a woman’s risk of breast cancer, stroke and heart disease.
Doctors have been anxiously awaiting the results of the trial — the first and largest study to compare the effects of the drugs to placebo in healthy women.
Upon stopping the trial, the federal government immediately sent a letter to the 16,000 participants and their doctors, advising them to stop the drugs.
DO NOT PANIC
But women taking the medications should not panic, experts stressed, noting that the absolute risk of harm to any individual is extremely small.
And there are some benefits — chiefly a reduced risk of colorectal cancer and hip fractures, the study showed.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Women who are currently taking estrogen plus progestin should have a serious talk with their doctor to see if they should continue it,” said study author Dr. Jacques Rossouw of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
Not only did this therapy not prevent heart disease, it actually increased the risk of heart disease, strokes and blood clots. Compared with placebo, HRT raised the risk of strokes by 41 percent, heart attacks by 29 percent and breast cancer cases by 26 percent, the study showed.
Women taking the hormones for the short-term for hot flashes and other symtoms of menopause may not have a higher risk of disease but taking the drugs for years is no longer advisable, experts said. For women who have had hysterectomies and who need HRT, estrogen alone may be safer.The study did not address the question of taking estrogen alone. Its benefits and risks are being evaluated in a second clinical trial of 11,000 women, also by the Women’s Health Initiative.
This is very important to all of you out there taking HRT. Please contact your doctor and talk it over. Here at the clinic we support many women with alternatives to HRT.
You do have Options!!!!!!!