Published: Wed, September 13, 2017
Health | By Jay Jacobs

Women told HRT does not lead to early death

Women told HRT does not lead to early death

The landmark research, backed by the US government, began in the early 1990s to rigorously test hormones' effects in older women randomly assigned to take the pills or dummy treatment.

The current study, however, looked at longer-term data from the WHI study and found no increased risk of death from all causes, or from cancer or cardiovascular issues in particular, associated with hormone use.

Hormone therapy does not increase the risk of cancer, heart disease or premature death in menopausal women, a study finds.

Experts said the hormone therapy is safe to use by women who are looking to relieve symptoms from menopause such as hot flashes.

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. After that, many doctors became reluctant to prescribe hormone therapy for menopause symptoms.

Dr. Manson and colleagues at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston followed up with more than 27,000 women, almost two decades after taking hormone replacement.

"It is a bit surprising that given the many risks of hormone therapy identified during the treatment phase, the net effect on all-cause mortality was neutral", says Manson, who leads one of the WHI's multiple study sites.

"It's the ultimate bottom line, ' said Manson, who was also part of the original research".

After 18 years - including 10 to 12 years of follow-up after women ceased hormone therapy - researchers behind the new review found no positive or negative effect on death rate linked to treatment with either estrogen, or estrogen plus progesterone. All-cause mortality was 27.1 per cent in the hormone therapy group versus 27.6 per cent in the placebo group.

"Women with existing health problems, for instance asthma, need to be followed more thoroughly through the menopausal transition and be provided with advice on medications that take the changing hormone levels better into account - ideally with a personalised approach", Triebner added.

Over the extended follow-up period, overall mortality rates and deaths from cardiovascular disease and cancer were neither increased nor decreased among women who received hormone therapy.

"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. When used for menopause symptoms, the lowest possible dose for the shortest possible time was recommended, then as now.

Brands studied were Prempro estrogen-progestin pills and Premarin estrogen-only pills.

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

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