Women told HRT does not lead to early death

13 September, 2017, 14:28 | Author: Tabitha Byrd
  • Hormone therapy for menopausal women does not increase the risk for heart disease cancers and premature death. An 18-year follow-up of previous research showed women were just as likely to have these risks without taking the hormones as they are if they

Both Dr. Shapiro and the Boston researchers note that the latest study examined the effects of hormone therapies used many years ago, at the start of the WHI study. Now the research is showing it does not increase premature deaths.

But about 18 years of follow-up showed that despite those risks, women had similar rates of deaths from heart disease, breast cancer and all other causes as those who took dummy pills.

The same research that originally raised fears of cancer and heart disease linked to HRT has now found that it led to no extra deaths over two decades as the health risks and benefits cancelled each other out.

"Hormones may be appropriate for some women when used short-term to relieve hot flashes and other bothersome menopause symptoms", said Dr Manson, who was also part of the original research. More than 27,000 women who were randomly assigned to receive either a placebo, a combination of hormones (estrogen plus progestin) or estrogen alone if they had had a hysterectomy.

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"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". 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.

After 18 years, which included 10 to 12 years of follow-up after stopping hormone therapy, the differences by age group diminished and were no longer statistically significant.

According to the findings, most deaths occurred after women stopped taking hormones.

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While the study found no overall increase or decrease in death rates among women between the ages of 50 and 79, the mortality rates were lowest among younger women in the group (aged 50 to 59). The study was halted in 2002, after investigators found the hormone therapy appeared to put women at greater risk of invasive breast cancer, strokes and heart disease.

Prempro and Premarin are both approved to treat menopause symptoms and to prevent bone-thinning osteoporosis.

Today, there are new formulations of hormone therapies, which include lower doses and novel administration methods, such as skin patches, gels, and sprays.

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