Many women are looking for ways to ease the symptoms of menopause. One common way is through hormone therapy. I recent found a web resource created by The Federal Drug Administration that I want to share with you. This website lists the different types of hormone therapies – estrogen-only, progestin-only, and medications that combine estrogen and progestin.
The federal agency recommends that women interested in hormone therapy should consult their doctor before starting a regimen. Some research has found that hormone therapy may increase women’s risk of blood clots, heart attacks, strokes, breast cancer, and gallbladder disease. Additionally, estrogen-only therapy also may increase the chances that a woman who has a uterus may develop endometrial cancer. Therefore, women should take the lowest dose that provides relief for them for the shortest time. Women also should not take hormone therapy if they are pregnant, have unusual vaginal bleeding, have (or previously ha...
Current or recent past users of hormonal replacement therapy (HRT) have a higher risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer. Before the link between HRT use and breast cancer risk was established, many postmenopausal women took HRT for many years to ease menopausal symptoms (hot flashes, fatigue) and to reduce bone loss. Since 2002, when research linked HRT and risk, the number of women taking HRT has dropped dramatically. Still, many women continue to use HRT to handle bothersome menopausal symptoms.
There are two main types of HRT:
combination HRT contains the hormones estrogen and progesterone
estrogen-only HRT contains only estrogen
Each type of HRT seems to have a different effect on breast cancer risk.
Combination HRT increases breast cancer risk by about 75%, even when used for only a short time. Combination HRT also increases the likelihood that the cancer may be found at a more advanced stage, as well as increasing the risk that a woman diagnosed with breast cancer will die...
Dr. Ravdin et al published a very impressive article in this week's New England Journal of Medicine on hormone replacement therapy (HRT) use and breast cancer rates.
They showed that the incidence (number of new cases) of breast cancer decreased in women who were 50 years of age or older from 2002 through the end of 2004.
They tie this to the decrease in postmenopausal hormone replacement therapy and note that the decrease was largely in the number of new cases of estrogen receptor positive (ER+) tumors.
The data on hormone replacement therapy and its relation to an increased incidence of breast cancer has been well publicized, although my latest take on the most recent iteration was that use for several years after menopause did not really increase the risk of breast cancer – that the increase was in women who had used hormone replacement therapy for 10 years or longer.
The hormone replacement therapy study is an interesting article and well thought out, and the au...
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