Hormone Therapy May Be Safer Than You Think
Many women worry about the safety of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for menopause symptoms. Do the potential benefits outweigh the risks, or vice versa? Research – as well as accepted medical opinion on the subject – has been controversial. Now, a new study suggests HRT may be safe for most women.
Results of the study, conducted by researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, were published in JAMA. It’s the longest follow-up study to date on the original hormone therapy study, which used data from the Women’s Health Initiative. More than 27,000 women were randomly assigned to receive a placebo, a combination of hormones (estrogen plus progestin), or estrogen alone (if they had had a hysterectomy). Study participants took the hormone therapy or placebo for five to seven years and were monitored for 18 years for chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease.
At the end of the study period, death rates from any cause among women receiving hormone therapy were similar to those in women taking the placebo, according to researchers. Current guidelines advise using HRT for the shortest time possible, at the lowest dose needed, and only to relieve severe symptoms of menopause. Hormone therapy is no longer widely recommended to prevent chronic disease like bone loss (osteoporosis), heart disease, and cancer.