May 29, 2012 — Thousands of post-menopausal women undergo hormone replacement therapy to prevent chronic conditions and ease the symptoms of menopause.
A new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine has combined the results of nine clinical trials of women who were taking combined estrogen with progestin.
Although the women had a lower risk of broken bones, they had higher risks for other diseases — including a 34-79% higher risk of stroke, gallbladder disease, or urinary incontinence.
The researchers also found that combining estrogen with progestin could increase the risk of breast cancer and dementia.
Blood clots were twice as likely to occur in women taking combined hormonal therapy. However, just taking estrogen was linked to a lower risk of breast cancer, and a 25-30% lower risk of bone fracture.
The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) now recommends that post-menopausal women should not use hormone replacement therapy to prevent certain chronic conditions.
In recent years, expert recommendations on the benefits of hormone replacement therapy has shifted. Experts used to believe that replacement hormones could protect against heart disease, osteoporosis, dementia, hot flashes, and more.
In 2002, however, a massive study funded by the U.S. National Institute of Health was halted prematurely when researchers found that postmenopausal women taking hormone replacements were more likely to suffer from heart disease and cancer.
Now, experts recommend against using combined estrogen and progestin to prevent some chronic conditions. According to the researchers who conducted the study, the risks of the therapy far outweigh any benefits.
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