Sun Feb 17, 2019 | 13:50
Estrogen HRT less risky than thought
Wed, 06 Apr 2011 08:50:53 GMT
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A new study indicates that for women with a prior hysterectomy, taking estrogen-only hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for menopausal symptoms may be safer in their 50s than had been previously thought.

The new finding is based on a study related to the Women's Health Initiative that followed thousands of US women taking hormones or placebo pills for years.

The study showed in 2004 that consuming a combination of hormones including estrogen during or after menopause did not cut women's risk of heart disease as expected while it increased their risk of strokes and blood clots.

However, a new look at the those participants, who had undergone hysterectomies and were taking estrogen unaccompanied by another hormone, progestin, showed that estrogen had a protective effect against heart disease overall, but women in their 50s had far fewer heart attacks than women in their 70s.

The most surprising finding is that women with hysterectomies who used estrogen alone had a 23 percent lower risk for breast cancer than their peers who had taken a placebo. This finding is in contrast to the higher risk of breast cancer shown in the estrogen-progestin part of the trial.

Although, for women in their 70s, estrogen-only HRT increased the risk of colorectal cancer, chronic disease, and death, cautioned the researchers in the article, which appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

"This study is very good news for women without a uterus," said lead author Andrea Z. LaCroix from Hutchinson Cancer Research Center."

"We are not arguing that women should use estrogen to prevent breast cancer," she added. “What we are saying is there are these important risks and benefits to estrogen-only HRT. Now women and their doctors have more information than ever before on deciding whether to start estrogen and when to stop it."

Moreover, the researchers emphasized that their findings do not change recommendations concerning combination hormone therapy for the two-thirds of menopausal women who still have a uterus.

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