Hormone Replacement Therapy Does Not Increase Early Death In Women

Hormone Replacement Therapy Does Not Increase Early Death In Women

However, a follow-up study has found despite those risks, women on hormone therapy for five to seven years had similar rates of deaths from heart disease, breast cancer and other causes as those who took placebo pills. But there is no evidence that hormone therapy should be used for prevention of cardiovascular diseases and other chronic illnesses, they say. Now the research is showing it does not increase premature deaths. After 18 years, which included 10-12 years of follow-up after stopping hormone therapy, the differences by age group diminished and were no longer statistically significant.

More breast cancer, heart attacks and strokes occurred in women on combined pills, and those on estrogen pills had more strokes.

But women who took HRT - where these hormones are prescribed - for two or more years lost an average of 46 ml less of lung volume compared with women who never took HRT.

"This is good news for women", said JoAnn Manson, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and lead author of the study.

Past studies looked at specific health effects of hormone replacement therapy and deaths from specific causes, such as cancer and heart disease.

Overall, nearly 7,500 women died.

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Among the youngest women, there were fewer overall deaths early on among hormone users than dummy-pill users, but the rates evened out after women stopped using the pills. The team also found that deaths from Alzheimer's Disease and other forms of dementia were significantly lower with estrogen-alone than with placebo during 18 years of follow-up, but use of estrogen plus progestin was not associated with dementia mortality.

Dr Manson was also involved in the previous research, which was backed by the U.S. government and began in the early 1990s to test the effects of hormones on older women.

"These findings provide support for clinical guidelines endorsing the use of hormone therapy for recently menopausal women to manage bothersome hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms", Manson said.

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

The WHI hormone therapy trials addressed the benefits and risks of the most common formulations of hormone therapy used at the start of the study. Additional research on the long-term benefits and risks of these newer treatments is needed, the researchers say.