Hormone Therapy Isn’t As Risky As Once Thought, New Study Finds

Scientific opinion on hormone replacement therapy sometimes feels like a pendulum that swings back and forth, leaving women confused about what treatment for menopause symptoms, including hot flashes, vaginal dryness and osteoporosis, is best for them.

While all medical treatments pose some risk, are the risks of treating menopause symptoms worth the benefits that hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can deliver? That’s the question that women have been asking and hoping that research clarifies.

Maybe it’s time for them to relax, a new study suggests.

In a new randomized study of 27,347 women who were followed for 18 years, those who took hormone medication were no more likely to die of any cause than women who were given a placebo.  

The Women’s Health Initiative hormone therapy trials tested the most common types of hormone therapy ― estrogen alone and estrogen plus progestin ― to assess the benefits and risks of menopause hormone therapy taken for chronic disease prevention by predominantly healthy postmenopausal women.

Researchers analyzed data from two trials, which included postmenopausal women with an average age of 63 at enrollment, and explored the effect of treatment over five to seven years, with 18 years of cumulative follow-up, and then defined the effect of hormone therapy on mortality rates. 

All-cause mortality provides a “critically important summary measure” for an intervention such as hormone therapy that has a complex matrix of benefits and risks, said lead author JoAnn E. Manson, a professor at Harvard Medical School and a past president of The North American Menopause Society.

“Mortality rates are the ultimate ‘bottom line’ when assessing the net effect of a medication on serious and life-threatening health outcomes,” she told HuffPost.

The team also found that deaths from Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia were significantly lower with estrogen-alone medication than with a placebo during 18 years of…

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