Developments In Hormone Replacement Therapy

A new development about HRT for relief from your menopause symptoms has been reported in the news.

The medical researchers who conducted the 2002 study which concluded HRT increases risk of cancer, heart attack and stroke, have found a significant flaw in the interpretation of the results of the study.

The women who participated in that study were, on average, 12 years past menopause, and the risks of HRT outweigh the benefits for women in that category. The researchers now say research since that 2002 study has shown that the benefits of HRT outweigh the risks for women who start HRT near the onset of menopause.

Dr. Robert Langer, Principal Scientist at the Jackson Hole Center for Preventive Medicine, and Professor JoAnn Manson (Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, MA), were two of the principal investigators of the 2002 study. They discuss this new development in the news story appearing on the Science Codex website.

Here is an excerpt from the Science Codex news story:

Dr. Robert Langer, Principal Scientist at the Jackson Hole Center for Preventive Medicine, Jackson Wyoming, was the Principal Investigator of the WHI Clinical Center at the University of California, San Diego. He said

“With 10 years hindsight we can put the lessons learned from the WHI HT trials into perspective. In some ways we’ve come full circle – studies in recently menopausal women that suggested protection against major diseases led to testing whether that would carry over to older women who have even greater risks of heart attacks and fractures. That hope proved false. Unfortunately the results were wrongly generalized back to women like those who inspired the study. 

Information that has emerged over the last decade, shows that for most women starting treatment near the menopause, the benefits outweigh the risks, not just for relief of hot flashes, night sweats and vaginal dryness, but also for reducing the risks of heart disease and fractures.”

Langer continued:

“Overgeneralizing the results from the women who were — on average — 12 years past menopause to all postmenopausal women has led to needless suffering and lost opportunities for many. Sadly, one of the lessons from the WHI is that starting HT 10 years or more after menopause may not be a good idea, so the women who were scared away by the WHI over this past decade may have lost the opportunity to obtain the potential benefits.”

Professor JoAnn Manson (Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, MA), who has been one of the WHI Principal Investigators since the study started, said:

“An important contribution of the WHI was to clarify that, for older women at high risk of cardiovascular disease, the risks of HT far outweighed the benefits. This halted the increasingly common clinical practice of prescribing HT to women who were far from the onset of menopause. Unfortunately, these findings were extrapolated to newly menopausal and healthy women who actually had a favourable benefit: risk ratio with HT. The WHI results point the way towards treating each woman as an individual. There is no doubt that HT is not appropriate for every woman, but it may be appropriate for many women, and each individual woman needs to talk this over with her clinician.”

I think that menopausal women should be open to reconsidering HRT as a treatment to relieve menopause symptoms. The effectiveness of HRT in reducing hot flashes, mood swings and other symptoms, has never been questioned. What has been questioned is the risk factor connected with HRT. Per this new report, there have been no studies that have shown the same level of risk for women who undergo HRT when they are closer to the menopause.

As this represents a new development about HRT for relief from your menopause symptoms, I would advise you to discuss this development with your doctor and/or other healthcare providers, to consider anew whether HRT would be an appropriate treatment for you.

This post has been reproduced with the permission of Menopause Matters.

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