Wednesday, April 04, 2007
Yet another finding on hormones
Hormone replacement therapy is back in the news, again. As we were discussing this around the CNN offices, I was surprised at just how many women weighed in. Many were so frightened about the risks including heart disease and breast cancer that they swore off hormone replacement altogether. Other women say they will continue to take their hormones regardless of the risks. Yes, they tell me, their symptoms of hot flashes and night sweats are that bad.
Well, today there was a new wrinkle in the whole debate. It is likely some good news. Turns out that after looking at all the studies on women and HRT, something very interesting emerged. For women between the ages of 50 and 60 - usually the beginning of menopause - there seems to be no increased risk of heart disease after all. The risk certainly goes up at age 60 and even higher at 70. (Full Story)
Remember, HRT seemed like a good idea when it was first introduced. As a woman's hormone levels go down over time, you could simply replace that with a pill. As a result, the hope was that you could fend off the ravages of time. Problem was, it didn't work. In fact, for many women the opposite was true. The rates of heart disease and cancer actually went up.
In some ways, the new finding doesn't surprise me. The current guidelines are, only if you have debilitating symptoms of menopause, take the lowest HRT dose possible for the shortest amount of time. Still, we are all different and our needs change over time. The women who are in that critical perimenopausal time frame have a new decision to make. In light of today's new information, should they take hormones to address the symptoms of menopause? Would you, if you were in that position?
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