Saturday, 7 March 2015

New Study Casts Doubt on Dangers of Hormone Therapy for Hot Flashes

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But other experts warn it's too soon to say the treatment is safe


WebMD News from HealthDay

By Dennis Thompson

HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, March 6, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Hormone replacement therapy for women may not be as potentially risky as previously thought, a new Mayo Clinic review contends.

The new study, which evaluated three decades of prior research, concluded that hormone therapy to treat symptoms of menopause doesn't increase overall risk of death or the risk of death from heart attack, stroke or cancer.

"This is the latest update of the current evidence," said lead author Dr. Khalid Benkhadra, a research fellow at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. "I can say there's no risk of dying from any reason because a woman is taking hormone replacement therapy."

The results, Benkhadra said, should allay concerns of some women with debilitating menopausal symptoms who have feared taking hormones.

But not everyone is sold on the safety of hormone therapy. Heart and cancer doctors who reviewed the new findings said that hormone therapy should still be used sparingly on those most in need, until further research proves otherwise.

"This study may provide some comfort that it shouldn't shorten your life, but it doesn't change the concern that the bad effects of hormone therapy are going to be an issue," said Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society.

Lichtenfeld added that the review's results are preliminary, and haven't been subjected to the rigorous peer review necessary for a study to be published in a medical journal.

"No one should change treatment until the data is examined more closely," he said.

Findings from the new review were scheduled to be presented Friday at the annual meeting of The Endocrine Society, in San Diego.

Concerns about the long-term safety of hormone therapy arose more than a decade ago with results from the Women's Health Initiative (WHI), a large-scale federal study of the health problems facing postmenopausal women.

The Women's Health Initiative found that hormone therapy using estrogen and progestin increased a woman's risk of heart attack, stroke, blood clots and breast cancer, compared with placebo. Estrogen alone increased risk of blood clots and stroke, but made no difference in heart attack risk and had an uncertain effect on breast cancer.



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