(NaturalNews) While millions of women seek relief from menopausal symptoms with hormone replacement therapy (HRT), new studies are showing that in addition to heart disease, HRT is also associated with an increased incidence of kidney stones, as well as an increased risk of breast cancer and death.
Hormone replacement therapy involves the administration of estrogen and progestin, a synthetic form of progesterone, to ease hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness and other symptoms of menopause. In 1993 scientists launched the Women's Health Initiative (WHI), a study designed in part to test the theory that HRT reduced the risk of heart disease. The trial had to be halted three years early when preliminary results showed that, rather than promoting heart health, HRT actually increased the risk of heart disease and stroke as well as the risk of invasive breast cancer.
The WHI study was extended from 2005 to 2010 to follow 115,400 of the original 161,000 participants, and it aimed in part to describe the longer term effects of hormone therapies. Two recent reports on the WHI results reveal more good reasons to avoid hormone replacement therapy.
Based on the extended WHI study, researchers at the University of Buffalo in a report published in JAMA
, have linked HRT with an increased risk of death from breast cancer and with a higher risk of invasive breast cancer in postmenopausal women.
Not only were the women taking the combination of estrogen and progestin more likely to die from breast cancer, but they were also more likely to die from other causes than women
who did not take the hormones.
The researchers were surprised because their results fly in the face of earlier observational studies which had suggested that breast cancers in women on HRT were less advanced and had a lower risk of death.
The Buffalo study, however, shows that hormone
therapy actually interferes with detection of breast cancer, leading to cancers being diagnosed at a more advanced stage. It also found that these women, who were followed for an average of 11 years, tended to have more involvement of their lymph nodes which generally indicates a poorer prognosis.
Also relying on data from the WHI study, researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, concluded recently that use of estrogen therapy is associated with an increased risk of developing kidney stones in healthy postmenopausal women.
The scientists, whose work was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine
, noted that kidney stones or "nephrolithiasis" is a common condition affecting 5 percent to 7 percent of American postmenopausal women. Kidney stone formation can be related to a variety of life style factors and health
The scientists examined WHI data from two different groups: 10,739 postmenopausal women with a hysterectomy who received either an estrogen-only treatment or a placebo for an average of 7.1 years, and 16,608 postmenopausal women without a hysterectomy who received either estrogen plus progestin, or a placebo for an average of 5.6 years.
The authors found that estrogen therapy was associated with a significant increase in risk of kidney stones regardless of age, ethnicity, body mass index, prior hormone therapy use, or use of coffee or thiazide diuretics. They concluded that estrogen therapy increases the risk of kidney stones in postmenopausal women even though they do not yet understand the mechanisms underlying the development of the stones.
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Margie King is a certified holistic health coach, Wharton M.B.A. and former corporate attorney. She received her training at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and is certified by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners. Margie leads workshops on nutrition, conducts healthy cooking classes, and offers individual and group health and nutrition coaching to women and busy professionals.
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