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Originally published April 23 2008

HRT drugs medically useless in older women

by David Gutierrez, staff writer

(NaturalNews) Hormone replacement therapy provides no overall health benefit to postmenopausal women but may increase the risk of major cardiovascular events, according to the results of a study published in the British Medical Journal.

The WISDOM study, initiated in 1999, was discontinued when a study by the 2002 Women's Health Initiative found that hormone replacement therapy increased older women's risk of heart attack and stroke. The WISDOM results, now released, support the findings of the Women's Health Initiative but concluded that the risks of hormone replacement therapy may not apply to younger women using the therapy to lessen the symptoms of menopause.

Researchers studied 5,692 healthy women with an average age of 63 from Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom for approximately 12 months. Women who were treated with a combined hormone therapy of progesterone and estrogen were found to have significantly more blood clots and major cardiovascular events (angina, heart attacks and sudden coronary death) than women who were treated with a placebo. The rates for cerebrovascular disease, cancer, fracture and overall death were the same in both groups, however. The therapy provided no overall benefit in prevention of disease.

The study authors cautioned that its results do not necessarily apply to younger menopausal women, since the average participant in the WISDOM study was 15 years past menopause. Recent studies suggest that hormone replacement therapy may, in fact, have a cardiovascular health benefit for women at the time of menopause, in addition to relieving symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats. The authors said that further research will be needed to fully understand the therapy's effects on younger women.

According to an accompanying editorial by Dr. Helen Roberts of the University of Auckland in Australia, the current study does not challenge the standard medical advice for postmenopausal women. Short-term use of hormone replacement therapy is unlikely to pose significant health risks, she says, but long-term use is not recommended.

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