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Originally published March 11 2010

Hormone replacement therapy now linked to cataracts

by S. L. Baker, features writer

(NaturalNews) For decades, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) was pushed by the medical establishment as a kind of youth elixir that offered all sorts of remarkable benefits. Take the hormones Big Pharma concocts from pregnant horses' urine and chemicals and middle-aged and older women would supposedly have better sex lives, fewer wrinkles, protection from heart attacks and no more hot flashes. Only, it was all a huge myth.

In fact, as the years passed and rates of breast cancer soared in women who took HRT, the truth began to be revealed. HRT didn't protect health at all. In fact, it caused breast and ovarian cancer (, upped heart attack risk and was even linked to brain shrinkage (

Now it turns out there's yet another danger from HRT. New research headed by Birgitta E. Lindblad, MD, of Sundsvall Hospital in Sweden and just published in Ophthalmology, the journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, provides evidence that taking HRT causes cataracts. This is no minor potential side effect, either, because vision problems can be devastating. The eye's lens becomes cloudy and stiff when a cataract develops, sometimes making it difficult to read, drive or even see facial expressions clearly.

The eight year prospective study of over 30,000 postmenopausal women compared the cataract status of women who had taken HRT to those who had not used the hormones. The results? The research subjects who were taking or who had ever taken HRT had significantly higher rates of cataracts so severe they had to be removed. Those who drank and also took hormone replacement therapy appeared to be at an even greater risk of serious cataracts.

"If future studies confirm the associations we found, increased risk for cataract removal should be added to the list of potential negative HRT outcomes," Dr. Lindblad said in a statement to the media.

The research team documented that 4,300 cataract removal surgeries were performed in research study participants between 1997 and 2005. In women who had ever taken HRT, the risk for cataract removal was increased by 14 percent. For current HRT users, the increase in risk soared even higher to 18 percent when compared with women who never used HRT. What's more, the longer a woman took HRT, the more the risk for cataracts increased.

Dr. Lindblad explained in the press statement that estrogen receptors have been detected in the eye's lens and naturally occurring estrogen made inside the body may protect eyes from cataracts. But the estrogens like those used in HRT don't function in the body the same way. Instead, the typically prescribed forms of HRT increase levels of C-reactive protein -- and previous studies have associated C-reactive protein with cataract development.

Fortunately, there are ways to help prevent cataracts. In addition to avoiding HRT, regular vigorous exercise has been shown to protect against cataracts ( Astaxanthin, a nutrient derived from microalgae and also found in wild salmon, has also been found to benefit eye health and help prevent cataracts (

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