New study shows Hormone Replacement therapy not linked to premature death

Ebony Scott
September 13, 2017

However, a follow-up study has found despite those risks, women on hormone therapy for five to seven years had similar rates of deaths from heart disease, breast cancer and other causes as those who took placebo pills.

The new study, led by investigators at the U.S. Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH), examined the long-term rates of death from all-causes, and the rates of death from specific causes, including cardiovascular disease, cancer and other major illnesses over a follow-up of 18 years among 27,347 women from the two WHI hormone therapy trials.

Lichtenfeld brought up another point: Women on hormone therapy may not be more likely to die from cancer or heart disease because doctors have gotten better at treating those diseases, he said.

Click on the video below to hear her full interview.

While the study found no overall increase or decrease in death rates among women between the ages of 50 and 79, the mortality rates were lowest among younger women in the group (aged 50 to 59).

These latest results from the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) trials shed more nuanced light on findings published in 2002 from the same study, said Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society.

That research was halted early when more breast cancer, heart attacks and strokes occurred in women on combined pills than in dummy pill users.

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Hormones were once considered a fountain of youth for women entering menopause because of weak evidence suggesting a host of benefits including reducing heart disease and boosting memory. When used for menopause symptoms, the lowest possible dose for the shortest possible time was recommended, then as now.

But an 18-year follow-up on these women has shown that there wasn't an increase to risks of death and other disease on those who used the hormones. "In this new analysis, we found that there was no association between hormone therapy and all-cause mortality during either the treatment period or the long-term follow-up of these trials", Manson said.

Brands studied were Prempro estrogen-progestin pills and Premarin estrogen-only pills.

Women wanted to know "Is this medication going to kill me?" and the answer appeared to be no, she said.

Overall, nearly 7,500 women died. "In clinical decision making, these considerations must be weighed against the impact of untreated menopausal symptoms that women experience, including impaired quality of life, disrupted sleep, reduced work productivity and increased health care expenditures". Even so, many women and their doctors remain wary of hormone use.

More research is needed on risks and benefits of other types of hormones including patches, Manson said.

Other reports by GizPress

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