Published: Wed, September 13, 2017
Health Care | By Oscar Goodwin

Menopausal hormone therapy not associated with mortality or deaths from CVD

Menopausal hormone therapy not associated with mortality or deaths from CVD

"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.

However, an 18-year follow-up of 27,347 women who were part of the WHI study found that they were no more likely to die of any cause than women who took placebo pills.

Anderson said the risks and benefits for hormone replacement therapies should always be considered; this newest study adds another layer of information about mortality risks that a woman and her doctor can use when considering treatment options. These findings provide support for clinical guidelines endorsing the use of hormone therapy for recently menopausal women to manage bothersome hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms.

The findings left women fearful of hormone replacement therapy, with many of them choosing to instead suffer through hot flashes, mood changes and sleep problems, along with other symptoms of menopause. Even so, many women and their doctors remain wary of hormone use.

But women who took HRT - where these hormones are prescribed - for two or more years lost an average of 46 ml less of lung volume compared with women who never took HRT.

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Dr. JoAnn Manson poses December 12, 2002, with a printout from a study she directed on hormone replacement therapy for women at her office in Boston.

Manson said the lack of impact on death rate from any cause is more important than the findings associated with death rate from cancer or heart disease.

After 18 years - including 10 to 12 years of follow-up after women ceased hormone therapy - researchers behind the new review found no positive or negative effect on death rate linked to treatment with either estrogen, or estrogen plus progesterone.

However, among women who initiated hormone therapy in their 60s and 70s, no effect on death rate was observed.

"There was no increase in total mortality or in death rates from cardiovascular disease or cancer", Dr. Manson said.

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"It's reasonable to consider that better treatments have improved the outlook for these illnesses", he said. Women want to know "is this medication going to kill me" and the answer appears to be no, she said. Study participants received "a modest term of hormonal therapy to deal with the immediate symptoms" of menopause, Lichtenfeld explained.

The Women's Health Initiative (WHI) study looked at the effects of estrogen-only and estrogen-progestin combination therapies used in menopausal women to prevent age-related diseases.

When used for menopause symptoms, the lowest possible dose for the shortest possible time was recommended.

More research is necessary on the long-term benefits and risks of newer hormone therapies, the researchers say.

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