Stick with Symptom Relief
While taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for symptom relief around the time of menopause may still be supported, taking HRT after menopause for disease prevention isn't recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, which reaffirmed their 2005 guideline for use of HRT (estrogen alone and combination with progestin). While HRT may reduce the risk of broken bones for women past menopause, the increased risks outweigh benefits for chronic disease prevention. Those using HRT after menopause may have increased risk of strokes, heart attacks, breast cancer, dementia, urinary incontinence, gallbladder disease, and blood clots in the lungs and legs. Yet, the study may not apply to women who take HRT for a short time for hot flashes, or to women under 50 who have surgical menopause.
Lower Breast Cancer Risk
Women who've had hysterectomies and take estrogen pills for menopause treatment may have a lower risk of breast cancer. A new analysis of data from the Women's Health Initiative showed a statistically significant lower breast cancer risk among the women taking estrogen who did not have a family history of breast cancer, reports New York Times. However, the finding only applies to women who've had hysterectomies. A woman with her uterus should take combination estrogen and progestin to prevent uterine cancer, which is a risk when taking estrogen only pills. The new study findings were released last week at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.
Many Would Respond to Lower Dose
"Pills containing 50 mcg or greater estrogen are considered high dose. Low is around 20 to 35 mcg."
- Peggy in the comments
While the use of lower-dose hormone therapy increased between 2001 and 2009, researchers believe that physicians still aren't fully incorporating the latest evidence supporting the use of lower-dose hormone therapy for menopausal symptoms. The new research, conducted using data collected from outpatient doctor visits between 2001 and 2009, reveals that less than one-third of women on hormone therapy in 2009 were taking a low dose. Yet, two-thirds of those with menopausal symptoms are likely to benefit on low-dose therapy, says senior study author Randall Stafford, MD, PhD, of Stanford Prevention Research Center. Lower-dose hormone therapy carries less risk of breast cancer and cardiovascular disease. Findings are reported in Menopause: The Journal of the North American Menopause Society.