Businesswoman in Menopause fanning herself, HRT, hormone replacement therapy

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) does not appear to increase the risk of death from either heart disease or cancer. That’s what researchers concluded by analyzing data from the long-running Women’s Health Initiative study.

The Women’s Health Initiative Study of HRT:

In this double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, more than 27,000 women were randomized to receive estrogen plus progestin, estrogen alone or placebo. The women took these treatments for several years (between 5 and 7). In the first analysis, researchers reported an increased incidence of breast cancer among women taking estrogen plus progestin. There were also more cardiovascular complications.

A New Look at HRT Risks:

But a new analysis found a different result for the long term. It detected no increased risk of death among women taking HRT during the 18-year follow-up analysis of participants in the Women’s Health Initiative.

The study, published in JAMA, should be reassuring to women who are suffering from severe symptoms of menopause, particularly hot flashes and night sweats. On the other hand, the authors note that it remains unclear whether the benefits of HRT would still outweigh the risks if women took hormones for longer periods of time.

The Take-Away:

The bottom line appears to be that taking hormone replacement therapy to ease menopausal symptoms and improve sleep for a few years does not seem to be associated with an increased risk of death.

Manson et al, JAMA, Sept 12, 2017

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  1. Carol
    Redmond, Wa

    I have been on the Bio-identical patch for over 25 years, with no problems.
    This was prescribed after a hysterectomy. It is just estrogen, no progesterone.
    With having osteopenea it helps my bones. I am 78 years old and do every-
    thing for myself including working 40 hours a week. If I was to get cancer or
    heart disease, it seems it would have presented itself by now. I use no other
    medications, have normal blood pressure, blood tests, etc.
    Guess I figure…….”If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. My Dr. would agree…..

  2. B.

    I am now 71 years old. In 1983, June to be exact, I completely removed all intake of caffeine, methylxanthine (in chocolate), and in 1986, phenylalanine in gum and beverages – basically, eliminating all stimulants, from my diet, because of Fibro-Cystic Breast Disease. I’ve never smoked or used illegal drugs, and have never needed antihistamines or diet drugs. June of 1983 was the last time I experienced Fibro-Cystic problems or PMS. Unexpected bonuses were: no more diagnosed “classic”, Migraine headaches; no more back problems or PMS even!

    Menopause began around age 48. During a general check up (early 1990s), a doctor suggested I start HRT, even though I had NEVER had a single symptom of Menopause. I graciously declined, where upon he became angry, left the room, slamming the door. To this day, I have experienced absolutely NO symptom of Menopause or any of the other problems mentioned above. I can think of no other reason for this, except that change in diet. It changed my life!

  3. Sylvia

    How much do you want to trust the analysis of the makers of synthetic hormones? They want to get Prempro back on the market and make lots more money.

    Why is micronized progesterone totally ignored? It is bioidentical to what your body makes, it prevents menopausal symptoms and opposes the cancer-causing effects of estrogen (which most menopausal women make plenty of naturally). It is also much less expensive. It works, it’s safe, but most doctors are still putting women on synthetic hormones. Why??

  4. Susan

    Conventional medicine has had it all wrong. We women shouldn’t have been given synthetic hormones in the first place. I feel sure that was why I developed breast cancer after 15 years of it, and it was pushed on me by my doctors due to my hot flashes. And now they still are thinking it is OK, but of course they say take it for only for a few years. Holistic/functional physicians are giving the safer bio-identical hormones because there has been enough research and strong evidence showing the safety of it. Unfortunately we patients have had to search out the information for ourselves rather than relying on most of our doctors who are still relying on the pharmaceutical industry to tell us what medication we need.

  5. Fran
    N. C.

    There is a difference between Progestin and Progesterone. I get my progesterone from a compounding pharmacy. I take an Estrogen patch. Taking Estrogen without taking progesterone (not progestin) would, in my opinion, would not be the thing to do. A pharmacy advised me to stop taking the hormones. They think it is crazy to do so. A female doctor once told me she was going to take it until her death. I am 87 years old. I take the combination only one day a week. When I forget, I still get hot flashes. It seems a lot of medical decisions are made with limited information.

  6. Maryel S

    I was on HRT for over 40 years. At age 70 the doctor said that insurance would no longer pay for the HRT and took me off the HRT. When I went on the HRT I did not have the Hot Flashes. Now I have them. So a word of warning. If you take HRT for Hot Flashes,sooner or later you will have to go off the HRT. and then you will have the Hot Flashes. It has been over two years now and I still have the Hot Flashes. I have tried accupuncture and several remedies on the market and I still have the Hot Flashes.

  7. Stoney
    St Louis

    I have been taking estrogen alone for hot flashes for about 35 years. I am now 80 and so far have had no problem in doing so. I did eventually have a hysterectomy but was not cancer related. In the beginning I was taking estrogen with progestin but this gave me PMS, so dropped the progestin. This article did not address if there was any difference between estrogen with progestin and estrogen alone.

  8. CRyder

    Key comment in news: ‘For a few Years.’
    I was on a patch for 12 years. I fly alot. On a longggkggg flight from Manaus Brazil to Rio to US – 15 hours and had embolism the day after returning.

  9. Kay
    Laredo, Texas

    I have continued taking Premarin since my 40’s. I am now 85. And I will continue. It does help with bones, and I kept raking them for happiness. I went into a depression, and decided to keep on taking them, and I suppose I have had no ill effects from them. Only a gusto for life and living that left me when I tried going off hormones.

  10. Diane F

    I took HRT for many years from age 50 on. And when I decided to end the medication, due to increasingly severe warnings, I have realized that that was the beginning of many health issues, including heart, arthritis, a series of small but mostly expensive and painful issues. Those include dental, mental and others that have made my life miserable. Now I am noticing more memory issues.

    If I had known more, I would have remained on the estrogen. Now in my eighties, I am aware that perhaps all those warning should have included more information.

  11. MaryJane

    I used estrogen vaginal cream from the time I started menopause which was 13 years ago. I developed endometrial cancer and had a total hysterectomy. After doing some research I read that unopposed estrogen causes cancer and I should have been given progesterone along with the estrogen therapy. My doctor kept telling me it was completely safe to use estrogen alone.
    NOT SO. Just a warning to be careful and do your own research.

  12. Barbara

    Well I will never believe that synthetic hormones were ever good for the female body! Obviously this is slanted because of big Pharma’s push to extend sales of their fake hormones – have we already forgotten The Women’s Health Initiative that was halted due to Premarin and Provera causing cancer, heart disease and strokes in previously HEALTHY women?

    They had to stop the study that was supposed to run for 10 years – stopped it after 5 years!. They will continue to try to convince women to use these dangerous hormones. Please read Dr. John R. Lee’s book(s) What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Menopause, Pre menopause and Breast Cancer. Find all on Amazon. Bioidentical hormone replacement is the safe answer. Why would ANYONE want synthetic when they can obtain bioavailable hormone replacement?

  13. Cathy

    I’ve been told Im high risk for breast cancer. I am not taking any HRT and have mostly stopped having hot flashes due to menopause. I do have to use a vaginal moisturizer for dryness. I did find one without hormones added. I wonder if vaginal atrophy continues or will affect my sexual desire eventually. So far I am not having that problem. I also eat healthy and avoid sugar, wheat and dairy. I’m 62 and feel great!

  14. Anne

    I’m 65 and I’ve been using a small amount of Premarin (about 1/3 of an applicator 3 times a week) for 10-15 years now, and it makes a big difference in my life. When I wasn’t using it, sexual intercourse was very uncomfortable. Nothing helped, and believe me, I tried! I have no plans of stopping, and even my doctor told me she was completely comfortable with that.

  15. Kim

    Women who take SYNTHETIC hormone replacement are at risk – always have been but Big Pharma don’t want you to know that. Bio-Identical is the way to go. I am 62 and have been on Bio-Identical Hormone replacement for 14 years. I am on no other medication. It has kept me healthy and vibrant. Big Pharma doesn’t like bio-identical. They can’t patent that and that means they can’t make money.

    • janice
      new zealand

      Hi from Janice in New Zealand. I am 65 and have been on hrt for past 5 years on reduced dose for vaginal atrophy and high rist osteoporosis. I now wish to move to bioidentical hormone treatment. Can you please post which bio hormone you are using?

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