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 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