Go Ad-Free
logoThe People's Perspective on Medicine

Are Menopausal Women Taking a Big Risk with HRT?

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

Rate this article
4.1- 14 ratings
About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
Tired of the ads on our website?

Now you can browse our website completely ad-free for just $5 / month. Stay up to date on breaking health news and support our work without the distraction of advertisements.

Browse our website ad-free
Join over 150,000 Subscribers at The People's Pharmacy

We're empowering you to make wise decisions about your own health, by providing you with essential health information about both medical and alternative treatment options.