The benefits of hormone replacement therapy to prevent chronic diseases do not justify the risks. That is the conclusion the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force drew from a review of major studies. Doctors have been prescribing HRT for decades to ease the discomforts of menopause. For a long time they believed that estrogen would prevent heart disease, dementia and broken bones. But estrogen alone increases the risk for uterine cancer, so synthetic progesterone is frequently added to the mix. This combination, however, increases the risk of blood clots, strokes, gallbladder disease, dementia, breast cancer, ovarian cancer and incontinence. These recommendations do not apply to HRT treatment of menopausal symptoms such as night sweats, hot flashes or vaginal dryness, but doctors generally recommend that hormones for this purpose be taken at the lowest effective dose for the shortest amount of time.
[Annals of Internal Medicine, October 23, 2012]