Published: Wed, September 13, 2017
Medicine | By Earnest Bishop

Hormone replacement therapy may combat decline in lung function in middle-aged women

Hormone replacement therapy may combat decline in lung function in middle-aged women

It counters previous research that claimed HRT could lead to earlier than expected deaths among women.

Fifteen years after a major study suggested that hormone replacement therapy put menopausal women's health at risk, follow-up research has found that the hormones did not increase premature deaths.

The findings left women fearful of hormone replacement therapy, with many of them choosing to instead suffer through hot flashes, mood changes and sleep problems, along with other symptoms of menopause. More than 27,000 women who were randomly assigned to receive either a placebo, a combination of hormones (estrogen plus progestin) or estrogen alone if they had had a hysterectomy.

"All women should be assessed at menopause for symptoms; bone health, sexual health and their overall medical condition and then be individualized and we have both hormonal and non-hormonal options for women", said Thacker.

"All-cause mortality provides a critically important summary measure for an intervention such as hormone therapy that has a complex matrix of benefits and risks", stated JoAnn Manson, MD, DrPH, lead author and Chief, Division of Preventive Medicine at BWH.

"It's the ultimate bottom line".

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The study results at the end of the 18-year follow-up revealed that the death rates from any cause among the women receiving some form of hormone therapy (27.1 per cent) were similar to that of women who took the placebo (27.6 per cent). But there is no evidence that hormone therapy should be used for prevention of cardiovascular diseases and other chronic illnesses, they say.

'Women want to know - is this medication going to kill me?

The brands studied were Prempro estrogen-progestin pills and Premarin estrogen-only pills. During the follow-up, 7,489 deaths occurred, more than twice as many deaths as were included in earlier reports that had shorter follow-up periods.

Over the extended follow-up period, overall mortality rates and deaths from cardiovascular disease and cancer were neither increased nor decreased among women who received hormone therapy. About 9% of women in both groups died from heart disease and about 8% from breast and other cancers. When examined by ten-year age groups, mortality outcomes were more favorable among younger women who received hormone therapy when compared to older women who also received the therapy.

More research is needed on risks and benefits of other types of hormones including patches, Mason said.

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