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Experts Say Hormone Replacement Generally Safe in Short-Term
Date:6/10/2011

By Kathleen Doheny
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, June 9 (HealthDay News) -- Treatment with hormone replacement therapy (HRT), if tailored to an individual woman's needs, appears to be safe during menopause, according to a report scheduled for release Friday at the World Congress on Menopause in Rome, Italy.

"The evidence is quite compelling that young, healthy women do quite well and benefit in several ways," said Dr. Roger Lobo, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Columbia University in New York City, a member of the working group that updated the HRT guidelines for the International Menopause Society.

"I think the main finding is, the major indication for HRT is symptoms," Lobo said. "Young" refers to women 50 to 59 at the start of menopause, he said.

The recommendations may help to settle the controversy that arose in 2002 on the heels of an alarming report from the large-scale Women's Health Initiative (WHI). That study, which began as a prevention trial for heart disease, concluded that HRT did not protect the heart and that its risks outweighed the benefits for preventing chronic disease.

But when the menopause society's writing group reviewed the WHI and additional evidence, they concluded HRT is generally safe for most women at the time of menopause.

Also, by relieving bothersome menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and vaginal dryness, Lobo said HRT may improve quality of life and sexuality. It may also help prevent osteoporosis and colon cancer, the authors said.

"And in these women under 60, there is early evidence there is benefit for heart health as well," Lobo said.

Because HRT treatment is highly individual, a woman's decision to start or continue treatment should be discussed with her doctor, the authors said.

The updated recommendations, published in the journal Climacteric, also urge women using HRT to review the decision annually with their doc
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