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

tor and to discontinue it every few years to see if symptoms return.

Short-term use is advised, just for as long as needed for symptom relief and at the lowest dose that relieves symptoms.

One reason for the reversal is that the average age of the participants in the earlier study was 63, which is typically after menopausal symptoms end, and an unusual time to start hormone replacement.

"The pendulum swung back from its peak negative sentiment following more detailed data from the WHI study that demonstrated the importance of the age at initiation and the good safety profile of HRT in women younger than 60 years," the authors wrote.

"HRT remains the most effective therapy for vasomotor symptoms [such as hot flashes] and urogenital atrophy [including vaginal dryness]," the review said.

"Other menopause-related complaints, such as joint and muscle pains, mood swings, sleep disturbances and sexual dysfunction (including reduced libido) may improve during HRT," they authors continued.

Other findings:

  • Potential risks and side effects increase with age, the experts said. So, women many years past menopause should be especially cautious, although for some of them long-term HRT may be safe, Lobo said.
  • The combination form of HRT, including both estrogen and progesterone, slightly increases the risk of breast cancer. Women with a family history of breast cancer probably should not take it.
  • Women older than 60, who are at increased risk of stroke from HRT, might consider an HRT transdermal patch, which isn't associated with elevated stroke risk.
  • Women who have had a hysterectomy can benefit from HRT in terms of reduced risk of heart disease.

Dr. Elizabeth Poynor, a gynecologist and gynecologic oncologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, who is familiar with the study, thinks it is sound.

"We are coming full circle with HRT," she said. "We are realizing for some women it rea
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