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HRT Drug Boosts Stroke Risk in Older Women
Date:8/13/2008

Tibolone should not be used by those 60 and older, study says

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Women 60 and older taking the hormone-replacement therapy drug tibolone to relieve menopausal symptoms are at an increased risk for stroke, a new study finds.

Tibolone is a synthetic drug that acts like the female hormones estrogen and progesterone in relieving menopausal symptoms. But, unlike estrogen and progesterone, it also reduces the risk of some cancers, the study authors said.

"Tibolone, which is used around the world for menopausal symptoms, decreases the risk of fractures, decreases the risk of breast cancer, but increases the risk of stroke in this group of women who are all over the age of 60," said lead researcher Dr. Steven R. Cummings, of the California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute in San Francisco.

The drug shouldn't be used in women over the age of 60, particularly those with an increased risk for stroke, Cummings said. "For older women, you should stop taking tibolone or not consider starting it," he said, adding that the drug is not available in the United States.

Earlier studies have shown that hormone replacement therapy (HRT) with estrogen increases the risk for stroke, no matter at what age women start using it. Many physicians recommend that only women with the most severe menopausal symptoms use any form of HRT.

For the new study, published in the Aug. 14 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, Cummings's team randomly assigned 4,538 postmenopausal women to daily 1.25 milligram doses of tibolone or a placebo. Over the 34 months of the study, the researchers looked for spine fractures among the women and the rates of cardiovascular problems and breast cancer.

The researchers found fewer cases of spine fractures among women taking tibolone compared with women receiving a placebo -- 70 cases versus 126 cases per 1,000 person years, respe
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