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Hormone replacement therapy appears to have no effect on risk and severity of rheumatoid arthritis
Date:2/27/2008

Although rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is more predominant in women, the reasons for this are unclear. Many studies have examined the effects of estrogen on the risk and severity of RA, but the results are conflicting and controversial. A new study using data from the Womens Health Initiative (WHI) clinical trials on hormone replacement therapy found that there were no significant differences in the risk of developing RA or the severity of RA between postmenopausal women who were on hormone replacement therapy and those who took placebos. The study was published in the March issue of Arthritis Care & Research (http://www.interscience.wiley.com/journal/arthritiscare).

The WHI randomized controlled trials included over 27,000 postmenopausal women between the ages of 50 and 79 who took estrogen and progestin, estrogen alone or a placebo. Led by Brian Walitt of Washington Hospital Center in Washington, DC, the current study identified women who had RA based on whether they reported having it and were taking prescription medications to treat it. Self-reported information about whether women had RA was collected annually, and they were assessed for disease severity at the beginning of the study and after one year. Measures of self-reported joint pain/stiffness were also collected at that time and participants were asked to rate the severity of their symptoms.

The study is the only placebo-controlled trial to evaluate the effect of hormone replacement therapy on developing RA and the sixth study to evaluate the effects of hormone therapy on how women perceive disease severity. The results showed that there were 105 new cases and 63 existing cases of RA. There were no statistically significant differences on either new RA cases over an average of five to six years or on the severity of RA symptoms after one year. While earlier studies had suggested that hormones had a protective effect
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Contact: Amy Molnar
amolnar@wiley.com
Wiley-Blackwell
Source:Eurekalert

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