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In U.S., No Comeback Seen for Hormone Therapy
Date:8/9/2009

nd that women could use an estrogen-progesterone combination for less than two years with no increased risk of breast cancer. It also found that cancer risk increased dramatically after three or more years of hormone therapy and that increased risk disappeared two years after stopping HRT.
  • A Danish study that found an increased risk of heart attack in women 51 to 54 years old who took hormone replacement therapy, especially those who'd taken it for a long time. But it found no correlation between hormone therapy and elevated heart attack risk in older women.
  • A Canadian study that found women who have a genetic predisposition to breast cancer actually reduced their breast cancer risk after taking HRT.
  • The American and Danish studies also found that HRT involving just estrogen was far safer than HRT that included a combination of estrogen and progesterone.

    Based on research like this, Canadian doctors are revising their guidelines on hormone replacement therapy.

    But Bufalino and Susan M. Gapstur, vice president of epidemiology for the American Cancer Society, said that the studies do not provide enough evidence to sway current medical thinking in the United States.

    "I would not say the philosophy is changing," Gapstur said. "The critical question becomes, there's this balance between the long-term risk of chronic diseases versus immediate concerns of hot flashes and quality of life around the postmenopausal period."

    Short-term use of hormone replacement therapy might be helpful in alleviating menopause symptoms, she said, but more study is needed to fully assess the impact of that therapy -- particularly because the younger women who might benefit most from such therapy appear to be most at risk.

    "What we thought we knew about hormone replacement therapy and cardiovascular disease might not be true for older women, but I think there are still a lot of questions about the risks
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