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Risks of Estrogen Hormone Therapy Seen to Fade After Treatment Ends
Date:4/6/2011

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, April 5 (HealthDay News) -- In the latest analysis from the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) study, researchers report that risks to postmenopausal women who were taking estrogen-only hormone therapy faded rapidly after they ended the treatment.

The study found that when women stopped taking estrogen, the risk of stroke and blood clots, which were elevated while they were on estrogen, dropped quickly in several years of follow-up after treatment.

Possibly the most perplexing finding from this latest analysis is that a reduced risk of breast cancer persisted in women who had been on estrogen-only therapy.

"I think the findings are very reassuring. It doesn't appear that women have to be concerned about an increased risk of breast cancer from short-term use of estrogen therapy, and they might have a decreased risk of breast cancer, heart attack, and even dying," said the study's lead author, Andrea LaCroix, a professor of epidemiology and WHI investigator from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.

Results of the study are published in the April 6 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The Women's Health Initiative estrogen-alone trial included 10,739 postmenopausal women between the ages of 50 and 79 who had previously had a hysterectomy (surgical removal of the uterus).

The women were randomized to receive either estrogen treatment or a placebo. The study recruited women from 1993 through 1998, and the planned end of the study was in 2005. However, the study was stopped in 2004 when researchers realized the therapy was causing an increased risk of stroke and no apparent health benefits, according to LaCroix.

For the current analysis, 7,645 women agreed to continue participating in follow-up visits through 2009.

The good news from this analysis is that risks that increase while a woma
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