Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) May Combat Lung Function Decline in Women

Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) May Combat Lung Function Decline in Women

Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) May Combat Lung Function Decline in Women

Taking hormone therapy to treat menopausal symptoms like hot flashes does not increase a woman's risk of early death, according to a long-term follow-up of trials that were stopped early due to health concerns. The study was halted in 2002, after investigators found the hormone therapy appeared to put women at greater risk of invasive breast cancer, strokes and heart disease.

The door may be opening again for menopausal women suffering from hot flashes and night sweats to receive some relief from a source once thought too unsafe to consider, researchers say.

"All-cause mortality provides a critically important summary measure for an intervention such as hormone therapy that has a complex matrix of benefits and risks", stated JoAnn Manson, MD, DrPH, lead author and Chief, Division of Preventive Medicine at BWH.

Experts said the hormone therapy is safe to use by women who are looking to relieve symptoms from menopause such as hot flashes. They were followed for 18 years and tracked for chronic diseases like cancer, as well as heart attack and deaths.

Follow-up trials were conducted 18 years later by the Women's Health Initiative involved most of the more than 27,000 women aged 50-79 years who were part of the original research.

"It's the ultimate bottom line".

Brands studied were Prempro estrogen-progestin pills and Premarin estrogen-only pills.

The landmark research, backed by the USA government, began in the early 1990s to rigorously test hormones' effects in older women randomly assigned to take the pills or dummy treatment.

The results from this original research led to advice for women to not take the hormones for risk them causing heart disease, cancer or premature death.

Overall, nearly 7,500 women died - about 27 percent each in the hormone and dummy pill groups. During the follow-up, 7,489 deaths occurred, more than twice as many deaths as were included in earlier reports that had shorter follow-up periods.

Women who took estrogen for an average of seven years or combination estrogen and progesterone therapy for an average of five years had no increased risk of death after 18 years of follow-up, compared with women given an inactive placebo, the researchers found.

Overall, death rates were similar among women on both types of hormone treatment versus dummy pills. "In clinical decision making, these considerations must be weighed against the impact of untreated menopausal symptoms that women experience, including impaired quality of life, disrupted sleep, reduced work productivity and increased health care expenditures".

More research is necessary on the long-term benefits and risks of newer hormone therapies, the researchers say.

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