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

A selection of HRT medication

Anderson said the risks and benefits for hormone replacement therapies should always be considered; this newest study adds another layer of information about mortality risks that a woman and her doctor can use when considering treatment options.

The new study, led by investigators at the U.S. Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH), examined the long-term rates of death from all-causes, and the rates of death from specific causes, including cardiovascular disease, cancer and other major illnesses over a follow-up of 18 years among 27,347 women from the two WHI hormone therapy trials. "The biggest cost savings", he said, "were related to reduced prescriptions for combined hormone therapy and reduced breast cancer incidence and treatment costs".

Click on the video below to hear her full interview.

The evidence comes from about 18 years of data on women involved in landmark research that transformed thinking on hormone benefits.

Experts said the hormone therapy is safe to use by women who are looking to relieve symptoms from menopause such as hot flashes.

The Women's Health Initiative (WHI) study looked at the effects of estrogen-only and estrogen-progestin combination therapies used in menopausal women to prevent age-related diseases.

"However, the findings do not provide support for the use of hormone therapy for the prevention of cardiovascular disease or other chronic diseases", Manson said.

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Dr. Manson and colleagues at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston followed up with more than 27,000 women, almost two decades after taking hormone replacement.

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. "Mortality rates are the ultimate "bottom line" when assessing the net effect of a medication on serious and life-threatening health outcomes". Women now have access to hormone therapy that is absorbed through the skin via patch, gel or spray, plus the ability to receive lower doses than were used in the WHI trial.

Overall, nearly 7,500 women died, which was about 27 percent each in the hormone and dummy pill groups.

The findings left women fearful of hormone replacement therapy, with many of them choosing to instead suffer through hot flashes, mood changes and sleep problems, along with other symptoms of menopause. About 9 percent of women in both groups died from heart disease and about 8 percent from breast and other cancers.

Most deaths occurred after women stopped taking hormones. "It's much more risky and the adverse effects were the same in younger women in their 50s as in women in their 60s and 70s".

Prempro and Premarin are both approved to treat menopause symptoms and to prevent bone-thinning osteoporosis.

"We need more research on the benefits and risks of some of these newer formulations", Manson said.

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