Hormone Therapy for Menopause Not Linked to Early Death

Women who used hormone replacement therapy or HRT to ease the symptoms of menopause such as night sweats and hot flashes are not any more likely to die prematurely than the women who do not take hormones, suggests a just published study.

Many women are reluctant to use the hormones for symptoms of menopauses since 2002, when the Women’s Health Initiative study that was federally funded linked treatments using man-made forms of estrogen and progestin to a higher risk of breast cancer, strokes and heart attacks.

However, the just competed study looked at data that was longer term from the WHI study. It found no link in increased risk for death from all causes or from cardiovascular issues or cancer in particular that were associated with use of hormones.

The lead author of the study, Dr. JoAnn Manson from Boston’s Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital said that women searching for treatment for the distressing night sweats, hot flashes, or other symptoms of menopause, might find reassurance in the mortality results.

Women go through menopause as the time they stop menstruating, which typically occurs between 45 and 55. As their ovaries cut back on the production of estrogen and progesterone during the years that lead up to menopause as well as after, women can have symptoms that range from vaginal dryness and irregular periods to insomnia and mood swings.

For this study, researchers examined data of over 27,345 women who were between the ages of 50 and 79, who were part of two trials from 1993 to 1998 and followed until the end of 2014.

One of the trials tested just estrogen versus a placebo, while the other tested estrogen that was taken with progestin.

Women reached the age of 63 on average when then entered the trials and had already had menopause. They took the hormones or a placebo for a period of five to seven years and then were followed for 18 years in total.

Over the period of the study, nearly 7,500 women died. The rates of death were similar for both at approximately 27% amongst those taking the hormones and those who did not.

The study’s younger women appeared to have better odds of survival with HRT. Up to the first seven years, when the women were assigned randomly to take a placebo or hormone the rates of death were 30% lower amongst women between the ages of 50 and 59 when they used the hormone therapy versus when they did not.

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