One-Third of Menopausal Women Still Undecided About Using Hormone Replacement Therapy
Dec. 10, 1999 (Minneapolis) -- If you're a woman in midlife and are still
undecided about using hormone pills, you're not alone. According to a new
study, one-third of women who are experiencing menopause have not made up their
minds about using hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Another research team
decided to find out why. The conclusions from both studies appear in the
December edition of the journal Women's Health Issues.
"The vast majority of American women regard menopause as a natural part
of growing older," write Andrea Z. LaCroix, PhD, and colleagues from Group
Health Cooperative of Puget Sound in Seattle. Twenty-seven million American
women aged 40-54, and nearly 57 million aged 55 and older, face decisions about
long-term HRT and alternative preventive strategies. "When it comes to
considering the balance of risks and benefits for individual women, one size
does not fit all," LaCroix says.
And for good reason. "The uncertainties about using HRT are numerous,
and women's decisions are highly complex because of the varying risks, values,
and preferences, and because the scientific evidence of benefits and risks
continues to evolve," the researchers write. While some studies have shown
that HRT reduces the risk of osteoporosis, heart disease, Alzheimer's disease,
and colon cancer, other studies have shown hormone therapy increases the risk
of uterine cancer. The relation of HRT to breast cancer risk remains
However, women may not be getting the information on the risks and benefits
of HRT that they need to make informed decisions, according to LaCroix and her
team. Donna Shoup, MD, at Women's Hospital in Los Angeles, agrees. "[For
example], although the media emphasizes breast cancer risks, women actually
have much greater risk of cardiovascular or heart disease," she tells
WebMD. "This is where [HRT] is beneficial."
Through surveys with physicians, LaCroix and her team found that most of
them agreed that HRT reduces risk of osteoporosis or heart disease. And while
close to one-third of doctors agreed that a strong scientific case has been
made that HRT increases risk of breast cancer, more than half of them
Across the country at the Durham (N.C.) VA Medical Center, Lori Bastian, MD,
MPH, and her colleagues interviewed more than 300 menopausal women. They found
that one-third of them were undecided about using HRT, and most of these women
had just begun menopause. Researchers also learned that women who were
undecided were more likely to be less satisfied with information they received
from their health clinic about menopause and HRT, compared with those who had
already made their decision.
So what's a woman to do? "It's not our intention that every women use
HRT, but it's a very important decision, so I would like to see more women make
a decision, one way or the other," Bastian tells WebMD. "What we found
is that undecided women are an important group that just need help in making a
choice." As a solution, Bastian says, "women need to ask more questions
and get more information -- from health care pamphlets, the Web, and health
educators, and nurses."
- A new study shows that one-third of women going through menopause have not
yet made a decision about using hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
- There are many uncertainties with HRT, which is shown to decrease the risks
of osteoporosis, heart disease, Alzheimer's disease, and colon cancer, while it
increases the risk of uterine cancer, and it's association with breast cancer
- Many women who had not yet made up their mind said they were less satisfied
with the HRT information they had received from their health clinic.