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Menopause Health Center

Is Hormone Therapy Helpful After All?

Expert Says New Findings Should Reassure Younger Women
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WebMD Health News

Feb. 13, 2006 - In recent years many women stopped taking hormones for menopause after a report linked them to heart disease. Now researchers have found that estrogen might not be as bad as we thought -- especially for younger women.

The new findings suggest a possible estrogen benefit for women in their 50s, but experts say it's too early to recommend hormones to help the heart.

The study also confirmed previous findings that estrogen treatment does not protect older, postmenopausal women against heart disease.

In March 2004 researchers stopped an estrogen study due to concerns about an increased risk of stroke among older women taking the hormone. Researchers later reported that long-term treatment may be associated with an increased risk of blood clots and dementia.

In July 2002 researchers stopped a study of women taking both estrogen and progestin after long-term use of the combination hormone treatment was linked to an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and breast cancer among older women.

'Suggestion' of Protection

The new study looked at nearly 11,000 women aged 50 to 79 years taking only estrogen. Women who have not had a hysterectomy must take progestin along with estrogen. Taking estrogen alone increases the risk of uterine cancer.

Researchers reported no overall difference in heart attack risk among women who took the hormone and those who did not.

But there was a suggestion of less heart disease with estrogen use among women who began taking the hormone between the ages of 50 and 59.

The findings are reported in the latest issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

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