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Is Hormone Therapy Helpful After All?

Expert Says New Findings Should Reassure Younger Women

Findings Reassuring continued...

In a 2004 report, the task force concluded that hormone estrogen, or estrogen-plus-progestin, should be used for the treatment of menopause-symptoms only in the "smallest effective dose for the shortest possible time."

Schiff says many of his patients have told him that they feel better taking hormones and want to continue taking them.

"There was a lot of anxiety three or four years ago that taking hormones early in menopause would increase a woman's risk of developing heart disease," he says. "But this risk does not appear to be borne out. Some studies even suggest that the longer women are on hormones the better off they are if they start early enough."

He says the estrogen findings should be seen as reassuring to women considering hormone therapy to relieve hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause.

"We can now tell a woman in her early 50s who may have had her last period three months ago and has menopause symptoms that her risk of developing heart disease will not increase if she takes estrogen," he says. "That is the good news from this study."

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