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Hormone Replacement Therapy: What Now?

Making the Effort

The downside of pill taking should encourage women to try making lifestyle changes that can bring similar results without the risks, Esserman and other researchers say. Eating a low-fat diet that includes plenty of calcium and fruits and vegetables, and getting regular exercise, can reduce the risk of heart disease and improve bone health.

"Right now there's no pill that's better than making real lifestyle changes," said Susan Love, MD, during a live WebMD audiocast on January 25. Love is the medical director of the Santa Barbara Breast Cancer Institute and the author of two books on breast cancer and hormones. "But doctors don't push lifestyle changes as much as they push pills."

As for Shea, she's not planning to stop the therapy that has served her so well. She and her doctor have thoroughly explored her family history and other risk factors, and she's confident that the decision they reached several years ago is still the right one for her.

"I rely 100% on the advice and intelligence of my doctor," Shea says. "It's working for me."

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