Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Women's Health

Font Size

Panel Advises Against Hormones to Prevent Disease

WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Oct. 22, 2012 -- An influential panel of government advisors says hormone replacement therapy shouldn’t be prescribed to women after menopause to stave off chronic medical conditions like heart disease or osteoporosis.

After considering the latest scientific evidence, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) reaffirmed its previous guideline on hormone replacement therapy (HRT), which was published in 2005.

The panel agreed that although HRT has benefits, like reducing the risk of broken bones in postmenopausal women, increased risks tied to its use outweigh any benefit for chronic conditions.

The statement confirms a sea change in medical thinking on hormones. A decade ago, doctors called an early halt to a landmark study called the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) after finding that women taking hormones had more heart attacks, strokes, and cancers than their peers who were taking placebo pills.

Almost overnight, millions of women stopped taking hormones, which had been thought to prevent many of the very diseases studies have now shown that they increase risk for.

After reviewing the findings from nine trials that looked into the effectiveness of hormone therapy for prevention of chronic conditions, the panel concluded that women who take hormones after menopause are more likely than those who do not to get breast cancer, blood clots in the legs and lungs, strokes, heart attacks, dementia, gallbladder disease, and urinary incontinence.

The new guideline, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, applies to both the use of estrogen alone or in combination with progestin.

Importantly, because the USPSTF doesn’t tackle issues related to treatment, the recommendation does not speak to the estimated 20% of women who take hormones for a short time to quell menopausal symptoms like hot flashes and vaginal dryness. It also does not speak to younger women under the age of 50 who have menopause due to surgical removal of the ovaries.

“The frame for the Task Force for every recommendation we make is what is safe and effective to do in people who don’t have symptoms who are just trying to prevent things for the future,” says panel member Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, PhD, MD, an associate professor of medicine and epidemiology at the University of California, San Francisco.

Today on WebMD

hands on abdomen
Test your knowledge.
womans hand on abdomen
Are you ready for baby?
birth control pills
Learn about your options.
Is it menopause or something else?
woman in bathtub
bp app on smartwatch and phone
estrogen gene

Send yourself a link to download the app.

Loading ...

Please wait...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.


Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

Blood pressure check
hot water bottle on stomach
Attractive young woman standing in front of mirror