Women told HRT does not lead to early death

Why Hormone Replacement Therapy May Be Safer Than You Think

However, a follow-up study has found despite those risks, women on hormone therapy for five to seven years had similar rates of deaths from heart disease, breast cancer and other causes as those who took placebo pills.

Fifteen years ago, scientists said hormone replacement therapy was risky.

Hormone therapy for menopausal women does not increase the risk for heart disease, cancers and premature death.

About nine per cent of women in both groups died from heart disease and about eight per cent from breast and other cancers.

Researchers used data from the two trials which included postmenopausal women with an average age of 63 at enrollment - and explored the effect of treatment over a five to seven-year period, and 18 years of cumulative follow-up, and then defined the impact of hormone therapy on mortality rates by age group.

"Our findings show that female sex hormones are important for the preservation of lung function in middle-aged women", Kai Triebner, post-doctoral student at the University of Bergen in Norway.

"Mortality rates are the ultimate "bottom line" when assessing the net effect of a medication on serious and life-threatening health outcomes", Dr. JoAnn Manson, the study's lead author, said in a news release.

Overall, nearly 7,500 women died - about 27% each in the hormone and dummy pill groups.

The study, published in the journal JAMA, is the first to examine long-term death rates from all causes among women who received the hormone therapies.

Over this extended follow-up period, overall mortality rates and deaths from cardiovascular disease and cancer were neither increased nor decreased among women who received hormone therapy.

Dr Manson was also involved in the previous research, which was backed by the United States government and began in the early 1990s to test the effects of hormones on older women.

Hormone replacement therapy is used to offset the symptoms of menopause that include hot flashes, mood changes, sleep problems and aging skin. "However, the findings do not provide support for the use of hormone therapy for the prevention of cardiovascular disease or other chronic diseases".

Prempro and Premarin are both approved to treat menopause symptoms and to prevent bone-thinning osteoporosis.

More research is needed on risks and benefits of other types of hormones including patches, Mason said.

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