Eleven years after frightening findings in the Women’s Health Initiative caused so many women to abandon hormone therapy, medical practitioners continue to find benefits of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for a wide variety of patients.
When the study’s findings were first reported in 2002, it created quite a scare about the detrimental impact of HRT. Millions of women, alarmed about the reports of higher risk of coronary disease, breast cancer, stroke and pulmonary embolism abruptly stopped treatments for fear that the risks far outweighed the benefits. In fact, the findings were so negative that the study, involving more than 16-thousand women between 50 and 79 years old, was halted three years earlier than planned so as to avoid further harm to the participants.
The practice of supplementing the sex hormones including estrogen, progesterone and testosterone, commonly referred to as HRT, had benefitted scores of post-menopausal women. They had suffered through a myriad of physical symptoms from the hormone imbalance and these therapies provided much-needed relief. That is, until the study suggested far more serious problems from the therapy than those encountered as a result of hormone loss.
Now that researchers and analysts have the benefit of hindsight and further study, it appears that the initial findings that caused a 70 percent reduction in prescriptions written for HRT may have been flawed in some areas. There is a growing number of doctors and other medical professionals who insist that HRT is still a viable option for many patients. They cite differences in risk based on age groupings, a factor that some believe wasn’t adequately considered in the original study. Specifically, they find that the risk factors increase for women who were deficient in their hormone support for a longer period of time. Conversely, for women in the younger age ranges of post-menopausal patients, there seemed to be no increased risk for the breast cancer, strokes, blood clots, heart attacks and gallbladder disease.
The advice is clear for women who’ve had a diagnosis of breast cancer – it is ill-advised to supplement hormone levels. But the drop in hormone levels that can impact diabetes, hyper- or hypo-thyroidism and adrenal fatigue can be successfully adjusted with HRT for large groups of women…and eleven years later, it appears that the alarm of 2002’s landmark study is fading into a more proper perspective.
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