In perhaps the most in-depth study to date, researchers have compared the results and risk factors for women receiving both estrogen and progestin hormone therapy to the factors for those receiving estrogen alone. The results address a number of conditions, including stroke, certain cancers and incidence of bone fractures.
What is hormone replacement therapy?
Hormone replacement therapy was once a standard treatment for post-menopausal women and those who had undergone hysterectomy. It was a very common treatment for the symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes, night sweats and physical changes, and also seemed to prevent dementia.
That all changed, though, near the beginning of the last decade, when new research came to light that while hormone replacement therapy was successful in treating the above issues, it also seemed to drastically increase serious diseases like breast cancer and heart disease.
Since that information came to light, research has continued, as science works to discover exactly how and why hormone replacement therapy is so dangerous, in the hopes of finding a viable solution without all of the same harmful effects.
What this new research discovered:
These most recent findings come from a joint venture between Providence Cancer Center and Oregon Health & Science University, and were compiled by comparing the research done in multiple studies over the years, since the dangers of hormone replacement therapy first came to light.
Researchers discovered that the traditional therapeutic approach of pairing estrogen with progestin only reduced the incidence of bone fractures. When the progestin was removed and only estrogen was administered, though, women suffered from fewer cases of breast cancer and premature death.
However, even with estrogen alone, the risk of urinary incontinence, stroke, gallbladder disease and deep vein thrombosis rose. When progestin was added into the mix, dementia, lung cancer and breast cancer cases all went up significantly, making hormone replacement therapy a dangerous prospect for most women, and underscoring the need for new approaches to treating the symptoms of menopause and hysterectomy.
The decision whether or not to use hormone replacement is between you and your doctor
Every woman’s body, needs and goals are different, so while this study certainly exemplifies why doctors hesitate to recommend hormone replacement therapy, the final decision should be between you and your OB/GYN.