October 24, 2012 — Post-menopausal women should not take hormone replacement therapy to prevent chronic diseases, such as heart problems, because the possible harms outweigh the potential benefits, according to guidelines released on Monday by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, the Washington Post reports.
The updated guidelines were based on research published since 2005 that showed combined estrogen and progestin therapy after menopause reduces the risk of bone fractures. The panel found that for every 10,000 women who use combined therapy, 46 women will avoid a fracture.
However, the panel also identified several potential harms, including increased risks of breast cancer, stroke, dementia, potentially lethal blood clots, gall bladder disease and urinary incontinence.
The findings, published in the online edition of the Annals of Internal Medicine, reinforce recommendations the panel released in 2005 (LaRue Huget, Washington Post, 10/22). They apply only to HRT for prevention of chronic conditions, not short-term treatment for symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes or vaginal dryness, or to women under age 50 who have had a hysterectomy (Steenhuysen, Reuters, 10/22).
Debra Ness, publisher & president, National Partnership
Andrea Friedman, associate editor & director of reproductive health programs, National Partnership
Marya Torrez, associate editor & senior reproductive health policy counsel, National Partnership
Melissa Safford, associate editor & policy advocate for reproductive health, National Partnership
Perry Sacks, assistant editor & health program associate, National Partnership
Cindy Romero, assistant editor & communications assistant, National Partnership
Justyn Ware, editor
Amanda Wolfe, editor-in-chief
Heather Drost, Hanna Jaquith, Marcelle Maginnis, Ashley Marchand and Michelle Stuckey, staff writers
Tucker Ball, director of new media, National Partnership