Hormone Replacement Therapy: Safe or Not?

Most recent research suggests short-term use OK for younger menopausal women, but not for older women

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Gass said the newer research suggests that women should not be taking hormone therapy to prevent chronic diseases associated with aging.

That conclusion mirrors the latest opinion issued by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, an independent panel of experts in prevention and evidence-based medicine that makes screening recommendations for various conditions and diseases.

The panel's review of 51 articles published since 2002 recommended that postmenopausal women, including those who have had a hysterectomy, not take estrogen alone to prevent chronic conditions.

The potential harms of hormone replacement therapy outweigh any possible disease-prevention benefits in these women, the task force said.

For women seeking non-drug options to manage the discomforts of menopause, Ford suggested exercise, such as yoga, and a healthy diet. Other strategies: Layer clothing, meditate, practice paced breathing (also called relaxation breathing), maintain a healthy weight and avoid smoking.

Ford said there is probably a lot to be learned by looking at different communities and cultures, too. "Ethnicity seems to play a role in how women manage menopause," she noted.

Earlier research has shown that black and Hispanic women tend to enter menopause earlier than white women, and also tend to suffer more severe symptoms.

More information

For more on hormone replacement therapy, go to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

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