A new study has suggested that hormone therapy doesn’t actually help when it comes to preventing a range of deadly conditions in postmenopausal women.
For years, many women have used hormone replacement therapy to help with conditions that were thought to be associated with menopause including coronary heart disease, dementia, heart disease, breast cancer, fractures and strokes.
While the risks of these deadly conditions are known to increase as women get older, new findings suggest that there is nothing to suggest that they are the result of menopause alone.
The study by the U.S Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) looked at 18 previous studies of 40,000 women and found that common hormone replacements such as oestrogen and progestin don’t have any definitive benefit when it comes to tackling the chronic conditions.
The research found that while there are some benefits, the harms typically outweigh the good.
Speaking to Web MD, Task Force chairman Dr David Grossman said that while there are some benefits, the risks were not worth it.
“Basically, the task force concluded that there was no overall benefit from taking hormones to prevent chronic conditions,” he said.
“There are some benefits, but we believe those potential benefits are outweighed by the harms, making this essentially no net benefit overall.”
The findings suggest that increased levels of oestrogen can increase the chances of strokes, blood clots and even gallbladder disease.
When combined with progestin, the risk of breast cancer and heart disease increases.
Having said that, the hormone replacement did benefit diabetes and preventing fractures, although the findings did suggest that the risk of developing other diseases wasn’t worth it.
Dr Suzanne Fenske, an assistant professor of obstetrics, gynaecology and reproductive science with the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City added that rather than using hormones to prevent disease, they could be used to manage short-term symptoms such as vaginal dryness and hot flashes.
“Hormone replacement therapy does still have a benefit to women with menopause whose symptoms do not respond to other treatment options,” she told Web MD.
“It really should be used to manage menopausal symptoms, rather than being used for any sort of preventative medicine.”
The latest update comes after USPSTF’s 2012 study on the same topic.
It is always important to discuss individual options with your GP or doctor.