The WHI was launched in the 1990s, at a time when doctors were prescribing hormone replacement therapy to postmenopausal women to ward off heart disease. The results changed common practice, however. In 2002, one of the trials was stopped early when researchers found that women taking the hormones estrogen-plus-progestin pills actually had higher risks of blood clots, heart attack, stroke and breast cancer than placebo users did. A second trial, looking at estrogen therapy alone, was stopped two years later. Women on the hormone showed no lower risk of heart disease, but did have a slightly elevated rate of blood clots and stroke. The latest findings, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, do nothing to change the general advice on hormones, according to lead researcher Dr.
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Hormone therapy, calcium may lower fracture risk
In total, 214 women had a hip fracture during the study. The researchers found that women assigned to both the hormone therapy and vitamin groups were about half as likely to have a fracture as those in the placebo groups. During an average one-year period, they calculated that 11 out of 10,000 women taking both hormones and calcium and vitamin D would suffer a hip fracture, compared to 22 per 10,000 using neither. However, the combination treatment had no effect on women’s bone mineral density – a reflection of osteoporosis and fracture risk, Wactawski-Wende and her team reported in the journal Menopause. Some previous studies have suggested that vitamin D may protect against fractures less by strengthening bones than by improving muscle strength and thereby reducing falls, but others have not found the same effect.
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Hormone Therapy Safe in Early Menopause
The 16-year randomized study of about a thousand women offers new proof that the ” timing hypothesis ,” which suggests that hormone therapy protects women from heart disease if they start it soon after their last menstrual period, is correct. Researchers also saw no difference in breast cancer risk between those who were assigned the hormone therapy and those who were not. “It really confirms the timing hypothesis and hopefully will change the way we look at hormone therapy, so it will change the quality of life for many women,” said study author Dr. Louise Schierbeck, who works in the department of endocrinology at Hvidovre Hospital in Denmark. The women took estrogen for about ten years until 2002, when another study, the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI), found significant evidence that women taking progestin and estrogen were more likely to develop aggressive breast cancer.
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