Many researchers have looked at different aspects of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) including its benefits and harms. A lot of information is available that may be somewhat overwhelming and even confusing. A group of researchers reviewed the research to provide a summary of the work that has been done on the subject.
By reviewing previously conducted studies, an assessment of the benefits and risks from hormone replacement therapy was done related to the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, cancer, dementia and other conditions. The results of both the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) and the Heart and Estrogen/Progestin Replacement Study (HERS) were included for reported outcomes and the MedLine, HealthStar and Cochrane Library databases were searched.
Overall, the studies showed HRT benefited the prevention of osteoporotic fractures and colorectal cancer, but the effect on dementia prevention was not clear. The studies also showed harms from CHD, stroke and breast cancer after HRT for more than 5 years. By far, the majority of the studies focused on the interaction between hormone therapy and cardiovascular disease.
The study reported, “Hormone replacement therapy users tend to be more affluent, leaner, and more educated, and they exercise more often and drink alcohol more frequently. These factors are associated with increased risk for breast cancer and decreased risk for cardiovascular disease." This showed a difference from examining the multitude of studies that may not have been revealed by just performing one.
Sorting through the large body of available studies, the review was very clear with its ultimate conclusion: “With the addition of new data to the body of evidence, use of HRT for primary prevention of chronic conditions requires reevaluation by postmenopausal women and their physicians.”
Postmenopausal Hormone Replacement Therapy: Scientific Review JAMA. 2002;288:872-881. Available at JAMA.
Additional reasons to reconsider Hormone Replacement Therapy