At Matthews Chiropractic Center we like to provide as much information as we can for our patients and others who might be facing similar challenges and have common questions. A recent examination of literature indicates that the use of hormone pills in women who are healthy and experiencing symptoms of menopause seems safe. This review is a summary of beneficial findings from an October 2007 Scientific American article and feedback from a November 2005 workshop supported by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine and published at PubMed Central on August 16, 2006.
Following the publishing of results of the Heart and Estrogen/Progestin Replacement Study (HERS) and the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) data in 2002, the use of hormone replacement therapy plunged. Panic started when the National Institute of Health, which runs the WHI, sent warning letters to study subjects and shut down the trial. It turns out that the WHI was only responding to results in a single section of their study that showed only a small increase in breast cancer (8 cases per 10,000). This particular group was special, because it included women who had previously used hormone replacement and were taking estrogen together with progestin, a synthetic form of progesterone.
When the WHI published new clinical trial data in 2004, prospects for hormone therapy began to improve. New data was presented on women who had only taken estrogen. When the findings from this later trial were combined with the data from the earlier trials, they found that age strongly affected the outcome of treatment. Besides supporting the previous notion that hormone replacement provides protection against cardiovascular disease, the data showed that a women’s outcome with hormone therapy depends on her age and time since menopause. (The slightly increased risk of stroke, which stopped the estrogen trial, was attributed to older women having atherosclerosis before the study started.) Not only did estrogen-only portion find no increase in breast cancer risk, but the assembled results also showed that women younger than 70 had reduced risk of stroke and blood clots.
A Balance in Health and Therapies
In summary, the workshop determined that young, healthy women are good candidates for hormone therapy. Evidence showed that hormone treatments helped improve symptoms related to menopause including hot flushes, night sweats, urinary incontinence, mood and sleep disturbances, and sexual dysfunction. Mainly, the benefits of hormone replacement therapy for many younger women clearly “outweigh the risks and provide an overall improvement in quality of life.” It should be stressed that it is very important to formulate a specific treatment regimen and dosage with your prescribing doctor.