The Anti-Hormone Party is Over! Hormone Replacement Therapy Reduces Death and Cardiovascular Disease

The Anti-Hormone Party is Over! Hormone Replacement Therapy Reduces Death and Cardiovascular Disease

By: Holly L. Thacker, MD • Posted on October 14, 2012

New Women's Health Research Shows Positive Results

OK world, the anti-hormone (anti-midlife woman) party is finally over! For the last decade, the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) trial and their researchers have dominated the news on women's hormonal health and have cast the research results in a negative and limiting way.

This week, the results of a significant, very long-term research study from Denmark were announced. The participants of the study included 1,000 healthy women aged 45-58 who were randomized to receive oral estrogen and progestin (norethinsterone acetate), or if the women had a hysterectomy, they received estrogen alone.

After a decade of close follow-up, the women who received the Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) had the following positive results:

  • Half the death rate compared to women NOT on HRT
  • Less heart attacks
  • Less heart failure

And this is the really big news, there was found NO apparent increase risk of cancer, stroke or blood clot.

So, Does This Mean It's Safe To Take Hormone Replacement Therapy?

This is very significant positive news to the millions of recently menopausal women who are wrestling with the question about whether to take HRT or any form of hormone therapy (HT). Unfortunately, good news about women's health rarely makes the front page of newspapers, while exaggerated, negative news certainly gets lots of media coverage.

I was recently interviewed by ABC news about this important story and while it was not aired on prime time TV like some of my other interviews on much less impressive research, at least it was posted on the ABC website.

This research is a "game changer" as Dr. Howard Hodis, a noted cardiologist, research and good friend told me right after this was released. He and I opine that it is time to stop looking at the use of menopausal hormone therapy just for symptoms and for the "shortest period of time and lowest dose," but to look at the role of HRT for women's health prevention as well. There is no other agent in healthy midlife women besides HRT that has been shown to REDUCE the rate of heart attacks, death and heart failure - not aspirin and not cholesterol lowering statins. Furthermore, hormone therapy is the ONLY therapy shown to reduce osteoporotic hip fractures in women who do not have osteoporosis.

Early initiation and prolonged HRT did not result in an increased risk of breast cancer or stroke in this study. Most women are most fearful about breast cancer and downplay their risks for osteoporosis and heart disease. There are important lifestyle choices in healthy women to reduce heart disease, including:

  • not smoking
  • regular exercise
  • heart healthy, Mediterranean diet
  • controlling high blood pressure

Overall, we can no longer ignore the growing body of evidence on the role of early HRT in healthy, midlife women's overall health.

Yours in heart health, bone health, breast health and overall hormonal health,

-Dr. Holly L. Thacker

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