Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 15th 2017 Contents B16 body & soul
Friday, September 15, 2017
Study shows hormone pills
don't shorten women's lives
Taking hormone pills
for several years after
shorten older wom-
en's lifespans, ac-
cording to the longest
follow-up yet of landmark re-
search that transformed think-
ing on risks and bene its of a
once popular treatment.
That research was halted early
when unexpected harms were
found from using replacement
hormones---estrogen alone or
with progestin---versus dummy
pills for ive to seven years. More
breast cancer, heart attacks and
strokes occurred in women on
combined pills, and those on
estrogen pills had more strokes.
But about 18 years of fol-
low-up show that despite
those risks, women had simi-
lar rates of deaths from heart
disease, breast cancer and all
other causes as those who took
The new results are reassur-
ing and support current advice:
Hormones may b appropriate
for some women when used
short-term to relieve hot flashes
and other bothersome meno-
pause symptoms, said Dr JoAnn
Manson, preventive medicine
chief at Boston's Brigham and
Women's Hospital and lead au-
thor of the follow-up report.
"It's the ultimate bottom line,"
said Manson, who was also part
of the original research.
Women want to know "is this
medication going to kill me"
and the answer appears to be
no, she said.
Results were published Tues-
day in the Journal of the Ameri-
can Medical Association.
Hormones were once con-
sidered a fountain of youth for
women entering menopause
because of weak evidence sug-
gesting a host of purported ben-
e its including reducing heart
disease and boosting memory.
The landmark research, backed
by the US government, began
in the early 1990s to rigorously
test hormones' effects in older
women randomly assigned to
take the pills or dummy treat-
Brands studied were Prem-
pro estrogen-progestin pills and
Premarin estrogen-only pills.
The results led to advice
against taking hormones to pre-
vent age-related diseases. When
used for menopause symptoms,
the lowest possible dose for the
shortest possible time was rec-
ommended, then as now.
For some women already fac-
ing health risks, hormones' po-
tential harms may outweigh any
bene its, and discussions with a
doctor about starting the treat-
ment are advised.
Participants were aged 50 to
79 and past menopause, older
than typical users, and took
larger doses than currently rec-
The follow-up involved most
of the more than 27,000 women
who were part of the original
research. It included time using
pills and about 10 or so years
after stopping. Some earlier fol-
low-ups suggested no increased
risk of death in hormone users,
but Manson said this is the irst
to focus only on deaths from
Overall, almost 7,500 women
died --- about 27 per cent each
in the hormone and dummy pill
Most deaths occurred after
women stopped taking hor-
mones. About nine per cent
of women in both groups died
from heart disease and about
eight per cent from breast and
Among the youngest women,
there were fewer overall deaths
early on among hormone users
than dummy-pill users, but the
rates evened out after women
stopped using the pills.
Overall, death rates were simi-
lar among women on both types
of hormone treatment versus
Prempro and Premarin are
both approved to treat meno-
pause symptoms and to prevent
Even so, many women and their
doctors remain wary of hor-
An editorial published with
the follow-up study says the
results "will hopefully alleviate
concerns" about the long-term
More research is needed on
risks and bene its of other types
of hormones including patches,
Manson said. (AP)
Women who took hormone tablets had similar rates of deaths from heart
disease, breast cancer and all other causes as those who took dummy pills.
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