July 8, 2002 Posted: 2:17 PM EDT (1817 GMT)
By Dr. Sanjay Gupta CNN Your Health CNN)
When hormone replacement therapy was first introduced, it was billed as not only halting the annoying symptoms of menopause — such as hot flashes and mood swings — but it was also supposed to protect against heart disease and fractures due to osteoporosis.
It was on the cover of numerous magazines including TIME and soon a large percentage of the 17 million menopausal women in the United States were taking it. Well, reports about increased breast and ovarian cancer soon raised doubts.
Two new studies have confirmed that hormone replacement therapy offers no protection against heart attacks in women with any heart disease and that it actually seems to increase the risk of gallbladder disease and clots in the legs.
While it may still be useful for controlling the familiar signs of menopause such as hot flashes, many doctors will no longer recommend it long term.
The best cure-all is prevention and knowledge — which you can get each week by reading “The Pulse,” my weekly column on the week’s top health and medical news.
Now here are this week’s headlines, including more information about the new findings on hormone replacement therapy.
Research: Hormones may not reduce heart attack risk
New research suggests long-term hormone use does not reduce the risk of heart attack in postmenopausal women with heart disease.
In fact, in addition to increasing the risk of a heart attack during the first year of treatment, hormone supplements may increase chances of developing blood clots and gallbladder disease.
A seven-year study challenges the long-held belief that hormone replacement therapy protects the heart by mimicking the effects of natural estrogen – which helps keep cholesterol at healthy levels.