Hormone replacement therapy does not cause early deaths, say scientists

Ross McGuinness

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) does not shorten lives, researchers have said.

Scientists at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s hospital said women should be able to take HRT pills without worrying that it will reduce their lifespans.

It counters previous research that claimed HRT could lead to earlier than expected deaths among women.

The new study found that women on HRT had similar rates of deaths from breast cancer, heart disease and all other causes as those who took placebos.

Researchers said hormones, typically taken in pill or patch form, may be appropriate for some women when used short-term to relieve hot flushes and other menopause symptoms.

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Dr JoAnn Manson, preventive medicine chief at Brigham and Women’s hospital and lead author of the follow-up report, said: ‘It’s the ultimate bottom line.

‘Women want to know – is this medication going to kill me? And the answer appears to be no.’

The results of the study were published on Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Hormone replacement therapy can be taken in a patch as well as a pill (Picture: Rex)

Dr Manson was also involved in the previous research, which was backed by the US government and began in the early 1990s to test the effects of hormones on older women.

The follow-up research involved most of the 27,000 women who were part of the original study. Some earlier follow-ups suggested no increased risk of death in hormone users, but Dr Manson said this is the first to focus only on deaths from various causes.

Overall, almost 7,500 women died – about 27% each in the hormone and dummy pill groups. Most deaths occurred after women stopped taking hormones. About 9% of women in both groups died from heart disease and about 8% from breast and other cancers.

Overall, death rates were similar among women on both types of hormone treatment versus dummy pills.

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