On the basis of new research, Women should ‘no longer be worried’ about taking HRT to combat the symptoms of the menopause, experts have said
The new research, conducted in Denmark, found that there was no increased risk of cancer, deep vein thrombosis or having a stroke – and HRT even protected women’s hearts, meaning they were half as likely to die from cardiovascular disease.
The findings, published online in the British Medical Journal, followed 1,006 women aged 45 to 58, whose symptoms had just begun, for 16 years. Half were given HRT and half were not.
Dr Tobie de Villiers, president of the International Menopause Society, said: “This study is of great importance as it reflects what happens in real life where women start taking HRT at the time of the menopause. In this study HRT did not cause any major harm, and indeed resulted in significant benefits.
“Of great importance to women is the fact that women who took HRT had fewer cases of breast cancer compared to non-users over a 16 year follow-up period.
Dr Louise Schierback, co-author of the report, said: “These results matter because medical practitioners and women have been anxious of HRT for the past decade. This has led to a poorer quality of life for numerous women around menopause.”
Dr John Stevenson, of the Royal Brompton Hospital, in London, said: “The strength of the study is its long duration, and this shows that HRT, started around the menopause, is really pretty safe indeed, even for longer-term use.
“Although a relatively small study it is a clinical trial and is randomised, so fewer numbers are needed than in observational studies.
“It is very good news for women as HRT is the best thing for menopause symptoms and for prevention of osteoporosis and now we know it also protects the heart and that it is safe.
“If taken in the appropriate way, with regard for individual circumstances, then women should really no longer be worried about using HRT.”
The Department of Health has asked the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence to produce guidelines on the menopause, which would consider “all available evidence”.
The study findings were published online by the BMJ 9 October 2012 www.bmj.com/content/345/bmj.e6409
Press release on the BMS website.