Wednesday, May 24, 2017
Wisdom Wednesday: Hormone Therapy Not Advised for Preventing Disease After Menopause
Using hormone therapy to prevent chronic health issues, such as heart disease and bone loss, in postmenopausal women may do more harm than good, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) says.
After reviewing current evidence, the task force has issued an updated draft recommendation, reaffirming its final statement issued in 2012. The expert panel advises against the use of hormones – including estrogen and progestin – to prevent chronic conditions among postmenopausal women, including those who’ve had their uterus removed.
Hormone therapy in postmenopausal women first came under scrutiny in 2002, when a large U.S. trial known as the Women’s Health Initiative abruptly halted a look at the benefits and harms of hormone therapy because it appeared to raise the risks of breast cancer, heart attack, stroke and blood clots.
Women typically enter menopause around the age of 50. Following menopause, women’s hormone levels change. These changes may increase a woman’s risk for long-term health issues, such as heart disease and fractures due to bone loss.
“The benefits of using menopausal hormone therapy to prevent chronic conditions like heart disease and diabetes do not outweigh the harms in women who have gone through menopause,” said panel member Dr. Maureen Phipps in a task force news release.
“It’s important to note that this draft recommendation applies only to women who have gone through menopause and are considering hormone therapy to prevent chronic conditions,” said panel member Ann Kurth. “It does not apply to women who are considering hormone therapy to manage menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes or night sweats,” she said.
The task force also said its recommendations don’t apply to younger women who’ve gone through menopause earlier than usual. The recommendations also don’t apply to younger women who had their ovaries removed before they reached menopause.
So the dangerous, sometimes fatal side effects of HRT are warranted to stop hot flashes, but not to prevent chronic disease? What a mixed message.
This is an excellent opportunity to use herbal therapy in place of HRT for both prevention and treatment. There are several herbs that help resolve menopausal and perimenopausal symptoms, and help prevent cardiovascular disease and bone loss. They have been shown to effect the secondary estrogen receptor sites, like bone and blood vessels but not the primary sites like breast and uterus. This eliminates all the risk factors associated with traditional HRT.
I need to point out that the Women’s Health Initiative used synthetic hormones not bio-identical hormones. Further research is needed to demonstrate the safety of bio-identical hormone therapy. However, as I mentioned in my previous blog, bio-identical hormones down regulate hormone receptor sites in all cells of the body after two months of continuous use.
The Bottom Line:
Regardless of why you are interested in HRT, please consider herbal therapy as a viable, safe alternative. For severe cases of hot flashes or night sweats, bio-identical hormone therapy can be used short term (up to 2 months) while the body adapts to the herbal support.
Source: May 16, 2017 National Institutes of Health
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