HRT: Its days as a ‘just-in-case’ are numbered

When doctors come face-to-face with a woman who is close to the menopause, chances are they will recommend hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Not just because HRT is supposed to help the woman through the discomforts and inconveniences of the menopause, such as hot flushes, but because it is seen to be a great preventative of chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, colon cancer and dementia.

A review by an influential American health agency has discovered that the benefits of HRT as a preventative are outweighed by the risks. As a result, a radical shift in healthcare practice is about to happen in the USA, and it’s a change that’s likely to follow soon after in Europe.

The USPSTF (US Preventive Services Task Force) found good evidence that HRT can increase bone-mineral density, but also found equally good evidence that it increased the risk of breast cancer, stroke, or venous thromboembolism, and coronary heart disease.

A study from Canada, which followed hard on the heels of the USPSTF recommendation, confirmed the finding that HRT did not reduce the risk of a heart attack, especially if the woman had already survived one attack (Source: Lancet, 2002;360: 2001-8).

As if that was not enough bad news for HRT, the US government has added steroidal oestrogens, used in HRT and oral contraceptives, to its official list of known human carcinogens. The addition follows the early termination of the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) study into combination HRT when it was found the therapy increased the risk of breast cancer and cardiovascular disease.

FOR more information about the menopause, HRT and natural ways to treat it, read the WDDTY Guide to the Menopause. Visit our website: to order your copy.

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Written by What Doctors Don't Tell You

Explore Wellness in 2021