Hormone Therapy Without Menopause Symptoms Discouraged

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This study was included in the Task Force's recommendation, but Dr. Katherine Sherif, director of the Drexel Center for Women's Health, said WHI was misleading because its participants were ten years older than most hormone therapy patients today.

"I've been in this business for 17 years, and no woman who is 63 has ever said to me, 'I need hormones for hot flashes,'" Sherif said, adding that most of her patients are in their late 40s or early 50s. "It irritates me that people keep falling back on the Women's Health Initiative in that hormones are dangerous for women. It just isn't that clear cut."

This month, KEEPS followed 727 women ages 42 to 58 (much younger than WHI) for four years, but researchers didn't have enough time to study long term health outcomes like cancer, heart disease and death. As such, they looked for risk factors, and found that hormone pills made no difference. KEEPS has yet to publish its data.

The following week, researchers at Hvidovre Hospital in Denmark announced that they'd found proof of the timing hypothesis, which suggests that hormone therapy protects women from heart disease if they start it soon after their last menstrual period. It looked at 1,000 women ages 45 to 58 over 16 years. Researchers also found that fewer women on hormone therapy were diagnosed with breast cancer, but the figure wasn't statistically significant. As such, they concluded hormone therapy did not increase breast cancer risk.

Manson said more research is needed on lower doses of hormone therapy for menopause symptom relief.

Dr. Norleena Gullett of the ABC News Medical Unit contributed to this report.

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