Replacement Therapy - How Safe Is It?
reach menopause, our bodies produce less estrogen. The lack of this hormone
has been linked to osteoporosis,
heart disease and strokes. Other uncomfortable symptoms, such as sweating
and hot flashes are treated with hormone replacement therapy.
WebMD has a survey, Is hormone replacement therapy right for you? that may help determine if you should consider HRT. Until the suspicion that
estrogen raised the risk of breast cancer became an issue, many doctors
routinely recommended it to their post-menopausal patients. Many still
the facts about this treatment?
Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada reviewed data
published on estrogen therapy and concluded that the risks involved are
less than drinking alcohol excessively or not exercising. Each year in
the United States 233,000 women die of cardiovascular disease. 90,000
do not survive strokes, another vascular condition. 65,000 die from complications
of bone fractures as a result of osteoporosis. Only 43,000 die of breast
women the fear of breast cancer is much greater than their actual chance
of contracting the disease. The risk of having a fatal heart attack is
much higher. The survival rate is much better for breast cancer related
to HRT than for any of the diseases that can be treated with hormone replacement.
seem reassuring, and they may be for many women. The problem lies with
those of us who are already at risk for breast cancer. Women who have
no children or had their first child after 30 or who have a close relative
with breast cancer are in this group. Many other women will get breast
cancer due to factors that the medical community does not fully understand.
breast tissue show changes caused by HRT. According to a study published
in February 2000 in The
Journal of the National Cancer Institute the risk of getting breast
cancer is ten percent for every five years of hormone replacement therapy.
This is based on the combination of estrogen and progestin. Estrogen alone
has a slightly lower risk. For women who know that they have a chance
of facing breast cancer, any increased risk is frightening.
treatments to HRT exist. Exercise and aspirin increases cardiovascular
health. Vitamin D and
calcium supplements may be better choices for the woman with breast
cancer and bone density concerns.
decision rests with us. It is, after all, our body that is at risk. Whether
we opt for hormone replacement therapy should be based on rational analysis
and not the latest media reports. The risks of getting breast cancer need
to be weighed against our risk of heart disease, stroke or severe osteoporosis.
the benefits of HRT before dismissing it, but discuss your individual
risks with your doctor before taking it.
updated May 3, 2017
on the Web:
- Hormone Replacement Therapy
Hormone Use and Cancer: Questions and Answers
to postmenopausal hormone therapy