Even as evidence accumulates that hormone-replacement therapy increases the risk of breast cancer and heart attack, stroke, and other vascular problems, one benefit of giving estrogen to older women has remained untainted: bone preservation.
Scientists now report that even a tiny dose of estrogen can boost bone density in elderly women significantly better than no dose at all. Moreover, the small dose apparently doesn't cause an increase in the kinds of adverse effects that have driven women away from hormone therapy. On the other hand, aside from fewer headaches, this dose of estrogen didn't provide relief from postmenopausal symptoms, such as bloating and breast tenderness. The new findings appear in the Aug. 27 Journal of the American Medical Association.