Expectations for hormone-replacement therapy for postmenopausal women have turned topsy-turvy in recent years. Initial studies suggesting remarkable benefits from the drugs gave way to reports of little gain. Most recently, the rap sheet on estrogen and progestin includes signs of harm.
The latest bad news for the treatment appears in two articles in the May 28 Journal of the American Medical Association, where scientists report that the hormone combination boosts the risk of dementia and stroke in otherwise healthy women. Another recent report challenges the view that the therapy increases women's feelings of well-being.
The findings all stem from the Women's Health Initiative, a nationwide study that began in the early 1990s and enrolled more than 27,000 women in its hormone-replacement component. In 2002, researchers stopped part of this component, 3 years before its scheduled conclusion, because interim results showed that postmenopausal women taking estrog