No heart risk from hormones taken near menopause

Contrary to some earlier indications, hormone replacement therapy might not impart heart risks to women who take it during their 50s.

Studies over the past 2 decades have produced mixed findings on whether estrogen—alone or in combination with progestin—is good, bad, or neutral for postmenopausal women who take it to ward off hot flashes and night sweats (SN: 4/15/06, p. 228: Available to subscribers at Estrogen Safety: Studies raise cancer, blood clot questions; 5/31/03, p. 341: Available to subscribers at Flawed Therapy: Hormone replacement takes more hits).

To gauge the risks of various ailments from hormone therapy, Jacques E. Rossouw of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute in Bethesda, Md., and his colleagues combined data from two trials that included more than 27,000 women. Those who had had hysterectomies got estrogen or a placebo, while those who hadn’t got an estrogen-progestin combination or a placebo.

The new analysis indicates that hormone therapy confers no greater risk of heart disease in women under 60 than placebos do. But the therapy does increase heart risks for women older than that, the researchers report in the April 4 Journal of the American Medical Association.

Women in all age groups saw an increased risk of stroke from hormone therapy, the new analysis confirms.

More Stories from Science News on Health & Medicine