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A new study concerning hormone replacement therapy, published in The Annals of Internal Medicine, finds that the treatment holds no risk for women undergoing menopause, and is, in fact, safe for women, which contradicts an earlier study from 2002. While not seeming to offer any benefits, hormone replacement therapy does not hurt women either, according to the new findings.
The study, which dosed 727 women with some kind of estrogen treatment, was conducted over four years. These women, who were in the early stages of menopause, saw relief for their symptoms, which included hot flashes and mood swings, whereas those taking the placebo did not. What was not affected, though, was the progress of heart disease.
A 2002 study by the Women’s Health Initiative found that hormone replacement drugs were riskier for older women. Rates of heart disease and stroke were higher in women over 60 who were already a decade or more into menopause. This led to a massive drop in hormone replacement therapy by all women. Believing that the findings may have been skewed because of the age of the participants, researchers at the Kronos Longevity Institute decided to test younger women, those between 42 and 58, and see how hormone replacement therapy affected heart disease.
The new study was a test on the condition of arteries after hormone replacement therapy is given. Researchers tested to see if arteries would harden after the therapy was given. The new study reveals that when younger women take hormone replacements, the status of their arteries ended up unchanged. While researchers said that they would not recommend hormone replacement therapy for women looking to protect their circulatory system, they would not tell them they should not take the treatment at all.
Although this study was interested in the way hormone replacement therapy affects younger women versus older women, there are other groups that should avoid using hormone replacements. Women with a history of breast cancer in their family are put at a higher risk of getting that disease when using hormone replacement therapy.
Of course, women are not the only people who receive hormone therapy. Testosterone treatments for men are also on the rise. Internet sales of over-the-counter testosterone pills are rising as they continue to be used as an alternative to erectile dysfunction pills like Viagra. Men experiencing andropause, which is the male equivalent of menopause, are known to experience effects of low hormones like fatigue, loss of libido and bone problems. It has been found, however, that these treatments are not effective in men with diabetes. These symptoms are heightened if the patient is obese as well.
As hormone replacement therapy regains its foothold in the medical community, researchers and doctors continue to make sure that they are not harmful to patients. While they can be helpful in some cases, like relief from hot flashes in women and increased libido in men, in other cases they can be a non-factor. The best thing for a man or woman with symptoms of aging that may be related to hormone loss is to consult their physician.
By Bryan Levy