Hormone Replacement Therapy - Challenging Long-Held Beliefs
There appears to be a good deal of confusion amongst both women and clinicians regarding the 'facts' surrounding HRT use.
A stunning early termination of a study in 2002 on hormone replacement therapy (HRT) which erroneously indicated that HRT caused heart attacks and breast cancer, led both doctors and their patients to abandon the treatment worldwide. The real cause of the trial termination was for other reasons not related to any serious side effects or harm from HRT. However, the damage was done and women today still tend to believe HRT is an unsafe treatment. In a new study to be published in the journal Climacteric, concerns about HRT are discussed and the long-held beliefs are challenged.
Described as distorted reporting by one professor, the after effects of the 2002 report has been described as a cascade of fear as women began to disavow hormone replacement therapy. As the facts trickled out, it was discovered that reputable scientists involved in that study were not mentioned in the report. Moreover, some of the claims in the report were unsubstantiated and conflicted with the scientific data and thus the study protocol had been deserted.
Preventing Hip Fractures, Heart Disease & Cancer
The aim of the 2002 study was to test the benefits of HRT on both women near menopause and those already a decade into menopause. The study was lacking in recently menopausal women thus distorting the results in an unscientific manner. The result to this date was a 15 year period of untreated patients with difficult menopausal symptoms. One in three women has severe symptoms like night sweats, hot flashes, insomnia, mood & anxiety disorders and joint pain. Women have not only been deprived of symptom relief, but they have additionally been denied the other benefits of HRT. These would include protection against bone loss and fracture.
The second half of the trial was omitted from the published study and had data that was contrary to the original report. The omitted part of the study was reported two years later and showed that HRT reduced the risk of breast cancer and heart attacks in women under 60 years of age. In recent years, hormone replacement therapy has improved with the help of subsequent clinical trials proving that HRT regimens could prevent heart disease and hip fractures.
HRT Benefits Outweigh Risks in Most Women
In this new study, IMS recommendations on HRT, serious questions are raised about the need for professionalism in the quality of protocol, data evaluation, and author approvals when submitting scientific reports. The new study also shows a need for a better understanding of hormone replacement therapy and its risks and benefits. It is now apparent that HRT is an effective preventative treatment if prescribed to healthy women who have been postmenopausal within 10 years, and the benefits outweigh the risks. For most women, HRT can help alleviate many menopausal symptoms as they make this important transition in their lives.
International Menopause Society, Climacteric April 2017