US/World

What Women Should Know About Menopause

As a result of a study conducted 10 years ago by the Woman’s Health Initiative (WHI), women no longer take estrogen-plus-progestin hormone therapy during postmenopause. It was found that the health risks overshadow the benefits of the harmony therapy. JoAnn Manson, one of the study's lead investigators and a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and president of the North American Menopause Society, revealed what women should know regarding menopause in a Q and A with USA Today's Janice Lloyd.

Manson reveals the original study conducted in May 2002 lacked the participation of women in the younger age group, which would have given a distinct comprehension concerning those seeking relief from menopausal symptoms.

Although the study indicated the increased risk of breast cancer, heart attacks, strokes, blood clots in the lungs and legs; the woman who would have benefited from hormone therapy is a woman who was in her first five years of onset menopause and is in good health. Manson states good health includes: she is a nonsmoker, not obese, does not have diabetes or poor controlled blood pressured. Breast cancer should not be present in her immediate family, such as her mother or sister, and she cannot have the gene BRCA1 or BRCA2. Manson did reassure that regardless of the health conditions of an ideal candidate she doesn’t suggest being considered for treatment. "I don't want to suggest that these are the only women who would benefit from HT or be considered for treatment," she said.

For women who remain interested in hormone therapy treatment, Manson suggests women should not take estrogen-plus-progestin for more than five years, because it can increase their risk for breast cancer.

For those who suffer from mild menopause symptoms and want to protect their bone density, Manson does not encourage the use of hormone therapy, due to the increase accelerated bone loss. She stated by the time a woman has reached 70 or 80-years-old, the age where osteoporotic fracture is at its peak, after taking estrogen, she will only maintain a limited benefit.

Though many critics blame WHI for using mostly older women for the study, Manson does advocate that WHI "deserves credit" for ending the practice of older women beginning hormone therapy.

For women who want to reexamine decisions concerning hormone therapy, Manson advises that women conduct thorough research at the North American Menopause Society (NAMS) website, where they can receive information on patients and their physicians.

For the full interview visit USA Today and for more information on WHI’s study visit the website www.nhlbi.nih.gov

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