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Estrogen Alone for Menopause Symptoms: It's Safer Than You Think PDF Print
Written by Karen Giblin, Founder and President Red Hot Mamas   
Thursday, 08 March 2012 10:05

Estrogen is safer than you thinkYes, you heard correctly! A new study from the Women’s Health Initiative says for certain women, estrogen therapy may actually reduce their risk of breast cancer. Are you one of them?

If you are in menopause due to the removal of your ovaries from a hysterectomy or other surgery, estrogen therapy is often prescribed to mitigate menopause symptoms. According to the results published online Tuesday in The Lancet Oncology, women who took estrogen for six years had a 23% lower risk of breast cancer than women given placebos. Among women diagnosed with breast cancer, those who took estrogen had a 63% reduced risk of dying from it, compared with those on a placebo.

This news may be a glimmer of hope for the menopause pills that once had a very bad rap. Nearly a decade has passed since the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) halted studies due to safety concerns for both combined therapy and estrogen alone. This new analysis is in fact a reaffirmation and more detailed examination of general results reported a year ago from the Women’s Health Initiative.

While the recent data was promising for women among all age groups, ethnicities, body mass, age at menopause and other categories, the results varied for those women on estrogen alone with a family history of breast cancer or those who had benign breast disease. For those women, estrogen therapy provided no protection and at times an increased risk. Certainly, we are still in the thick of the learning process about hormone therapy, but the story looks promising for those women with a hysterectomy/oophorectomy with no real breast cancer risk.

As a woman who has had a hysterectomy and bilateral oophorectomy, I had to address the issue of hormone therapy early on. I still have lots of questions about the benefits and risks of taking hormone therapy, but with the help of my doctor, I made a personal decision to take estrogen therapy. It certainly improved my immediate symptoms of menopause like the debilitating hot flashes which occurred both day and night. It had a profound affect in helping my sleep disturbances that I had been plagued with due to night sweats. It also helped my mood swings, cognitive functioning and overall quality of life.

Every woman has individual needs and our symptoms vary enormously. Some of us are tortured by symptoms, while others hardly have symptoms. Bottom line, it’s very important to be presented the facts about taking hormone therapy, and have candid discussions with your doctor about whether it is safe, and evaluate your risks and benefits taking into consideration your age, your family and personal medical history. The decision to take hormone therapy should not be taken lightly. However, the new latest scientific information may put our minds at ease with the use of estrogen alone, and it may be a great choice for relief of moderate to severe postmenopausal symptoms.

References
Menopause: The Journal of The North American Menopause Society Vol. 19, No. 3, pp. 257/271 DOI: 10.1097/gme.0b013e31824b970a

The Lancet Oncology, Early Online Publication, 7 March 2012 doi:10.1016/S1470-2045(12)70075-X

More Information
Read the latest recommendations from the North American Menopause Society on Hormone Therapy for Women in 2012

Last Updated on Wednesday, 14 March 2012 12:36