Many women who used hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to combat
the symptoms of menopause stopped taking these hormones after
a large study last year showed that they increased a woman's
risks for heart attack, breast cancer and stroke. Other women
have remained loyal to the treatment, citing such benefits
as better memory, mood and sleep. How effective really is
HRT for treating these symptoms?
As part of the Women's Health Initiative (WHI), over 16,000
women ages 50 to 79 were randomly selected to receive either
estrogen plus progestin or a placebo (essentially a sugar
pill); neither the researchers nor the participants were aware
which each had been given. Measures of quality of life were
recorded initially, one year later, and after three years
(in a smaller subset of these women).
and progestin pills did not provide any significant improvements
in the women's health in any quality-of-life area, including
memory; sleep; sex life; depression; pain; energy levels;
or emotional health. Hormone therapy was considered effective
for treating hot flashes and night sweats only in 50- to 54-year-olds
suffering these symptoms, however.
In another blow to HRT, this study from The New England
Journal of Medicine shows that it does not appear to offer
any meaningful effects to a woman's quality of life. Black
cohosh and other herbs, as well as soy products, have shown
some ability to safely fight menopausal symptoms, but there
is still no consensus on their effectiveness. Despite the
lack of many viable alternatives, hormone replacement therapy
is not the way to go.
Hays J, Ockene JK, et al. Effects of estrogen
plus progestin on health-related quality of life. The New
England Journal of Medicine 2003:348(19), pp. 1839-1854.
To learn more about women's health, visit www.chiroweb.com/find/tellmeabout/women.html.