Pharmaceutical

More studies help women make educated decisions about HRT

The more than 2 million baby-boomer women who are approaching menopause may find themselves in a precarious position when it comes to handling hot flashes and mood swings. Should they risk the threat of breast cancer from use of hormone replacement therapy, or simply suffer through the agonizing symptoms? According to Forbes, new and detailed research offers women the opportunity to make a more educated decision.

Last February, the New England Journal of Medicine concluded that HRT was in fact linked to a surge of breast cancer cases and that women who took a combination of progestin and estrogen for more than five years doubled their risk of breast cancer – a statistic far greater than originally thought. It also showed that a typical 50-year-old woman has less than a 1 percent chance of developing breast cancer, and if she takes HRT for less than four years, her risk of breast cancer drops back down to normal. Also, HRT now contains far less estrogen and progestin.

The new information gives women who are having a difficult time suffering through the symptoms of menopause the opportunity to make a more educated decision about whether to take HRT. Dr. Marcia Stefanick, a professor of medicine at Stanford University, says that before making a decision a woman should assess whether she is at high risk for breast cancer.

Women who are considered high risk for breast cancer include those with a family history of the disease, women who have had children after the age of 30 or have never had children, and women who started menstruating before age 11. Age is also a factor, as older women are at higher risk for the disease.