Pharmaceutical

Research helps women make more informed decisions about HRT

There is plenty of bad press about hormone replacement therapy (HRT), a striking reversal of just a decade or two ago, when drug makers were touting the many benefits of HRT for menopausal women. Those drug makers spent millions of dollars developing advertising campaigns and paying doctors to write articles in medical journals claiming the pills that combined estrogen and progestin were the fountain of youth. They put an end to nasty menopause symptoms such as mood swings and hot flashes, and offered the added benefit of strengthening bones and protecting women against cancer and heart disease.

As we all know, numerous studies later showed that HRT did far from make women healthier. It increased their risk of breast cancer and heart disease. Despite the studies, some doctors continue to prescribe hormone therapy to their patients battling symptoms of menopause. Is it a wrong decision?

Dr. James Dilliard, who writes a column for the East Hampton Star, says not necessarily. Choosing to take HRT should be a thoughtful decision that women should make only after discussing their risks with their doctors.

The difference between now and 10 or 20 years ago, when HRT drugs were being heavily advertised, is that women and their doctors are now armed with the research to help them make more informed decisions.

β€œThe right answer is that you have discussed with your doctor all the risks and benefits of hormone replacement in light of all the research and relative to your health status, risks, and family history,” Dr. Dillard says, β€œand that together you have agreed that it is worth the risks, for you.”