A new study has found that women who take hormone replacement therapy for 10 years following menopause have "significantly" reduced risk of heart failure, heart attack, and dying. In addition, those same women are not at any increased risk of cancer, deep vein thrombosis (DVT), or stroke.
These findings come just weeks after a different study published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology showed that hormone use among postmenopausal women has been declining. Speculation as to the reason for this decline focused on patient and doctor fears based on a 2002 study by the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) that found estrogen/progestin hormone therapy can increase risks of heart attack, stroke, blood clots, and breast cancer.
The new study, published today in the journal BMJ, throws into question the results from the WHI research. Researchers from Hvidovre Hospital in Denmark looked at 1006 white, healthy Danish women from ages 45 to 58. After a 10-year randomized trial and six years of follow-up, the study authors concluded that the women treated with long term hormone replacement therapy "had significantly reduced risk of mortality, heart failure, or heart attack, without any apparent increase of cancer, DVT, or stroke."
ABC news quotes Dr. Louise Schierbeck, the study's author as saying the study confirms the "timin hypothesis," which holds that women who begin hormone therapy shortly after their final menstruation are not at greater risk for heart problems.
The researchers did hedge their bets a bit, though, stating that "due to potential time lag, [a] longer time may be necessary to take more definite conclusions."