The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) today issued a final statement on the use of hormone therapy in post-menopausal women to prevent chronic conditions, saying that it recommends against the practice. The task force also stressed that its recommendation does not touch on whether hormone therapy should be used for women to manage menopausal symptoms.
“In the past, it was thought that taking hormones after menopause ended might reduce a woman’s risk of developing certain chronic diseases, such as heart disease or dementia,” said Dr. Kirstin Bibbins-Domingo, USPSTF member. “However, its use in this way does not help prevent these conditions and may even increase a woman’s chance of developing them. Importantly, the use of these medications can cause serious harm to a woman’s health – such as stroke, blood clots, or gallbladder disease.”
This recommendation comes just weeks after a new study published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology showed that women taking hormone therapy for 10 years following menopause saw a reduced risk of heart failure, heart attack, and death, while also not having any increased risk of cancer, deep vein thrombosis (DVT), or stroke.
When considering its decision, however, the USPSTF commissioned a comprehensive review of all the science published on hormone therapy and its use to prevent chronic conditions in the years since the task force issued a similar recommendation in 2005. Instead of hormone therapy, the USPSTF has recommended other, more established preventive measures for chronic diseases.
“Everyone is interested in preventing chronic diseases,” said Bibbins-Domingo. “The Task Force recommends a number of important preventive measures women can take to avoid chronic diseases, including quitting smoking and identifying and treating high blood pressure and high cholesterol. There are also other effective ways that women can reduce their risk of bone fractures, such as weight-bearing exercise and being screened and treated, as appropriate, for osteoporosis.”
The USPSTF is an independent group of doctors and experts in evidence-based preventive medicine. It’s recommendations are used by primary care physicians in the U.S. when determining what preventive treatments should be used. The task force last month recommended against using ovarian cancer screenings as a preventive measure.