Hormone Replacement Therapy Side Effects

The results of the second part of the Women’s Health Initiative (WIH), a federal study on hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and breast cancer, were released December 13, 2008 at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium. The new findings show that a much higher risk of breast cancer is one of several hormone replacement therapy side effects.

HRT Side Effects

The results of this new study indicate that the risks of HRT far outweigh the benefits for most women. Doctors thought HRT would lower the incidence of heart disease and osteoporosis, problems women may face after menopause.

The WIH had two parts. In the first study, more than 16,000 women were selected on the basis of age, weight, and other health factors. These women were randomly assigned to a group that took estrogen and progestin pills, or or to one that took a placebo.

The researchers found much higher risks of heart problems and breast cancer in women using female hormone replacement therapy. In fact, the risk of breast cancer increased by 26% among women using HRT, espcially for those women who used HRT for five years or more. This finding caused an early end to the first part of the WIH in 2002.

All the questions researchers had weren’t answered, however. Did women who started on HRT when they first entered menopause in their 50’s, and who used HRT for shorter periods of time, still face higher risks of breast cancer and heart disease? Most of the women in the first study were in their 60s and well past menopause.

In the new study, researchers followed over 15,000 women who met the new criteria through July 2005. The researchers kept track of breast cancer cases as they occurred over time.

The results? The risk of breast cancer increased when women started HRT, hit a high point when the study ended, and then fell as nearly all the women stopped taking estrogen and progestin pills. Results at the high point showed that the breast cancer risk for HRT users was twice that of the others.

Is HRT Really Safe?

Conventional medical practioners are quick to reassure their patients that most women won’t get breast cancer if they use HRT for a short time. They say that the increased cancer risk from using HRT for two years amounts to only a few extra cases of breast cancer per year for every 1000 women using estrogen and progestin pills.

There’s no way to know which women will develop breast cancer and which ones won’t. Plus the risk of breast cancer does go up the longer a woman uses HRT.

Natural Treatment For Menopause

Women have always gone through menopause. This is nothing new. It’s a normal part of every woman’s life. Menopause is not an illness and shouldn’t be treated like one.

For centuries women have used herbal remedies for menopause. These natural remedies have few, if any, side effects.

Women should take it upon themselves to learn more about HRT and breast cancer. Natural treatments for menopause are readily available and quite inexpensive. It may be possible to find relief from common menopause symptoms without increasing your risk of breast cancer.