The recent decision to stop a national hormone replacement study has thrown a lot of women into a panic. A study of 16,000 women was cancelled by the National Institutes of Health when it was determined that women on the combination Estrogen Progesterone had an increased risk of Breast Cancer and Heart Disease. A lot of doctors say now, they are spending much of their time trying to calm patients by clearing the confusion.
"The instinct for almost everyone is, I'm stopping it today, you know, no questions asked. The best message is to stop, take a breath, remember what your doing on hormone replacement, why you are on it, what your reasons are and re-evaluate that with your physician given your individual risks," says Dr. Tracy Gaudet, a Gynecologist.
As advised by the NIH, patients should not stop therapy cold turkey because, as Dr. Gaudet explains, there are no black and white answers. Each woman needs to weigh her own risks and benefits with her doctor. She says it is important to note that the early results of the hormonal study do not apply to all forms of hormone therapy.
The study only looked at the Estrogen Progesterone combination called Prempro. A second trial of Estrogen alone in 11,000 women who have had hysterectomies is still underway. So far, there is no sign of an increased risk for Breast Cancer or Heart Disease in that group again taking Estrogen alone. The study is published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Experts stress that women using an estrogen-Progestin combo should not panic because the increased risk of Breast Cancer is very small, but women should ask their doctors to go over the risks and benefits. The study did find the therapy helped reduce the risk of Osteoporosis and Colon Cancer.
Researchers also were surprised to find that rather than decreasing the risk of Heart Disease, as previously thought, the therapy increased the women's risk of a first heart attack. For more information (click here).
The study was funded by the drug company that makes Prempro, Wyeth Pharmaceuticals. For more information on Prempro (click here).