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Shelley Osterloh Reporting...There have been a number of studies recently about hormone replacement therapy and possible links to cancer, heart disease, even Alzheimer’s.
It has caused a lot of women to worry and even quit taking hormones. But is that the right decision?
You have to look and listen carefully to what these studies are saying.
The most recent one found that older women taking a particular combination hormone therapy had twice the rate of dementia. But that was in a study of women 65 and older -- not women in their early 50's -- which is the age most women take the H-R-T.
Other studies have found a slight increase in the risk of breast cancer and strokes. But that finding was among just eight women in a study of 10-thousand.
The bottom line is it’s a decision each woman needs to discuss with her doctor to weigh the risks and benefits.
52-year-old Beverly O'Brien-Bell works at the State Division of Aging. She had taken hormones for a few years. But last December, when her prescription ran out, Beverly decided to stop taking them. Then a couple of months ago, the hot flashes and insomnia returned.
Beverly O'Brien-Bell: "WHAT HAPPENS WITH THE WAY I DID IT, JUST GOING RIGHT OFF IT, IT KIND OF TRIGGERS THIS HORMONE RESPONSE, AND SO OFTEN YOU GET SYMPTOMS WORSE THAN YOU HAD BEFORE. "
Beverly learned that women who want to stop taking hormones should reduce the amount gradually.
Once Beverly had heard of the new warnings and risks associated with Hormone Replacement Therapy, and researched the issues on the internet, she decided to go back on the HRT.
Beverly O'Brien-Bell: “I JUST MADE THE DECISION BASED ON MY FAMILY HISTORY OF HEALTH AND WHAT I'V LEARNED ON MY OWN"
She also discussed it with her doctor Elizabeth Graul, who says many of her patients on HRT are alarmed by the new studies -- especially the Women's Health Initiative study - or WHI. That study reported taking an estrogen/progestin combination caused an increased risk of breast cancer, heart disease and stroke. Within two days, Dr. Graul had calls from over 90 worried patients.
Elizabeth Graul M.D.,Uro Gynecologist: " I THINK THAT WOMEN NEED TO UNDERSTAND THAT IN THE WHI ... 97.5 PERCENT OF THE WOMEN HAD ABSOLUTELY NO ADVERSE OUT COME.
"THE BREAST CANCER --- 7 ADDITIONAL CASES.... OR 8 ADDITIONAL CASES IN 10 THOUSAND WOMEN... SO THERE MAYBE A CORRELATION THERE .. BUT IF THERE IS.. IT IS VERY SMALL... AND THEN TO BALANCE THAT YOU HAVE 6 FEWER COLORECTAL CANCERS... AND 5 FEWER HIP FRACTURES. "
Dr. Graul recommends women talk to their doctors and evaluate the risks against the benefits such as the prevention of osteoporosis and elimination of menopausal symptoms.