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Disease-Free Living Through Fitness and Nutrition

ARTICLES


Risks Associated with Hormone Replacement Therapy

Estrogen Hormone Replacement Therapy Raises Women's Heart Risks Preliminary results of a major long-term study suggest that hormone replacement therapy (HRT) -- which many postmenopausal women take to reduce heart risks -- may actually increase chances for stroke or heart attack. Women who were taking HRT had somewhat more cardiovascular events heart attacks, strokes, and blood clots in the legs and lungs than those taking a placebo. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) in Bethesda, Maryland sponsored the study. Cardiovascular researchers have long suspected that circulating estrogens help protect young, premenopausal women from heart disease. Numerous studies have also suggested that hormone replacement therapy can maintain this protection after menopause. However, results from the first 2 years of the NHLBI's Women's Health Initiative -- a long-term, prospective study of 161,000 women aged 50 to 79 -- seem to contradict that theory. As part of this ongoing study, researchers are comparing the cardiovascular health of women taking HRT (either estrogen alone or estrogen plus another hormone, progestin) to women taking a ('dummy') placebo. Another large study -- the Estrogen Replacement and Atherosclerosis (ERA) trial -- also found "no apparent benefit of HRT.

COMMENT: Doctors fail to tell women that 75% of the women put on Hormone Replacement Therapy, Premarin, develop cysts, tumors or other type growths and that thousands of women die annually as a result of complications arising due to medical intervention. Dr. Josheph Mercola, M.D. states: "The truth will eventually surface and science will clearly show beyond any question or shadow of a doubt that nearly all estrogen given in medicine is not healthy. It does not protect against heart disease as the majority of the estrogen drug company funded studies would have you believe. Hormone replacement therapy increases breast cancer risk by at least 1% per year; and HRT with progestin (MDA) increases the risk by 8 % per year (possibly 30% after 4 years of use).

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Estrogen No Help in AlzheimerÝs Study Finds Hormone Is Not An Effective Treatment AlzheimerÝs affects more than 4 million Americans, stealing their memories and ability to care for themselves. About twice as many women as men have the incurable disease, in part because they tend to live longer. Its causes are unknown, but suggestions that the decline in estrogen levels in women at menopause might somehow make them more vulnerable to the disease have prompted interest in the hormone as a possible treatment.

Research has suggested that women who take estrogen are less likely to develop AlzheimerÝs. But a new study found that once the mind-robbing disease sets in, the female hormone offers no benefit. The study confirmed the results of a previous study of shorter duration at the University of Southern California that appeared in January in the journal Neurology.

A year of estrogen did nothing to slow the progression of the disease or improve mental functioning in 120 older women with mild to moderate AlzheimerÝs. Overall, the results of this study do not support the role of estrogen in the treatment.

In the latest study, the women, age 60 and older, were given either a low estrogen dose, a high dose or a placebo every day for a year. No significant differences were found among the groups in tests of mental function, mood, memory, attention, language skills or motor function. Women taking the low-dose estrogen showed improvement in one measure of mental function after two months, but the gains disappeared. In fact, those taking estrogen fared worse than the placebo group in a rating of dementia.

JAMA February 23, 1999 283:1007-1015

COMMENT: by Dr. Joseph Mercola, M.D.: "I am really surprised that this study did not receive more widespread news coverage. When the drug companies had the initial studies published suggesting that estrogen will help protect against Alzheimer's it was all over the news. I was immediately confronted by many patients who felt my recommendation to avoid estrogens were unwise. Now the evidence is in that estrogen does NOT help Alzheimer's but actually worsens it. I am delighted that JAMA continues to take a leadership role in publishing these landmark articles which refute the drug company's position. Unfortunately, the conventional media still appears to be sold out hence the lack of notification of the results of this study."

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Another study links HRT to breast cancer risk A second report links hormone replacement therapy (HRT) with increased breast cancer risk in postmenopausal women. The new study findings suggest that the combination of progestin and estrogen heightens the breast cancer risk even more than estrogen therapy alone. Last week, a study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association found similar results.

Hormone replacement therapy with progestin-estrogen combinations grew rapidly in popularity in response to evidence that giving estrogen alone to menopausal women increased the risk of cancer of the endometrium (the lining of the uterus). Few studies have been conducted to examine the influence of combination therapy on the risk of breast cancer. Their study, which involved more than 3,500 women, did just that. Estrogen replacement therapy alone (ERT) increased the risk of breast cancer only in women who took estrogen for many years, the authors report, but the risk increased 6% for every 5 years of use.

Adding progestin to the HRT regimen, however, substantially increased the breast cancer risk, the results indicate. Five years of combination therapy increased a woman's risk of breast cancer by 24%, four times as much as ERT. The way in which the hormone combination was taken also affected the breast cancer risk, with estrogen and progestin taken sequentially during the month being slightly riskier than taking the estrogen and progestin together every day, the investigators found.

The increase in breast cancer risk associated with HRT did not seem to differ between women who currently used HRT and those who had stopped their HRT at least 2 years previously, the report indicates. This study provides the strongest evidence to date that progestins not only do not protect the breast from the (cancer-causing) effects of estrogen, but also increase substantially the small ERT-related increase in breast cancer.

Journal of the National Cancer Institute February 16, 2000;92.

COMMENT by Dr. Joseph Mercola, M.D.: "If you haven't got it by now, it is important to wake up to the fact that synthetic progesterone (progestins like Provera) are not good for you. Unless you consider increasing your risk for breast cancer by 400% good. I find it most curious that the authors argue, the benefits of ERT in preventing heart disease outweigh the increased risk of breast cancer. You may have heard or seen some of the reports that they calculated that, for each (new) case of breast cancer in women due to long-term ERT use, more than six deaths from heart disease are prevented. I am not sure what calculator they used for this, because it is not true. JAMA has published many articles last year which show just as conclusively that it is a flawed fantasy promoted by the drug companies that estrogen protects against heart disease. The plain and simple truth is that it does not."

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