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Disease-Free Living Through Fitness and Nutrition


Estrogen Benefits Oversold
Risks Under Estimated

Dateline: Washington:

A study in the New England Journal of Medicine (August 15, 1996) confirms that postmenopausal estrogens reduce the risk of heart disease even when prescribed with progestins. However, doctors from the Physicians Committee For Responsible Medicine (6,000 plus strong) caution that estrogen’s risks outweigh its benefits and recommend that women prevent heart disease with diet and lifestyle changes, not hormones from a pregnant mare’s urine (hence the name "Premarin").

The risk of heart disease among estrogen users is decreased by half or more. But repeated studies have shown estrogens increase breast cancer risks by 30 to 80 percent.

In addition, estrogens increase the risk of uterine cancer four to eight-fold, and risk increases with prolonged use. If progesterone is added to the regimen, it removes the increased risk of uterine cancer, but does not counteract the higher risk of breast cancer. "I could not in good conscience prescribe a pill that cuts the risk of heart disease but increases the risk of cancer by roughly the same amount," said Neal Barnard, M.D., President of the PCRM.

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