Here’s the latest evidence in the controversy over hormone replacement therapy. New guidelines from the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada say it is safe and effective, particularly when used immediately at the onset of menopause and for a relatively short time. The new recommendations to doctors and patients essentially rehabilitate HRT, after a blockbuster study said it increased the risk of breast cancer, heart disease and stroke.
That highly publicized research led to a sharp drop in HRT prescriptions.
But a new analysis of the data shows that the age at which women begin taking HRT, the dose and the duration all have an influence on risk.
Researchers say the problem with the worrisome study was that the women it tracked were older. And other recent studies say older women should not take it. However the bottom line for the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists is that HRT does not appreciably increase the risk of cancer or heart disease for women who begin treatment early in menopause – at around the age of 50 – and discontinue use within five years, as the vast majority do.