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Task Force Gives Hormone Replacement Therapy a Thumbs Down

Filed May 30th, 2012 Laurie

U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has just released its recommendations for menopausal women, saying they should not use hormone replacement therapy primarily to prevent chronic disease. Hormone therapy refers to estrogen alone or combined with progestin.

“In the face of pretty good evidence, the balance of potential benefits and potential harms leads us not to recommend the use of these therapies,” said Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, a task force member.

The same task force sparked controversy over its breast cancer screening recommendations a few years ago and PSA prostate cancer screening recommendations just last week.

The task force’s recommendations do not apply to women under the age of 50 who have undergone surgical menopause or who are taking hormone therapy to deal with menopausal symptoms like hot flashes.

Task force member Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, an associate professor of medicine, epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco, said many women take hormone therapy to prevent heart and cognitive decline, but there is no evidence that hormone therapy actually prevents those conditions.

Hormones were commonly prescribed to menopausal women as protection against future health problems, but about a decade ago a large study showed that hormone therapy actually put the women at greater risk of developing the conditions they are trying to prevent.

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