Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Older Women Less Likely to Use HRT

According to a recent study by the Canadian Institute for Health Information, fewer older women in Canada are using hormone-replacement therapies (HRT) to treat symptoms of menopause, turning instead to natural remedies. As reported in the Vancouver Sun and other media outlets, researchers have found that only five per cent of women in five provinces who are 65 years and older use hormone-replacement therapies -- a drop from 14 per cent six years ago (when a report found the risks of using the menopause therapies outweigh the benefits).
From the Vancouver Sun piece, here's some HRT background and the specific stats contained in the study:

The first reports that estrogen-only hormone-replacement treatment could put women at higher risk of endometrial cancer began to emerge in the 1970s, leading to the development of combination therapies containing both progestin and estrogen hormones. Later studies, such as the 2002 Women's Health Initiative study, then uncovered important additional risks with the combination therapy, such as higher chances of developing coronary heart disease and stroke.

In Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, the use of hormone-replacement therapies declined each year between 2001-2002 and 2006-2007. The highest average annual rate of decline, 30 per cent, occurred in the two-year period after the publication of the Women's Health Initiative.

My gut reaction to this news? Bravo to those women reviewing the evidence, making choices, and following their own path healthy aging, despite attempts by the pharmaceutical industry to have them fall in lock-step with the drumbeat of HRT. In increasing numbers, we are awakening.

One note: The article indicates that many of the women declining HRT turn to natural methods of menopausal symptom relief instead. I would love to see some follow-up as to what these natural methods are -- and what are the results? Are most, all, some of the women taking BHRT (bioidenticals) or something else?
For those new to this topic of "HRT: good or bad?", here are some links to a few older posts written by Sue that go into this topic -- as well as some sites I've found helpful in my own quest for hormonal balance...

From My Menopause Blog
Breast Cancer and HRT: As HRT use falls, so do breast cancer rates.
Review of The New Menopause Book: Sue points out this book -- written by someone trained in both Eastern and Western medicine -- as a good starting point for women who want to understand the complexities of HRT research. I agree- it's a great book!

My own recommendation:
Womentowomen.com: Comprehensive women's health site for natural approaches to menopausal support. Two must-read articles, especially for those just beginning to consider the possibilities, include Perspectives on HRT Risk and Test Your Menopause I.Q.

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