Hormone replacement is a complex topic, and medical recommendations have fluctuated back and forth when it comes to replacing hormones like estrogen in women suffering from symptoms of menopause and surgically induced medical menopause following a hysterectomy.
In the past,Bio-identical hormone replacement therapy was also widely prescribed for preventive purposes, based in part on early observational studies that had suggested it could help protect women against heart disease, weak bones, and dementia.
In fact, many may not know this, but I was a paid speaker for the drug companies in the mid-80s, promoting the benefits of hormone replacement therapy. This was about 10 years before I converted to natural medicine and 15 years before the landmark studies showed the serious dangers of standard hormone replacement therapy.
The tide quickly turned a decade ago…
In July 2002, the 15-year long Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) abruptly ended its combination of estrogen and progestin therapy study, three years ahead of schedule, when their data revealed higher rates of breast cancer, heart attacks, strokes, and blood clots in the population taking the hormones, compared to those receiving a placebo.
The WHI findings triggered enormous changes in the use of hormone therapy, and by 2003, prescriptions had dropped by 38 percent.
Between 2001 and 2011, estrogen replacement therapy in women aged 50-59 subsequently dropped by a whopping 79 percent. Now, a new study suggests that denouncing the use of HRT across the board may have been a mistake, especially for women having undergone a hysterectomy.
According to the study, a conservative estimate of the true number of deaths caused by estrogen avoidance is likely to be around 50,000:
“Estrogen therapy in younger postmenopausal women is associated with a decisive reduction in all-cause mortality, but estrogen use in this population is low and continuing to fall.
Our data indicate an associated annual mortality toll in the thousands of women aged 50 to 59 years. Informed discussion between these women and their health care providers about the effects of ET is a matter of considerable urgency.”
Avoiding HRT May Have Killed 50,000 Women Over the Last Decade
As reported by Time Magazine5, and discussed in the featured video:
“Before the WHI study, about 90 percent of women who had a hysterectomy would have relied on estrogen therapy to replace what their reproductive system no longer produced. Following WHI, however, 10 percent of these women used the hormone, and based on a formula the researchers created to estimate their survival rates, they determined that 50,000 women died during the study period, between 2002 and 2011, prematurely.
[N]one of these women, who were aged 50 to 59 at the start of the study, lived to reach their 70s. Most died of heart disease, bolstering the connection that earlier studies had found between estrogen-only therapy and a lower risk of heart problems among women who had a hysterectomy.”
The study found that estrogen therapy for women in premature surgical menopause was associated with “a decisive reduction in all-cause mortality,” primarily by reducing deadly heart attacks and deaths from breast cancer. The researchers believe the protective effect found in their study may be due to the fact that they only analyzed the effects of estrogen-only therapy, not the combination treatment of estrogen and progesterone used in the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) and other studies finding troublesome effects.
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