Benefits of early HRT shown by study reviews

 The benefits of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for women who take it within 10 years of menopause outweigh the risks, according to study reviews.

HRT was found to reduce the incidence of heart disease, fractures and ongoing menopausal symptoms.

The study reviews published by the International Menopause Society further challenge the interim conclusion of the Million Women Study (MWS) ten years ago that HRT is too dangerous.

The increased risks of breast cancer, stroke and heart disease suggested by the MWS have since been disproved by retrospective analysis of its data.

HRT, which replaces oestrogen and progesterone in post-menopausal women, has improved the health and fitness of millions of patients.

The MWS findings led to HRT being largely abandoned – but later analysis found the study was methodologically flawed and the risks related mainly to women who started taking HRT long after the menopause.

The new reviews conclude that a ‘window of opportunity’ exists for HRT if it is started within 10 years of menopause or before age 60.

The therapy has been shown to significantly reduce the risks of osteoporosis, heart disease and colorectal cancer, while only slightly increasing the risks of embolism and stroke.

HRT is more effective than statins or aspirin in overall effect on mortality, the reviews concluded.

Investigator JoAnn Manson of Harvard Medical School commented: “HRT is not appropriate for every woman, but it may be appropriate for many women.”