Articles by Natural Health Author Jaime A. Heidel
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Dangers of Hormone Replacement Therapy
by Jaime A. Heidel
(The Best Years in Life) Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is most commonly prescribed to treat the hot flashes, decreased libido, vaginal dryness, night sweats, insomnia, weight gain, and irritability associated with menopause. The most common hormones prescribed are estrogens and progesterones or progestins (synthetic drugs that act like progesterone). If you or a loved one is considering HRT, learn about its possible health risks.
· Breast Cancer
BreastCancer.org states that women using combination HRT, even for a short period of time, have a marked (75%) increase in their breast cancer risk. For women using estrogen-only HRT, the risk seems to increase only after 10 or more years of use.
· Uterine Cancer
The use of unopposed estrogen therapy has been shown to increase endometrial hyperplasia (a thickening of the uterus) at a rate of 10% per year. This could increase your risk of developing uterine cancer. Unopposed estrogen therapy has also been linked to precancerous histology in some women. Adding progesterone to estrogen seems to decrease these risks.
2. Heart Disease
A large placebo-controlled study revealed that women on active hormone replacement therapy had a 50% increase in heart disease within their first year of treatment.
The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology published the results of a large, randomized, placebo-controlled trial called the Women's Health Initiative. It revealed an increase in both the risk of stroke and venous thromboembolism (VTE), a disease that includes both deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE).
DVT is caused by a blood clot that forms in a vein deep within your body. PE is caused by blood clots forming in your pulmonary arteries. These blockages may multiply and travel throughout the body, causing a life-threatening episode that can only be treated with immediate emergency medical intervention.
If you already have a tendency toward hypertension, you may wish to avoid hormone replacement therapy, as it has been associated with a further rise in blood pressure. High blood pressure can increase your risk of aortic dissection, hardening of the arteries, and congestive heart failure.
If you and your doctor are talking about hormone replacement therapy, be sure you are a good candidate. For example, it is recommended for women in surgical menopause but not for women who have had breast cancer. The health risks of HRT also greatly increase in women over the age of 50.
In our next article, we will explore some of your natural alternatives to hormone replacement therapy.
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