Past studies have show that hormone therapy can be effective in preventing heart disease and osteoporosis in post-menopausal women, but a panel now says the risks of such treatments outweigh the benefits.
Reuters reports that the guideline came from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, an influential panel of medical professionals. The finding was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine on Monday.
The suggestion is that hormone therapy is not worth the risk as a preventative measure, but the panel didn’t address its use for treating symptoms of menopause, like hot flashes or vaginal dryness. Many doctors do prescribe hormone therapy for treating various conditions.
“The evidence shows that the harms of hormone therapy for the prevention of chronic conditions outweigh the benefits, which is what the evidence also showed in 2005,” Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, a member of the Task Force, told Reuters.
ABC News reports that the panel took a look at nine studies from 2002 onward that showed while estrogen and progestin reduced bone fractures, they often increased invasive breast cancer, stroke and, a variety of other ailments.
Back in 2002 a study found a link between certain hormone therapies and invasive breast cancer. Since then, other studies have show that hormone therapy started just after a woman’s last menstrual period can have a protective effect on the heart, but those studies are more recent and were not considered by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.
“In the context of the larger body of evidence the Task Force considered when making this recommendation, it is unlikely that this study would have altered the balance of harms versus benefits and led the Task Force to a different recommendation,” Bibbons-Domingo told ABC.
Because of the risks with hormone therapy, doctors will usually prescribe the lowest dose that will be effective, leaving the patient on the treatment for as short a time as possible.