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USPSTF: No HRT to prevent chronic conditions

Monday October 22, 2012
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The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has issued a final statement recommending against the use of hormone therapy to prevent chronic conditions in women who have experienced menopause to prevent chronic conditions. The recommendation covers the use of estrogen and progestin in postmenopausal women and estrogen alone in postmenopausal women who have had a hysterectomy.

The recommendation does not cover whether to use hormone therapy for the management of menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes.

In the past, it was thought that taking hormones after menopause ended might reduce a woman’s risk of developing certain chronic diseases, such as heart disease or dementia, said Task Force member Kirstin Bibbins-Domingo, MD, PhD.

However, its use in this way does not help prevent these conditions and may even increase a woman’s chance of developing them, according to the statement released Oct. 22. The use of these medications also can cause serious harm to a woman’s health such as stroke, blood clots or gallbladder disease.

Many major health organizations recommend against hormone therapy in postmenopausal women to prevent chronic conditions because of increased risk of serious health outcomes, the Task Force noted. These groups include the American Heart Association, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the American Academy of Family Physicians.

The Task Force issued a similar recommendation in 2005. To make this updated recommendation, the Task Force commissioned a comprehensive review of the science published since that time.

"Everyone is interested in preventing chronic diseases," Bibbins-Domingo said in a news release. "The Task Force recommends a number of important preventive measures women can take to avoid chronic diseases, including quitting smoking and identifying and treating high blood pressure and high cholesterol. There are also other effective ways that women can reduce their risk of bone fractures, such as weight-bearing exercise and being screening and treated, as appropriate, for osteoporosis.

"Women should talk with their health professionals about ways for them to stay healthy and improve their overall health."

The recommendation appears on the website of the Annals of Internal Medicine and is available at http://annals.org/article.aspx?articleid=1384872.


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