Long-Term Hormone Treatment Significantly Lowers Mortality Risk

Long-Term Hormone Treatment Significantly Lowers Mortality Risk

Postmenopausal women who have taken long-term estrogen replacement therapy (ERT) have an overall lower risk of death from all causes than women who have not taken ERT, according to a study in the January 1996 issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

The primary apparent effect of long-term ERT use was a reduction in coronary heart disease and other cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death for women.

Bruce Ettinger, M.D., and colleagues at the Division of Research, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program in Oakland, California USA, with a grant from the National Cancer Institute, studied data from the medical records and death certificates of 454 postmenopausal women born between 1900 and 1915. They compared 232 women who had taken ERT within three years of starting menopause for a period of five or more years to 222 age-matched women who had not taken ERT (or had taken ERT for less than one year). Women with a history of heart attack, stroke and most forms of cancer were excluded from the study).

Long-term ERT use was associated with a 46 percent reduction in the overall mortality rate from all causes of death, but apparently estrogen appeared to offer the most protection against cardiovascular disease. The lower death rate among estrogen users was related to both the recency and duration of ERT use, according to the study. Those who had taken ERT for longer than 15 years had a risk of death 30 percent lower than those who had used estrogen for a shorter time.

Overall cancer deaths were similar for both groups. Estrogen users did have a higher risk of death from breast cancer than non-users, but the total number of deaths was small and lacked statistical significance. A surprising finding: lung cancer was less common among estrogen users even though cigarette smoking was found in both groups of women.

Source: The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, 409 12th Street, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20024-2188 USA, Telephone: 202-484-3321; FAX: 202-479-6826). Website: http://www.acog.org

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