I was at a lecture last night by Dr. Christine Derzko from St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto. She spoke about the big study that hit the New York Times in 2004 that said taking hormones lead to an increase in breast cancer. The WHI was a huge study ( two groups of 40,000 and 60,000 women) that was stopped prematurely beacuse of the increase in breast cancer episodes. I’m sure you read about it. It caused women all over the world to stop taking hormone replacement. This was a balance lecture on the pro’s and con’s with the new research. As usual, there is more to the story than you read in the headlines. It was true that there was an 8 in 10,000 and 7in 10,000 increase risk for breast cancer and stroke for women in certain categories.
For many people the idea that “strong beleifs about risks
when introduced are hard to change”. If you or your doctor are frightened about hormones, it’s time to take a second look. The science is compelling for the benefits.
However now 9 years later, more study and some better understanding, it turns out there are some timing and factors that are better understood. Hormones are proven protective for things like dementia, Parkinson’s, heart disease, osteoporosis and diabetes. Hormones also protect againt the almost-impossible-to-live-with issues of memory change, hot flashes, depression, insomnia, low energy, vaginal and mouth dryness, aches and pains, sleep problems, sexual dysfuction, bladder control issues, and vasomotor (clumsy) problems. I loved the phrase that when it comes to menopause, TIME DOESN’T HEAL.
It also turned out that the timing of when women were first introduced to hormones is critical. Pre-and perimenopausal and 50 year old initially menopausal women are good candidates and can get the protective elements and can say on hormones until other factors come into play. 60 to 70 year old women who want to start on them later are the ones at risk for the increased chances for problems with breast cancer and unstable artery plaque leading to stroke. I also believe that like women on birth control pills that smoke, hormone taking women need to be non-smokers. Talk to your doctor about your personal risk factors. One size doesn’t fit all, everyone is unique and I think the right kind of balanced hormones are vital.