Doctor has new guidance on hormone replacement therapy

Study shows estrogen safe, beneficial for women in early menopause

HOUSTON – In the 1990s, estrogen was the most prescribed medicine in the United States. In 2002, a study came out stating that estrogen hormones caused an increased health risk, causing a lot of concern for women.

Now, one researcher said it’s time to rethink hormone therapy during a specific period of time during menopause.

Hot flashes, night sweats and weight gain are all uncomfortable symptoms of menopause. For the past decade and a half, many women have shunned hormone replacement therapy after reports that hormones could increase the risk of breast cancer.

Dr. Mache Seibel, from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, said those life-threatening claims were off-base. Seibel said estrogen replacement therapy, when done at the right time, is safe and highly effective.

“The right time is what I call the 'estrogen window,' and the estrogen window, is a window of time that begins when menopause begins and continues, roughly, for about 10 years,” Seibel said.

Karen started hormone replacement therapy a year ago.

“I was having a great deal of brain fog, my skin felt very dry, I was suddenly having weight gain, especially in the middle area,” Karen said.

Studies now prove estrogen is both safe and beneficial for most women early in their menopause.

“Estrogen by itself can actually lower the risk of breast cancer by 23 percent," Seibel said. "It can lower the risk of heart disease by 32 percent."

Karen said to Seibel, “I know my long-term health is going to be better, and I know I’ll be avoiding potentially some very grave diseases by taking the hormone replacement therapy, and the frosting on the cake is that my symptoms go away, so I love that.”

Experts say it’s important to point out that starting estrogen hormones after the 10-year menopausal window has closed might not be as safe. About 6,000 women a day go through menopause, equaling close to 2 million women a year.