Experts Say No to Estrogen After Hysterectomy

Its risks outweigh any benefit for older women, task force finds

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THURSDAY, June 2, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Postmenopausal women who've had a hysterectomy should not routinely take estrogen replacement therapy to prevent osteoporosis, stroke or heart disease, according to a new recommendation from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.

The new guideline, published in a recent issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine, is based on evidence from the large, ongoing Women's Health Initiative clinical trial, as well as other studies.

While estrogen can have positive effects, including reducing the risk of fractures, routine use of this hormone therapy may increase a woman's risks for potentially fatal blood clots, stroke, dementia and mild cognitive impairment, the task force said.

It concluded that any benefits offered by estrogen therapy are outweighed by the treatment's potentially harmful effects.

The task force recommendation also reaffirmed earlier advice against the routine use of combined estrogen and progestin (hormone replacement therapy) for preventing chronic conditions in postmenopausal women.

"The available studies have shown that hormone replacement therapy should not be used to prevent heart disease, cancer and bone fractures," task force Chairman Dr. Ned Calonge, chief medical officer and state epidemiologist of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, said in a prepared statement. "Women should use a shared decision-making approach with their clinicians to decide how best to prevent these conditions."

The task force is an independent panel of prevention and primary-care experts.

More information

The U.S. National Institute on Aging has more about hormones after menopause.

SOURCE: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, news release, May 16, 2005

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