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Menopause Linked to Fibrosis Progression in Hepatitis C

Researchers see potential benefit of hormone replacement therapy in menopausal patients

THURSDAY, March 22 (HealthDay News) -- In women with chronic hepatitis C infection, conditions including menopause appear to accelerate fibrosis progression. But menopausal women who receive hormone replacement therapy are more likely to present with lower stages of fibrosis, according to study findings published in the March issue of Gut.

Patrick Marcellin, M.D., of the Service d'Hepatologie at Hopital Beaujon in Clichy, France, and colleagues studied 251 women, including 122 who were menopausal and 65 who were receiving hormone replacement therapy.

The researchers found that 190 (76 percent) of the patients had mild fibrosis (F0-F1, Metavir score) and that 61 (24 percent) had moderate-to-severe fibrosis (F2-F4, Metavir score). Although moderate-to-severe fibrosis was associated with menopause, a lengthier duration of infection (more than 15 years), a higher body mass index and steatosis, it was observed less often in menopausal women who received hormone replacement therapy than in women who did not receive such therapy.

"These results reinforce the hypothesis of a protective role of estrogens in the progression of fibrosis," the authors write. "As the menopause seems to accelerate fibrosis progression in women after the menopause, fibrosis evaluation may be recommended more frequently (every three years) and hormone replacement therapy should be discussed."

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