A recent report further cripples the last vestiges of support for hormone replacement therapy as a must-have treatment for menopause.
Pooling the results of four clinical trials involving over 20,000 women, the report arrives at a stark, unavoidable conclusion: 'Overall, HRT users had a significantly increased incidence of major, potentially fatal, conditions.'
The three main conditions hastened by HRT were breast cancer, stroke and pulmonary embolism (blood clots in the lung typically originating in the leg). No significant differences were found between oestrogen-only and oestrogen/progestogen HRT preparations.
The danger rises with age: after five years of HRT, there's a 6 per 1000 extra risk in those aged 50-60, which doubles over the next decade of life.
The only solace for women already on HRT is that they have a slightly lower risk of both colon cancer and hip fractures. In contrast, there's no truth in the claim that HRT protects against coronary heart disease (Lancet, 2002; 360: 942-4).