Women who take hormone replacement therapy have been reassured by a long-term US study that found no increased risk of heart disease or cancer.
Research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association looked at 27,000 women aged between 50 and 79 who were enrolled in two different hormone trials in 1993 and 1998.
The women’s health was then followed up until 2014.
The follow-up study concluded that women who had used HRT for five to seven years after menopause were no more likely to die from cancer or heart disease than non-users.
The percentage of deaths from any cause in women from the hormone therapy group was 27.1 per cent, almost identical to the 27.6 per cent in the placebo group, suggesting HRT had no effect on mortality rates.
The long-term study was based on the Women’s Health Initiative trials, which focused on the risks for healthy post-menopausal women who took hormone therapy to prevent conditions such as heart disease.
There was a major health scare in 2002 when WHI researchers claimed the risks from HRT significantly outweighed the benefits, triggering a 50 per cent decrease in the use of HRT in Australia.
But the finding was later disputed by many women’s health experts, who said the risks from HRT depended on which women used them, what type of hormones they used and for how long.
Researchers from the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and Boston’s Harvard Medical School wrote in JAMA this week that few studies had compared the effect of HRT on death rates overall and for specific diseases such as heart disease and cancer.
They said that while the results of their study did not necessarily apply to all HRT use, the net effect on life-threatening outcomes for women using the treatment for five to seven years was no different to women who did not use HRT.