SWHR Advocates Returning Decision Power to Women for Menopausal Hormone Therapy

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The Society for Women’s Health Research (SWHR) revealed today in The Journal of Women’s Health, the results of their expert, international roundtable on Menopausal Hormone Therapy (HT), illuminating the controversies and misrepresentations that have impeded women’s abilities to make choices about their own healthcare.

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It’s time to put HT back on the table so that women can discuss with their providers the option of symptom relief and possible long term health benefits.”

The Society for Women’s Health Research (SWHR) revealed today in The Journal of Women’s Health, the results of their expert, international roundtable on Menopausal Hormone Therapy (HT), illuminating the controversies and misrepresentations that have impeded women’s abilities to make choices about their own healthcare.

Women suffer from menopausal symptoms, perhaps needlessly, without the opportunity to determine for themselves whether the long term risks outweigh the potential benefit of HT. SWHR convened the roundtable of menopause experts to address the data across decades of research studies and to discuss how interpretations of the data have impacted women’s health.

Their findings include:

  • In younger, postmenopausal women with menopausal symptoms, the benefits of HT outweigh the risks;
  • HT is the most effective treatment for osteoporosis and should be considered for the prevention of osteoporosis, especially among at risk women;
  • Contrary to popular misconceptions, HT for early, postmenopausal women does not increase the risk for coronary heart disease (CHD) and may even reduce it;
  • HT does not increase total mortality rates and may, in fact reduce them.

Symptoms associated with the onset of menopause, such as night sweats and hot flashes, can be severe and may have major impacts on a woman’s quality of life. HT is the only effective, FDA approved treatment for the management of these symptoms. However, a decade of controversial and contradictory study reports on the risks and benefits of HT on long-term outcomes, such as breast cancer and cardiovascular disease, has led to reactionary and negative press and policy decisions. As a result, the public has been led to believe that HT presents a major health risk and consideration of HT for menopausal symptom relief has been, effectively, taken off of the table for a majority of doctors and their patients.

The importance of this roundtable and their findings is made evident through recent published reports on whether HT treatment places women at increased risk of developing breast cancer. These form the latest in a long line of reports with conflicting results over the risks/benefits of HT on the development of breast cancer, all of which debate whether very small increases or decreases (ex. 0.14% in the latest report) constitute a tangible threat to women. SWHR argues that women should be given the facts to make their own decisions, and provides the data in their report.

“What is appropriate for one woman may not be for another,” said Phyllis Greenberger, President and CEO, SWHR. “We hope these [recommendations] will help women have a clearer understanding of their entire range of treatment options, potential benefits and likelihood of possible risk. It’s time to put HT back on the table so that women can discuss with their providers the option of symptom relief and possible long term health benefits.”

About the HT Roundtable:

A panel of 18 research scientists, clinicians and leading medical program directors uniquely qualified to provide recommendations in the areas of menopause symptoms, Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, and cancer, reviewed the most rigorous scientific research available on hormone therapy. Seventeen of these experts convened and discussed their findings on November 30, 2012 in Washington, D.C.

The Society for Women’s Health Research (SWHR):

SWHR is a national non-profit organization, is the thought leader in research on biological differences in disease and is dedicated to transforming women’s health through science, advocacy, and education. Visit SWHR’s website at http://www.womenshealthresearch.org for more information.

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