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Older women advised against HRT

13th July 2007

Further evidence that hormone replacement therapy (HRT) has an adverse effect on the health of older women was released this week.

An international study of the effects of HRT on postmenopausal women found those on HRT were more at risk of angina, heart attacks and blood clots.

The women's international study of long-duration oestrogen after menopause (Wisdom) selected 5,692 healthy women from the UK, Australia and New Zealand with an average age of 63. The women were randomly allocated combined oestrogen and progestogen HRT pills or a placebo.

Wisdom began in 1999 and was halted in 2002 when the health dangers first emerged.

The researchers stressed that the risk was associated with women who started HRT many years after the menopause rather than healthy women in the early stages.

Helen Roberts, of the University of Auckland, said that long-term use of HRT to prevent chronic disease was no longer advisable because "the available randomised evidence shows that the negative outcomes outweigh the positive benefits".

The uptake of HRT has fallen by 50 per cent since 2002.

HRT was promoted by doctors in the 1970s as a means of eliminating the hot flushes, vaginal dryness and night sweats associated with the early menopause.