Hormone therapy benefits may outweigh risks for many younger menopausal women

February 10, 2023—For decades, hormone replacement therapy was commonly prescribed to menopausal women to alleviate symptoms such as hot flashes and to potentially reduce the risk of bone fractures and heart disease. However, when a 2002 Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) study found estrogen plus progestin therapy raised a woman’s risk of heart disease and breast cancer, many women shied away from the treatment.

But evidence accumulated since then suggests that the risks were not as alarming as they initially appeared, particularly for younger women, according to  JoAnn Manson, professor in the Department of Epidemiology at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and other medical experts interviewed for a February 1, 2023 New York Times article. They argue that for healthy women under 60 who are experiencing troublesome symptoms, the benefits may outweigh the risks.

Despite recent reassuring findings, many doctors remain reluctant to prescribe hormone replacement therapy, said Manson, chief of the division of preventive medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and one of the chief investigators in the WHI study. Many clinicians also lack the training to help women assess their personal risk.

As a result, Manson said, “Women who would be appropriate candidates are being denied hormone therapy for the treatment of their symptoms.”

Read the New York Times article: Women Have Been Misled about Menopause

Learn more

For menopausal women, hormone therapy remains a choice (Harvard Chan School news)

Health risks from estrogen pills fade after women stop taking them (Harvard Chan School news)