Latest warning about HRT


WOMEN undergoing hormone replacement therapy who have not had hysterectomies are again being warned that they should not be prescribed the oestrogen only form of HRT. The latest warning comes via a report in the Journal of the American Medical Association on the results of the Postmenopausal Estrogen/Progestin Interventions Trial, a study of 600 women comparing various combinations of hormones against a placebo. The majority of women (74 out of 119) who received oestrogen alone developed some type of endometrial hyperplasia, a thickening of the wall of the uterus which has been associated with the development of endometrial cancer. Progestogen, a hormone that occurs naturally in pregnant women and which is normally included in oestrogen based HRT for women who have their wombs intact, helps to counteract hypeiplasia.

However, Professor Brian Sheppard of the Trinity Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, St James's Hospital, warns that this is not new information and that women who have not had hysterectomies should not be prescribed oestrogen only therapy in the first place.

Professor Sheppard, who is involved in clinical trials of various forms of treatment for the menopause, including HRT and other alternatives, also reassured women volunteering for the trials that they would not be given oestrogen only HRT.

The trials should be of particular interest to women with breast cancer in the family who may be advised not to take oestrogen based HRT, because the trials are looking at alternative therapies which are particularly advantageous in the treatment of osteoporosis, a treatment which women who cannot take HRT would ordinarily miss out on. Anyone interested in joining the trial should call (01) 7022190 between 2 and 5 p.m., Monday-Friday.