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What are the Benefits and Risks of HRT?

Private GPs

Here at Linbury Doctors, our private GPs Hala and Lucy, are members of the British Menopause Society and have undertaken training in the menopause. This series of blog posts delves further into the science behind menopause, and how to treat symptoms. In this post, we discuss the benefits and risks of Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT).

If you haven’t read our previous blog post about what HRT is, you can do so by clicking here.

Misconceptions of HRT: The Million Women Study

Concerns over HRT safety were raised in 2002 and 2003 by the Million Women Study. The two main concerns raised were an increased risk of breast cancer and a raised risk of cardiovascular disease.

An urgent safety warning was released and the numbers of women taking HRT fell by 66%. That has only just started to change after 10 years so we have a whole decade of women who have mostly been denied the opportunity to benefit from HRT.

Many doctors stopped prescribing it and the workforce deskilled. The women in the study were north American, mostly overweight, often in their mid-sixties and therefore were not representative of who HRT would be appropriate for from a risk profile point of view. There has since been a retraction of some of the findings and recent studies have shown there is no increased cardiovascular risk on women who start HRT within ten years of starting the menopause.

benefits and risks of hrt

HRT risk can be lowered if:

  • Taken for the correct reasons
  • Taken for as long as necessary at the lowest possible dose
  • HRT users have access to their GP at least once a year

Proven Benefits:

  • Control of menopausal symptoms
  • Maintenance of bone density and reduced risk of osteoporotic fracture

Potential Benefits

  • Reduced coronary heart disease risk
  • Reduced risk of Alzheimer’s when started early
  • Reduced colorectal cancer risk
  • Reduced risk of type 2 diabetes

If you’d like to speak to our private GPs, please get in touch with us on 0333 050 7338. Here at Linbury Doctors, we put our patients at the core of everything we do and always provide premium healthcare and advice.

Risks of HRT

Blood Clots

This risk is only applicable to oral preparations and not on the patch or gel. There is a raised stroke risk when oral HRT is started in women over 60.

Cardiovascular risk

This risk is only if HRT is started over the age of 60. Studies have shown that if HRT is started within 10 years of the menopause, it may actually reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Breast Cancer

HRT does not affect the risk of dying from breast cancer. HRT with oestrogen alone is associated with little or no increase in breast cancer. HRT with oestrogen and progesterone can be associated with a small increase in the risk of breast cancer.

The current view is that HRT may promote the growth of breast cancer cells already present rather than causing the breast cancer itself. It should be noted that being overweight or drinking more than 14 units of alcohol a week carries a higher breast cancer risk than HRT.

There is likely to be an extra 3-4 cases of breast cancer per 1000 women after 5 years use of HRT after the age of 50, if started within a ten-year window of the menopause.

Linbury Doctors Private GPs

If you’d like to find out more about the benefits and risks of HRT, get in touch with our private doctors on 0333 050 7338. We can advise you on the best course of action if you are suffering from the symptoms of menopause.