Entries in Hormone Replacement Therapy (7)


Twin Study Shows Moisturizing, Breast Feeding Stall Breast Aging

James Woodson/Digital Vision/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Breast feeding, daily moisturizing and hormone replacement therapy can make a woman's breasts appear more beautiful, but smoking, drinking alcohol and having multiple pregnancies can take an aesthetic toll, according to researchers.

A study of identical twins published Tuesday in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal, titled "Determinants of Breast Appearance and Aging in Twins," shows environmental factors play a key role in how a woman's breasts age.

Other factors like higher body mass index (BMI) and larger bra and cup sizes also contribute to accelerated breast aging, according to the study.

An estimated 316,848 women had breast augmentations and 127,054 had breast lifts performed in 2011, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.

Now, women can identify lifestyle behaviors that can slow the aging process to avoid surgical intervention, according to the study, which was funded by a grant from the Aesthetic Surgery Education and Research Foundation.

For the last three years, plastic surgeon Hooman T. Soltanian of University Hospitals Case Medical Center and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, Ohio, studied 161 pairs of twins.

"It's very rare that both twins have been through the same exact environmental factors throughout life," he said.  "The idea was that they have the same [breasts] from a genetic standpoint.  If we see a difference, it's more likely to be environmental factors."

Soltanian collected data from consenting women between the ages of 25 and 74 at the annual Twins Days Festival in Twinsberg, Ohio.  The average age of the study's participants was 45.5 years old.

"The twins come from all over the country for a weekend to have fun and celebrate," he said.  "We have been using that opportunity to study their breasts.  It's not a longitudinal study, but a cross-sectional study."

The study had two parts.  First, each set of twins was given a questionnaire on lifestyle habits, such as smoking, drinking, number of pregnancies, use of a bra, stress at work, sports, hormone replacement therapy, moisturizing and exposure to the sun.  Each twin answered independently.

Then, photos of the twins' breasts were taken "in a secluded area by professionals."  Those photos were "subjectively evaluated by independent reviewers."

Soltanian acknowledged there is "no objective measurement" for what makes a breast "beautiful."  But researchers looked for skin tone, droopiness, shape and areola size.

Moisturizing seemed an "obvious" advantage on a breast's appearance, showing fewer wrinkles, according to Soltanian.  

Those who received hormone replacement therapy after menopause had more attractive breast shape, size, projection, areolar shape and areolar size.

The study seemed to refute myths about the negative effects of nursing a baby, findings that even surprised Soltanian.  Even though the size and shape of the areola had suffered, the skin quality was better in women who breast fed.

"All these twins did not breast-feed without being pregnant and pregnancy has a negative effect on breast appearance," he said.  "My explanation is that women who breast fed have a different hormonal milieu -- sort of like internal hormone replacement.  So even though those were disadvantages, they gained some benefit."

Soltanian, who does reconstructive surgeries for women after breast cancer, said this twin research could be expanded to longitudinal studies that look for environmental influences when one twin has cancer and the other doesn't.

As for the study's importance, he said, "It's obvious to me that breast appearance and breast health as a whole are a major part of female health."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Menopause Hormone Therapy Benefits Hit in Government Report

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Hormone replacement therapy may provide relief from the hot flashes, night sweats and other oppressive symptoms of menopause, but when it comes to preventing chronic health problems, a panel of experts for the federal government said HRT isn’t helpful and may be harmful.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force on Tuesday recommended against the use of HRT for the prevention of chronic conditions, such as coronary heart disease, breast cancer and fractures, for postmenopausal women.  The panel classified the recommendation as “grade D,” meaning there is “moderate to high certainty” that the risks of HRT outweigh any long-term health benefits that women might gain.

The panel noted that the recommendations don’t apply to women taking HRT to relieve hot flashes, vaginal dryness and other postmenopausal symptoms.  Women’s health specialists say increasing evidence indicates that reasonable use of the therapy to fight those symptoms can have big benefits for women’s quality of life.

“For newly menopausal women who have these symptoms and are in generally good health, the benefits of treatment are likely to outweigh the risks,” said Dr. JoAnn Manson, chief of preventive medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

The USPSTF’s recommendations are the latest chapter in the often-confusing story of hormone replacement therapy, which was once considered a possible tool for preventing chronic maladies such as coronary heart disease and fractures.  But the Women’s Health Initiative, a 10-year study of nearly 70,000 women, found that women who took both estrogen and progestin actually had an increased risk of blood clots, heart attacks and strokes, as well as a higher risk of developing breast cancer.  The trial was halted three years early in 2002.

The USPSTF cited evidence gleaned from the Women’s Health Initiative in its latest recommendations, saying that the use of estrogen-only HRT or a combination of estrogen and progestin was linked with an increased risk of stroke, gallbladder disease, urinary incontinence and blood clots.

For women taking estrogen-only HRT, the panel found modest benefits in the way of reducing bone fractures and smaller reductions in the risk of developing or dying from invasive breast cancer.  But the panel said those small positives were outweighed by the more major risks of the therapy.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Estrogen Therapy Works Best in Younger Women

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A reappraisal of the National Institutes of Health's Women's Health Initiative (WHI) study has found that "the age when women start hormone replacement therapy makes a huge difference," in risk of cancer and heart disease, according to Dr. Robert Langer, lead author of the reassessment, which was published in the journal Climacteric.

Researchers said "mass fear" left millions of women to needlessly suffer from menopause symptoms without the benefits of hormone replacement therapy when researchers of the WHI study found that women who took estrogen were at higher risk of certain cancers and heart disease.

New data showed that the risks only apply to older menopausal women who begin taking the medication late into menopause.

"The balance is towards benefit for women with hot flashes and other reasons to use it who start within 10 years of menopause," said Langer.  "But it's not beneficial for most women who start about 10 years or more into menopause."

Prior to the 2002 study, some research found that the menopausal hormone therapy actually helped to decrease the risk of heart disease, but the 2002 preliminary data found the treatment did not decrease risk and put women at increased risk of some invasive breast cancers and stroke.  Prior to the study results, hormones were one of the most-prescribed drugs in the country.

But the use of estrogen dropped by 71 percent from 2001 to 2009, according to the North American Menopause Society.

Researchers halted the clinical trial altogether three years early in 2002 because of the noted increased risk.

For some women, menopause symptoms are much more than the occasional hot flash.  Depression, low libido, night sweats, panic attacks and vaginal dryness are only a few of the many indications that storm through the body of a menopausal woman.

Symptoms like vaginal dryness and pain on intercourse are more difficult to bring up with a gynecologist than risks of heart disease and breast cancer, said Langer.

"Fears like the risk of breast cancer, or sometimes heart attacks or strokes, surface quickly in those discussions," continued Langer.  "The reporting of the WHI fed those fears to a degree not warranted by the small increase in breast cancer rates that probably only reflected earlier discovery of existing cancers, or by the fact that the heart attack risk and stroke was only seen in women who started more than 10 years after menopause."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Study Finds Estrogen Replacement Lowers Risk of Breast Cancer for Some Women

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Millions of women who seek relief from hot flashes, night sweats and other postmenopausal symptoms -- but fear the risks of hormone replacement therapy -- have some reassurance from new research on estrogen-only HRT.

A new study suggests that estrogen-only HRT may lower the risk of breast cancer for some postmenopausal women. However, the findings apply to a particular subset of those women -- those who have had a hysterectomy, have no increased risk of breast cancer and no increased risk of strokes and blood clots.

The research came as a follow-up to the Women's Health Initiative, a 10-year study of more than 10,000 women taking HRT. The trial was halted in 2004 amid concerns that the treatments increased women's risk of stroke and breast cancer. The end of the trial was followed by a drop in the number of women taking estrogen for their postmenopausal symptoms. A study from the North American Menopause Society found that the use of estrogen dropped by 71 percent from 2001 to 2009.

The concerns that stopped the trial were mostly linked to combined HRT -- a combination of estrogen and progestin, which doctors still say increases a woman's risk of breast cancer. Garnet Anderson, the lead author of the study, said fear over those risks tainted the reputation of estrogen-only HRT, even though researchers had already observed that it seemed to reduce the risk of breast cancer.

"These new data suggest that women don't have to be afraid of taking estrogen-only HRT," she said.

Researchers studied more than 7,500 postmenopausal women who had undergone a hysterectomy and had taken estrogen-only HRT as a part of the Women's Health Initiative. The women, aged 50 to 79, took estrogen for six years and then stopped when the trial was halted.

But researchers continued to monitor the women for the next five years and found that the women who took estrogen were 23 percent less likely to develop breast cancer than those who took a placebo. Of the women taking estrogen-only HRT who did develop breast cancer, the study found that they were less likely to die from the disease. Six women taking estrogen died of the disease, compared with 16 in the group taking a placebo.

Dr. Jacques Rossouw, chief of the Women's Health Initiative at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, said the study suggests that the length of time a woman takes estrogen may play a role in her risk of developing breast cancer.

"If they use it [estrogen] for short term and then stop after 6 years or so, they are not at increased risk of breast cancer," he said. He cautioned, however, that the use of estrogen for longer periods may increase the risk.

Women who have not had a hysterectomy should not take estrogen-only HRT, since estrogen increases the risk of uterine cancer.

The findings, published day in the medical journal The Lancet, give a little more clarity for women who want relief from their postmenopausal symptoms but feel confused by all the conflicting information on whether or not HRT is safe. Dr. Janet Pregler, director of the Iris Cantor-UCLA Women's Health Center, said her patients are often frustrated by the conflicting reports on HRT. But she said she has prescribed estrogen alone for several years to her postmenopausal patients who have had hysterectomies.

"There's no question that hormones remain the best treatment for hot flashes and night sweats," Pregler said. "The risk of doing that for a few years around menopause is really very low, depending on other health risks you have."

The study found several caveats to the effectiveness of estrogen-only HRT. The reduced risk of breast cancer applied only to women who were not already at risk for the disease. As a result, Anderson said patients should not take estrogen with the goal of reducing breast cancer risk.

Also, HRT is still associated with an increased risk of stroke, and doctors say that women who are at increased risk of stroke and blood clots should still avoid taking any HRT.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Estrogen May Protect Against Brain Aneurysms

Michael Matisse/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) -- Brain aneurysms, or the bulging and weakening of small areas of the walls of arteries, are more common in women than in men. 

In a study at Rush University Medical Center, researchers assessed whether estrogen, the primary component of birth control pills and hormone therapy, can modify a women's risk of developing brain aneurysms. 

They researchers found that women who had a history of taking oral contraceptives or hormone replacement therapy were less likely to have brain aneurysms than those who did not take these medications.  But taking birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy did not change the rate of aneurysm ruptures. 

But critics of the study, which is published in the Journal of Neurointerventional Surgergy, say it can't be known from this data whether these hormones had any causal role in aneurysm formation, and the study may be misleading as it implies that hormone therapy may be useful for prevention of aneurysms.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Study: Estrogen-Only Therapy May Reduce Breast Cancer Risk

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(SAN ANTONIO) -- For years, doctors have warned women that taking hormone replacement therapy, or HRT, may be linked to an increased risk of breast cancer.  Now, a new study suggesting that a particular form of HRT may actually lower the risk of breast cancer in some women is likely to re-ignite the controversy surrounding this link.

The study, presented at the annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, uses previously collected data to suggest that menopausal women with no strong family history of breast cancer who are on estrogen replacement therapy may be at a 30-40 percent lower risk of developing breast cancer.

Lead researcher Dr. Joseph Ragaz, medical oncologist and clinical professor at the School of Population and Public Health at The University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, acknowledged the study results fly in the face of conventional thinking about findings contradicting a widely held belief about HRT.

"Our analysis suggests that, contrary to previous thinking, there is substantial value in bringing HRT with estrogen alone to [treatment] guidelines," said Ragaz in a press release.  "The data show that for selected women it is not only safe, but potentially beneficial for breast cancer, as well as for many other aspects of women's health."

Ragaz and his colleagues re-analyzed data from hormone replacement therapy trials of the Women's Health Initiative, a national health study aimed at developing strategies for preventing heart disease, breast cancer, colorectal cancer and bone fractures in postmenopausal women.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


HRT Linked to High Cancer Risk

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -– Mounting evidence suggests that hormone replacement therapy (HRT) in postmenopausal women may be linked to aggressive forms of breast cancer, according to results from an ongoing Women’s Health Initiative study.
The study shows that women who take a combination of estrogen and progestin therapy may even be at a higher risk of death from the disease.

Part of the ongoing study refers to women who have not had a hysterectomy and therefore are on a combination of estrogen and progestin (Prempro) and women with hysterectomies who were taking estrogen only in the form of Premarin.
Women taking estrogen only after their hysterectomy were not at an increased risk. This finding leads many physicians to suspect that it is primarily the daily use of the synthetic progestin in the Prempro combination that contributed to the breast cancer risk.
Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio