FDA offers guidelines for hormone replacement therapy
The Food and Drug Administration launched a new campaign Tuesday to educate women about the potential risks of hormone replacement therapy, urging women who do opt for hormones to treat the symptoms of menopause to use the lowest dose possible and for the shortest amount of time. The campaign was designed at the urging of Congress to help educate women confused by news about the risks of long-term hormone use. Last year a major study said that long-term use of the hormones estrogen and progestin is more dangerous than once thought: The pills significantly increase a woman's risk of a heart attack or stroke beginning in the first year of use and increase the risk of breast cancer after four years of use. Other studies have also indicated that hormone replacement therapy carries significant risks for cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancer. But hormones are still widely prescribed to treat such menopause symptoms as hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, and osteoporosis.
The FDA on Tuesday unveiled a new Web site, www.fda.gov/womens/menopause, that includes hormone information, including a pocket guide women can bring to the doctor's office to discuss treatment options. It explains how to weigh the risks and benefits of both the estrogen-progestin combination and estrogen alone, an option for only those women who have had hysterectomies. "Women who are armed with the appropriate key facts can take the right steps to make the highly personal decision about whether menopausal hormone therapy is the right choice for them," said FDA administrator Mark McClellan.