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Hormone Replacement for Women and Men
A hormone-therapy expert highlights the latest research findings on treatment for women and men.
by Lay Leng TAN

woman's quality of life may decline at menopause. When she stops ovulating and her menstrual cycle ceases, so does the production of oestrogen, a hormone that regulates a number of female functions. Lowered levels can trigger hot flashes, dry skin, and general ageing. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT), using either oestrogen or a combination of oestrogen and progesterone, has purportedly improved the lives of many women by offsetting these undesirable effects. However, recent studies have found a correlation between HRT and increased risk of breast cancer and heart disease.

Widespread concern and anxiety arise as women worldwide grapple with the question of whether to continue taking HRT. Adrian Dobs, an expert on HRT, explains, "A lot has changed in the last three years in regard to HRT. Up until five years ago, most research said HRT helped women, and it recommended that the woman whose uterus had been removed should take oestrogen alone and the one whose uterus had not should take oestrogen plus progesterone."

"The data was pretty good at the time; but most of it was retrospective data," says the professor of medicine and oncology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Recently the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the United States put millions of dollars into a women's health initiative that showed oestrogen had the potential to harm women by triggering heart problems, strokes, and breast cancer even while it offered some degree of protection against colon cancer, osteoporosis, and bone fracture.

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