USPSTF discourages postmenopausal hormone therapy for prevention


Hormone therapy, in the form of estrogen combined with progestin, is not recommended to prevent chronic conditions such as heart disease and diabetes in postmenopausal women, according to updated draft recommendations from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. They also recommended against the use of estrogen alone in postmenopausal women who have had a hysterectomy.

The updated recommendations were published online May 16 on the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force website.

After considering new evidence in the last several years, the recommendations are essentially unchanged from the final recommendations published in 2012, according to a Task Force statement published with the recommendations. “The benefits of using menopausal hormone therapy to prevent chronic conditions like heart disease and diabetes do not outweigh the harms in women who have gone through menopause,” Maureen G. Phipps, MD, MPH, a task force member, said in the statement.

The draft recommendations were based on a review of 17 randomized clinical trials published through Aug. 1, 2016, that included data from the Women’s Health Initiative.

Women taking estrogen/progestin reported a significantly lower risk (per 10,000 women approximately 5 years) of colorectal cancer, diabetes, and fractures, compared with women on a placebo, wrote Gerald Gartlehner, MD, and his colleagues at the RTI International–University of North Carolina Evidence-Based Practice Center in Research Triangle Park, NC, in the evidence report accompanying the draft recommendations.

However, the risks for several other conditions were significantly higher among women on hormone therapy, compared with placebo, including invasive breast cancer (52 more cases), coronary heart disease (41 more cases) probable dementia (88 more cases), gallbladder disease (259 more cases), stroke (53 more cases), and venous thromboembolism (120 more cases). Additionally, urinary incontinence rates were higher after a 1-year follow up among women on hormone therapy (876 more cases/10,000 women).

Some evidence suggests that women who began hormone therapy closer to menopause might have a lower risk for developing cardiovascular complications, but the evidence is insufficient for firm conclusions, the researchers wrote.

The recommendations against hormone therapy do not apply to women younger than 50 years who have undergone oophorectomies or premature menopause, or to those considering hormone therapy to manage menopausal symptoms, according to the Task Force.

Public comments on the draft recommendations may be submitted on the Task Force website until June 12. The researchers had no financial conflicts to disclose.

View the recommendations online at uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org.

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