Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is the so-called "miracle cure" that an entire generation of women took to strengthen their hearts and fight the war against aging.
Then the National Institutes of Health said that HRT may actually increase the risk for heart disease, stroke and breast cancer. Of 10,000 women who take both estrogen and progestin, seven more will have heart attacks, eight more will have strokes, and eight more will develop breast cancer.
Those figures may be insignificant from a statistical standpoint. But there's nothing insignificant about seven or eight lives, says Dr. Stanley Juk, a Providence cardiologist with Columbia Cardiology Consultants.
"Even one is too many if you're talking about women's lives," says Dr. Juk.
"For years, other medical studies told us HRT was good for women with coronary artery disease, but this study showed us that was just not the case.
"So the message is clear now," explains Dr. Juk. "If you're undergoing hormone replacement therapy in an effort to prevent heart disease, don't do it.
"But if you're doing it to deal with the symptoms of menopause, there are plenty of good reasons why you should talk with your gynecologist before abandoning it."