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New Study May be Definitive Answer on Hormone Replacement Therapy

For years women have been getting conflicting information about whether or not they should seek out hormone replacement therapy to help them with the symptoms of menopause. Now a new study may give women some clear answers.
Scientists have just released the results of a major long-term study on the safety of hormone replacement therapy or HRT for menopausal women.

The bottom line: For most healthy women who have just entered menopause taking HRT short term to battle symptoms is probably okay. But don't take it long term in hopes that it will prevent diseases such as heart disease or cancer. Taking HRT when older poses more risks.

Hormone replacement therapy is used to replace female hormones that are no longer produced after menopause. These drugs help prevent hot flashes and night sweats that can affect menopausal women. For decades, doctors thought HRT was also good for women's hearts. To test this - and other issues - scientists decided to conduct a large trial called the women's health initiative.

But the HRT trial was suspended early because women were having serious health issues including higher risks for heart problems, breast cancer and stroke.

For this new study, scientists looked back at 13 years of research on the participants. They concluded that it was risky to take HRT long term. But for healthy women with severe symptoms early in menopause, taking HRT for a short period of time might be worth the risk.

(Shelby Lin for CNN's Health Minute)

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