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Dementia link to HRT ‘out of date’

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MEDICAL authorities in Australia have criticised a US study linking hormone replacement therapy to dementia, saying it was based on outdated standards and unrealistically high dosages.

The study, by the Women’s Health Initiative and published yesterday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, shows women over 65 using an oestrogen-progestin hormone therapy had twice the risk of dementia of non-users.Sydney Menopause Centre director John Eden said yesterday the findings need not alarm Australian women.Melbourne University neuroscientist David Darby said the drugs used were ‘unmasking, perhaps accelerating, the deterioration of women who already had dementia to a level at which they could be diagnosed as demented’.’The dose used during this study was extraordinarily high and no doctor in Australia would give a 65-year-old-plus woman that dose of hormone replacement,’ Professor Eden said.The US researchers gave participants 0.625mg of conjugated equine oestrogen and 2.5mg of medroxyprogesterone daily.’What they gave was a standard dose for someone between the ages of about 45 and 65 who is having symptoms like hot flushes,’ he said.’We typically give them about half that dose. Very few women over the age of 65 are on HRT at all anyway, about 10 per cent.’Professor Eden said the study was planned more than 10 years ago and used what was the standard treatment then.Women should carry on as usual. ‘Don’t panic,’ he said.Only 364 of the original 2229 participants were left after five years.Sydney menopause clinic nurse Megan Donnelly, 58, who began HRT four years ago after mood swings, said she found reaction to studies such as this ‘alarming’.When dozens of her patients stopped HRT abruptly last year after a WHI study, also criticised in Australia, showed the combined therapy increased the risk of heart disease, stroke and clots, Ms Donnelly trusted her instincts and stayed on the drugs.’Like most women who get to my age, you weigh up why you’re on it and what significance it has on your life and, to me, my quality of life is important,’ she said.’I feel comfortable on my HRT and I see no reason to come off it.’ (Source: The Australian, By Brendan O’Keefe, May 29, 2003)

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Posted On: 29 May, 2003
Modified On: 3 December, 2013

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