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Hormone therapy may still be an option

Despite the highly publicized closing of the Women's Health Initiative study, the scientific community should not rule out that women may benefit from hormone therapy after menopause, say researchers at UC Davis, Duke and Harvard Universities. Their review of the scientific literature on the biology of estrogens and progestins appeared in the May 28 issue of the journal Science.

"It was right to close the Women's Health Initiative trial," said Judith L. Turgeon, professor of internal medicine at UC Davis School of Medicine and senior science for advanced graduate students and postdoctoral fellows author of the article. "But we should not generalize the results of this trial and overlook the real potential that other forms of hormone therapy may offer to postmenopausal women."

Estrogens affect many tissues in the body. During natural menopause, which occurs in women at an average age of 51 years, estrogen and progesterone secretions from the ovaries diminish. Afterwards, the risk of coronary heart disease and osteoporosis increases. Stroke and dementia are also associated with aging.

"Estrogens and progestins provide women with important health advantages before menopause," said Turgeon. "We need to remain open to the possibility that these same ovarian hormones can help women stay healthier after menopause as well."

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