Hysterectomies are a common procedure for women by the age of 60, according to the National Institutes of Health. After the surgery, doctors usually recommend that women undergo hormone therapy to treat symptoms of menopausal hormone deficiencies. However, a study conducted at Yale University noted that estrogen use experienced a serious decline after 2002, after a report regarding the dangers of hormone therapy was released.
The Yale study found that coverage of the 2002 report primarily focused on women who had not undergone a hysterectomy and engaged in treatment that combined estrogen pill therapy and a progestin - something that is necessary for women to take in order to reduce their risk of uterine cancer. Women who have had a hysterectomy, on the other hand, do not need to take the second hormone, so they do not mirror the risks found in the hysterectomy group.
"Sadly, the media, women and healthcare providers did not appreciate the difference between the two kinds of hormone therapy," said Philip Sarrel, lead author of the study. "As a result, the use of all forms of FDA-approved menopausal hormone therapy declined precipitously."
The second half of the 2002 study examined women who had their uterus removed, and found that estrogen-only therapy proved to have beneficial health outcomes. The Yale report noted that the women who took estrogen had lower mortality rates over the course of a decade than the subjects who were given a placebo. Their risk of cardiovascular disease and breast cancer was also reduced.
Sarrel stated that by refusing estrogen therapy for fear of adverse side effects, women put themselves at a higher risk of both breast cancer and cardiovascular disease. He estimated that 50,000 deaths occurred as a result of refusing estrogen, and he expressed hope that the new report will encourage women to engage in estrogen-only therapy.
What are the other benefits of estrogen? ... Full Story
Post-menopausal women are at a higher risk of contracting urinary tract infections - but a new study shows that estrogen therapy may help to prevent infections. Research from the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden revealed that the hormone causes the body to produce more antibiotics and may enable cells in the urinary tract to fight back against UTIs.
The research team treated a group of post-menopausal women with estrogen for two weeks before examining the subjects' urinary tract cells. They discovered that the hormone therapy created a sort of protective field around the wall of the bladder, which made it more difficult for bacteria to break through and cause an infection.
"During menopause, women have low levels of estrogen, and therefore also low levels of antimicrobial peptides as well as a damaged lining of the lumen in the urinary tract," said Annelie Brauner, lead author of the study. "This will give the bacteria opportunity to reach the underlying tissue, where they can hide and stay until they are triggered to cause a new infection."
Brauner went on to note that by treating women who have gone through menopause with estrogen, the researchers were able to strengthen the body's defense against infections.
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