After menopause, many women still struggle with hot flashes or night sweats. Hormone therapy stops those symptoms, but the decision about whether to use the medication has become much more complicated after the Women's Health Initiative (WHI), a massive federal study that found hormone therapy can increase a woman's risk of breast cancer and blood clots.
The WHI results were first released in 2002 and since then scientists have been going over the data looking for more evidence of risks and benefits. In the latest study, reported in the Oct. 11 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, scientists found that take hormone therapy can increase the chances that a woman will suffer from kidney stones.
The scientists, from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, looked at two groups of women. One group included nearly 11,000 women who had had a hysterectomy and received either estrogen or a placebo. They were followed for an average of 7.1 years. The second group included about 16,600 women who still had their uteruses and received either estrogen and a progestin or a placebo. Women who still have their uteruses get a progestin to prevent a build-up of tissue in the lining of the uterus.
The researchers found 335 cases of kidney stones in women who received hormones compared to 284 cases in the placebo groups. Women who had a history of kidney stones were five times more likely to get them again whether or not they took estrogen.
If you're trying to make a decision about whether to take hormones to ease menopausal symptoms, this is one more piece of information to discuss with your doctor. For an overview of what scientists now know about the risks and benefits of hormones, click here.