Benefits and risks of hormone replacement therapy (HRT).


Breckwoldt M, Keck C, Karck U




J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol


In western countries more than 30% of the female population are postmenopausal. Approximately 30% of postmenopausal women suffer from clinical symptoms of the climacteric such as vasomotor symptoms, associated with hot flushes, night sweat, insomnia and depressive mood. Sufficient hormonal replacement therapy (HRT) will abolish specific menopausal symptoms in over 90% of patients, unspecific symptoms such as headache respond to placebo and HRT equally well. The question of cancer risk related to HRT will be addressed in this review. In combination with progestins, estrogens are obviously protective regarding ovarian and endometrial cancer. The association between HRT and breast cancer risk is presently unclear. Epidemiological data available so far do not provide compelling evidence as to a cause and effect relationship between HRT and breast cancer risk. There seems to be an overall trend towards a slightly increased risk with increasing duration of HRT use. Guidelines for HRT use in women with a history of endometrial and breast cancer are provided in this article.