Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)
Hormone replacement therapy, or HRT, is one of the most common types of prescription drug treatments in use today, and yet, relatively few long-range studies have been conducted to determine its effects on womens' health.
The most common condition HRT is prescribed for is the relief of menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and night sweats. In fact, many physicians prescribe HRT as a matter of course for menopausal women, with little consideration of the severity of the symptoms the HRT is designed to treat, the side effects of the drugs, and the potential for long-term consequences.
Types of Hormone Replacment Therapy
There are three general types of HRT in use today:
- Estrogen-only therapy
- Estrogen and progestin therapy
- Progestin-only therapy
Estrogen only treatments are indicated only for women without a uterus, as estrogen-only HRT has been shown to increase cases of uterine (endometrial) cancer six to eight times.
Popularly prescribed estrogen only HRT brands include Premarin and Estradiol.
Most of the currently prescribed HRT drugs combine both estrogen and progestin, a combination designed to avoid some of the more dangerous side effects of older, estrogen only treatments.
Unfortunately, combination estrogen and progestin therapies have their own dangerous side effects, including:
- A 26% increase in breast cancer
- A 29% increase in heart attacks
- A 41% increase in strokes
- A doubled chance of blood clots (a 100% increase)
The incidence of such conditions were cause enough for the National Institute of Health (NIH) to halt the study, determining that any benefits of this form of HRT were outweighed by the considerable risk to women's health.
Recent studies have supported these conclusions, sometimes with even more alarming results. For example, a study completed in 2003 showed a 400% increase in cases of breast cancer in women using estrogen-progestin combination HRT drugs.
Despite these alarming results, many physicians continue to prescribe estrogen-progestin therapy to their patients, sometimes even as a preventative measure regardless of the type and severity of menopausal symptoms. Further, drug companies marketing estrogen-progestin therapies such as Prempro, Premphase, Femhrt, and others continue to aggressively market their products in direct to consumer advertisements.
Progestin-only hormone replacement therapy is the least common of HRT therapies. A 2003 Swedish study published in the journal of the American Cancer Society establishes a clear correlation between use of progestin in HRT and increased incidence of breast cancers, showing that women using progestin-only HRT medications were three times as likely to develop breast cancer as women not taking HRT.
Popular progestin-only therapies include Medroxyprogesterone acetate (MPA) and Provera.
If You've Suffered Serious Side Effects of HRT
Many women have needlessly suffered from serious side effects of Hormone Replacement Therapy without ever having been warned of the risks inherent to the treatment, or provided full information about the true efficacy and necessity of such drug regimens.
If you or someone you love has suffered from any of the following while on HRT, it is possible that the prescribed drugs were at fault:
- Breast cancer
- Ovarian cancer
- Non-Hodgkins lymphoma
- Gall bladder cancer
- Blood clots
If you believe that you and your family have suffered losses due to these or other serious side effects of hormone replacement therapies that were represented to you as safe, contact an experienced pharmaceutical injury attorney in your area today. He or she will review your case and advise you about how to proceed.
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