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Post-menopausal women may reduce heart disease risk via hormone therapy

Receiving hormone replacement therapy in the 10 years following menopause can reduce the risk of getting cardiovascular disease, Chen Fang-ping, president of the Taiwanese Menopause Society, said yesterday at a press conference.

Chen, a doctor at the Chang-Gung Memorial Hospital's Keelung Branch, made the remarks based on one of two major consensuses reached at an annual seminar held by the International Menopause Society in October in Paris.

The core of the consensus was that if women receive hormone replacement treatment in the 10 years following menopause or before they reach 60, they can cut their chances of suffering from the disease without being exposed to other risks.

The seminar also agreed that women who undergo a hysterectomy and receive hormone replacement therapy but not the steroid hormone progesterone will not face an increased risk of breast cancer. Those women with a hysterectomy but who receive replacement of both hormones and progesterone simultaneously will be at a higher breast cancer risk.

Chen said some local women begin to experience menopause between 45 and 55, suffering hot flashes, insomnia, mood swings, depression, and dryness and thinning of the skin. She called for such women to receive hormone replacement therapy in accordance with the two major consensuses.

The two conclusions of the meeting run counter to a study released in July 2002 by the National Institutes of Health, an agency under the U.S. Department of Health. The report said that women undergoing hormone replacement therapy after menopause suffer an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and breast cancer.

The report greatly undermined confidence of post-menopause women in hormone replacement treatment and raised fears about the diseases.

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