December 1, 2004

College’s Warning on HRT

Hormone replacement therapy, which has been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer and stroke, should be used only in the short term to relieve menopausal symptoms, experts warned last night.

Increased knowledge about the dangers of long-term use of HRT in the last two years has led to falling numbers of prescriptions and widespread confusion among women and the medical profession.

Now the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) has reviewed all the data surrounding HRT to make a series of recommendations which appear in its new book, Menopause and Hormone Replacement.

The college's report said that, while HRT should continue to be prescribed for women with severe menopausal symptoms, which include hot flushes and night sweats, for women who were not suffering from menopausal symptoms, the risks of taking HRT outweighed the benefits. Its recommendations match those made by the government committee on safety of medicines.

Professor Valerie Beral, director of Cancer Research UK's epidemiology unit at Oxford University, said: "This new report clearly lays out the risks and benefits associated with taking HRT.

"We know that the drug can offer short-term benefit for relieving menopausal symptoms but we also know that, the longer women take HRT, the greater the risks of breast cancer and strokes."