Women should take health steps besides hormone replacement to prevent illness – WHO
Reacting to recent findings that cast doubt on the efficacy of certain forms of hormone replacement therapy for women, the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) today recommended safe preventive measures, such as quitting smoking and taking up exercise, for those at risk of bone loss and other diseases.
The agency noted that a large study on the therapy was recently halted because post-menopausal women who use a specific combination of estrogen and progestogen were found to be at increased risk for cardiovascular disease and breast cancer. While those women were also at reduced risk for hip fracture and colorectal cancer, the risks for women using the combination therapy were determined to exceed the benefits.
In response to these results, WHO pointed out that “proven, well-established and inexpensive measures” for preventing diseases like osteoporosis, heart disease and cancer offered a safe alternative to the hormone replacement therapy. The agency recommended that women stop using tobacco, engage in physical activity, including weight-bearing exercises, and limit alcohol consumption. Women should also eat healthy food, including at least five portions of fruits and vegetables each day, while getting adequate levels of calcium and vitamin D.
“These measures empower women with the ability of improving and controlling their health, leaving critical decision-making in their own hands,” WHO said. “Women who follow these preventive guidelines have a substantially reduced risk of developing heart disease.”
The agency recommended that women currently on hormonal treatment who are considering stopping should consult their physicians, since any change in medication must be closely supervised by a medical professional.