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Elizabeth Cooney is a health reporter for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.
Boston Globe Health and Science staff:
Karen Weintraub, Deputy Health and Science Editor, and Gideon Gil, Health and Science Editor.
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Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Arteries clearer in younger menopausal women taking estrogen
Younger menopausal women who took estrogen reduced their risk of developing coronary artery calcium, a predictor of heart disease, by 40 percent, a study from the Women’s Health Initiative found.
Dr. JoAnn E. Manson, chief of preventive medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and colleagues report in tomorrow’s New England Journal of Medicine an even higher risk reduction of 60 percent in the women aged 50 to 59 years old who regularly took estrogen over an average of 7.4 years, compared with those who regularly took a placebo in the randomized clinical trial of more than 1,000 women.
The risks of taking estrogen pills for more than four to five years include blood clots that can travel to the lungs, and an increased risk of stroke and breast cancer, Manson said.
Younger women struggling to decide whether to start hormone therapy to ease menopausal symptoms should consider taking estrogen in the lowest doses for the shortest possible time, Manson said.
"The pendulum has swung from one extreme to the other," she said. "We now have a more refined understanding of the benefits and risks of hormone therapy and how age and time since menopause influence heart health outcomes."