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According to a newanalysis of theWomen's Health Initiative(WHI), womenin their 50s who takehormone therapy neednot fear for theirhearts.Women in their60s and 70s who takehormone therapy, however,are more likely to increase their riskof heart disease, especially if they experiencehot flashes and night sweats.

The study, reported in the Journal ofthe American Medical Association (April4, 2007), pools data from 2 parts of thegovernment study. One study involvedwomen who had not had hysterectomiesand took Prempro (conjugatedestrogens/medroxyprogesteroneacetate tablets; Wyeth). The secondstudy included women who had had ahysterectomy and took only estrogen.

Based on the findings, the researchersconcluded that women intheir 50s taking Prempro or estrogenalone had a slightly increased risk ofstrokes and breast cancer; however,there was no increased risk of heartattacks. Older postmenopausal women(aged 70 to 79) did face an increasedrisk of heart disease.

The difference was greatest amongwomen who were 60 or older, whowere still having hot flashes, and whotended to have more risk factors forheart disease.

The new results are a reversal of thefindings from the WHI in 2002 that hadmany women abandoning hormonesduring menopause. The study indicatedthat Prempro increased postmenopausalwomen's risk for heart attack,stroke, blood clots, and breast cancerafter 4 years of treatment on average.Two years later, a parallel study foundthat estrogen alone raised the risk ofstroke, but not heart attacks or breastcancer, after 5 years of treatment onaverage.

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