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Hormone-replacement therapy studied for joint relief

March 20, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Although controversial, many doctors report more and more women are taking hormone replacement therapy. Many women take it to help them deal with hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms. There could be another benefit.

Anecdotal evidence of osteoarthritis relief through hormone therapy is something researchers at the LA Biomedical Research institute wanted to study more.

So they looked to the Women's Health Initiative, the largest ongoing study of nearly 162,000 participants. Nearly 11,000 women in the study take estrogen alone.

After reviewing the data, researchers found that women who received estrogen only reported significantly lower frequency of joint pain than women who received a placebo.

After three years, up to 5 percent of women on hormones continued to report having less joint pain.

Yet critics like OB-GYN Dr. Mark Surrey says how estrogen reduces inflammation or bone loss is not well understood and this study should not be enough reason for women to start taking hormones.

Patients should discuss the risks and benefits with their doctor.

"There's a medical evaluation that these people should undergo before automatically assuming that they should just start taking estrogen," said Dr. Surrey.

Past studies on long-term estrogen use has been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer and ulcerative colitis.


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