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Researchers announced July 9, 2002 that they have halted one of the largest and best-designed studies of hormone replacement therapy because women taking the hormones after menopause had a greater risk of breast cancer, heart attack, stroke and blood clots than those who did not take the drugs.
More than 6 million women in the US currently take estrogen/progestin hormone combination therapy for a variety of reasons, including cures of hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms. The hope--and the hype--has been that such hormones would also confer a number of other advantages, including a reduced risk of heart disease. The study suggests that when women take the drugs for more than about 5 years, the risks of the hormones clearly outweigh the benefits.