Busting Myths About Menopause Hormone Therapy (MHT)
As women approach menopause, a whirlwind of misinformation and fear often surrounds the topic of Menopause Hormone Therapy (MHT) or Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) as it has been more commonly referred to. The landscape of MHT has evolved significantly, with new research shedding light on its benefits and risks. It’s time to dispel the myths and set the record straight, backed by experts from the British Menopause Society and esteemed medical professionals like Dr. Joanne Hobson, Dr. Jennifer Gunter, Dr. Heather Currie, and Professor Nick Panay.
Myth 1: MHT Increases Breast Cancer
One of the most persistent myths about MHT is that it increases the incidents of breast cancer. However, according to Dr. Joanne Hobson, Clinical Lead Director of The Menopause Consortium, “Breast Cancer is NOT increased by taking MHT.” Postmenopausal obesity and heavy alcohol consumption pose a greater risk of breast cancer than MHT use over five years. In fact, there’s evidence that individuals taking MHT when diagnosed with breast cancer have better survival rates.
Myth 2: MHT Promotes Breast Cancer
Contrary to the belief that MHT promotes breast cancer, the consensus among experts like Dr. Jennifer Gunter is that MHT does not promote cancer growth but rather stimulates the growth of existing cancer cells. The risk of this occurrence remains very low compared to the risks associated with other diseases such as heart disease, dementia, osteoporosis, and other cancers. There is no substantial evidence that oestrogen alone causes breast cancer.
Myth 3: MHT Increases Ovarian Cancer Risk
The perceived risk of ovarian cancer often leads to concern about MHT use. However, Professor Nick Panay states that the increased risk of ovarian cancer is minimal – about 1 in 1000 users of MHT for five years. Importantly, this risk starts to decrease after discontinuing MHT.
Myth 4: MHT Raises Endometrial Cancer Risk
Dr. Heather Currie sheds light on the nuanced relationship between MHT and endometrial cancer risk. Sequential preparations of MHT slightly increase the risk, but it remains minimal compared to the background risk when taken over an extended period. On the other hand, continuous combined therapy can actually provide protection against endometrial cancer.
Myth 5: MHT Aggravates Cardiovascular Disease
Worries about heart disease have swirled around MHT for years. However, the British Menopause Society debunks this myth, stating that MHT does not increase the risk of heart disease if initiated at the onset of menopause. In fact, there’s a potential for a protective effect if MHT is started within ten years of menopause.
Myth 6: MHT Increases Blood Clot Risk
Blood clot concerns are often associated with MHT, but Dr. Joanne Hobson clarifies that transdermal preparations of MHT do not increase the risk of blood clots in the lungs (pulmonary embolism) or deep vein thrombosis.
In conclusion, separating fact from fiction is crucial when it comes to Menopause Hormone Therapy (MHT). With guidance from leading experts and organizations like the British Menopause Society, it’s clear that many fears surrounding MHT are unwarranted. Understanding the nuanced risks and benefits empowers women to make informed decisions about their health and well-being during the menopausal transition.