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Study: HRT May Increase Dementia

Aired May 27, 2003 - 20:27   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Hormone replacement therapy, HRT for short, is already linked to a higher risk of breast cancer, stroke as well as heart disease. Well, now comes more bad news. The most common form of HRT may also increase the chance of dementia.
Medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen has details.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When women over the age of 65 take a popular form of hormone replacement therapy, they double their risk of getting dementia. That's according a new study of the National Institutes of Health.

The news prompted this warning.

DR. SALLY SHUMAKER, STUDY CO-AUTHOR: For older women, the message is fairly clear. The bottom line is that older women shouldn't be taking combination hormone therapy.

COHEN: The drug is called prempro. Wyatt (ph), the company that makes it, points out that the study was only on women over the age of 65 so the studies don't pertain to younger menopausal women.

So what should women under age 65 do when facing menopause?

The answer from the National Institutes of Health, even in younger women, this same drug increases the risk of getting heart disease, stroke and breast cancer, according to a study last summer.

(on camera): Given all this bad news, the question surely comes up: Why would anyone want to take hormones? Well, studies do show that they help fight osteoporosis and hot flashes.

(voice-over): The bottom line, according to the authors of the latest study:

SHUMAKER: A woman with very really severe symptoms, we still recommend that they consider combination hormone therapy, but they take it for as short a for of time as possible and at the lowest dose possible.

COHEN: Menopause experts we talked to say the key is to think about why you're taking hormones. Whatever the reason might be, lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise might help. And if not, there could be other drugs out there that work better and are safer than hormones.

Elizabeth Cohen, CNN, Atlanta

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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