5-year-old study linking to heart risks was misinterpreted, researchers now say
By Caroline Miller,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 21, 2007 6:09 PM CDT
This image made available by the Duke University Department of Medicine shows a right breast mammogram from a 55 year old woman with extreme breast density. About one in 50 of U.S. women _ those with...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Estrogen replacement therapy was wrongly villified five years ago, when researchers told millions of post-menopausal women to stop taking it because it increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes, a reanalysis of the same data shows. It was a false alarm, the Los Angeles Times reports. In fact, the new analysis says, it reduces heart risks.

New findings published in today's New England Journal of Medicine indicate that HRT doesn't increase risks in patients who start taking it within 10 years of menopause;  those who took HRT for at least 7 years after menopause had 60% less atherosclerosis. One theory is that the benefits occur only if it is started before atherosclerosis sets in; estrogen started later produces the damaging effects.