By Amy Norton
NEW YORK | Fri Dec 31, 2010 1:16pm EST
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Women who treat menopause symptoms with hormone patches rather than pills may not have an increased risk of blood clots in the legs or lungs — even when they have a history of such clots, a new study suggests.
The findings, published in the journal Menopause, add to evidence that skin patches can be a safer alternative to pills for women who want to treat their bothersome menopause symptoms with hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
The number of women using HRT plummeted in 2002 after a large U.S. clinical trial found that women on estrogen-plus-progesterone pills had higher risks of blood clots, heart attack, stroke and breast cancer than placebo users did.
However, hormone therapy remains the most effective way to ease menopausal hot flashes, so some women with severe symptoms still opt for it. Because of the risks, experts say women should use HRT at the lowest dose and for the shortest time possible.
There is growing evidence, though, that low-dose patches may not carry all the risks that pills do.
Some studies have found that, unlike pills, patches may not raise women’s risk of a first-time venous thromboembolism (VTE), which refers to blood clots either in the leg veins or the lungs.
And a large UK study earlier this year found that women who used low-dose patches for hormone therapy had no greater risk of stroke than women not on HRT. Those on hormone pills or high-dose patches, however, did have a higher stroke risk than non-users.
Operative words in the first paragraph….”may not have an increased risk of blood clots in the legs or lungs.” Nonsense. Give women a definitive “will not increase the risk of…” and we many listen. However, we all know now that anything synthetic that is put into our bodies carries some risk. Articles like this are no longer acceptable.