(10/18/12) - A lot of women go without treatment for menopause symptoms over fears about increased risk for some cancers - but how big is the risk?
On this World Menopause Day, a Flint doctor sorts out the difference in two treatment options.
Denice Barth started estrogen replacement therapy three years ago, after a hysterectomy. "I was nervous about taking synthetic drugs into my system, I wasn't sure it was a good idea. But he assured me, being that I was without a uterus now, and all the other parts, that it would be safe and it is. It's wonderful."
When estrogen levels drop, it can trigger menopausal symptoms like hot flashes, insomnia, fatigue and low libido.
Denice's after her hysterectomy, she needed only Estrogen replacement- one drug, versus hormone replacement or HRT, which is two.
"If I give you, for example, estrogen alone and you have a uterus for a long period of time, you are going to develop cancer of the uterus. The other drug, progestin, protects the lining of the uterus from cancer," says her doctor, Joseph Metz of Flint.
Dr. Metz says a lot of women are fearful about going on estrogen or hormone replacement therapy because of large studies linking them to an increased risk for ovarian, uterine and breast cancers.
But, Metz says the thinking has changed over the last several years, especially when it comes to estrogen alone. "The newest report released in 2012 differentiates between hormone replacement therapy and estrogen replacement therapy. HRT does increase your risk of breast cancer after usage for about five years."
And, when it comes to estrogen alone, he says, the findings are even more encouraging. "As far as estrogen alone is concerned, after about seven years, it does reduce the risk of breast cancer."
Denise says estrogen replacement has changed her life. "I felt great, I felt wonderful, I felt like I wanted to run around the block because I felt my self again."
Dr. Metz says the trans-dermal estrogen, which means the patches, creams and gel forms, appear to be safer because they do not go through your liver, like the pill form does.
Of course, benefits and risks of estrogen or hormone replacement are something each women should discuss with her own doctor.
ABC12 Main Station