Estrogen may help in preventing heart disease for women in 50

Estrogen does not increase the risk of heart disease for women in their fifties and may even be protective, according to a new analysis that reassures women it is safe to use the hormone for short-term relief of hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause.

The first analysis of data focusing specifically on younger women in a landmark government study found no increase in heart disease among those age 50 to 59 taking estrogen, and some hints that the hormone may reduce their risk of the most common killer, reports Washington Post.

According to Deseret News, the University of Utah is one of eight centers nationwide now conducting a randomized, double-blind clinical trial of estrogen therapy for women who have just undergone natural menopause.

The result is the launch of the Kronos Early Estrogen Prevention Study (KEEPS), which besides the U. includes Harvard, Yale, the Mayo Clinic and others. Each of the eight centers will enroll 90 women ages 42 to 58 for the four-year study, which will look specifically at hardening of the arteries.

For now, those researchers are recommending use of hormone replacement therapy, called HRT, only to cope with unpleasant symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes. But they say recent studies, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine and the Journal of Women's Health, represent a "startling discrepancy" with the findings that damned HRT.

The more recent research involved a younger group of women who used HRT around the time of menopause and it found what appears to be heart-protective benefits, apparently dependent on long-term use starting very soon after menopause.

O.Ch.