A new study from the Kronos Institute, which is a nonprofit organization focused on research in longevity, found that estrogen and natural progesterone given to women who were within three years of menopause  showed significant improvement in mood, sexual function bone density, night sweats and hot flashes  without causing any adverse side effects such as breast cancer, endometrial cancer, MI, stroke of emboli.  The study was double blind placebo controlled and carried out over 4 years on 727 women. Interestingly enough Premarin (horse urine) as well as bioidentical estrogen and progesterone were used.  In contrast to the Women’s health study no synthetic progestin was given.

Another study of over 80,000 nurses followed over 8 years, published in 2008, had similar results.  Women who took bioidentical hormones had no more risk of developing breast cancer than women who took no hormones at all.  Meanwhile those who took the synthetic hormones had a 60 percent greater chance of developing ductal breast cancer than women who took no hormones, which is  a finding similar to the flawed Women’s Health Initiative.   Interestingly enough, further followup of women in the women’s Health Initiative found that a subgroup of women who were given Premarin (horse urine) but no synthetic progestin (because they had no uteruses) actually had a 20 percent lower incidence of breast cancer over the 8 year followup.  All this suggest that the main culprit in hormones and breast cancer may actually be the synthetic progestin, not the vilified estrogen .

And one more new Danish study shows that hormone replacement therapy in newly menopausal women cuts cardiovascular disease by 50 percent and did not increase the risk of cancer or stroke. Women were treated for ten years and followed for 16 years.

This new Kronos study, along with the Fournier et al. study of over 80,000 nurses using bioidentical hormones and the Danish  should help put newly menopausal women’s fears to rest about using bioidentical hormones for menopausal  symptoms.  At this point in time it seems clear that the Women’s Health Initiative was a truly flawed study  – primarily because it used women who began treatment 13 years after menopause was reached.  The physical and mental benefits of hormone therapy started around the time of meopause are well now documented.  The next question which research needs to answer is how long should treatment be continued.