discoveries magazine

Of Hearts and Hormones

Over the past 15 years, fear of cancer and other risks has led to far fewer women using hormone replacement therapy (HRT). New evidence may reverse that trend.

Reviewing 4,200 women’s coronary calcium scans — an indicator of plaque buildup — Cedars-Sinai investigators found that those who used HRT had a much lower coronary calcium score and were 30 percent less likely to die. The results held up after accounting for risk factors such as age, diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.

“From this, I believe HRT really is beneficial, although we’ll need further studies to confirm this,” says Yoav Arnson, MD, a postdoctoral scientist at Cedars-Sinai and the study’s lead author.

The results are not a blanket recommendation for all menopausal women. For example, those who have a history of heart disease generally shouldn’t use HRT.