June 27, 2007 - According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, estrogen can significantly limit the accumulation of plaque in the arteries of women in their fifties.
The study involved 1,064 participants from ages 50 to 59, who had undergone surgically induced menopause through a hysterectomy. Study participants took estrogen or a placebo for 7.5 years, after which cardiac scans were performed to determine the level of plaque accumulated in their arteries.
Results from the study showed that participants who took estrogen were 30 percent to 40 percent less likely than those who took a placebo to have large amounts of plaque in their arteries. However, participants who took estrogen had a higher risk for stroke than those who took a placebo.
In response to the study’s results, Elizabeth Nabel, director of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, which sponsored the study, said that the results "do not alter the current recommendations that, when hormone therapy is used for menopausal symptoms, it should only be taken at the smallest dose and for the shortest time possible" and "never be used to prevent heart disease."
For more information: www.nhlbi.nih.gov