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The Boston Globe

Health & wellness

Hormone replacement therapy less risky for women in their 50s, latest data suggest

In the decade since a landmark study uncovered the risks of taking hormone replacement therapy for disease prevention, some doctors have shied away from prescribing the drugs even for women with severe hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms. But the latest followup data from the Women’s Health Initiative trial involving 27,000 postmenopausal women suggest that the benefits of symptom relief outweigh the risks -- at least for women in their 50s.

Among women between 50 and 59, increased risks associated with taking a combination of estrogen and progesterone -- such as strokes, blood clots, and breast cancer -- were very small, less than 1 percent during the five years they were taking the hormones, according to the research published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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