Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Now HRT is GOOD for you

After all the hysteria about HRT giving women cancer, we are suddenly marching in the opposite direction! I thought (and said) that the original panic was nonsense and this is the latest bit of evidence in support of that view

Women taking a specific form of HRT may be protected against breast cancer, researchers say. They found that oestrogen-only hormone replacement therapy cuts rates of the disease by nearly a quarter.

The findings add to growing evidence that the drug is safe despite a U.S. study in 2002 that linked it to breast cancer, heart disease and other ills. In the three years after the scare, the number of UK women taking HRT to help them through the menopause halved to one million.

Around a quarter of the 2.5million women now taking it are thought to be on the oestrogen-only form. Commonly given to those who have undergone hysterectomies, it prevents symptoms such as night sweats and hot flushes.

Researchers from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre in Seattle studied 7,645 menopausal women over six years. Half had been taking oestrogen-only HRT tablets, the other half had been given dummy pills. They found that those on oestrogen-only HRT were 23 per cent less likely to develop breast cancer.

And if they did develop the illness they were 63 per cent less likely to die than the other women.

The treatment seemed to deter the growth of tumours but appeared not to protect women who either had a family history of breast cancer or had suffered benign breast disease.

Garnet Anderson, author of the study, which is published today in The Lancet, warned that although the drug had benefits, it also entailed risks. It is known to increase the likelihood of blood clots and strokes – as with the combined form of HRT.

Dr Anderson added: ‘These latest results should provide reassurance about breast safety of oestrogen use for durations of about five years for women with a hysterectomy seeking relief from post-menopausal symptoms.’

Rachel Greig, of Breakthrough Breast Cancer, said: ‘This is a strong study which may provide reassurance to women of the effects of oestrogen-only HRT, a certain type of HRT that is used to treat menopausal symptoms in women who have had a hysterectomy. ‘However, it’s important to remember there are different types of HRT and other large studies have shown these can increase the risk of breast cancer as well as other health problems.

‘In the meantime we advise women to speak to their GP if they have questions about treatments for the menopause.’


Drug could treat arthritis by stopping immune system from attacking joints

Sounds hopeful

A drug that could ‘stop arthritis in its tracks’ is being tested in a British laboratory. In ‘very exciting’ but early-stage tests, the drug prevented the inflammation responsible for the pain, swelling and stiffness of rheumatoid arthritis.

Much more work is needed but the research could lead to an effective and inexpensive way of treating the condition that affects 350,000 Britons. The disease causes chronic pain and inflammation in affected joints, and is triggered when elements of the immune system attack the body.

White blood cells known as T-cells are integral to the process.

Study leader Dr Graeme O'Boyle, from the University of Newcastle, said of the research development: 'Imagine that the damaged joint is covered in flags which are signalling to the white blood cells. 'Traditional treatments have involved pulling down the flags one by one, but what we have done is use an agent which in effect 'blindfolds' the white blood cells. 'Therefore, they don't know which way to travel and so won't add to the damage.'

The research was funded by the charity Arthritis Research UK, and published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Using tests on a genetically engineered mouse with a human-like immune system, the team discovered that a compound called PS372424 blocked the ability of T-cells to invade joints.

Only the white blood cells implicated in rheumatoid arthritis are affected, meaning there is no wider suppressant effect on the body's immune system.

Professor Alan Silman, medical director of Arthritis Research UK, said: 'Although modern treatments have changed the outcome for many patients with rheumatoid arthritis, firstly not all patients respond to them and secondly, even in those patients who do respond in some way, we can't completely get rid of the inflammation that damages their joints.

'This research is very exciting, as although it is in its early stages, if it can be transferred to humans it could shut down the inflammation that causes rheumatoid arthritis.'

Work will now be conducted to improve the drug-like properties of PS372424 with a view to preparing it for clinical trials.


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