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Hormone therapy — sources, health benefits at

Friday, December 15, 2017 by

Hormone therapy, otherwise known as hormone replacement therapy (HRT), is a type of treatment for hormonal imbalances that occur in both men (testosterone) and women (estrogen). It used to be a standard treatment for menopausal symptoms, but nowadays, hormone replacement therapy has a wide variety of applications including prevention of heart disease and possible dementia. However, some studies show that hormone replacement therapy may cause more damage to an individual’s health, and some doctors are now less likely to prescribe it.

While hormone replacement therapy is no longer a recommended treatment for diseases, some studies show that it may have its fair share of benefits for certain women, but is highly dependent on their risk factors. For breast cancer patients, hormone therapy decreases estrogen or blocks the action of estrogen in the body. Almost 80 percent of all breast cancer cases are hormone-receptor-positive, meaning breast cancer cells grow with the help of estrogen.

People who might consider hormone therapy may have the following complaints: moderate to severe hot flashes from menopause (or perimenopause); bone mass loss and ineffective treatments; and premature menopause or non-functioning ovaries prior to the age of 40. Individuals may consult a doctor in order to identify if there is a need for hormone therapy.

Some examples of drugs used in hormone replacement therapy include:

  • Tamoxifen – Blocks estrogen receptors on breast cancer cells
  • Fulvestrant (Faslodex) – Blocks and damages estrogen receptors
  • Aromatase inhibitors – Stops estrogen production

In men, hormone therapy is testosterone-based. Testosterone helps with male sexual development, reproductive function, builds muscle bulk, regulates healthy levels of red blood cells, and maintains bone density. Some men may have unnaturally low levels of testosterone, usually because of lifestyle choices or inherited conditions. Hormone replacement therapy then supplies the individual with sufficient testosterone for proper bodily function in men.

Health benefits of hormone therapy

Systemic hormone therapy, which comes in pills, skin patches, gels, creams, or sprays, is one of the most effective treatments for relief from menopause symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats. The estrogen in systemic hormone therapy can address vaginal dryness, itching, burning, and discomfort, especially in menopausal women. For breast cancer patients, hormone therapy inhibits excessive production of estrogen or stops it from assisting in cancer cells growth.

It must also be considered that prolonged hormone therapy may cause or increase the risk of developing heart disease, stroke, blood clots, and even breast and uterine cancer.

Body systems supported by hormone therapy

Estrogen helps the body by keeping the bones strong and cholesterol low, but excessive amounts may lead to breast cancer and other chronic conditions. Hormone therapy aims to balance out estrogen levels, and do the same for testosterone levels in men.

Where to learn more


Hormone therapy is addresses the symptoms of perimenopausal and menopausal women.

Hormone therapy acts on breast cancer by inhibiting the production of estrogen.

Hormone therapy, in excess or from prolonged use, may cause breast cancer and other chronic diseases.

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