5 Dangers of Hormone Replacement Therapy

by Dr. Edward Group DC, NP, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM
Published on , Last Updated on


Using hormones to combat age-related hormonal shifts sounds a bit like using a sledgehammer to drive a nail into a piece of wood. Yes, the nail will go through, but at what cost? Hormones control practically every function, mechanism, and metabolic reaction in our body. Science has shown just how powerful hormones are for affecting every aspect of health, including cardiovascular, mood, cognitive function, and even digestion.

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) was first developed to help women ease symptoms of menopause. This therapeutic approach involves using estrogen, usually synthetic, to help alleviate symptoms of this naturally-occurring aging process. During menopause, the body naturally transitions away from reproduction, usually causing uncomfortable side effects such as hot flashes, mood imbalance, and concentration issues.

Hormone Replacement Therapy for Women

To address common symptoms associated with menopause, pharmaceutical industries came to create HRT. This therapeutic approach is used to combat the reduced estrogen and progesterone hormone levels within the body. HRT includes both of these hormones in synthetic form, causing some concern over how these unnatural versions affect the body. Bombarding the body with hormones does more than just alleviate symptoms associated with menopause, but it also affects many aspects of bodily health.

Is HRT Safe?

The Women’s Health Initiative began in 1991 as a study to evaluate causes of disease, illness, and poor quality of life in postmenopausal women. Part of the study included determining the safety of hormone replacement therapy. In 2001, after 5 years of research on HRT using estrogen plus progestin, the study on HRT was terminated because the participants experienced serious health risks far in excess of any benefits received. [1] This is according to the government-sponsored study. When government researchers say a pharmaceutical treatment isn’t safe, that may be a clear indication that the therapy may not be an ideal choice.

Danger #1: Blood Clots

Reports show that women who use HRT therapy experience blood clots at a higher rate than those who don’t. This isn’t too surprising as researchers have long discovered how artificially altering hormone levels increases the thickness of blood, an action that tends to increase the clotting mechanism. [2] Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism are the most serious dangers and can result in death.

Danger #2: Breast Cancer

The Women’s Health Initiative study and others have demonstrated a connection between HRT and increased breast cancer risk. After all, this treatment increases reproductive hormones in women whose bodies are transitioning away from this activity. Further research has found that certain demographic groups (Caucasian, Asian and Hispanic) are at higher risk for breast cancer after using HRT. [3] Researchers continue to look into the reasons for this connection and to find out who might not be as susceptible. Even so, none deny the increased risk.

Danger #3: Ovarian Cancer

Studies have discovered that HRT influences ovarian cancer growth once the cancer has already developed. [4] It appears estrogen and progestin influence ovarian cancer tumor growth, an undesirable effect of the therapy. Although HRT has not necessarily been shown to cause cancer, the risk does exist.

Danger #4: Stroke

Stroke has been a main concern for women taking HRT, according to a study by the Women’s Health Initiative. Numerous trials have also supported the connection between hormone replacement therapy and stroke. In fact, one recent review noted that HRT appeared to play an important role in the occurrence of stroke. [5]

Danger #5: Cardiovascular Disease

Heart disease remains the leading cause of mortality amongst women, despite its ability to be prevented. Prior to the Women’s Health Initiative, one presumed benefit of hormone replacement therapy was that it would reduce the incidence of death as a result of cardiovascular disease. The WHI study, however, showed the exact opposite. Women using HRT therapy remain at a higher risk for developing cardiovascular disease than women who do not use the therapy. [6]

Natural Menopause Solutions

Ayurveda modalities have used a variety of herbal preparations to aid women through the transition of menopause. Dong Quai and Black cohosh are said to balance hormone levels and alleviate symptoms associated with menopause without having to resort to artificial hormones. A product I’ve developed, Female Fuzion®, is a blend of some of the best herbs for promoting balanced hormones. Are there herbs or remedies you’ve found helpful? Please leave a comment and let us know!

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References (6)
  1. Heiss G1, Wallace R, Anderson GL, Aragaki A, Beresford SA, Brzyski R, Chlebowski RT, Gass M, LaCroix A, Manson JE, Prentice RL, Rossouw J, Stefanick ML; WHI Investigators. Health risks and benefits 3 years after stopping randomized treatment with estrogen and progestin. JAMA. 2008 Mar 5;299(9):1036-45. doi: 10.1001/jama.299.9.1036.
  2. Ruszkowska B1, Gadomska G, Bielis L, Gruszka M, Gralczyk B, Ro D, Odrow-Sypniewska G. Risk of venous thromboembolic disease in postmenopausal women taking oral or transdermal hormone replacement therapy. J Zhejiang Univ Sci B. 2011 Jan;12(1):12-7. doi: 10.1631/jzus.B1000106.
  3. Hou N1, Hong S, Wang W, Olopade OI, Dignam JJ, Huo D. Hormone replacement therapy and breast cancer: heterogeneous risks by race, weight, and breast density. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2013 Sep 18;105(18):1365-72. doi: 10.1093/jnci/djt207.
  4. Hein A1, Thiel FC, Bayer CM, Fasching PA, Hberle L, Lux MP, Renner SP, Jud SM, Schrauder MG, Mller A, Wachter D, Strehl J, Hartmann A, Beckmann MW, Rauh C. Hormone replacement therapy and prognosis in ovarian cancer patients. Eur J Cancer Prev. 2013 Jan;22(1):52-8. doi: 10.1097/CEJ.0b013e328355ec22.
  5. Yang D1, Li J, Yuan Z, Liu X. Effect of hormone replacement therapy on cardiovascular outcomes: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. PLoS One. 2013 May 8;8(5):e62329. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0062329.
  6. Harman SM. Menopausal hormone treatment cardiovascular disease: another look at an unresolved conundrum. Fertil Steril. 2014 Apr;101(4):887-97. doi: 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2014.02.042.

†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. Global Healing Center does not dispense medical advice, prescribe, or diagnose illness. The views and nutritional advice expressed by Global Healing Center are not intended to be a substitute for conventional medical service. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.

  • Sheri

    What about bio-identical hormone replacements? Are these considered safe? Safer?

  • Sabariah

    Thank you for the informative article. Am about to start the HRT treatment coz of severe hot flashes which is affecting my life. May go for alternative treatment for sure!!!!!

  • Thanks for the feedback. If you try some alternate methods, please be sure to report back to us your thoughts.

  • That’s tough to say. It hasn’t been tested alongside those specific concerns. If that’s your situation, you’re likely working closely with a doctor who knows all the ins and outs that you personally need to consider with regard to your health, diet, and nutritional needs. It’s going to be best that you make this part of your conversation with them.

  • Heather

    This applies to synthetic hormones, I’m so relieved the truth finally came out, but sadly at the cost of many women’s lives. My mother had a hysterectomy, in the early 80’s, they gave her nothing at first, then they started her on high doses of synthetic estrogen, without progesterone! they used to tell women progesterone was no longer needed if you didn’t have a uterus, so crazy. I have to say bio-identical progesterone in the correct physiologic doses has been great for me as well as some of my friends and family. I take it along with selenium and Detoxidine for pcos, its worked very well. Get off synthetic hormones if you can, dangerous territory, and by all means, never, ever take estrogen unopposed, always use progesterone with it and make sure your progesterone is dominant in the estrogen/progesterone ratio. Pass this on to the women in your lives, instead of pink ribbons, and we will begin too see a decline in women’s cancers.

  • Heather

    200mg of oral progesterone is given to get a 20mg dose of progesterone, that is what is available after the liver metabolizes it, that’s a lot for work for the liver. 30mg’s? 300mg’s is needed etc. consider bio-identical topical hormones. Perhaps a few milligrams aren’t absorbed, that is argued sometimes. But overall it’s much safer.

  • Shiela

    I am 51, and had hysterectomy at age 29 with no HRT until 1 year ago. I am currently on bio-identical topical hormones…estrogen and progesterone. I ordered the female fuzion, and received it, but now I’m wondering if it safe together? I am on low doses for over a year with great results, but not relieved of all the symptoms. I still have Low energy, very low libido, mood . really don’t want to increase the dose of BHRT, but want to feel like myself again.

  • We haven’t conducted studies to test for combination problems with Female Fuzion and prescription medications but also had not noticed any when researching the ingredients. There’s a lot of prescription medications though and they each come with a phone book sized list of warnings and disclaimers. You’d have to check each one out or speak with your prescribing doctor to be certain.

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