updated 11/24/2003 8:11:49 PM ET 2003-11-25T01:11:49

Women who choose hormone therapy to treat symptoms of menopause should use the lowest dose for the shortest amount of time. That’s the main theme of a new government campaign that aims to help women confused by news about the risks of long-term hormone use — even as hormones remain a mainstay for treating hot flashes.

  1. Don't miss these Health stories
    1. Splash News
      More women opting for preventive mastectomy - but should they be?

      Rates of women who are opting for preventive mastectomies, such as Angeline Jolie, have increased by an estimated 50 percent in recent years, experts say. But many doctors are puzzled because the operation doesn't carry a 100 percent guarantee, it's major surgery -- and women have other options, from a once-a-day pill to careful monitoring.

    2. Larry Page's damaged vocal cords: Treatment comes with trade-offs
    3. Report questioning salt guidelines riles heart experts
    4. CDC: 2012 was deadliest year for West Nile in US
    5. What stresses moms most? Themselves, survey says

A year ago, a major study concluded that long-term use of the hormones estrogen and progestin is more dangerous than once thought. The pills significantly increased a woman’s risk of a heart attack or stroke beginning in the first year of use — and increased the risk of breast cancer after four years of use.

But hormone therapy does have some benefits. It’s considered the most effective treatment for hot flashes, night sweats and vaginal dryness. It’s also one option to prevent bone-thinning osteoporosis.

So who should try hormones, at what dose and for how long? Congress told the Food and Drug Administration to design consumer-friendly education materials to help women figure that out.

Tuesday, the FDA unveiled a Web site with hormone information, including a pocket guide to bring to the doctor’s office when discussing options. It explains how to weigh the risks and benefits of both the estrogen-progestin combination and estrogen alone, an option only for women who have had hysterectomies.

Women can print out the information; also, FDA has partnered with several women’s health groups to distribute it.

“Women who are armed with the appropriate key facts ... can take the right steps to make the highly personal decision about whether menopausal hormone therapy is the right choice for them,” said FDA Administrator Mark McClellan.

© 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments