HRT risks need to balanced with benefits

Adapted from Editorial BMJ 19 October 19 by Janice Rymer et al.

In the UK most women go through the menopause aged between 45 and 55. About half of them will get symptoms such as flushes, sweats, low mood, anxiety, joint and muscle pain, vaginal dryness, reduced sex drive, and hip fractures in later life. Hormone replacement therapy can turn these symptoms around.

Women’s health specialists are concerned that a meta-analysis published in the Lancet does not evenly show the benefits of HRT compared to the risks and think that the NICE guidance in 2015 looked more comprehensively at all the available evidence. They don’t want either women or doctors to stop HRT unnecessarily.

The Lancet showed that in the UK one in 16 women who have never taken HRT will develop breast cancer between the ages of 50 and 69.  If a woman of normal body mass index (under 25) starts HRT in her 40s or 50s the additional risk of getting breast cancer is one in 200 for oestrogen only HRT, one in 70 for daily oestrogen and progestogen for part of the month, and one in 50 for preparations with a mix of oestrogen and progesterone daily.  But body weight and alcohol have a greater effect on getting breast cancer than HRT. For instance, being overweight or obese will increase the rate of breast cancer six times compared to combined HRT.

The Lancet study looked at how many cases of breast cancer started but did not look at the mortality rate. A recent systematic review did. This showed that if a woman started HRT close to the menopause there was an apparent reduction in all cause mortality and cardiac death with no evidence of an increase in deaths from breast cancer.

The womens’ health specialists are concerned that the bone benefits and cardiac benefits, especially for women going through an early menopause, will be ignored if undue weight is put on the small increase in breast cancer diagnosis, over the symptomatic benefits and improvement in total mortality.

BMJ 2019;367:15928

 

Vitamin D shown to improve blood sugar control in gestational diabetes

From Ojo O et al. The effect of vitamin D supplementation in women with gestational diabetes mellitus. A systemic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2019:16(10)

A meta-analysis has indicated that various factors relevant to improved blood sugar control are likely to be improved by vitamin D supplementation in  a total of 173 women with gestational diabetes.

Fasting blood glucose decreased by a mean of 0.46 mmol/L

Glycated haemoglobin decreased by a mean of 0.37%

Serum insulin reduced by a mean of 4.10 uIU/mL.

 My comment: Although the improvements are small, vitamin D supplements are inexpensive, easy to take and do not have the side effects of other medications.

 

 

Bring back the 50s ?: Mothers in full time work are significantly stressed

Being a working mother doesn’t just feel stressful, it alters your physiology.

Researchers at the universities of Manchester and Essex studied 6025 people. They collected information about their working and home lives. Hormonal levels and blood pressure were checked too.

When 11 biomarkers of stress were tested, these were 40% higher in women who worked full time and were raising two children at the same time. One child raised the levels by 18%.  Part time workers, job sharers and those with flexible working arrangements were fewer hours were worked had less stress.  Flexible working or remote working with no reduction in hours did not lower stress levels.

The authors said, ” Work-family conflict is associated with increased psychological strain, with higher levels of stress and lower levels of well being. Parents of young children are at particular risk of family-work conflict.

http://www.manchester.ac.uk/discover/news/working-mothers-up-to-40-more-stressed/

Diet doctor: Type one and women’s videos

A year ago I was interviewed by Diet Doctor and after quite a wait, I’m delighted so say that my video interviews are now available at their site.

The subjects are tips for self management for people living with insulin dependent diabetes  and addressing women’s issues with type one and type two diabetes.

The videos are in the MEMBERSHIP section.

You can access these by joining the site. You can take on a free months trial and decide if you wish to continue or not after that.

 

Katharine.