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Sunday 18th March 2018

HRT 'pill risk'

11th July 2008

A new study has suggested that using patches instead of pills could cut the risk of one of the lesser-known complications of hormone replacement therapy.


In some cases, women on HRT develop gallbladder problems, which require the removal of the organ.

However, a study of one million women by a team from Oxford University has found that the rate of operations for patch-wearers was substantially lower than for those having HRT in pill form.

HRT is known to increase the risk of gallbladder diseases such as cholelithiasis or cholecystitis, which are more common in post-menopausal women but an operation could be avoided for one out of every 140 people changing to patches.

Writing in the British Medical Journal, the researchers found that out of nearly 20,000 women admitted to hospital with gallbladder disease in a six-year study period more than 17,000 of these had the organ removed.

The link was confirmed after comparing rates of illness among HRT users. Two out of every 100 women taking oral HRT required their gallbladder removed.

Dr David Sturdee, from the International Menopause Society, said he was surprised by the findings and said it was a problem that not many women would be aware of.

He added that women often opted for the pills because they are simpler and cheaper and some women find the patches lead to skin irritation.

HRT use in the UK has fallen in recent years after it emerged that long term use raised the risk of breast cancer.


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