Boning Up On Menopause

Menopause comes with a host of symptoms, none of them very pleasant. One such symptom is really a condition and quite a serious one at that: osteoporosis, also known as brittle bone disease. Estrogen has a protective effect on many bodily processes.  Once women go into menopause, the lowered amounts of estrogen in their bodies increases their risk for bone loss. You may be wondering what measures you can take to protect your bone health.

HRT Risks

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) helps to replenish estrogen but some women may be concerned about the risks involved with HRT, even though they may be slight. HRT comes with very small risks for heart disease, blood clot formation, and breast cancer. Sometimes HRT can cause vaginal bleeding as well.

Bone Density

Raloxifene (Evista) is a medication you can take just for preventing and treating osteoporosis. The drug is not estrogen, but has similar properties to the female hormone. The main benefit of Evista is that it can reduce bone loss while it increases bone density, the two deleterious effects of osteoporosis. Evista does not have any effect on the breasts or uterus as does estrogen so cannot cause cancer in those organs, breast tenderness, or vaginal bleeding. However, since Evista is not estrogen, it also cannot relieve menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes.

Reduced Risks

One 4 year study of nearly 8,000 postmenopausal women found that 1,000 women among them, whose histories suggested one or more risks for heart disease were taking Evista. Of these 1,000 women, 40% lowered their risk for cardiovascular disease and enjoyed a 62% reduction in their risk for both fatal and nonfatal strokes. There was also a 70% decrease in breast cancer incidence.

Ill Effects?

The bottom line is that while Evista can't help you with menopause symptoms, it lowers your risk for heart disease, breast cancer, and stroke, while protecting your bones. The one ill effect it seems to produce is a slightly higher risk for clot formation. Therefore, if you have a history of varicose veins or have suffered from thrombophlebitis, you are not a good candidate for Evista.

Women should not take Evista prior to menopause or while pregnant. However, most women who are postmenopausal and especially those with an increased risk for stroke, heart disease, and breast cancer, should definitely ask their doctor about taking Evista. It's a great medication.

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