Health officials this fall will reassess hormone replacement therapy for post-menopausal women in response to a recent study questioning the therapy's risks and benefits.
Last month, government scientists abruptly ended the nation's biggest study using the hormone combination of estrogen and progestin, saying long-term use significantly increased women's risk of breast cancer, strokes and heart attacks.
The study tested only Prempro, the leading estrogen-progestin combination - not other brands that bear lower doses of estrogen or estrogen skin patches.
The Department of Health and Human Services will hold public forums this fall to consider how the study's results might apply to other products using that hormone combination and different doses, the Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday. The forums will also examine how that study may affect future research.
Six million American women use the estrogen and progestin combination, either for short-term relief of hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms or because of doctors' long-standing assumptions that long-term use would prevent heart disease and brittle bones and generally keep women healthier longer.
The National Institutes of Health has urged women using the hormones to talk with their doctors about what to do.