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JAMA. 1979 May 18;241(20):2167-9.

Heart disease risk factors and hormone use in postmenopausal women.


A population of 1,496 women aged 55 to 74 years was studied for the distribution of heart disease risk factors in the presence or absence of postmenopausal estrogens. Current hormone use was reported by 39%. Hormone users were significantly slimmer than nonusers at all ages. After adjustment for the effect of obesity, hormone users had significantly lower mean levels of plasma cholesterol and higher mean levels of plasma triglycerides than nonusers. Blood pressure and fasting plasma glucose concentration tended to be lower among hormone users, although the differences were not statistically significant in all age groups. This article discusses the theoretical implications of these observations for cardiovascular disease mortality and contrasts them with the cancer risk of postmenopausal estrogen use.


1496 women age 55 to 74 were studied in an effort to determine heart disease risk factor differences attributed to postmenopausal estrogen (PME) use. 39% of the females reported using estrogen at the time of the study, with peak hormone use in the 55 to 59 year age group. Analysis of the following possible confounding variables, social class, current cigarette smoking, family history of heart attack or diabetes and obesity found that only obesity was statistically significant ( P .001) and thus further analysis of PME use was adjusted for obesity. Results showed average cholesterol level was 9.4 to 20.4 mg/dL lower among PME users compared to nonusers. Although triglyceride level was higher in PME users at all ages it was only statistically significant for women aged 60-69 years. Mean systolic and diastolic blood pressures were 2 to 4 mm Hg lower in PME users and the average fasting plasma glucose level was significantly lower in young PME users only. Multivariate Hotellings T statistic was used to test for independence. While the study examined the net cumulative effect of PME use of putative heart disease, it did not examine specific estrogens, dosage or duration of use differences. The authors concluded that further studies are needed before final conclusions can be made regarding the use of PME as a risk factor reducer in heart disease.

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