Gallstones and HRT

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New data from a major research project have provided further evidence implicating hormone replacement therapy in gallbladder disease. Investigators from the Nurses' Health Study reported that HRT doubled the likelihood of having one's gallbladder removed. Moreover, the risk of gall-stones increased with the dosage of estrogen and the duration of hormone use.

The researchers followed almost 55,000 post-menopausal women for 8 years. During that time 1,750 had gallbladder surgery. When the principal risk factors for developing gallstones -- obesity and advancing age -- were considered, current estrogen users were twice as likely to have developed gallstones that required removal as were women who had never been on HRT.

The study did not consider two factors that might have altered the results. It did not examine the rate of less serious gallbladder disease in both HRT users and nonusers; nor did it determine whether HRT users sought medical attention more frequently than nonusers, which might have resulted in higher surgery rates. The report was published in the January 1994 issue of the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology.

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