Estrogen Therapy Linked to Kidney Stones

<"">Hormone replacement therapy has long been linked to a variety of ailments. Now, says the Associated Press (AP), kidney stones have been linked to post-menopausal hormone therapy.

For this study, a review of the government’s long-term Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) studies focused on over 24,000 post-menopausal woman who took hormones or placebos, said the AP. Of those taking hormones, there was a 21 percent increased risk of being diagnosed with kidney stones within five years, said the AP. Similar risks were seen in women taking the estrogen-progestin combination pill, Prempro and Premarin, which is an estrogen-only medication, noted the AP.

Dr. Naim Maalouf, lead author and an endocrinologist at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, cautions women considering hormone therapy, citing not just kidney stones, but breast cancers, heart attacks, and strokes, said the AP. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has said that women should take the smallest dose of HRT for the shortest time, WebMD noted previously. The study appears in this week’s Archives of Internal Medicine.

Maalouf and colleagues reviewed data on women who participated in the WHI studies, which compared Prempro or Premarin and placebos in older women to understand how the drugs impacted some illness; kidney stones were not specifically studied, noted the AP.

The groundbreaking WHI trial that was initiated in 1991, reported in 2002 that the risks of combined estrogen/progestin HRT were greater than the medication’s benefits. Following this announcement, HRT prescriptions dropped significantly worldwide. The drop in prescriptions correlated to a drop in breast cancer.

Estrogen in the body had been thought to help prevent kidney stones, an ailment generally seen in men, premenopausal women, said the AP. This led researchers to believe that taking estrogen in post-menopause would help, said Maalouf, according to the AP. It remains unclear as to why the opposite effect occurred; however, some theorize that the increased uric acid found in women’s urine when they are taking estrogen could be to blame, said the AP.

Kidney stones are hard crystals made of substances that separate from the liquid in urine and are generally small (pea-sized), but are known to develop into much larger balls, explained the AP. No matter the size, passing stones is incredibly painful and can require shock wave therapy or invasive surgery, added the AP.

We recently wrote that another study found that normal weight women on HRT and those who take combination estrogen/progestin therapy (EPT) over a longer time may face a higher risk of breast cancer. EPT drugs include Prempro and Premphase.

When the WHI was stopped, researchers revealed that healthy women in menopause and on HRT were likelier to develop breast cancer. Since, an array of adverse effects has been associated with HRT. Previously, we wrote that HRT was linked to an increased risk of women dying from lung cancer; women also exhibited increased risks for heart disease and stroke, breast cancer, and other adverse health events. We have also written that while HRT has long been linked to female cancers and fatal blood clots, a recent study concluded that women on HRT might be doubling their skin cancer risks. Yet another study revealed a connection with how HRT shrinks the brain. In addition to an increased risk of stroke and cerebrovascular disease in post-menopausal women on HRT, the WHI Memory Study found that post-menopausal women on HRT suffered from a higher risk of dementia and memory problems. Also, recent study revealed a link with estrogen-only HRT and asthma, said Reuters previously.

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