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Study adds to HRT confusion

New research has added to the confusion over the safety of HRT after appearing to find it could reduce cardiac risk.

The large observational study found women who took HRT had a lower risk of heart attack than other women of the same age ­ and the cardioprotective effect increased with age.

HRT users had a 24 per cent lower overall risk of myocardial infarction than never-users in the study, published online by the International Journal of Epidemiology.

But the UK researchers cautioned it would be 'inappropriate' to conclude HRT reduced risk as large randomised controlled trials had found the opposite.

Study author Professor Ste-phen Evans, professor of pharmacoepidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said: 'I think RCTs give us the real answers. We expected to find greater benefit for HRT in younger women but we found the opposite because we think there is selection bias.'

Other experts interpreted the results very differently.

Dr Martyn Walling, a GP in Boston, Lincolnshire, and member of the Primary Care Gynaecology Group, warned clinicians were being much too negative about HRT. 'Women in the WHI study were not the same group as are given HRT in the UK. I don't think women are increasing their cardiac risk and I still think we'll prove they're reducing their risk. The only difficult area is women over 60.'

The study analysed data from 22,225 women in UK general practice with a diagnosis of MI and 144,085 controls.

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