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More Women Seek Nonprescription Remedies For Menopause Symptoms

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Over-the-counter remedies for menopause symptoms are growing in popularity among some women who fear potential risks from prescription hormone replacement therapy, the New York Times reports. According to the Times, the market for alternative therapies -- such as natural supplements and topical creams -- jumped in 2002 after initial results from the Women's Health Initiative suggested that HRT could increase risk for heart disease, cancer, stroke and blood clots.
Gynecologists estimate that about one-third of menopausal women are treated with conventional prescription hormones, and about one-third are treated with bio-identical hormones -- plant-derived synthetic hormones that mimic the molecular structure of human hormones. The remaining one-third either do not seek therapy for symptoms, are not bothered by symptoms or use over-the-counter therapies. There are more than 500 over-the-counter products available that claim to alleviate menopause symptoms, the Times reports. The treatments include such products as teas, low-dose progesterone creams, black cohosh capsules and phytoestrogens derived from soy and red clover, according to the Times. According to Nutrition Business Journal, the U.S. dietary supplement market associated with menopause increased from $211 million in 1999 to $337 million in 2007.
Some studies have raised doubts about the safety and effectiveness of the over-the-counter remedies. Todd Cooperman -- director of consumerLab.com, a private nutrition product-testing lab -- said that his company's study of more than one dozen products found that five failed to gain the lab's approval because of problems such as inaccurate labeling or tainted ingredients. The Center for Botanical Dietary Supplements Research this fall is expected to release the results of a study, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, that aims to determine the efficacy of the ingredients associated with menopause symptom relief. Some studies have questioned the efficacy of progesterone creams, which some experts contend can gather in fat cells and disrupt the production and synthesis of other hormones. Other experts maintain that the products are safe if properly used. Theresa Ramsey, director of the Center for Natural Healing in Arizona, said, "I think over all these products are generally safe, but must be taken in the right circumstances and in conjunction with a mindfully healthy approach to life if they are going to be effective at all" (Sweeney, New York Times, 7/2).
Reprinted with kind permission from http://www.nationalpartnership.org. You can view the entire Daily Women's Health Policy Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery here. The Daily Women's Health Policy Report is a free service of the National Partnership for Women & Families, published by The Advisory Board Company.
© 2009 The Advisory Board Company. All rights reserved.
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Keywords:

menopause, menopause symptoms, remedies menopause, associated menopause, menopause increased, alleviate menopause, menopause symptom
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