Hormone Therapy May Not Increase RA Risk or Severity
Postmenopausal hormone therapy (PHT) may have no effect on a woman’s risk of developing RA or on the severity her RA, according to a study published in Arthritis Care & Research (2008;59:302-310).
Explore This IssueApril 2008
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The researchers analyzed data from 27,347 participants in the Women’s Health Initiative—10,739 taking either estrogen or a placebo and 16,608 taking either estrogen plus progestin or a placebo. The estrogen-only group was followed for an average of 7.1 years; the estrogen-plus-progestin group was followed for an average of 5.6 years. The researchers identified 63 prevalent cases and 105 incident cases of RA in this group.
The PHT group did experience slight improvements in joint pain and Short Form 36 scores, although neither of these was statistically significant. PHT had no effect on swelling or preventing new joint pain.
The number of subjects who had RA was too small to capture an effect size of PHT on RA initiation, or to rule out the possibility of PHT having small effects on RA symptoms. “However,” they note, “it is unlikely that there will be more statistically powerful prospective trials of PHT due to the health risks of treatment.”
The authors concluded that, “there was no statistically significant evidence of a difference in the hazard of RA incidence or a difference in RA symptom severity between the PHT and placebo groups.”