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    Estrogen replacement therapy is commonly prescribed to women to help alleviate menopause symptoms. Many studies also point to positive health effects for women taking hormone replacement therapy for menopause. For example, one finding in many studies is that estrogen replacement therapy may reduce risks for colorectal cancers, such as colon cancer.

    Women talking about how estrogen replacement therapy can help improve their health

    Estrogen replacement therapy may help reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.

    Currently, estrogen replacement therapy is only recommended to help fight common menopause symptoms associated with low estrogen levels. However, there may be several ancillary benefits to using estrogen replacement therapy as well. If you think you could benefit from hormone replacement therapy, talk to our providers about your health and symptoms.

    Why Use Estrogen Replacement Therapy After Menopause?

    Estrogen replacement therapy is one of the most common types of medications to help women suffering from menopause symptoms. It is currently one of the most effective treatments available for hot flashes, which are common among menopausal women. Estrogen replacement therapy may help with menopause symptoms like:

    • Hot flashes
    • Night sweats
    • Mood changes
    • Low sex drive
    • Vaginal dryness
    • Fatigue
    • Difficulty sleeping

    Women can experience these symptoms during perimenopause (the years leading up to menopause) or after menopause (after you’ve gone 12 consecutive months without a period). For many, these symptoms disrupt daily life and can cause a lot of stress. If you’re experiencing menopause symptoms, there are treatment solutions available.

    Low Estrogen Levels Can Cause Symptoms & Health Risks

    While there are many things that can cause similar symptoms, low estrogen is the most common reason behind menopause symptoms. During perimenopause, our ovaries begin to slow down as they transition into menopause. This can lead to wide fluctuations in hormones, especially estrogen and progesterone which are produced in the ovaries. These changes can lead to many of the symptoms associated with menopause.

    Once you reach menopause, the ovaries produce significantly less hormones than during pre-menopause. This leads to low estrogen and progesterone throughout the body. Low hormone levels are also associated with menopause symptoms, which can continue even for years into post-menopause.

    Low estrogen levels are not only responsible for many of your menopause symptoms, but they can also have negative effects on your health. For instance, menopause is associated with increased risk for many health conditions, like heart disease and osteoporosis. What many women don’t know is that low estrogen levels from menopause may also increase the risk for developing colon cancer.

    Estrogen Replacement Therapy May Reduce Risks for Colorectal Cancer

    Several studies have found that women who use estrogen replacement therapy have reduced risks for colorectal cancer. Many researchers believe that female hormones like estrogen may provide some protection against colorectal cancer. There are several reasons for this. For example, pre-menopausal women are less likely to develop colon cancer than men of the same age. Also, the risk for colorectal cancer increases around the average age of menopause. Various studies provide evidence for this protective effect against colorectal cancers as well.

    Risk Factors for Colon Cancer

    Before we explain how estrogen replacement therapy may help reduce the risk for colon cancer, let’s first discuss what increases your risk. Women have about a one in 25 chance of developing colorectal cancer in their lifetime. It’s also the second leading cancer-related death for people in the U.S. (lung cancer is the first).

    There are many potential risk factors for colon cancer. For instance, your lifestyle can increase your risk for colon cancer, such as living a sedentary lifestyle or having a diet that is low in fruits and vegetables. Age is also a common risk factor. Most people who develop colon cancer are age 50 or older. Hormone changes from menopause may also increase your risk for colorectal cancers.

    Signs and Symptoms of Colorectal Cancer

    Many women who develop colon cancer don’t have any symptoms, which is why doctors typically recommend regular screenings based on your health and family history. However, here are some symptoms that may indicate colon cancer:

    • Changes in your bowel habits
    • Blood in the stool
    • Diarrhea
    • Constipation
    • Feeling like your bowels don’t empty all the way
    • Abdominal pain that doesn’t get better
    • Unexplained weight loss

    Screenings for Colon Cancer

    Most people should start getting screenings around age 45. However, this depends on many things, like your health history, family health history, and other risk factors. Screenings can include stool tests, colonoscopies, or even CT colonoscopies. These can help with early detection of colon cancer and precancerous polyps so you can get treatment as soon as possible.

    Many Studies Show Lower Risk for Colon Cancer for Women Who Use Menopausal Estrogen Replacement Therapy

    Because of the potential link between low estrogen levels during menopause and colon cancer, many researchers have studied the effects of estrogen replacement therapy on colorectal cancer risk. While research is still ongoing, many studies have found positive results. Increasing estrogen levels in menopause may help decrease the risk for developing colon cancer and may have positive effects on outcomes for those who do develop colorectal cancer.

    Estrogen Replacement Therapy May Reduce the Risk of Developing Colon Cancer

    Many studies have found that women who use estrogen replacement therapy for menopause also have a lower risk for developing colon cancer. Some of the first results of this kind were seen in the Women’s Health Initiative study on hormone therapy from the 1990s, which looked at the long-term effects of using menopausal estrogen replacement therapy. The researchers in that study did find that the women who used hormone therapy had lower rates of colon cancer.

    Another 2017 study also found that estrogen may help reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. The study followed women for almost five years ages 55 to 79. Some of the women never used hormone replacement therapy, some used it in the past, and some used it during the study. The researchers found that the women who used estrogen replacement therapy during their lifetime had fewer instances of colorectal cancer. Therefore, estrogen may reduce the risk for women developing colon cancer.

    Estrogen Replacement Therapy May Improve Results After a Colorectal Cancer Diagnosis

    In addition, some researchers have looked at the effects of estrogen replacement therapy on women who do develop colon cancer. For instance some studies have found that women with colon cancer have longer survival rates when their estrogen levels remain high during the pre-menopause stage, but become shorter after menopause when they experience low estrogen.

    Another study from 2017 found that women who had used estrogen replacement therapy had better outcomes after colorectal cancer diagnosis. The researchers looked at 1,109 women with colorectal cancer between 2007 and 2012. The women who used hormone therapy after their diagnosis had a 24% decrease in their risk for mortality from colorectal cancer and a 30% decrease for mortality of any kind. They also found that the women who used estrogen replacement therapy before their diagnosis saw even lower risk for both colorectal cancer and all-cause mortality. Therefore, estrogen may also improve prognosis for colorectal cancer patients.

    Talk About Your Health Today at HerKare

    Our team at HerKare is here to help you bring your hormones back into balance. We understand how difficult menopause symptoms are and use bioidentical hormones to help treat your symptoms and help you feel like yourself again. We also help you address underlying health conditions to improve your overall health and well-being. Our treatment providers are dedicated to empowering you through quality, compassionate health care. We are a women’s health clinic operated by women for women. Contact us to make an appointment today to learn how we can help you improve your health and symptoms.