MedWire News: Women who use oestrogen hormone therapies in the years following menopause are likely to develop symptoms of gastro-oesophageal reflux disease, according to a report in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease, which is marked by heartburn and acid regurgitation at least 4-5 times weekly, affects 20% to 30% of individuals in the USA.
"Previous research suggests that elevated oestrogen and progesterone levels increase reflux symptoms," say lead author Dr Brian Jacobson, from Boston University in Massachusetts, USA, and colleagues. Postmenopausal women often use hormone therapy to address lingering symptoms of the menopause.
Dr Jacobson and team examined data from a study of hormone use in more than 50,000 postmenopausal women. They were especially interested in the association between reflux symptoms and the use of oestrogen compounds. These included oestrogen, selective oestrogen-receptor modulators, and over-the-counter oestrogen preparations (such as soy oestrogen, natural progesterone cream or wild yam cream).
Reflux symptoms were reported by 23% of participants. Moreover, current users of oestrogen were 1.6 times more likely to develop reflux symptoms than women who never used postmenopausal hormones. Women using over-the-counter hormones were 1.3 times more likely to develop reflux.
The risk of reflux symptoms also increased significantly in relation to higher oestrogen doses and longer time using oestrogen therapy.
The team concludes that "as the current US population ages, there may be increasing numbers of women seeking both medical and complimentary therapies for menopause-related symptoms and breast cancer or osteoporosis prevention."
They should be counselled about the potential for developing reflux symptoms with these therapies, they add.