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Hormone therapy poses less health risks than using birth control pills, studies finds

Hormone therapy poses less health risks than using birth control pills, studies finds

An assortment of pills and medications on a silver tray hormone

New studies have found that undergoing hormone therapy could pose less of a health risk than taking birth control pills and is safe for long-term usage.

Two studies examining hormone treatment used by trans people were published in the January 2019 Men’s Health Issue of AACC’s journal Clinical Chemistry. 

The research found that the rate of blood clots occurring in people undergoing hormone treatments was notably lower than form women who were taking oral contraception, and within the acceptable level of risk.

This form of research may help transgender people in gaining access to hormone treatment.

Past studies into hormone treatments have been limited or conflicting, which has some physicians have been hesitant to prescribe them, the PR Newswire reports.

Within the level of risk

The research was carried out at the University of Washington in Seattle and led by Dr. Dina N. Greene. 

It found that in for trans women who have been prescribed estrogen, blood clots occur at a rate of 2.3 per 1,000 person-years (the number of years multiplied by the number of people taking the product). 

The number was notably lower than the incidence rate of blood clots in premenopausal women taking birth control pills, at 3.5 per 1,000 person-years.

However, the figure for those undergoing hormone treatment remains higher than the estimated incidence rate of blood clots from the overall population, which is between 1.0 to 1.8 per 1,000 person-years.

‘Documenting the risks associated with hormone treatment may allow for prescribers to feel more comfortable with prescribing practices, allowing for better overall management of transgender people,’ said Greene.

‘Our data support the risk of thrombotic events in transgender women taking estrogen therapy being roughly comparable to the risk of thrombotic risks associated with oral contraceptives in premenopausal women. Given the widespread use of oral contraception, this level of risk appears to be broadly accepted.’

Second hormone therapy study concurs with the first

A separate study which correlated findings from previous studies into the long-term effects of hormone therapy concurred with the risk assessment of Greene’s research.

Compiling data from 77 relevant studies, it found that the majority of them did not show any increased risk of cardiovascular disease from trans men or women who had been undergoing hormone treatment for over 10-years.

Although some studies did indicate a higher rate of cardiovascular disease for trans women, these measured patients who were using the now-obsolete agent, ethinyl estradiol, thereby making the finding no longer relevant to modern prescriptions.

Not conclusive, but a reassuring start

Both teams conducting the research have said that their studies are not conclusive due to the small samples sizes.

They have also been examining this field over a relatively short duration, with the National Institutes of Health allocating funding in 2017.

However, as the findings suggest that trans hormone therapy is safe, researchers believe that this underscores the need for more comprehensive examinations into the long-term effects of hormone treatment.