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Most physicians not prescribing low-dose hormone therapy

New research shows that physicians are still prescribing higher-dose hormone therapy pills for menopause, despite evidence that low doses and skin patches, which carry fewer health risks, work just as well.

For their study, which appears online today in Menopause: The Journal of the North American Menopause Society, Stanford researchers analyzed survey data collected from physicians between 2001 and 2009. They found the use of lower-dose therapy increased (from 700,000 to 1.3 million prescriptions) during this time period, but, as explained in a release:

It was not nearly enough to suggest that physicians were fully incorporating the new evidence into everyday practice. About two-thirds of women with menopausal symptoms are likely to respond to low-dose therapy, [senior author Randall Stafford, MD, PhD] said, so he and his colleagues were surprised that not even one-third of the women taking hormone therapy in 2009 were on a low dose.

"We're disappointed," Stafford told my colleague.

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