Hormone replacement may fight belly fat in women, study says

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Nelson Vergel

Founder, ExcelMale.com
"Belly fat, along with hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia and irritability, is one of the many downsides of the end of a woman's menstrual cycles. Those symptoms can last for years as fertility shuts down; many women find it extremely difficult to cope. Doctors may offer artificial replacements of estrogen, progesterone or a combination, which is called menopausal hormone therapy (formerly hormone replacement therapy, or HRT).

A new study of more than 1,000 postmenopausal women, ages 50 to 80, found that those who were currently taking hormones had significantly lower levels of tummy fat than women who had never used them.

"Up until now, there was not a large study focused on the fat in the abdomen, which is the most known detrimental fat in the body," said endocrinologist and study lead Dr. Georgios Papadakis of Lausanne University Hospital. "The new conclusion of the study is that menopausal hormone therapy prevents the increase of type of fat in postmenopausal women."

The study, published Tuesday in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, analyzed data from a large, ongoing study of heart disease in Switzerland called the OsteoLaus Cohort. In addition to asking women about their use of hormone replacement, the study measured body fat in a unique way.

Instead of using height and weight to establish body mass index, each woman underwent a dual-energy bone x-ray to determine her level of body fat. The use of this tool was one of the study's strengths, said Pinkerton, who was not involved in the research. She considers it to be the gold standard to distinguish "abdominal fat from other components of fat tissue."

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