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For more information, go to www.arthritisresearchuk.org

Can HRT really prevent osteoarthritis?

Q) As a regular subscriber to Arthritis Today, I was interested to read an article in an edition from 1997 about research done at St Thomas’s Hospital which showed HRT could prevent osteoarthritis. I come from a family in which osteoarthritis is widespread but at the age of 73 show no signs of it. I wondered whether any similar work had been done to confirm this. Could you comment on this and also the value of HRT in general?
Stella Wood, Old Welwyn, Hertfordshire (Autumn 2006) 

A) That’s the trouble with news – it goes out of date! There were several very promising studies about that time but these were only the first steps and the connection hasn't been subsequently proven in a proper clinical trial. Although it's possible that HRT could be beneficial for osteoarthritis the evidence is lacking at present. And HRT has had a bad press for other reasons – breast cancer and heart disease – so that it's not recommended as an arthritis-prevention treatment based on current evidence. As an aside, I think that if you have no signs of arthritis at the age of 73, well done: you're unlikely to develop them now.

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