Everybody must get stoned? If you are using HRT, this may be the case. Straight out of the headlines of the American Medical Association’s Archives of Internal Medicine: Healthy women who use HRT may be at increased risk of kidney stones.
You hear about them. But what are kidney stones?
Kidney stones are hard masses the develop when crystals separate out from the urine. Many factors interact to form stone and they are influenced by both genetics and the environment. Although they are often prevented by naturally occurring chemicals before they actually form, when they occur, they can cause extreme pain. Over time, they may actually damage the kidneys. And while kidney stones more commonly affect more men than women up to a certain age, by the time a woman reaches 50, this discrepancy balances out, possibly because estrogen may have a protective effect up until this time.
So, if estrogen is good and protective, what goes wrong when you add it back to the mix?
The findings...In the latest analysis of what is now becoming the infamous Women’s Health Initiative Study, researchers evaluated over 10,000 women in natural menopause who had taken estrogen only (Premarin), estrogen plus progestin (Preempro) or placebo. After an average of 5 to 7 years (depending on which agent the women were taking), women taking hormones, either alone or in combination, had a 21% increased risk of developing kidney stones. When the researchers excluded women who stopped using hormones during the actual trial from the analysis, the likelihood of developing kidney stones increased to 39%. Moreover, study researchers were unable to attribute the increased risk to any other factors, including age, ethnicity, BMI, prior use of hormones or intake of coffee or thyroid medication. Writing in Annals, however, they did note that the way that kidneys stone are formed is complex, and that estrogen may play a role in several stages of that formation and requires further study.
According to the researchers, about 5% to 7% of women reaching menopause will develop kidney stones. My friends over at Reuters health, who did an excellent recap of this study, note that in combination with hormone therapy, this risk increases up to 10%, despite that addition of progestin.
In addition to avoiding hormone therapy, the best thing to do to prevent kidney stones is to hydrate! If you have a tendency to form stones, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney diseases recommends that you drink enough fluids, preferably water, to produce about 2 quarts of urine a day. Changing your diet can help too: some experts recommend limiting dairy and proteins that are high in calcium. The best thing to do, as always, is to do some preliminary research and then contact your health practitioner.
So getting stoned? How about losing the HRT? Another bubble burst for a failed therapy.