A recent study called 'HERS' conducted by researchers of the University of California, which looked at more than 2700 menopausal women, has found that Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) may be able to reduce the risk that women with heart disease go on to develop diabetes as well.
The study involved some women who already had diabetes and others who did not or had "impaired fasting glucose" - a condition with some similar traits to diabetes but not severe enough to be called diabetes. The women were given either estrogen and progestin HRT, or a dummy pill, and followed up for four years. It was found that in the dummy pill group, there were 98 new diagnoses of diabetes while there were only 62 in the HRT group. This increased risk, say the researchers, could not be explained by other factors separating the two groups. In addition, the dummy pill group had significantly greater worsening of their ability to control their blood sugar over the four years compared to the HRT group.
The research findings are however less likely to encourage doctors to prescribe HRT with this benefit in mind as HRT is thought to slightly increase the risks of both heart disease and breast cancer. Dr Alka Kanaya, who led the research said that the potential benefit to patients for one health outcome needs to be weighed against the risks for others, such as coronary events and breast cancer. Doctors therefore believe that until further studies in this area are done to positively confirm the benefits the better way for women to reduce their risk of developing diabetes is to eat healthily and take to regular exercise.