Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) patches may be a safer method of administering oestrogen and progesterone than tablets, researchers have claimed.
Scientists at the universities of Montreal and Bremen found that the alternative approach carried less risk of a stroke, especially when it contained low doses of HRT drugs.
The risk increased significantly, however, when larger quantities were used, with patients 90% more likely to suffer a stroke than those not on HRT.
Women taking tablets, meanwhile, have a 28% higher risk than non-users regardless of dose strength and hormone content, the British Medical Journal study added, but only if prescribed for a year or more.
While concluding that patches were the safest option, the authors called for more research into the area.
Lead researcher Christel Renoux said: “Our study suggests that the use of transdermal oestrogen replacement therapy containing low doses of oestrogen could be associated with a lower risk of stroke than the oral route of administration.
“Although these results alone do not represent definitive evidence to promote the use of the transdermal route over oral administration of oestrogen replacement therapy, this study should encourage further research on the importance of the route of administration.”
Earlier studies have linked HRT, commonly used to control symptoms of the menopause, with an increased likelihood of breast and endometrial cancer. It has also, however, been tied to a decreased risk of osteoporosis and bowel cancer.
Copyright Press Association 2010
British Medical Journal