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Sunday, 24 February, 2002, 00:15 GMT
HRT 'protects against leg ulcers'
HRT tablets could help reduce the toll of leg ulcers
Protection against leg ulcers could be one of the beneficial side effects of taking hormone replacement therapy, a UK-based study has found.

The research - carried out on thousands of women over 65 - revealed HRT treatment could reduce the risk of the chronic sores.

The research has been cautiously welcomed by dermatology experts in the UK.

And the researchers themselves acknowledge that to find whether HRT actually heals leg ulcers would need further studies.


We view this finding as early evidence that HRT could have a beneficial effect in preventing chronic wounds

Dr David Margolis

Venous leg ulcers and pressure ulcers are common chronic wounds, particularly among older women.

UK records

They begin as repeated and localised "insults" in the leg and due to a patient's inability to repair the damage, they fester and become wounds.

During the study lead researcher Dr David Margolis and colleagues from the University of Pennsylvania Medical Centre, USA, studied the records of around 45,000 patients aged 65+ from the UK General Practice Research Database

The patients had all registered between 1988 and 1996.

Their research showed patients who received HRT were around 35% less likely to develop a venous leg ulcer or pressure sores than women who did not use HRT.

Dr Margolis said: "We view this finding as early evidence that HRT could have a beneficial effect in preventing chronic wounds."

The team found that oestrogen in the form of HRT might have an effect on wound healing, although such a benefit has not been widely studied.


For someone thinking of giving HRT for whatever reason the reduction in the risk of leg ulcers could come under the peripheral possible benefits

Prof Andrew Finlay

But the report states: "We feel that the prevention of the occurrence of a venous leg ulcer or a pressure ulcer is probably a good marker for healing."

The research was welcomed by Professor Andrew Finlay, chairman of the dermatology committee at the Royal College of Physicians.

'Peripheral benefits'

He said the database used was "very large and useful" for getting information not otherwise easily available.

He said: "The claims they make seem to be appropriate for the type of data. They have looked at confounding factors but not all of them."

Prof Finlay said the study's findings could be adopted as "an additional reason for people choosing to take HRT" rather than a reason in itself.

He said: "For someone thinking of giving HRT for whatever reason the reduction in the risk of leg ulcers could come under the peripheral possible benefits the patient would be told of, just as they would be briefed about the side effects."

See also:

26 Oct 00 | Health
Gel ' heals wounds without scars'
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