Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Hormone Replacement Therapy And Stem Cells

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) has long been a widely accepted treatment for the effects of menopause on older women. In 2000, the Women's Health Initiative study (WHI)changed all this. The WHI, a group studying the effects of HRT among 16,000 women between ages 50 and 79, found the risk of the therapy far outweighs its benefits and recommended that women stop taking estrogen progestin combinations. Results of the study showed that per 10,000 women on HRT the risk of breast cancer increased by 8, colorectal cancer decreased by 6, heart attacks increased by 7, Hip fractures decreased by 5, blood clots increased by 18 and stroke increased by 8.

Stem cells have the remarkable potential to develop into many different cell types in the body. In theory, they serve as on the fly repair systems for the body, dividing without limit to replenish other cells as long as the person or animal is alive. In November 1998, a team of scientist from the University of Wisconsin reported the first successful derivation and prolonged culture of human embryonic stem cells, cells that are parent cells of all tissues in the body.

Many diseases such as Parkinson's and type 1 diabetes mellitus, occur because of the death or dysfunction of just one of a few cell types. Replacing those cells would provide lifelong treatment. To treat heart disease, for example, heart muscles could be injected directly to shore up failing heart tissue.



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