UTIs: If you've heard a that drinking cranberry juice every
day can reduce the incidence and duration of urinary tract
infections, but you hate the taste, here's great news: Research shows
contain the same "condensed tannins" that inhibits
the adherence of bacteria to the urinary tract lining. Eat
a cup of fresh blueberries
daily to help prevent infection.
Have happy feet: The antimicrobial,
anti-inflammatory and cooling properties of peppermint leaves — a
classic herbal remedy for achy, not-so-fragrant feet — fight
foot fungus, reduce swelling and soothe hot, irritated skin.
To make a footbath, add a handful of
dried leaves to a half gallon
of boiling water. Let steep for 15 minutes, then soak your
feet for 15 to 30 minutes.
Don't be vein: Reduce the pain and swelling caused by poor leg circulation
with the extract from horse chestnut seeds, which has a tightening
effect on veins, making them less likely to distend. Look for standardized
capsules that contain the chemical aescin; 30 to 150 mg is a typical
daily dose, but fall the label for exact instructions.
Manage menstrual and menopausal discomfort: Extracts from the black
cohosh root have been shown to have estrogen-like effects, making this
a promising remedy for cramping, hot flashes, mood swings and more.
For the best results, look for a standardized products such as many
Remifemin and follow label instructions for exact dosage. Avoid taking
it for longer than six months or if you're pregnant.
Tame tummy troubles: Studies show that ginger, an Asian and European
folk remedy, can ease motion sickness and heartburn, stimulate healthy
digestion and soothe irritated gastric muscles and tissues. Peel and
finely mince a piece of ginger root about the size of your thumb. Combine
the ginger with 2 tsp. of dark brown sugar and boiling water, cover,
and steep for a least five minutes. Pregnant women, anyone taking a
blood thinner and people with gallstones should avoid taking ginger.
Be good to your heart: Recent studies suggest that the flowers and
leaves of the hawthorn plant strengthen the heart, helping to fight
cardiovascular disease, including hypertension and arrhythmia. Take
a dropperfull of a hawthorn tincture twice a day, or make at tea from
2 tsp. crushed dried berries and one cup of boiling water.
Get cold comfort: Taken at the first sign of a cold, echinacea will
boost your immune system and help your body fight both viral and bacterial
infections more quickly. Look for a tincture made from the root of
the plant and take one or two droppersfull three times a day. Pregnant
women, people with autoimmune disorder illnesses, such as multiple
sclerosis or AIDS, and people with ragweed allergies shouldn't take
Mind your mouth: For painful canker sores or bad breath, try tea tree
oil, which has been shown to be an effective antimicrobial. It contains
terpenes, substances that kill germs and also produce the oil's characteristic
medicinal smell and skin-tingling properties. Dab a tiny bit of pure
oil directly onto a canker sore (dilute before applying if you have
sensitive guns). To treat halitosis, try a commercial tea tree oil
mouth wash, or make your own by diluting several drops of oil in a
small glass of water.
Sleep soundly: The essential oil of lavender reduces tension and helps
induce sleep. Add several drops to a room diffuser, or apply it to
a warm washcloth and drape it over your eyes and noses.
Boost your mood: St. John's Wort is a mild antidepressant and a promising
remedy for seasonal affective disorder. Take 3 mg, three times a day,
of a standardized formula. Don't combine with prescription antidepressants.
Muscle out migraines: This herb acts as a preventive, not a remedy
for a headache that's already developed. But studies show that two
to three capsules a day of freeze-dried feverfew leaves over two months
can prevent migraines. Avoid it if you're pregnant, taking into a clotting
drugs, or if you have ragweed allergies.
Halt hair loss: The essential oils of thyme, rosemary, lavender and
cedarwood can reverse alopecia areata (a type of premature hair loss
in women). Combine two drops of each oil with 4 tsp. of grapeseed oil
and one-half teaspoon jojoba oil; massage a teaspoon of the mixture
into your scalp every day.
Is it your sex drive sluggish? Do you experience
more fizzle than fireworks? Energy healers offer a drug-free way to rev things up
age 32, Patricia was desperate. A recurring ovarian cyst made intercourse
and sex had all but disappeared from
Depressed and frightened, she consulted a string of specialists,
who advised her to have the cyst drained or surgically removed — with
the understanding that it would probably return. One doctor even prescribed
a hormone therapy that carried with it the risk of infertility. "I
was so scared," she says. "I had gone to every source I knew,
and I was just exhausted." Along with the cyst, Patricia suffered
from what experts call sexual dysfunction, the label put on the inability
to function "normally" in bad — basically being able
to maintain a healthy sex drive and achieve erections and orgasms.
Before you write sexual dysfunction off as a condition too coldly
clinical to apply to anyone you know, take note that in America
it may be more
the norm than the exception: In one recent study, only 28.6 percent
of married women aged 18 to 56 reported that they were always able
to achieve orgasm through intercourse. And according to data from
the National Institutes of Health, approximately 30 million men
United States report having at least occasional problems maintaining
To further confuse the issue, the causes of this condition may
have little to do with sex at all. In Patricia's case, the trigger
clear: a physical ailment brought her real, measurable pain during
For some people, though, dysfunction may stem from a history of
rape or abuse. Others may carry psychological baggage from childhood
earlier relationships that eventually lead them into a "dead
of low libido and emotional shutdown. Indeed, according to Erica
Goodstone, Ph.D., a certified sex counselor and family therapist
in New York City,
there is no such thing as a "simple" sexual problem, nor
is there a sexual problem that's purely physical or all in your head. "Sex
is not separate from the rest of your life. If you're having a sexual
problem, that's just the area in which another problem is manifesting
itself," she says. The trouble is, sexual problems are so personal
that most people would rather just ignore them than actually address
them, whether on psychiatrist's couch or in an intimate conversation
with a partner or a friend. Fortunately, Patricia felt comfortable
enough to discuss her situation with a friend — who recommended
she try energy healing.
What is energy healing? For thousands of years, traditional practitioners
of Eastern medicine have believed that the body contains an invisible
an invisible energy, known throughout the world by several different
names, including qi, life force, and prana. In a healthy body,
it flows freely. But when the body is afflicted by sickness
stagnates, obstructing the flow of blood, lymph, and neurological
creating a host of physical and psychological problems, including
Energy healing is actually a broad term encompassing many forms of
therapy that try to unblock these obstructions. Some healers use
only their eyes to detect blockages, looking for visible cues like
or distended blood vessels, or even observing auras — halos
of light that can show areas of stalled energy.
are therapeutic touch treatments like Reiki and polarity therapy,
in which the therapist gently lays his or her
the body's of five main energy centers, known as chakras. Each
chakra is identified with different physical and emotional functions—from
love (located in the heart) to sexuality (located in the pelvis).
(For more, see "The Five Primary Chakras," below.)
"The physical part of an energy blockage is really the end of the chain," says
Gary Peterson, a polarity therapist in Boulder, Colorado, and executive
director of the American Polarity Therapy Association. Peterson,
who treats patients with sexual problems, many of whom have suffered abuse,
rape, or another trauma, explains: "It's already happened in
the mind and it's manifested through the emotions. In the end, the
just gets trapped in the tissues." That's when it shows up as
a physiological problem—be it a headache or a sexual dysfunction.
Some energy healers use a gentle, almost weightless touch, while
others will use no touch at all, simply hovering their hands
over the patient's
body. But the end goal — to release some of this trapped energy — is
the same. "The feeling of energy moving through an area it is
quite real," says Peterson. "You feel vitality where
there was deadness, and that triggers a domino effect throughout
Most energy healers also incorporate talk into their treatments. "With
a chronic problem like sexual dysfunction, there is generally a tangle
of feelings and beliefs, sometimes bitter experiences and embarrassment," says
Bill Weinstein, a certified polarity therapist in New York city. "I
listen to a patient for a long time, to gently find my way into
their thoughts and feelings. Then, I can take the first step toward
For Patricia, the healing process began with a
conversation. She consulted Glen Scarpelli, DC, medical director
at the Madison
in New York City, who uses a form of targeted energy work incorporating
subtle manipulation and touch. He queried Patricia about her
overall health and specific complaints. The interview and
a subsequent visual
exam revealed that Patricia had varicose veins and unusually
cold feet, both more pronounced on her right side, where
the cyst was. When she
lay on the examination table, Scarpelli felt a slight enlargement
or misalignment of her uterus, which, coupled with the cyst,
the pain she felt during intercourse.
The 5 Primary Chakras
her very first treatment, Patricia felt a change.
tell that something, a power, and energy, had passed in and out
of my body," she recalls. Over the following few months, Patricia
went in for treatments three times a week, during which Scarpelli
would gently palpate the affected area. He also recommended dietary
and a few herbal remedies, prescribed to restore her overall energy
balance. "During treatments, and I could actually feel my
uterus moving," she says. "It was very powerful." And
emotional, too. Patricia cried in one session as she began to sense
giving way and the pain subsiding. "I could see the energy
flowing between us, and I had a real sense of release," she
After the fourth or fifth treatment, Patricia says, the sense of
stagnation in her body had all
but disappeared. And after six months, the pain
was gone entirely, the anxiety and depression had been lifted,
and she could enjoy intercourse again. A gynecological exam showed
the cyst had shrunk dramatically, and she and her husband are
now expecting their first child. "My husband says I'm back to my old self," says
Patricia. "I never thought I had changed, but looking back
I realize that I was different. I was tired and bogged down,
I felt elated. It was a real transformation."
There are several different types of energy healing: Some are formal disciplines,
others hybrids of various stripes. Here are four of the most common; many therapists
may incorporate elements of several in one treatment.
Polarity therapy: According to polarity therapy, many
health issues follow a "step
down" process. They begin as a thought in the first chakra (it's the one
associated with intelligence) and pass down through the lower chakras. "There
are different densities of energy in your body that you could compare to qualities
of water," explains Erica Goodstone, Ph.D., who uses polarity therapy in
her New York City practice. "Pure energy is flowing, like a stream. If there
is a blockage, it gets watery. And if the energy becomes completely stagnant,
it will solidify." A mental hang-up about sex, for example, may eventually
lead to impotence — starting in the "lighter" chakra, higher
in the body, and progressing downward through the "heavier" tissues
until it gets stuck. To keep energy flowing, polarity therapists may use gentle
massage and stretching exercises and apply pressure to points above and below
the blockage. For more information, call the American Polarity Therapy Association
Reiki: In a Reiki treatment, a practitioner channels
the universal life force into the client, rather than directing it to any one
area, trusting that the
energy and the body will cooperate. The therapist gently lays his or her hands
on the patient's head, shoulders, and back to conduct the energy into their
important thing in Reiki is that you cannot intend to do anything. You just send
a pure energy into the body, and it will go exactly where it needs to," says
Patti Templin, a psychotherapist and Reiki practitioner in Telluride, Colorado.
Templin uses Reiki to help patients deal with issues linked to abuse, as well
as sexual problems associated with tumors and other physical disorders. For
more information, call the International Center for Reiki Training at 800-332-8112.
Reflexology: Reflexology addresses the body's energy imbalances by stimulating
specific zones in the feet, which are connected to all of the body's organs and
glands. There are more than 7000 nerves in each foot, notes Laura Norman, a New
York City reflexologist and author of Feet First (Fireside, 1988).
Stimulating the feet can have profound effects on the nervous system and may
also clear stagnation
in the corresponding energy zones. "Sexual dysfunction is often related
to stress and tension, and reflexology addresses these things directly," Norman
says. Furthermore, reflexology creates an overall feeling of balance in both
mind and emotions, which translates into better health — and better sex.
For more information, call the International Institute of Reflexology at 813-343-4811.
Healing science: This school of energy medicine was created by Barbara Brennan,
author of Hands of Light (Bantam, 1989) and Light Emerging (Bantam,
1993) and director of the Barbara Brennan School of Healing in Great Gorge,
New York. An
atmospheric physicist for NASA before taking up bioenergetic therapy (a form
of body-centered psychotherapy), Brennan chaired the ad hoc panel on energetic
therapies for the National Institutes of Health Office of Alternative Medicine.
She now trains therapists to work with patients with health problems that may
include sexual difficulties. Like polarity therapy, Brennan's method addresses
the chakras, reading a patient's aura to target areas of stagnation. Treatments
may include a light touch, targeted to specific chakras, plus recommendations
for diet and lifestyle changes. For more information, call the Barbara Brennan
School of Healing at 516-329-0951.
A Baby Boomer's Guide to Menopause
postwar generation enters
Here, our latest options
generation that once said it didn't trust anyone over 30 is about to
enter, or has already
crossed into, the menopause zone: that time
in every woman's life when menstruation stops and hot flashes begin.
Not to mention increased risk for certain cancers, heart disease and
osteoporosis. No wonder our mothers and grandmothers never talked about
it. Euphemistically dubbed "the change", menopause has traditionally
been a subject shrouded in mystery, talked about in hushed tones if
talked about at all. But ever the rebels, boomers refuse to take things
lying down. Boomers also refuse to focus on the negatives. "We
are the generation that won't do what we're told, unless we're sure
it's the right thing for us to do," says Kathleen Fry, MD, a physician
and homeopath in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Thus, we're seeing an info-driven, enlightened generation—the
same one that spawned flower children, shattered gender barriers, and
took the word "obey" out of marriage vows—demanding
choices when it comes to managing menopause. "These are the women
who brought natural childbirth to the front, who brought their significant
others into the delivery room, and demanded answers to questions about
pregnancy and reproductive health. Now they're reaching menopause,
and the subject is no longer taboo," says Wulf Utian, MD, executive
director of the North American Menopause Society.
There is a side effect to all this candor, though: confusion. What
with all of the treatment options being discussed and debated, it's
hard to know what's right for you. So to help you prepare and get through
this important journey, we set out to find the latest, most practical
solutions, which we'll present on the following pages. To simplify
things, we've divided the options into three categories: The Minimalist
Approach, The Alternative Approach, and The Prescriptive Approach.
Read about all three of them here, then talk with your doctor to determine
the best strategy for you.
The Minimalist Approach
The Best Candidates: Women who have mild, manageable
menopause symptoms, and who are at low risk for menopause-related
diseases (see "Is
HRT for You?").
The strategy: Using dietary changes, exercise, and
other simple habits to offset symptoms and provide added protection
against disease. "Many women feel that menopause should be treated
as a natural process, " says
Bethany Hays, MD, an obstetrician and gynecologist at Women to Women,
a holistic women's health center in Yarmouth, Maine. "They say,
'My body is doing what it's supposed to be doing.'"
I talk to my patients
about what I consider to be the most important things: what they're
eating and whether or not they're exercising. Then we talk about
relieving symptoms and address long-term concerns about cardiovascular
or osteoporosis." Many times, these concerns can be addressed
with simple lifestyle changes.
Diet: A high-fiber, low-fat diet has been proven to reduce your risk
of many diseases. Most experts point to a diet that's heavy on vegetables
and light on meat as a way to avoid fat and cholesterol, and advise
women to load up on nutrient-packed plant foods, especially leafy green
vegetables. These foods are high in antioxidants, which are known to
combat the free radicals that may be part of the puzzle in many diseases.
Eating lots of greens and low-fat dairy foods also provides calcium,
an antidote against osteoporosis.
Beyond this, many women can identify dietary triggers for their hot
flashes, says Sadja Greenwood, MD., author of Menopause Naturally (Volcano
Press, 1996). Cutting out the common culprits—caffeine and alcohol—often
Exercise: Regular aerobic exercise reduces your risk of
heart disease and obesity; weight-bearing and strength-building exercise
your risk for osteoporosis. Beyond this, researchers are examining
a possible link between regular workouts and various forms of cancer,
including breast cancer. Exercise is also a mood-lifter and stabilizer—just
the thing to smooth out the ups and downs of menopause.
To get optimum
bone-building benefits, lift weights at least two or three days a
week, suggests Miriam E. Nelson, Ph.D., author of Strong
Women Stay Young. Nelson studied a group of moderately active women
and found that high-intensity strength training performed two days
a week had dramatic effects on bone density, muscle mass, and strength.
Augment your strengthening with aerobic workouts (shoot for five a
week) to reap cardiovascular and stress-reduction benefits.
Other remedies. If night sweats are a problem, try sleeping in the
nude under several layers of covers instead of wearing a nightgown
or pajamas, suggests Adrian Fugh-Berman, MD, chairwoman of the National
Women's Health Network in Washington, DC. That way you can quickly regulate
your temperature. If you're suffering from insomnia, give yourself
an hour or so to wind down before you go to bed, and eat a low-fat
snack (it's like a banana or a cup of yogurt) at bedtime. If you're
having problems with vaginal dryness, try an over-the-counter lubricant
The Alternative Approach
The Best Candidates: Women who accept the anecdotal evidence of the effectiveness
of herbal medicine; women who are concerned about long-term disease
protection, as well as women who have symptoms demanding stronger treatments
than those discussed in The Minimalist Approach.
The strategy: Using natural remedies including
herbal preparations, dietary supplements, and mind-body techniques
to squelch symptoms and
possibly stave off menopause-related diseases.
Herbs: Many herbs have long histories of traditional
use but few scientific trials. "There aren't very many studies that have
been published on herbal remedies," says Fredi Kronenberg, Ph.D.,
Director of the Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine Research
in Women's Health at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, New York. "It's
frustrating," she says, "for both the public and medical
community, because there is so much interest in natural remedies.
And so little data."
One herb that seems to be on its way to widespread
acceptance among the conventional medical community is black
cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa), available as a standardized
extract (meaning the manufacturer can attest to its potency)
under the trade name Remifemin.
Remifemin has proven effective at relieving many menopausal symptoms,
including hot flashes, and has the endorsement of Varro Tyler,
Ph.D., one of the preeminent herbal experts in United States
and a notorious
skeptic on many herbal remedies. One caveat: Don't take it for
longer than six months, as no long-term safety trials have been
A variety of other herbs can also be taken for menopausal symptoms,
although they're not as well-tested as black cohosh. Vitex,
a.k.a. chasteberry, is sometimes used to reduce hot flashes and
dizziness, and dong quai is a Chinese herb that
appears to regulate estrogen levels in the body.
Over-the-counter herbal progesterone creams are wildly popular, but according
to most experts, they're of debatable worth. "You'd have to rub the cream
all over your body several times a day to get a dose of progesterone that would
produce any effects, " says Utian.
Because herbal remedies do not undergo the scrutiny that pharmaceuticals
face from the Food and Drug Administration, most practitioners
advise a cautious approach when using them. The same goes for supplements,
which aren't regulated in the same way that drugs are. But there
few options that look promising:
Diet: Eating a diet that's largely plant-based provides
plenty of disease-fighting benefits. You can take it one step
further and supplement your diet
with a few natural foods and oils that contain disease- and symptom-preventing
Soybeans are one of the group of plants that contain chemical
compounds called isoflavones, which have been shown to offset
and certain cancers. A recent analysis of several studies found
meat protein with soy had significant impact on cholesterol levels,
lowering both triglycerides and LDL (or "bad") cholesterol
levels and raising HDL ("good ") cholesterol. Soy isoflavones
have other benefits as well: Eating soy can reduce hot flashes, according
to a recent Italian study in which menopausal women were given 60 grams
a day of isolated soy protein. Another isoflavone source is a new product
called Promensil, a supplement that comes from red clover. However,
most natural health care practitioners recommend getting your isoflavones
from real food—by replacing dairy with soy milk and meat
with tofu and tempeh (a fermented soy product) as often as you
Flax seeds are another good (and natural) source of isoflavones.
Grind them in a coffee or spice mill and sprinkle over foods.
Try to get
a teaspoon a day. Evening primrose oil, which contains essential
fatty acids, is also used as a remedy for hot flashes, although
of its efficacy is purely anecdotal, says Fugh-Berman. Try taking
two 500-milligram capsules twice a day.
Mind-body techniques: Researchers have shown that conscious
abdominal breathing exercises, similar to those performed by
yoga practitioners, can help alleviate hot flashes. Acupuncture
has been studied as
a treatment for hot flashes, and in one study produced a 50 -percent
drop in the number of hot flashes experienced by a group of 21
Swedish women. Acupuncture is typically administered by Chinese
practitioners, who may incorporate herbal remedies into their
treatments (see below).
Homeopathy, which uses minute doses of certain organic compounds,
is also used to treat menopausal symptoms, although it has yet
to be studied
clinically for that use. It appears to be very safe (see "Where
to find out more" for tips on finding a practitioner).
The Prescriptive Approach
The Best Candidates: Women with one or more predisposing
factors for cardiovascular disease or osteoporosis (see below),
and women who are
unrelenting menopausal symptoms.
The strategy: Using hormone replacement therapy
(HRT) and/or other medications to treat menopausal symptoms and
"I am strongly supportive of HRT, and I see a lot of women who aren't
taking it because they're not fully informed about their health risks
and benefits of taking hormones," says Michele Curtis, MD, assistant
professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Texas. "I
exercise and eat well, yet I just had a bone density test that showed
low bone mass. I'm 35 now, and there's no question in my mind: In 15
years, you'd better believe I'll be taking HRT." Here's what's
available in prescriptive treatments:
Hormones: Hormone replacement therapy is widely accepted
as the most effective remedy for menopausal symptoms, and many
it as a preventive measure as well. Evidence shows HRT can reduce
risk of osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease. However, it can
also cause side effects, and may even increase your risk of developing
cancer (see "Is HRT for you?," below). The FDA began
approving various estrogen products in 1938, its first year of
entered the FDA's arsenal of following year), which puts them among
the best-researched drugs around. But they're not for everyone.
HRT typically includes estrogen and progestin. Estrogen alleviates
menopausal symptoms and provides protection against heart disease
and osteoporosis. Progestin is typically taken along with the estrogen,
to offset the estrogen's effect on endometrial lining. Most women
a few unpleasant side effects from supplemental estrogen, such
as breast tenderness, headaches, mood swings, and bloating. Other
include an increased risk for gallstones and blood clots. And progestins
can cause headaches, weight gain, and depression.
In addition to estrogen and progestins, supplemental testosterone
is sometimes given to menopausal women complaining of hot flashes
Beyond the standard hormone drugs, some doctors prescribe natural
hormones (micronized progesterone and some individual estrogens),
made by special "compounding" pharmacies. However, the
use of these compounds is a subject of some debate among practitioners.
The new estrogens: A new class of drugs are the SERMs,
or selective estrogen receptor modulators. The most famous SERM
recently made headlines as a breast cancer preventive. Another,
raloxifene, recently gained FDA approval as a menopause drug. SERMs
act in a
decidedly schizophrenic way in the body: estrogen-like in terms
and "bad" cholesterol-reducing, anti-estrogenic in the
tissues of the breast and uterus, where receptors that receive
too much estrogen
can trigger the development of cancer.
While that means SERMs won't resolve hot flashes or other menopausal
symptoms, Stephen R. Goldstein, MD., of the New York University
School of Medicine, contends that these still are drugs of great
and other SERMs may be answer for women who'd previously be given estrogen
for its bone-protecting benefits but are worried about breast cancer
risk." Another bonus is that users do not have to take progestin
with Raloxifene because of its anti-estrogenic effects in the uterus.
Nonhormonal drugs: Nonhormone medications prescribed to
menopausal women include clonidine, which is sometimes given for
and alendronate, an anti-osteoporosis drug. Both seem to be effective,
although each has contraindications and cautions, which you should
discuss with your doctor.
In fact, no matter which approach you choose, an open dialogue
with your doctor is the key. Many medicines can work miracles—but
only you know if they're working on you.
find out more
The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians offers
referrals to physicians (not necessarily MDs) who include nutritional
counseling and other natural techniques in their
practices: www.natoropathic.org or (206) 298-0125.
The American Holistic Medical Association provides referrals to MDs who incorporate
various natural and alternative methods in their practices: www.holisticmedicine.org or (216)
And for general information, you can contact the following organizations:
The North America Menopause Society provides educational materials and referrals:
www.menopause.org or (800) 774-5342.
The Society for the Advancement of Women's Health Care Research: www.women's-health.org.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: www.acog.com.
The National Institutes of Health: www.nih.gov.
HRT for you?
Hormone replacement therapy
(HRT) is powerful medicine. Here are a few things to consider:
Menopausal symptoms. If you're having hot flashes, night sweats, or other menopause-related
symptoms that are significantly interfering with your life, HRT may be an effective
Cardiovascular disease risk. Risk factors for heart disease and other cardiovascular
problems include family history, being overweight and/or inactive, having high
blood pressure or diabetes, and smoking. If you've got them, your doctor may
recommend HRT as a long-term, preventive measure.
Osteoporosis risk. Predisposing risk factors for osteoporosis include family
history, a thin or small frame, insufficient dietary calcium and other nutrients,
use of certain medications, smoking, physical inactivity, and excessive use
of alcohol. If you fit this profile, you might be advised to take HRT.
Cancer risk. If you have an active breast or uterine
cancer, you aren't a candidate for HRT. In addition, if you are at risk for
developing breast cancer—you
have a mother or sister with the disease or you have had biopsies that showed
certain types of benign breast disease—your doctor may advise against
Other factors. Women with the following health concerns would probably be advised
not to take HRT: active gall bladder disease, active liver disease, certain
blood-clotting disorders, and certain kinds of stroke. Conditions that make
HRT risky include hypertension, epilepsy, and migraine headaches.